Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

Last week was a disaster! Both kids and I were sick. I didn't make it to the market the previous Sunday and I was left scrambling for dinners all week. This meant unhealthy takeout and not really balanced meals, which is what you really need when you are sick. Ugh! Now that we are on the upswing of the sickness, both kids are well into their antibiotics and finally sleeping through the night again (THANK GOD) I made sure I planned for this week. Here's what's on the table this week:

Sunday: Individual Shepherd's Pie (Also called Shepherd's Pie Pie by Natey)
Monday: Broiled Spiced Salmon, broccoli & cous cous
Tuesday: Chicken Pesto Pasta
Wednesday: Shrimp Fried rice
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Slow cooker beef stew
Saturday: Dinner at in-laws

The Shepherd's pie was a new recipe and it got a thumbs up from all at the table. I will be adding it to the recipe binder, which is in need of some serious updating! I'm doing a little experimenting with  the shrimp fried rice and also the chicken pesto pasta so it doesn't involve cream (to much fat). If they come out well, I will post the recipes. If you have any awesome (and quick, ~45 min or less) recipes, post a link in my comments. I am getting tired of trolling through recipe blogs, not knowing if the food is any good!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Old Wives Tales

I'm not a huge believer in many of the old wives tales floating around. I don't think that you can tell the sex of an unborn baby by the way you're carrying. I know for a fact that going outside with wet hair is NOT how you catch a cold. I am also pretty sure that chocolate doesn't give you acne or my face would look like a hormonal teenage boy's. That being said, when you are at the tail end of 2 weeks with no sleep because both of your children have been waking up multiple times a night, either coughing or because they couldn't breathe through their nose, you are willing to try anything to get some rest. Enter my MIL.

My hubby told his mom that the kids have been really sick and we are dying over here from lack of sleep. She gave some advice that I was sure had to be one of these old wives tales. She said, right before we put the kids to bed, we should rub Vicks VapoRub on the soles of their feet and put cotton socks on them. This is supposed to stop their coughing and let them sleep through the night. I admit I was skeptical but willing to try ANYTHING short of voodoo to get Nate to sleep. He was coughing as we were getting ready for bed and I didn't hold out much hope for this trick to work, but I did it anyway.  Ten minutes after I put the Vicks on his feet he was out like a light and sleeping soundly. He did not wake up 1 time last night!!! I wish I could say the same thing for baby girl, but she wasn't waking up coughing. Her sinuses are so stuffed up that it is coming out of her tear ducts.  Poor pitiful baby.

I have to say that I am a firm believer in this trick and will do it again tonight. I'm pretty sure Vicks doesn't endorse this application of their product, but I work for a pharmaceutical company and know that off-label applications of some products are often more successful than their originally intended use! Case in point, I have been rubbing the Vicks on his chest for days with no improvement in cough or sleep. It just goes to show you that not all old wives tales are bunk!

*Not a sponsored post. Do not use regular Vicks on children under 2 years old. Use Baby Vicks instead*

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cupcake Pops

It is official, I'm obsessed. The first time I saw cake pops on someone's blog I knew I had to make them. I started off pretty simply with the regular, ball shaped pops and then it became my goal to make all different shapes!! The next thing I tried was skull cake pops for Natey's pirate themed 3rd birthday party. They turned out ok, but I couldn't quite get the candy coating right and I bought the wrong food markers. I made them in August for a dinner at the local Ronald McDonald House in the shape of suns, but an unfortunate occurrence with a super hot day resulted in pops melting right off the sticks. There is no need to look at the sad pictures of that one...

Then Bakerella came out with her cake pop cook book and I was sold!! I have decided that I am on a mission, Julie and Julia style, where I will systematically bake and make my way through her cook book! I am not giving myself a time limit since I have many other things keeping me busy, but I will make every last one (maybe not the Hanukkah ones...unless someone really needs me to, just ask!).

With that work-up I give you cake pop attempt number 4, the Cupcake Cake Pop, in all its cutesy glory!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shortcut Chicken Pot Pies

I have a really awesome chicken pot pie recipe that requires cooking the chicken and making your own chicken stock, but honestly who has time for that? I made a few changes and think it tastes the same using a few shortcuts. I have been trying to incorporate leftovers into another weeknight meal to save time and money. On Sunday, when I had more time than a normal night, I roasted a chicken. We ate the roasted chicken with roasted root veggies and it was delicious. Then I turned the leftovers into chicken salad for some sandwiches and used the rest in this chicken pot pie recipe! I also made the filling on Sunday and had them ready in the refrigerator to just pop into the oven for a quick and easy weeknight meal. If you don't have time to roast your own chicken, grab a roticerie chicken from the market.

Chicken Pot Pie

Meat from a roasted or roticerie chicken
1 box of chicken stock (Stock NOT broth, very important)
6 tbs butter
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1  package (8oz) of mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 bag of frozen peas and carrots
2 tbs minced fresh parsley
1 large pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 package or ready made pie crust (I like Pilsbury)
Egg wash- 1 egg whisked with 1 tbs water

Pull the meat from the roasted or roticerie chicken. I just use my hands to pull it apart. Set aside for later.
If you plan to cook the pot pies right after you make the filling then pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut up your celery, mushrooms and onions.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet or I use my dutch oven...for everything. Add the onions, mushrooms and celery and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. (If you forgot to add the mushrooms at this step like I did, you can saute them in a seperate pan and throw them in...oops)

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about one minute more.

