Monday, December 31, 2012

Menu Monday #33

We had a wonderful Christmas here at home. It was nice having Josh home for a fun-filled week! It was so awesome on Christmas morning to share in Ethan's excitement and Noah's wonder. This was the first year that Ethan has really totally understood what's going on and it was great!

Santa visited us!

Noah was cookin' up breakfast for us on their new kitchen!


Hopefully another post soon with more details from Christmas morning!! We spent lots of time together as a family, and my parents came to visit to celebrate with us and the boys. Of course, my parents spoiled them, and the boys made out like little bandits with this fun, new dune buggy!



Ethan and "Black Doggy"
Noah and "Trunks"
On Wednesday evening, we took the boys to our local Wacky Bear Factory to make animals as part of their Christmas present. Ethan chose a black dog, which he appropriately named "Black Doggy," and Noah chose an elephant, which we named "Trunks" for him. :) They loved filling them up with the stuffing, then brushing them under the air to fluff their fur.


On Thursday, we used the gift my sister and her family got us this year - a membership to our local Hands On! Museum. The boys had so much fun exploring everything they had to offer! We will love going back to visit as often as we want for the next year! Thanks Aunt Katie, Uncle Mike and cousins Jacob, Rachel and Hannah! :)

Having fun making clouds with shaving cream in the Discovery Lab!

Our menu plans changed for the week, and we ended up going out for Mellow Mushroom on Wednesday, and I made grilled cheese and our Spicy Italian Chili Thursday night, and served it Texas-style, with Fritos and shredded cheddar cheese. For breakfasts, I made a couple breakfast casseroles on Wednesday morning, a whole-wheat version of my favorite coffee cake on Thursday morning (even better than the original!!), and my whole wheat banana bread pancakes on Friday morning. On Friday night, we were in the mood for seafood, so we headed to the Riverfront Seafood Company for dinner. Their New Orleans Style BBQ shrimp is awesome!

On Saturday morning, we had leftovers from all of the yummy breakfasts we had consumed all week. Later that day, we took the boys to Sesame Street Live's production of Elmo Makes Music at the local civic center. The boys loved it!! Noah danced along to the music and clapped with the audience. It was too cute! After the show, we headed to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for dinner. We lucked out and scored order #00, which meant we won a $5 gift card. Fun!

Cheesin' while munching on popcorn before the show!
On Sunday morning, I used the leftover French bread I had from Christmas dinner and the grilled cheese sandwiches I made on Thursday, to make cinnamon French toast. It was delicious. Noah gobbled it up! :) He also made the switch to his very own big boy booster seat now! No more high chair for this crazy little man.

Mad fork skills!

Sunday: Panera Bread
We were out shopping, so we stopped in for a quick bite to eat. I got my favorite, the chipotle chicken sandwich, with their French onion soup. It's impossible to pass up their shortbread cookies!

Monday: Appetizer night for NYE!
We traditionally make various appetizers to celebrate NYE, and this year will be no different. I'll make several favorites, and try a couple new ones, too!
  • Crabmeat appetizers - consists of a crabmeat, Old English cheese, and butter mixture spread on English muffins, toasted under the broiler (this is a favorite that I can remember having for many, many NYEs when I was growing up)
  • Pigs in a blanket - Lil' smokies wrapped in biscuits (a traditional favorite)
  • Taco dip with corn chips - A mixture of cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning
  • Caprese skewers - 1/2 a cherry tomato, basil leaf, and fresh mozzarella ball drizzled with a balsamic glaze (I made these for Nosh's 1st birthday party and they were a hit!)
  • Mini pizzas - I'll use my whole wheat pizza dough recipe to make mini pizzas topped with chorizo sausage, red onions, cilantro and shredded mozzarella (I've never made mini versions with my homemade dough, so I hope it works well!)
  • Cranberry cream cheese crostini - toasted baguette topped with cream cheese and a mixture of fresh cranberries, sugar, green onion, and jalapeño peppers (new recipe to try - wanted to add a sweet component to the menu!)
  • Roasted chickpeas? - drizzled with EVOO, then roasted until crispy, and sprinkled with sea salt, cumin and garam masala (not sure we need these, too, but they are sounding good right now!)
Tuesday: Pork tenderloin with sweet peppers, onion and pineapple over rice
It's good luck to eat pork on New Year's Day, so we started making this meal several years ago. It has become tradition now. We cover a pork tenderloin in Caribbean jerk marinade, add in chopped sweet peppers and onion, and top with sliced pineapple. We let it roast in the oven for a couple hours, then serve over rice. Super tasty!

