Thursday, April 30, 2009

Garden Update!

We just got back from our vacation yesterday, and I had been worried about my newly planted garden, especially since I heard it had already gotten into the "triple-digit" weather here in AZ. I was expecting to come back to dried out or burnt plants. But, the super sunshine must have been really good for my garden, because everything is looking great! I was happy to find all my herbs very full and green, as well as some "fruits" starting to grow! I have a baby Roma Tomato and some baby Summer Squash! I am so happy, and I'm very excited to start using everything in my cooking! :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

International Children's Digital Library

I LOVE this website! I think it is so great! This is an online "library" that has a bunch of online books from all over the world that you can read to your child from your computer for free! Many of them have been translated into English, so it makes it easier for us monolingual parents! I think it is great when children can learn about different cultures! :) Check it out! 

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Grown-up" Grilled Cheese

Sorry, I know this isn't the best picture. I didn't have my camera handy, so I had to use my cell phone camera. :) This is one of my husband's favorite meals! He LOVES it! I have made this many times for him, so I thought, I might as well put it on my blog! You could probably give this meal to your kids too and they would probably enjoy it as well! I use prosciutto, which is an Italian type of bacon/ham. It is available in most supermarkets in the deli section. We get a large pack at Sam's or Costco. It is rather salty, so you definitely don't need to add any salt to this sandwich. I have a special "Stuffed Sandwich Maker" from Williams-Sonoma, but I'm sure you could cook this sandwich just as you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich (over a non-stick pan or skillet, and flip). Just be careful that all the "insides" stay together. ;) You could also use a panini press if you have one. We both love dipping the sandwich in some delicious (and easy) tomato soup, but I like to add a little extra spice to my soup. Try it on a cool night sometime! :)

Ingredients for 2 sandwiches:
4 slices sourdough bread (I used wheat in the picture, but it's better with sourdough)
6 slices prosciutto (you can use regular ham if you don't have prosciutto)
4 slices tomato
4 slices mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp or so fresh ground pepper

Ingredients for soup: 
Canned Tomato Soup, condensed (if you have time, you can make homemade tomato soup)
1 full can water
1 tsp or so Italian seasoning
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh chopped basil leaves (for pretty)

Putting it all together:
In a small bowl, combine olive oil and pepper. Brush only one side of each slice of bread with oil mixture. On the dry side of the bread, pile your ingredients... I put 3 slices of prosciutto per sandwich, then add tomato slices, a sprinkling of pepper, then 1 tbsp basil leaves per sandwich, then 2 slices mozzarella each, then place the other slice of bread on top (oil side up). "Grill" in pan over medium to medium high heat until cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown and crispy. You can use a spatula to "smash" all the ingredients together, then flip carefully. :) To make the soup, mix together tomato soup and water over medium to medium high heat. Add Italian seasoning and pepper (I like to crush the dry herbs in my fingers before sprinkling in the soup, to get more flavor out of them). Mix well, and heat until warmed through. Dip sandwich and enjoy! 

Note: If you have a nifty "Stuffed Sandwich Maker" like me, preheat to high while putting the sandwiches together. When the machine is ready (green light), open, spray with non-stick spray, then place sandwiches in their designated areas. Close, lock, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Use a spatula to remove the sandwiches. Cut and enjoy! 


Sunday, April 26, 2009

World Snacks Books

My son and I LOVE these "food books" by Amy Wilson Sanger! I think they are so cute! They are designed like a collage, using textiles (paper, fabrics, etc.), and cute little rhymes for the food stories. I love that these books introduce children to different foods around the world! We eat a lot of Asian food in our family, so right now, I only have the First Book of Sushi, and Yum Yum Dim Sum. Also available are Chaat and Sweets, A Little Bit of Soul Food, Hola! Jalapeno, Let's Nosh!, and Mangia! Mangia! I am hoping to eventually get the entire collection. These books may be available at your local bookstore, or through the publisher's website, or at Amazon. We love food so much over here, that we even love to read about it! Then we get hungry... ;) 