Whisk in 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock.

Whisk in the milk.
Bring to a simmer and then decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring often.
Add the chicken meat, thyme, the frozen peas and carrots, parsley, salt and pepper and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Divide the warm filling into six 10 oz ramekins. I have glass ones, but only 4 so I either use disposable aluminum ones or just pour the rest into a round baking dish. You could just as easily make one big one, but I prefer individual servings...with their own crust. Mmmmm. Cut the crust into 6 rounds, slightly larger than the circumfrence of the ramekins. Lay the dough round on each one and fold the excess dough under itself and use a fork to press the dough against the edge like so.

Now you have two can cover them with plastic wrap and put them on a baking sheet in the refrigerator to pop in the oven sometime during the week or you can cook them right away. I have even covered mine with plastic wrap and then tin foil and put them in the freezer, but then they take a while to bake when you take them out. If you choose to eat then in the now continue..

Cut a few little slits in the top of the pies for venting purposes. Use a pastry brush (I have a silicone one) and apply the egg wash to each pie.

 Line a baking sheet with tin foil, place the pies on the sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving or it will be like eating lava. (I like to picture Dr.Evil when I say that word)

These are so good you'll think your grandma spent all day making them. Let me know if you try them out! Bon appetit!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Big Girls DO Cry

Just about every pictrue of Arielle I have put on my blog is shiny and happy. It's not because of selective photo posting. She is the smiliest baby I have ever met....until she's not feeling well. I made an outfit for one of my friends to give as a gift and wanted to try it on Arielle to see how it looked. Let's just say one little cold and the normal smiley cooperation was completely absent.

The outfit was for a 2 year old so it was a little big on her. Maybe that's what she was ticked about...or maybe it was because mommy took away her stethescope to try to get some cute pictures. Oops.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -When we met

I'm postig this photo from back in the day because Monday was the 7 year anniversary of the day I met this wonderful man. You make me smile, always. I love you.

I love technology, but not as much as you, you see.
But I still love technology.
Always and Forever.

I Love Technology
If you don't get this, there is nothing I can do for just don't know funny.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today's top 10

Top 10 indications that you need a vacation some where warm:

1. You look outside at the snow and contemplate taking a blowtorch to the stuff just so you can see your lawn again.

2. Your kids are so tired of their coats that the 3yo won't even let you zip it up anymore without a full blown meltdown.

3. You open the door and it's a balmy 42 degrees outside and you stand on your deck smiling like it is a hot summer day.

4. Instead of being happy that Punxatawney Phil didn't see his shadow you think that groundhogs are now purposely f*ing with you. This winter will never end.

5. You are jealous of your co-worker who is going on a 3 week vacation to Florida and smiled a little when he told you that it was supposed to rain the first day.

6. You have started planning your son's 4th birthday party...that's not till June...just so you can imagine being outside and warm.

7. You keep pulling out all of your daughter's summer clothes that you've already bought, praying they will still fit her by the time it is warm enough.

8. You browse the Beaches resort website weekly, checking rates, even though you know you aren't going anywhere any time soon.

9. You wear yellow and bright green short sleeve shirts to work trying to channel spring.

10. You spend an hour writing a list of all the reasons you really, really need to get out of this stinking cold and want to be warm so bad that you are contemplating turning the heat in your house up to 85 just for one day and lay around in your bathing suit.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Pancakes

I used to use Bisquick for my pancakes before I realized how easy it is to make them yourself. I tried a few recipes online and ended up modifying and combining 2 of them to get the recipe I use now. Saturdays are usually pancakes day in our house and this recipe is a family favorite! The recipe below is for a full batch and I usually half it so I don't have a ton of batter left over. The half recipe makes ~6-7 pancakes using a 1/3 cup measuring cup to pour the batter on the griddle. I find it is perfect for us, but sometimes make the whole batch and freeze the left over pancakes to be popped in the toaster for a quick and easy breakfast.

2 cups All purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
 2 cups milk
1 tbs melted butter
2 eggs (separated)

Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix using a fork.

Add the milk and stir until combined. Add the melted butter and stir again.

Separate your eggs. There have to be a million "tips" for doing this. I find the easiest thing is to crack the egg and pour it into my hand. The white goes through, the yolk is in your hand, you toss it in the batter. Easy Peasy. Just make sure you have clean hands or ewww. After you add the yolks to the batter, stir to combine and get to work on your whites. If you want a little exercise, use your hand whisk. If you are smart, use your hand mixer with the whisk attachment. {Man my arm was tired} Whisk until you have soft peaks, then fold the whites into the batter.

See, only a couple more steps than if I made it from a box and I promise it literally takes 5 minutes. Let the batter stand for 10 minutes while you clean up and get your griddle ready. The whites and the baking powder help the pancakes to be light and fluffy so don't over mix. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to pour the pancakes on the griddle. I usually heat the oven to 250 degrees and throw a baking rack in there to keep the pancakes warm while I make them all.

We add all kinds of things to our pancakes. Nate's favorite is blueberries and the hubby like bananas. I like vanilla in my pancakes, Aaron does not. If you do like it, add 1 tsp when you add the milk! On occasion I will toss in some chocolate chips, but if you've met my son, you know he doesn't need any extra help in the hyper department! I hope you enjoy the pancakes! Let me know if you give them a try!