Wednesday: Spicy Italian Chili, Texas-style, with grilled cheese sandwiches
This is what we made last week, too, but Josh would be happy to eat chili every day and Ethan requested grilled cheese sandwiches again, so they should both be happy! We'll serve it Texas-style, with Fritos and shredded cheddar cheese. I make a loaf of French bread for the sandwiches and use provolone cheese.

Thursday: TBD
Something light sounds good. Probably chicken? We'll decide later this week.

Friday: TBD
Not sure if I'll cook, or if we'll go out.

Saturday: TBD
Ditto.

We'll do big breakfasts again this week since we'll have company again - the Seeley grandparents and Uncle Jared. Happy meal planning to you this week. What special meal do you make to bring in the New Year for good luck?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Menu Monday #32

Are you ready for Christmas tomorrow?!? I think we are finally ready after a bit more shopping this weekend, and some wrapping that went on during naptime today. We still have some cookies to bake tonight and then we will be all set!

On Wednesday, the boys and I made Rudolph ornaments. You can check those out on the elf on the shelf page. So sweet.


On Thursday, we had Ethan's preschool Christmas program. They had learned several songs with motions to perform for the parents on stage. Sadly, once Ethan saw us when he entered the room with his class, he didn't want to go on stage, and wanted to come sit with us instead. So, no pics or videos of that. :( Maybe next year! We did enjoy some muffins and juice with him after the program. I put together Rudolph bags for Ethan's teachers and little Rudolph candy canes for his classmates. I traced his hands to make the ears, and he stuck the wiggly eyes and pom-pom noses on the bags. Super cute. The candy canes have pipe cleaners for antlers, then wiggly eyes and pom-pom noses. I added little tags that wished each child a merry and bright Christmas. :)

We enjoyed the first day of winter on Friday by waking up to SNOW!! Very fitting. I was still laying in bed when two excited little feet came running into our room. Ethan happily informed me that, "Mommy! There's snow on the ground!!" It was almost as exciting as Christmas morning for him! :) Once Daddy arrived home from work, we ate lunch and headed outside to play in the snow. It was still coming down, but the ground was warm, so there wasn't as much of it as we would have liked. We did manage to build a small snowman - the boys' first! They loved it. :) After playing outside in the cold, we headed in to warm up with some hot cocoa. I was never a fan of it growing up, but tried out a recipe for a homemade version from Hershey's that I loved! I added the extras. :)

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
(single serving)

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tsp cocoa
  • 1 cup milk
  • Whipped cream
  • Peppermints, crushed
Directions:
Mix the sugar, cocoa and salt in a large mug. Add the milk and stir well. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes, or until hot. Stir in the vanilla. Top with some whipped cream and some crushed peppermints. Delish!

That evening, we indulged in a Cracker Barrel dinner. Josh loves their country breakfast and I have a soft spot for their dumplings. It appears little Noah has inherited this love, too. :)

On Saturday morning, we enjoyed some of my whole wheat banana bread pancakes. This time, I also added some chopped walnuts. It was a great addition. The cinnamon vanilla maple syrup came out wonderfully this time, too. Maybe because I didn't measure anything? I tend to cook better that way for some reason. We spent a lazy day around the house, but managed to get a few things done. I decided it was time to tackle my laundry room/entryway from the garage. I'll post pics of that project soon! On Saturday evening, we were in the mood for pizza, so we visited our new favorite, Scratch, for dinner. We loved the pizza that we ordered last time so much that we got it again. Andouille sausage, pepperone, onions and fresh spinach. Yum. We also had more of the pesto cheesesticks, with the red sauce this time. The boys can pound those pretty hard!