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easy Kids Recipes

I recently found this site online while surfing the web, and I think it is great! It has a bunch of recipes for kids, and you can also enter your own favorite recipes to the site! I'm hoping to visit this site more often so I can get some great ideas for meal time! :) 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Agave Nectar

Ok, so if you've been reading my blog, you have probably noticed that I use agave nectar quite often when I'm baking or cooking anything sweet. I'm sure some of you are probably wondering, "What is Agave Nectar?". So, I decided it was worthy of it's own post! :) Here is why I feel better about giving my son sweets made with agave nectar instead of sugar: Agave nectar is a natural sweetener made from the extract of wild agave (a plant). It is certified organic and is lower on the glycemic index than other sweeteners (such as sugar or honey), so its great for anyone who is watching their glucose intake. It is not as sticky as honey, and pours more easily than honey, so it blends in your drinks or foods quicker. It is sweeter than sugar, so you don't have to use as much to get your foods or drinks deliciously sweet (1/4 cup of agave nectar is equivalent to 1 cup of sugar)! It might be available at your local grocery store, but I usually have to get mine at Sprouts or Whole Foods. Happy sweetening! :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mini Masters books

My son LOVES these books, and I LOVE that he loves them! :) I took a bunch of Art History classes in college, and I love learning about different artists, artwork, and the meanings and symbolism involved in so many masterpieces! I think these books are great because they expose children to some of these amazing paintings at such a young age! Authors Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober have made cute little rhymes for the stories, too! I love anything cultural and educational for my child! Some of these books are available as sets of four, or you can also purchase them separately. They can probably be purchased at your local bookstore, or check the publisher's website, or Amazon. Also available: Painting with Picasso, Sharing with Renoir, Sunday with Seurat, Quiet Time with Cassatt, Dreaming with Rousseau, and On an Island with Gauguin. Happy Reading! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I just found this website, and I think it is another great one! It has some wonderful information for parents of kids of any age! There are sections on Parenting, Health, Food (including recipes), Crafts, and so much more! I am hoping to visit this site more often to get some more great tips and ideas! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Banana-Carrot Muffins

Ok, so I've made Banana Muffins before... But, I wanted to make these a little more nutritious, so I put a little spin on my original muffin recipe (see April 3rd post). These ones have a little bit of shredded carrot (I like to sneak in some veggies in my sweets), and another special ingredient that makes these even yummier than the regular banana muffins! My husband and son think so too! :) Enjoy!

1 package (8 oz.) Cream Cheese or Neufchatel, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup agave nectar)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup shredded carrot (I like to squeeze out the excess liquid from the shredded carrots using paper towels)
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
2 eggs
2-1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add banana, eggs, carrot, orange zest and orange juice; mix well. 

Add combined dry ingredients; mix until moistened. Pour into greased and floured, or paper-cup lined muffin trays, about 2/3 full. 

Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean (mine took about 30 min). Cool 5 minutes; remove muffins from tray. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve and enjoy! Makes about 16 to 20 muffins. 

Note: If you would like to add nuts, you can stir in 1 cup chopped walnuts (or any chopped nut you prefer) after the dry ingredients have been mixed. If you would like to make this as a loaf of bread, pour mixture into greased and floured 9x5-inch loaf pan, and bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. You can also add 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal to the mixture for an extra boost of Omega 3! :)


Monday, April 20, 2009

Delicious Baby

Sorry, no picture... I just found this blog site the other day, and I think it is GREAT! I was very worried about our upcoming trip to the Carolinas. It will be my son's first flight, and a long one at that... So, I started looking up "traveling with toddlers", and this site came up. "Delicious Baby". I checked it out, and it has some really great ideas on traveling with kids, how to pack, what to expect, what kinds of toys to bring, even some tips on what to do when you get to your destination. It has great ideas for anything related to traveling with kids! Check it out if you get a chance, even if you're not traveling anytime soon. The tips will come in handy when you do travel with your kids! :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Blueberry-Apple-Banana Pancakes