On Sunday morning, Ethan helped Daddy make scrambled eggs and Cream of Wheat for breakfast, as that has become our normal Sunday brunch. I decided I wanted some steel cut oats instead, so I made some Apple Cinnamon Oats for myself. For dinner, we decided to go out, and enjoyed some international cuisine at Yong Asian House, before hitting up the grocery store. Their chicken and steak teriyaki with fried rice was pretty tasty. Definitely satisfied the lack of hibachi I have had in my life lately. Then, we loaded up with sugar, milk and butter at the store and began baking our Christmas cookies when we got home. On our list this year: pecan butterballs (aka, Russian tea cakes, or Mexican wedding cakes), peanut butter fudge, peanut butter blossoms, snickerdoodles, sour cream cookies, and of course, the obligatory cutout Christmas cookies with frosting. We managed to finish the first three last night, and will be tackling the rest tonight/tomorrow! We may all be bouncing off the walls by the end of it, but we're all enjoying it. :)

Last week's new recipes, Taco cupcakes and Mexican rice, turned out great. The taco cupcakes were really awesome and I'll definitely make those again. I loved the addition of the beans with the meat. They were very hearty and the recipe yielded 16 cupcakes, so I had lots of leftovers! The rice was on the hot side, probably due to the chili powder. I'll make it again, but definitely reduce that amount. Hubby and I love spicy food, but it was hotter than I prefer and way too hot for the boys. Here's what's on the menu this week...

Sunday: Yong Asian House
A yummy meal to fill us up before grocery shopping.

Monday: Hearty meatball stew
This is our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. It's one of my dad's favorites, and for some reason, I only seem to make it on Christmas Eve, instead of throughout the entire winter. I'm not sure why, though it is a bit time-consuming. It will be Noah's first year of getting to try it, so I hope he loves it, too!

Hearty Meatball Stew

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed tomato soup
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can (7.5 oz) Pillsbury biscuits
  • Paprika
Directions:
Original family recipe: In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder; mix well. Shape into 1 1/2-inch balls. In Dutch oven, brown the meatballs; drain. Dissolve the bouillon in boiling water. Add water, soup, vegetables, thyme, and remaining garlic powder to the meatballs; stir gently. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Separate the dough into 10 biscuits; cut each biscuit in half. Place biscuit halves on hot stew mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes; cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes longer.

My changes: I add more spices to the meatballs, and make them as I normally would for spaghetti and meatballs. I also use an entire pound of carrots (minus a couple that we leave out for Santa's reindeer with the milk and cookies!), 2 large (or 3 medium) potatoes, and 2 cans of biscuits (my favorite part!). This yields a big batch, but allows for leftovers for the week. I would like to try using my own biscuit recipe sometime. Maybe next year?

Tuesday: Manicotti, French bread, applesauce
This has become our traditional Christmas dinner meal. It is probably my favorite meal from my childhood and I love that my boys love it, too! I'll make the bread in the bread machine.


Manicotti

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Dash of pepper and salt
  • 10 manicotti shells
Directions:
Fill dutch oven 3/4 full with water, bring to a boil and add manicotti shells. Let cook according to package directions. Brown the ground beef in a skillet, then drain. Add the spaghetti sauce and let simmer. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Add the eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture. Pour half of the meat mixture into the baking dish. Put in the stuffed shells and add the remaining meat sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes. This would also make a great vegetarian meal by taking out the beef. It will still be delicious!

Wednesday:  TBD
My parents should be here for dinner, but I'm still deciding what I want to make. I am thinking about doing a big turkey dinner. I despise ham, and don't really want to make one of those, but a turkey dinner might be nice?

Thursday: Pizza casserole
Ethan requested this meal! I made this one up a couple years ago, and it's a tasty one. I line a casserole dish with large pepperoni, then top it with a pasta mixture (whole wheat rotini, pizza sauce, diced red, yellow, and green peppers, onions and more pepperoni), then top it with some shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake it until the cheese is melted.

Friday: Out to eat
We want to take my parents to Scratch for some pizza! :)

Saturday: TBD
Not sure what we'll do yet.

We'll also do some bigger breakfasts for the holidays this week. On Christmas morning, I like to make "Santacakes" for the boys. I color pancakes red and green, and add chocolate chips for "reindeer poo". Hehe. With company in town, I'll make breakfast casserole one day and my favorite coffee cake another day. Yum!

Happy meal planning to you this week. Will you be doing a lot of cooking and/or baking, or are you traveling for the holidays? We decided to stay in Tennessee this year, after making 9 trips to Ohio already this year! We needed a break and wanted to spend a relaxing couple of weeks at the house with the boys. We will have both sets of grandparents and Uncle Jared visiting us this year and look forward to entertaining!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to share the Christmas card and newsletter I created for this year. :)




 



I love getting cards in the mail, especially photo cards. Here's how I am displaying mine this year, thanks to Pinterest...

I need to hang more ribbon!

I love all the pictures of the cute kiddos! One of our friends even announced the good news that they are expecting their first baby this year by including an ultrasound pic! Yay! :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now!

It's amazing what a small difference in a lens prescription can make. My new pair of glasses came in the mail recently, with my updated prescription. I can see again! Well, I could see before, but not as well as I can now. It's unfortunate that I even have to wear the darn things again after having Lasik surgery back in January of 2001, almost 12 years ago! But, thanks to all those pregnancy hormones and such, my eyes are just one more body part that isn't the same as it used to be before kids. Surprise, surprise.

I recently went into my eye doctor's office to check out their frames. My current pair was ready to break (poor design with the screws right through the lenses), so I needed to get a new pair and wanted to see how some different pairs looked on me. I found a few that I liked, then asked about pricing. Jaw drop! Now that our insurance only covers the vision exam, with no credit for contacts or frames/lens, everything comes out of pocket. I wasn't about to shell out over $300 just for frames, with lenses on top of that! Yikes! Enter coastal contacts...

Lovin' my new frames!

This site is truly amazing. You can actually get your first pair of glasses with them for free! It's super easy to enter all of the information you need, and you can virtually try on most of the frames to see how they will look on your face! Sweet!

First, you start by uploading a photo, or taking one with your web cam. You can enlarge or reduce, and/or rotate the photo until it fits nicely in the target area.


Then you just line up the crosshair targets on your eyes, enter your PD (pupillary distance) and proceed to the next step! You can get a pretty good idea of what they will look like on your face, or you can try them on one of their models as well.

I ordered these frames: Kam Dhillon 3002, but it appears the closest one
that they currently have is Kam Dhillon 3003 (black, instead of brown)

They will let you know all the details about the frames, including the measurements, so you can compare them to a current pair that you wear, to get a better idea of how they will fit.

At the next screen, on step 1, you will choose how you will use your glasses (see below). For step 2, you will enter your prescription information. You can choose a prescription between -12.00 to +6.00! I don't have much of a prescription now compared to what I did before surgery, but it's enough to need to correct it.



For the final step, step 3, you will select your lenses. They will recommend an option for you based on your prescription. You can choose from the following:
  • Clear
    • Durable Air Lenses (this is what I chose)
    • Thin Air Lenses
    • Ultra Thin Air Lenses
  • Sunglasses & Transistions (not available for all frames)
    • Durable Transitions VI Lenses - Gray
    • Durable Air Sunglasses Lenses - Gray
    • Durable Air Sunglasses Lenses - Brown
    • Thin Air Photochromic Lenses - Gray
Now you are ready to checkout! You will have to pay for shipping and handling with your first free pair, and any additional upgrades that you want and/or need. I chose to add their combo of lens coatings value bundle for $19.95, which includes an anti-reflective coating, UV protective coating and a scratch resistant coating. When I returned to the site to look into an additional pair, it looks like all of these coatings are currently offered for free with the purchase of a pair of glasses at their regular price and shipping is free for orders over $99. Sweet!