Pancakes, again?! Yes, I make pancakes for my son once a week or every 2 weeks. It's a special treat for him and as I said before, he LOVES them! And I don't feel so bad, since they're relatively good for him without syrup! ;) I've made some plain blueberry pancakes for him before, but I like to add a little more fruit (or sometimes veggies), and I love bananas in pancakes! They give a delicious natural sweetness! I also added a little bit of flaxseed meal for an extra boost of Omega 3! Yum! :)

3/4 cup Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake Mix
1 tbsp Canola Oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk, soymilk, rice milk, or water
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp applesauce
1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 banana, diced or pureed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp agave nectar

Mix the first 4 ingredients together only until lumps disappear. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Place about 1/4 cup sized scoops onto medium high (375 F-400 F) heated pan (I spray mine with non-stick spray). Spread out batter to make a circular shape. Flip pancakes when bubbles start to form on the surface and the edges begin to dry. Cook the other side until lightly browned. Serve and enjoy! This recipe makes about 6 to 8 four-inch pancakes. 

Note: For thicker pancakes, use less liquid. For thinner pancakes, use more liquid.  


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Precious Moments Doll

My mom just gave me a bunch of fabric that she had from a long time ago from some sewing projects she didn't get to finish. I LOVE this Precious Moments fabric to make a little stuffed doll! It is simple and so cute! I am so glad I know how to use a sewing machine now! I made this for my son in about an hour, while he took his afternoon nap! I am not sure if this particular fabric is still made or not, but I am sure there are different fabric patterns that are similar to this project that would be something simple for you to make for your child. If you have a sewing machine, all you need to do is make this the same way you would make a pillow. Cut around the shape of the project, then place the front side touching the back side (so it looks inside-out). Sew around the edges, leaving a small space for turning the project right-side out, then stuffing. Once you're done stuffing, sew the opening together by slip-stitching the fabric together. It takes hardly any time to do, and it is something nice and "Mama-Made" for you to be able to give to your child. :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Better BBQ Sauce

In the quest to get my son to eat more meats, I learned that he LOVES barbeque sauce! Hmmm... I can't imagine why..? Probably has something to do with how sweet it is... In fact, by adding barbeque sauce to any meat, I can pretty much guarantee that my son will eat his meat! He's gotta have his protein! :) Anyways, I didn't want to buy just any old barbeque sauce from the store. Those are loaded with sugar! So, I began researching "healthy" barbeque sauces on the web. There aren't very many out there that don't include ketchup (also loaded with sugar). But I found one, and modified it to suit my son better. It tastes great, and he LOVES it! He kept saying "num num num" after each bite! It also has some veggies in it, which makes it much better for him. I am one happy Mama! I poured my sauce over some shredded chicken and put it in a mini whole wheat pita for my son. I'm sure you could make a big batch for your family and serve up some delicious sloppy joes for dinner! Yum! 

1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1/2 cup carrot puree
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp agave nectar
2 shakes Tabasco
pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in medium saucepan over low heat, until combined and heated through. Pour over your favorite shredded meat for a great barbeque sandwich, or brush over whole cuts of meat before grilling. Makes about 2 cups. Extra sauce freezes nicely. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Soccer Tots

I just had to add this! My son just started his first Soccer class on Wednesday through Soccer Tots in AZ. I didn't realize it was such a big company until I looked them up online. Turns out the Soccer Tots program is available in many areas. They also have "Soccer Touch" for older kids. Check it out online, and check out your local city or town community centers to find out if they offer it. Or, if you're not into soccer, I'm sure your city or town community centers will have plenty of other activities that you can get your kids involved in! My son LOVES kicking his soccer ball all over the house! And he had fun at his first class, too! It is something fun you can do with your kids, and they will love having some extra play time as well as meeting new friends! 