My glasses arrived pretty quickly after ordering them (10 days after I placed my order) and were packaged up nicely in a hard lens case, with a cleaning spray and cloth, and a little screwdriver tool. The cloth by itself does an amazing job of getting little fingerprints off of my lenses (gee, where would those come from?). ;)

Coastal Contacts also has an awesome return policy. You have 366 days to return your glasses if you aren't happy with them for any reason! I don't think you'll need to worry about that, though, because I love mine! If you are interested in placing an order, please do me a favor and click through to their site from the picture below. You can help me earn cash credits towards another pair when you make a purchase! Thanks so much! :)


I hope you love your glasses as much as I do if you decide to order!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Menu Monday #31

We spent a lot of family time together this weekend. Like every other parent out there, we hugged our little ones a lot tighter and prayed for the families suffering this horrible tragedy. I still haven't found the words for how I am feeling, nor do I know if I'll ever truly understand why these things happen. I'm fortunate that our boys are too young to know what is going on, too innocent to have to grasp the situation themselves. I have been thinking about everything since Friday...about mental illness, gun control, media influence. Perhaps I will tackle all of this in another post at some point, in an effort to sort out my thoughts and try to make some sense of this horrible situation. For now, I will continue to pray for the families and cherish every moment I spend with our boys. I'm crying inside for all of those mothers who won't be sharing Christmas with their little ones this year, but trying to maintain normalcy for our boys, as they have no idea what has gone on, but they do know this is supposed to be a happy time of year.

On Friday evening, I had had a Girl's Night scheduled, and I went ahead and went to it. I knew the boys would be safe at home with their Daddy and they love that special alone time with him. They enjoyed some pizza and root beer and watched Christmas movies that evening. While they were having fun at home, I had a nice evening out with some friends. We went to The Battery, in downtown Johnson City. They just opened in March, but we hadn't been there yet to check it out. Set in what appears to be an old factory, the inside has been updated, but retains its brick walls. Very nice. The atmosphere was great for a girl's night, or date night. The food wasn't bad, but not my favorite. My caesar salad was excellent, but I made the mistake of ordering the salmon for my entrée. It wasn't bad, but I have been spoiled with Josh's superb grilling skills. It's super moist and delicious when he makes it, and the salmon I had was kind of dried out, so it lost a lot of its flavor. The potatoes they served (like a potato au gratin) were pretty good, as well as the grilled asparagus. Overall, it was a good experience, but I would definitely try one of their steaks next time instead. We had a nice evening sharing stories and laughs, much needed after a day of mourning.

Waiting for our food!
On Saturday morning, I treated the kids to more strawberry pancakes with cream cheese icing. Ethan had requested them again and well, I kind of just felt like giving that boy anything he wanted this weekend. I'm sure you know how I felt! We enjoyed the rest of the morning in our jammies watching Christmas movies. Later, after naps, we cleaned up and went Christmas shopping for the boys! It's possible that the boys may have went around the stores pointing out some things they wanted, that "Santa" then purchased! ;) I am super excited about the one big item we got for them to share this year. Is it bad that I might be more excited to play with it than them? Haha! We enjoyed a yummy dinner at Carrabba's while we were out. Their chocolate bread pudding is absolutely amazing. Please go enjoy some while they are still offering it!!

Helping crack the eggs!
On Sunday morning, Ethan and Noah helped Daddy make scrambled eggs and Cream of Wheat for breakfast. As one of the boys' favorite meals, it enjoys heavy rotation in our weekend schedule. :) Later that day, we decided to head to the local mall for some more shopping and a chance for the boys to sit on Santa's lap! We had skipped it on Saturday because the mall was super packed. We were hoping for a shorter line on Sunday, and it wasn't too bad. Ethan was very excited for the chance to meet Santa, but Noah wasn't as equally pumped. Fortunately, there were no tears, but we weren't going to get a smile out of him either. Maybe next year. :) The boys had fun shopping with Daddy for presents for Mommy. ;) There are now 2 little packages hiding somewhere in the house that will drive me nuts waiting to see what they are! Haha!



Sunday: Dinner at the mall
We ate at the food court while we were out. Burgers for the guys, and a grilled sub for me.