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Seaweed Snacks

"Seaweed snacks, you say?" Yes, you can eat seaweed and it is really yummy and good for you! I'm sure it sounds like a strange snack, or something that one of those silly super crazy healthy people eat. But, my son LOVES these seaweed snacks! There are some different companies that make them, and they are all yummy! My husband and I even think so! :) They are a great little snack for toddlers too, and they are so good for them! Seaweed is rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, zinc and magnesium.... that's a mouthful! Sea's Gift has two different kinds... this sweet flaky seaweed (good for sprinkling on other foods) or seaweed "chips". Their brand is about $0.79 for a pack, but it doesn't have very much inside. I think the bigger pack by Yama Moto Yama is a better deal. I prefer the seaweed "chips" because they're easier for my son to hold and feed himself. I got mine at Whole Foods, but I'm sure they can be found elsewhere... maybe an Asian supermarket. Happy snacking! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Family Fun Magazine

I LOVE this magazine! It has so many great ideas! There are some fun crafts and activities you can do with your kids, great recipes, ideas for family vacations, and so much more! My mom got me a subscription to this magazine for Christmas, and I am so glad that she did! When I get it in the mail, I usually go through and mark all the pages that I think are great ideas that I could use... I usually end up with most of the pages marked! My son is still pretty young, but I know I can use some of these ideas for crafts, etc. later on. I highly recommend this magazine if you have kids! :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Berry Trifle

 My family LOVES my trifle! And it makes me so happy! :) Never heard of trifle? It is a dessert made with layers of spongey cake, custard or pudding, and fruit. I make trifle at least once a year, if not more often... I've made different variations, but most of the time I end up sticking with berries. I made this for our family Easter get-together on Sunday. Some recipes of trifle call for soaking the cake in rum or other alcoholic beverages, but since we had little kids at our event that were going to be eating this, I didn't think that was a good idea. ;) My recipe is fairly simple, but you can make it more complex (i.e., totally homemade) if you so choose. I didn't make my own whipped cream, although it is pretty easy to make. I also didn't make my own pudding. The packaged ones are so much easier, especially when you're in a hurry! I also used store bought pound cake. I have also used angel food cake in other trifle recipes, and it is just as delicious. It is a little more delicate than pound cake, so it might get soggy faster than pound cake does. My supermarket was all out of raspberries, which I prefer for this recipe, but I used blackberries, and it was still yummy! I also normally add banana slices to my recipe, but I had "Momnesia" on Sunday and totally forgot until I was already done making my trifle! Oh, well! It will taste yummy either way. I slice about half of the strawberries to make them "pretty" when they show through my dish. I chop the remaining strawberries that aren't going to be seen through the glass. I also add a special "drizzle" of fruit sauce over the cake. I think it adds even more fruity flavor to the dessert! Enjoy! 

1 pound cake, cubed
2 packages (3.4 oz) banana pudding mix
4 cups cold milk
1 tub whipped cream (8 oz; or make your own)
1 pound (16 oz) fresh strawberries, sliced and/or chopped
about 6 oz fresh blueberries 
about 6 oz fresh blackberries
2 to 3 medium bananas, sliced and/or chopped
2 tbsp raspberry preserves (preferably seedless)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp agave nectar (honey would probably be fine too)

To make "fruit sauce drizzle": Mix raspberry preserves with zest and juice of 1 lemon, and the agave nectar. I use a mini whisk, but you can use a fork too. Mix until the sauce is relatively smooth. 

To make banana pudding: Mix milk with banana pudding mixes. Stir with a wire whisk for a couple of minutes. Let the pudding mixture set while you're preparing fruit. 