Monday: Taco cupcakes, Mexican rice
On the menu this week!
I'm going to try a couple new recipes from Plain Chicken. She always has tasty recipes, so I am sure these will be good, too. The taco cupcakes are made with wonton wrappers, like the lasagna cups I have made in the past. Should be a tasty combo with ground beef, black beans and cheddar cheese. On the side, the Mexican rice should pair well with these. A very fun, kid-friendly meal.

Tuesday: Crunchy chicken, pierogies, corn
I haven't made this meal in ages, but it used to be one of Ethan's favorites, so we'll see if he still likes it as much. I slice my chicken breasts thin, then coat them in some egg, then a mixture of crushed up cornflakes, paprika and a little salt and pepper. I bake them in the oven until tender and juicy. I buy Mrs. T's frozen pierogies since I have never tried making my own, though I should. If you aren't familiar with them, they are dumplings stuffed with a potato filling. Heavenly! I heat them up on the stove top by sautéing them in a little bit of butter. So good! I'll also sauté some frozen sweet corn in a little butter, too. Not the healthiest meal, but super tasty.

Wednesday:  Grilled pork chops, roasted butternut squash, and toasted pine nut couscous with dried cranberries
We skipped this meal last week, but it's supposed to be warmer and not raining on Wednesday, so a pretty decent day for grilling. Pretty crazy for the week before Christmas, but I'll take it!

Thursday: Chicken parmesan, whole wheat rotini, roasted green beans
This is another meal I haven't made for awhile, and another favorite of Ethan's from a couple years ago. I coat the chicken breast (sliced thin), in a little egg, then a mixture of bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese and parsley. I bake these until tender and juicy, topping them with a little shredded mozzarella cheese near the end. I serve them over the rotini, with some tomato sauce. Last week's fresh snap beans were awesome when I roasted them in the oven with a little EVOO, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, so I'll do that again.

Friday: TBD
We'll probably eat out somewhere. We'll see what we're in the mood for that day!

Saturday: TBD
Maybe we'll eat out again. Maybe not.

Happy meal planning to you this week. I was in the mood for some comfort food this week, and it showed! Are you finished with your Christmas shopping? We're not quite done yet, but I feel better knowing that we have at least started now!

If you haven't checked out Mom of the Year's posts on What Real Moms Want for Christmas, please do so! Keep tuning in...the post for this week will be coming up on Thursday, instead of today.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Menu Monday #30

Loving the darker shade! :)

We spent another nice, relaxing weekend at home this weekend. Josh decided to work from home on Friday morning, which meant it was like a 3-day weekend! :) There have definitely been perks for him not working in a manufacturing setting anymore. We enjoyed lunch out together at Atlanta Bread Company. We hadn't been in awhile and I had missed their roasted butternut squash soup! I took the afternoon off and enjoyed a cut and color with my favorite stylist, so I'm sporting a darker, more chocolate color now for the winter. I love it! That evening, we decided to stay in and order some pizza for dinner.

On Saturday morning, I tried a new recipe for strawberry pancakes. Ethan had been requesting some for weeks, so who was I to deny my 3-year-old some yummy pancakes?!? ;) I found a recipe from Rachael Ray, and tweaked it just a bit to fit our needs. Here's what I used...



Strawberry Pancakes with Cream Cheese Icing
(makes 18 pancakes, serves 5-6 people)

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-16 oz package of strawberries, sliced

Directions:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla. Preheat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir in the melted butter. The batter should be thick and smooth. Fold in the strawberries. Spoon the batter onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes until set and bubbled throughout, about 3 minutes. Flip them with a spatula and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Serve with cream cheese icing. Enjoy!

Looking sweet and innocent before gobbling up THREE pancakes!!

We all loved the flavor of these pancakes! Noah managed to gobble up THREE of them!! Wow. I seriously have no idea where he puts all that food in his tiny little body. Nor do I know how he manages to gain so little weight! I need some of his metabolism, that's for sure! ;) This pancake is probably better suited as a summer breakfast, but it worked for this weekend since we enjoyed temperatures in the high 60s again. Craziness for the middle of December in TN!

Breaking in the new bed!
Later on Saturday, we decided to go mattress shopping. We have been looking for awhile for something to replace the original mattress we bought when we moved into our first house almost 7 years ago. It has not held up nearly as well as we expected it to, leaving us both with sore necks and backs in the morning, so we were anxious to replace it. So, we bought ourselves a Christmas present - a new Tempurpedic Contour Signature mattress that was on sale! Awesome. We both prefer a very firm mattress, so this fit the bill perfectly. We managed to talk them in to delivering it that night, so we have enjoyed it the past 2 nights! :) Since we were waiting for the mattress to be delivered during dinner time, I ended up going out to pick up some take-out from the Yong Asian House. It's always a tasty meal, and was quick, too!

On Sunday morning, I wanted to try making some steel cut oats for breakfast. During the week, I had made some quick oats with dried cranberries and sliced almonds and they were delicious. Since I had a bit more time on the weekend (as in Daddy was there to distract the hungry little boys!), I wanted to try the steel cut variety, since they take longer. I used this recipe as a guide, to come up with this...




Apple Cinnamon Oats

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup steel cut oats
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored & diced into 1/2-inch pieces (I used a honey crisp)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Milk, if desired

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in the oats and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the apples, cinnamon and brown sugar. Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the oats are tender. Stir in the walnuts (and milk, if you want it to be a thinner consistency) before serving. Yum!

And now for our menu for the week.

Sunday: NY strip steak, oven roasted parmesan broccoli, oven roasted red potatoes
We fired up the grill since the weather was beautiful, in the high 60s again! The veggies were seasoned with EVOO, a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I also used some rosemary on the potatoes.

I'll brown the pork chops with a quick sear, then finish them off by baking them in the oven. I haven't made the sweet potatoes in awhile, but both of the boys love them.

TuesdayMelt in your mouth baked chicken, whole wheat rotini, oven roasted asparagus
This is such a great, easy meal that the kids will both eat. And it's healthy with the use of Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise! For my asparagus, I season with a little EVOO, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Wednesday: Spaghetti and meatballs, oven roasted green beans
A classic. I use whole wheat spaghetti. For the meatballs, I'll use 1/2 lean ground beef and 1/2 sausage, for some great flavor. I didn't try roasting the beans last week because I didn't think it would work well with frozen beans. This week, I bought some fresh ones, so I'll season with a little EVOO, sea salt and freshly ground pepper before roasting.

Thursday: Buffalo ranch pulled chicken, rice, corn
I'm going to try this new recipe this week. It sounded tasty, so we'll see how it goes! I'll serve it over rice, with lightly buttered sweet corn on the side.

Friday: Girl's Night!
I'll be enjoying a night out with friends, so the guys will probably order a pizza here at home. I'm so excited!

Saturday: Out to eat
We'll eat out somewhere!


Happy meal planning to you this week. Are you ready for Christmas? I haven't done much shopping yet, so I better get it in gear! If you need ideas or some cash, keep reading!

If you haven't checked out Mom of the Year's posts on What Real Moms Want for Christmas yet, please do so! Keep tuning in every Monday, as you just might see someone you know there next week. ;)

And don't forget about the Target gift card and kreations by kristy gift certificate giveaway going on at Janine's Confessions of a Mommyaholic. Hurry on over before the contest ends Wednesday!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

business giveaway!

Do you still have Christmas shopping to do this year? Or do you just love Target as much as I do?!? If so, read on...

I've partnered up with Janine's Confessions of a Mommyaholic today for a great giveaway! Please visit Janine's blog for all of the details by clicking on the picture below. Hurry, contest runs through Wednesday!


Good luck!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Monday #29

After a busy weekend last weekend, it was nice to spend a quiet weekend at home. On Friday, I took advantage of Josh being home all afternoon to do some solo shopping. It was wonderful. I definitely never realized before kids how difficult something as easy as shopping would become. I have no idea why kids wouldn't want to spend hours in a stroller or shopping cart while Mommy browses through stores?!? They must not be mine! ;) Later, for dinner, we hit up Smokey Bones because Ethan wanted grilled cheese, and we knew they had it. Unfortunately, though they are normally quick and tasty, they were neither of those things for me that night. The meal took forever to get and my salad was not great. I had to send it back for a new one!