Putting it all together: Place half of the pound cake cubes on the bottom of your trifle bowl. Drizzle with half of the "fruit sauce". Arrange about 1/3 of the fruit pieces evenly over the cake. I like to make a little pattern of fruit around the bowl, so some fruit pieces are peeking through. It makes it look really pretty! Pour about 1/2 of the pudding over the fruit, and spread evenly. Spread about 1/2 of the whipped cream over the pudding evenly. Repeat layers once. On the top layer of whipped cream, arrange your remaining pieces of fruit in a pretty pattern, or just arrange pieces evenly over the top. This dessert tastes great when it is left in the fridge for a few hours before serving. It allows all the flavors of the fruits to soak into the cake... Mmmm! 


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter "Eggimals"

I think these "Eggimals" are sooo cute! It is a great idea I found in my Family Fun magazine. If you're wondering what to do with your leftover plastic eggs, you can either save them for next year, or make them into these cute animals using pom poms, felt, pipe cleaner, and black permanent marker! They would be a fun craft to do with your kids, and I'm sure they would enjoy playing with them afterwards! :) 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tooth Fairy Pillow

Ok, so obviously this is not for my son... Two of my nieces are turning 5 this year, and I wanted to make something special. So, I thought about it awhile, and I thought, "Hey, they're gonna be losing their teeth pretty soon... I'll make a Tooth Fairy Pillow!" When my sister and I were little, my mom made us small pillows (with a pocket for our teeth) to put under our big pillow for the tooth fairy. Since I just recently learned how to use a sewing machine, I thought I'd give it a try too. So, I couldn't decide on what shape to make, and originally I was going to make a heart-shaped pillow with a little pocket on the front. Then, my husband came in and said, "You should make it shaped like a tooth!" Wow! My husband is more creative than me... Turns out the tooth-shape is quite difficult when you're a newbie to the sewing machine, so I don't recommend it if you're new like me... But if you want to give it a try, go ahead! I decided to make another one that's more simple...  a small rectangle. Corners are much easier than curves! If you want to try it, here's what I did...

Simple Version: Get whatever fabric you like, then cut it to the shape you want, twice (one for the front, one for the back). Then get a different color fabric and cut in a small shape for a pocket. Sew on the pocket to the front side of the pillow fabric first. It's easier to do a square-shaped or triangle-shaped pocket here if you're new to sewing (like me). Once the pocket is sewed, place the front side of the pillow touching the back side of the pillow (so that it looks like it's inside-out). Line the pieces of fabric together so they're even, then sew around the outer edge (don't get too close to the edge of the fabric, leave a little extra space). Don't sew all the way around! Make sure to leave a small "gap" on your pillow edge so that you can turn the pillow right side out and stuff it later. Once you're done sewing, find your "gap" and carefully turn the pillow right side out and make sure all the corners are out and even. Then stuff the pillow with your stuffing. I used a polyester fiber fill in mine. Then slip-stitch your "gap" to complete!

Add-Ons: I added some little snips of lace fabric that I had from an old shirt of mine to the edges of the rectangle pillow. I just placed the lace fabric between the other pieces of fabric before I started sewing, lined them all up so that the lace was pointing inwards towards the pillow, then pinned the three fabrics together and sewed slowly... moving the pin as I sewed along the edge. When I got to my "gap" after stuffing the pillow, I hand-stitched the remaining snippet of lace to the other pieces of fabric, then closed the gap. I also added some ribbon "hooks" in the corners so the "Tooth Fairy" can grab the pillow easier. I hand-stitched the ribbon after I had already finished stuffing and closing my gap, but it could be done while you are sewing all your other fabrics together (it would probably look better this way). You would just make a ribbon "hook" and point it towards the inside of the pillow (with the edges of the ribbon touching the fabric edges), then sew all your fabrics together as described above. 

On mine, I also added a story that I found about the Tooth Fairy online. Click here for a cute Tooth Fairy website! I also tied a small piece of paper to the pillow with some instructions on how to use it. :)

Have fun! 