On Saturday morning, I had just the right amount of pumpkin purée leftover, so I made another batch of whole wheat pumpkin pancakes. This time I tried the recipe for the cinnamon streusel topping, too. It was heavenly!! We can't decide if we like them better with the cream cheesing icing or the cinnamon streusel topping. They are both so tasty! We took advantage of the beautiful day in the high 60s, and we all went outside to play and put up the Christmas lights on the house. That evening, we wanted to try a local pizza place, so we headed to Scratch Brick Oven.

That's it for the menu! I really want to try that stuffed pie!
Peperone, andouille sausage, spinach and onions
They offered a fun environment and some really good pizza! We will definitely be visiting them again. They make all of their own meats, doughs, and sauces themselves in house. You can definitely tell the difference in the quality, too. Their prices were very reasonable (the pizzas are big!!) and you can even bring your own drinks with you. I recommend this since they don't use servers and you can avoid buying bottled drinks that way. :) You just fill out a slip with what you want on your pizza, or you trust them to create one for you! We may have to try that option next time. Then you give it to one of them and they go to work making it. It's that easy. You have a seat and they call you up to get it once it is ready. They go by the honor system when it comes time to settle the bill. You let them know if you had any drinks and they add it to your tab. Be sure to bring cash for a 3% discount on your bill. :) We added 4 toppings to our pizza and they were all great - cooked just right! We also got an order of pesto cheesesticks to start. These were really good, too, though the pesto was a bit different than what I make at home. Ethan was a huge fan.

On Sunday morning, Ethan helped Daddy make scrambled eggs and Cream of Wheat for breakfast. The boys always love eating this meal. We spent the day cleaning and playing.

He's really good at cracking eggs!
He's got some mad fork skills! :)

Sunday: Blackened salmon over brown rice, oven roasted asparagus
On the menu this week...on my new menu board! :)
We fired up the grill since the weather was beautiful, in the 60s again! I had missed this meal, so it was extra tasty.

Monday: BBQ chicken sandwiches, mac 'n cheese, baked beans
With another nice day in store for us, it will be another meal on the grill. We'll use Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce on the chicken. I have recently discovered Annie's organic mac 'n cheese and it was a hit with the boys, so I have strayed from our longtime favorite for this new variety. :) The guys gobble up Bush's Southern Pit BBQ baked beans, so that will round out the meal. It will feel like summer again!

Tuesday: Grilled pork chops, roasted butternut squash, and toasted pine nut couscous with dried cranberries
I wasn't kidding when I said this was a new favorite! We'll be having it again this week. All of the flavors are excellent together!

Wednesday: Grilled cheese with prosciutto, tomato soup
The boys gobble this meal up, and I "fancy" it up a bit for hubby and I to enjoy, too! I'll bake a loaf of French bread in the bread machine to use, along with provolone cheese and some prosciutto. Amy's organic chunky tomato bisque soup is delicious, and topped with a little shredded parmesan, it's just right!

Thursday: Chicken capri over brown rice, oven roasted green beans

I slice my chicken breasts thin and pan fry them in a little EVOO first, then top them with a ricotta cheese mixture, crushed tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. This is baked to melt the cheese and served over the rice, to soak up all the juices. I haven't tried roasting green beans yet, but since I prefer all of my veggies this way, I am going to give it a go. I normally use frozen beans, so I'm going to try it this way to see how well it works!

Friday: Out to eat
We'll probably eat out somewhere. We'll see what we're in the mood for that day!

Saturday: TBD
Maybe we'll eat out again. Maybe not. Hubby and I are both craving some more pizza from Scratch already though! ;)

Happy meal planning to you this week. Is it unusually warm where you live, too??

I'm working on a re-design of the blog, with just a bit more to do now. I wanted something that I designed myself versus a template, so I am happy that I am figuring it all out pretty well. Can you tell I am partial to chevron right now? :)

And before I forget, if you haven't checked out Mom of the Year's posts on What Real Moms Want for Christmas, please do so! Keep tuning in every Monday, as you just might see someone you know there in a couple of weeks. ;)