Friday, April 10, 2009

Pumpkin-Pear-Banana Pancakes

Ok, I know it's a mouthful! I've made many different versions of pancakes for my son! They make a great finger food for toddlers! He LOVES any pancakes I make him! I added some fruits that are delicious together! Pumpkin and pear go great together, and bananas make everything naturally sweet! I know pumpkin is out of season right now, but I love all the flavors and smells of fall, so I've been keeping some canned pumpkin on hand for my family. I personally am not a fan of maple syrup (I know, I'm weird), but I'm sure these would be delicious with a little drizzle of syrup over top. My son loves them plain, so that's how I'll serve them... as long as possible. ;) You can make your own pancake mix, or use a store-bought one. I think it is so much easier to use the store-bought kind. I like any of the Arrowhead Mills brand, but I usually use the Multigrain type. You can mix in any type of fruit (or veggie for that matter) with the mix and they will turn out great! I've also made blueberry, strawberry, apple, and sweet potato pancakes, or a mixture of a bunch of things like these ones. If you don't like chunks of fruit in your pancakes, you can puree the fruits before mixing them with the rest of the ingredients. My son loves them either way! 

3/4 cup Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake Mix
1 tbsp Canola Oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk, soymilk, rice milk, or water
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tbsp cooked diced pears, or pear puree
1/2 banana diced, or pureed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp agave nectar

Mix the first 3 ingredients together only until lumps disappear. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Place about 1/4 cup sized scoops onto medium high (375 F-400 F) heated pan (I spray mine with non-stick spray). Spread out batter to make a circular shape. Flip pancakes when bubbles start to form on the surface and the edges begin to dry. Cook the other side until lightly browned. Serve and enjoy! This recipe makes about 6 to 8 four-inch pancakes. 

Note: For thicker pancakes, use less liquid. For thinner pancakes, use more liquid. For an extra nutritional boost, add a little bit of flaxseed meal to the batter before cooking! :)


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shrimp Pasta

My husband and I LOVE this recipe! I actually found the idea in his P90X diet cookbook, but tweaked it a little. I love the freshness and aroma that the lemon adds to this dish! It is delicious and still healthy! It is also a pretty simple recipe since it only has 9 ingredients. It makes a great lunch or dinner! We both love a lot of garlic, so if you're not a big fan, feel free to reduce the amount you put in your recipe. :) 

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 large tomato, diced (I like to de-seed mine too)
2 tbsp low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
About 1/2 pound shrimp
Zest and juice of 1 lemon 
2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
4 ounces whole wheat pasta
Pepper to taste 

Heat oil in pan and add garlic. Saute for several minutes until lightly browned. Add chicken broth and tomatoes. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. Cook pasta per package directions. Drain. Add shrimp to pan and cook for several more minutes, or until shrimp are opaque. Add lemon zest and juice, pepper, and basil. Toss shrimp mixture with cooked pasta. Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wheat Germ

Before I became a Mama, I didn't really know what wheat germ was... I thought, "Oh, it's just some health food that all those super crazy healthy people eat..." Well, I guess I sort of became a little more health conscious when I started feeding my son solid foods. After I did more research, I began making everything myself, and finding these great ideas for incorporating more nutrients into his foods. Wheat germ is packed full of nutrients, so I LOVE it! :) It is high in protein, B vitamins, calcium, vitamins A and E, iron, and folic acid! It is great to sprinkle in or on anything! I've put it in protein shakes and yogurt, covered bananas and tofu in it as a finger food for my son, and I've put it in baked goods. The options are endless! It has a little bit of a sweet/nutty flavor, but mostly you can't taste it much when it's mixed with other things. It comes either toasted or fresh, and its available at most supermarkets or health food stores. Be sure to keep it in the fridge after you open it; since it contains natural oils, it can go rancid. 

Monday, April 6, 2009


I've always wanted a garden like all those celebrity chefs have at their homes... somewhere I could just go outside and grab some herbs or veggies and add to my meals! Well, my husband and I had this planter put in a couple years ago when we got our yard done, and originally I had planted some flowers in it. Then, last year I decided to put in some herbs and veggies. I'm no pro-gardener, so I didn't really know what to expect, or how long to wait for veggies to be done, etc. The 2 things that grew well were my Basil and Thyme. They even started coming back to life after the "AZ winter" was over. I think the problem last year was that I used more seeds instead of plants that had already started growing... So, this year I bought more plants than seeds at Lowe's. I planted a little extra Thyme, because I love using it in some of my recipes. Also, Dill, Sage, Rosemary, Cilantro, Summer Squash, Bell Peppers, and Roma Tomatoes. I also got some Pumpkin seeds that I'm growing in pots until they start sprouting, then I'll plant them as well. I'm crossing my fingers on the veggies... But, I'm pretty sure the herbs will be okay! :) I'll keep you posted on how it turns out! I know right now it looks kinda shabby... I'm hoping it will look green and luscious in a couple of months! I was really excited when I was planting and I saw a bunch of earthworms in my soil! They are really good for aerating and fertilizing the soil! I think gardening is great! It is relatively good exercise, it is peaceful, and it is something fun you can do with your family! Kids can learn a lot from watching things grow from a seed to a plant... and hopefully to something you can eat or enjoy! :) Also, if you grow your own fresh herbs, veggies and fruits, you'll be saving lots of money! 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

101 Things...

I LOVE these cookbooks by authors Stephanie Ashcraft and Janet Eyring! Each one focuses on a certain kind of cooking style or food. There are a bunch of different kinds. I have both of the Slow Cooker books, Casserole, Tortilla, and both of the Cake Mix books (not pictured), but there are plenty of other ones too! They give you a great variety of recipes and they're wonderful when you can't think of what to make for dinner... or lunch... or dessert! :) And at about $10 a book, they're a pretty good deal! They are available at most bookstores as well as the publisher's website.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mini Pita Bread

I LOVE these mini pita breads! First of all, I pretty much like anything in "mini" size. Secondly, I think these are great for little hands! I love to spread some hummus or cream cheese on them and give them to my son for snack time. He loves them too! You could also make some mini pizzas using pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings you want, or cut them in half and stuff them with your favorite sandwich ingredients to make mini pita sandwiches! I got mine at Whole Foods Market, but they might be available at other places too. I like the whole wheat version since its better for us. :)  Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Banana Muffins

I've tweaked this recipe I found for banana nut bread to create my banana muffins many times. My son LOVES them! I haven't given my son nuts yet, and I personally don't like nuts in my "sweets", so I don't use any nuts in my recipe. But you are more than welcome to use nuts in yours, if you're a nut person! :) I have done different things with this recipe, including adding carrots, orange zest/juice... etc., and it usually turns out great, no matter what I do! I'll put other combinations I've tried as separate posts later. For this particular recipe, I added a little bit of flaxseed meal, which is great for a little boost of Omega 3! You can't taste it in the muffins, so its great for a little extra nutrition in your sweet treats! Also, if you don't want to use a lot of sugar, you can substitute 1/4 cup of Agave Nectar instead of the 1 cup of sugar. It will be just as sweet!

1 pkg. (8 oz) Cream Cheese or Neufchatel, softened
1 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup Agave Nectar)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium bananas)
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add banana and eggs; mix well.

Add combined dry ingredients, gradually; mix until moistened. Stir in walnuts, if using. Pour into greased and floured or paper cups in muffin trays. 

Bake 25 to 35 min, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (mine took about 30 min). Cool 5 min; remove from trays; cool completely on wire rack. Makes about 18 to 20 muffins. Serve and enjoy!

*If you prefer to make a loaf of banana bread, bake 1 hour and 10 min in a 9x5-inch loaf pan. 


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cooking for Baby

I LOVE this baby food cookbook by Lisa Barnes! I have used many recipes in this book. It is organized by baby's age... from 6 months through 18 months. It explains the different nutritional benefits of all kinds of foods. It also gives great information and tips, which are very helpful to new moms! I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma, but I think it's available at Amazon also.