Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yummy Mush

My son goes through phases of eating really great one week, then being picky about food the next. This was one of those picky weeks, so I had to try something different to make sure he's getting all of his nutrients. Sometimes, I don't know how I come up with these recipes! I suppose I just throw a bunch of different things together that I think my son will like, then hope and pray that he eats it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and the food is either thrown to the dogs (by my son, not me...), or eaten by me or my husband, or sadly, a wasted recipe... This is another one of those weird combinations of foods that actually worked for my son. I got him to eat some grain, protein, and veggie. He LOVED it, and even ate leftovers! I was a very happy Mama! It may sound weird, but maybe your picky eater will like it too! :)

1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup brown rice, pre-cooked
1/4 cup sweet potato puree
1/2 cup tofu, cubed
Sprinkling of pepper

Heat chicken broth over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low, and add remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine, and heat until warmed through. Cool to a temperature suitable for your child. You can also puree all the ingredients together for a younger baby. Serve and enjoy!


Monday, June 29, 2009

3rd and 5th Anniversary Roses

Okay, so, when I know there is something I absolutely cannot make myself for cheaper than I can buy it, then I just buy it. "Just Paper Roses" is one of those websites that I keep in my "brain file" for when I need to buy a cute, unique anniversary gift. I ordered leather roses for my husband for our 3rd Anniversary, and wood roses for our 5th Anniversary. I knew there was no way I could make them as pretty as these! I'm crafty, but I'm not that crafty! This website offers all kinds of unique "roses"! They have roses for the 1st through the 15th anniversaries, and also the 25th and 50th. They also sell special occasion "roses" for a new baby, birthdays, graduation or a special day. They offer other unique gifts as well... frames, special toilet paper, stuffed bears, and more! Check out their website for some unique gift ideas. I think it is great! 

Here are the leather roses (3rd Anniversary)...

All the roses come with a little tag that you can personalize...

Here is the wood rose (5th Anniversary)...


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Apple-Cherry Amaranth Muffins

After I made my quinoa muffins, I thought to myself, "I bet I could make these muffins with amaranth too!". I had a bag of amaranth in my pantry, and some dried cherries and thought they would make some great healthy muffins! Amaranth is a seed which is similar to quinoa, but much smaller. Both are treated like grains, but are actually seeds that are packed with protein! Usually I cook up some quinoa or amaranth and mix them up with some fruits or veggies for one of my son's meals. Of course, he never turns down a muffin, and they make such a great traveling snack! As I was making this recipe, I started mixing up the wet ingredients with the dry, and then realized I had no eggs! Luckily, applesauce and mashed bananas make a great substitute for eggs in muffin recipes, and I almost always have both of those on hand at all times. So, it turns out, these muffins are also vegan! As you probably know from my previous recipes, I'm definitely no vegan. But if you are, these are a great muffin for you! They taste pretty good even if you're a carnivore like me. :) My son says, "Mmm Mmm!"

1 cup amaranth
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped*
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup applesauce (or 1 large egg)*
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium saucepan, bring amaranth and 3 cups water to a boil. Reduce to low heat; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and amaranth is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, brush a 12-cup muffin pan with oil, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cherries, and 2 cups cooked amaranth. Reserve any leftover amaranth for another use. 

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, applesauce (or egg), and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. 

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean 25 to 30 minutes.* Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12 muffins. Enjoy!

*Note: It is not necessary to chop your dried cherries. I did only because I knew I would be serving these muffins to my son, and I wasn't sure if he could handle a larger-sized dried fruit. To substitute eggs in future muffin recipes, use either 1/4 cup applesauce or 1/4 cup mashed banana for each egg in the recipe. My muffins took a little longer in the oven, about 40 minutes. I'm not sure if it's because of the amaranth, or if the applesauce made the batter too moist. They still turned out good, just took a little longer. :)


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wooden Play Food Giveaway!

Hi, everyone! I am entering for a chance to win this giveaway of All Modern Baby's wooden play food toys on the Adventures in Diapering blog! I think these play sets are super cute, and I would love to get some for my son! Check it out, and you can enter to win too! The contest ends June 30th! Also, check out the Adventures in Diapering blog for some great ideas for kids and mamas! :)



I LOVE this recipe for Snickerdoodles! I have to admit, I had never had snickerdoodles until I was in my twenties, and even then I was still never a huge fan of them. But, let me tell you, these are delicious! They are the perfect combination of crunchy and soft! Sadly, it is not my recipe, but I think it is such a good one, that I decided to post it on here. I made some of these for Christmas gifts last year, and I also made some for my sister's birthday party. She loved them! Actually, everyone that ate one loved them... including my son! This recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse off of the Food Network website, which I also love! I picked this recipe for snickerdoodles because it had a 5 star rating, so I figured it must be a good one! Unfortunately, these are probably not very figure-friendly cookies, but it's okay to splurge every once in a while! :) However, I did substitute some of the flour for whole wheat flour. Enjoy!

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar, plus 3 tbsp
2 large eggs
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. 

With a handheld or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter. Add the 1-1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth. 

Mix the 3 tbsp sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1-1/2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Flatten the balls into 1/2-inch thick disks, spacing them evenly on unlined cookie sheets. Bake until light brown, but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve and enjoy!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Garden Update...

It is starting to get hotter here in AZ! But, my Roma tomatoes wouldn't know any different! They are thriving! I think I put them in a good place. They are in a raised bed behind our Jacaranda tree, so they get a good amount of shade during the scorching afternoon heat. So far, I've used four tomatoes in our meals and they are delicious! You can see I have plenty more on the way, so I'll be adding them to some delicious recipes! Our favorite thing to make with them is my Shrimp Pasta recipe, since I can also use my basil (which is also doing very well). Sadly, my yellow squash got too hot and dry. I should have covered it... And the heat was too much for my dill. But, I have some lovely basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, cilantro, an occasional bell pepper, and of course tomatoes! :) Yay me! I am so happy I was successful in most of my plants! I am going to try to grow some pumpkins later on! I am already anxious for fall! 


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Protein Smoothie

I was feeling like making another smoothie for my son (and me), but I wanted to add some extra protein to it. Tofu is great for smoothies since it has a smooth texture, and blends very easily with the other ingredients. And for anyone who is not a tofu fan, you can't really taste it when it is mixed up with delicious fruits! I like to use the firm tofu, since it has more protein than the soft or silken versions, but any tofu is fine. I also use whole milk and whole milk yogurt since this is for my son. But you can certainly use low-fat or skim to make this lighter. This smoothie is packed with nutritious ingredients! Protein from the tofu, flaxseed meal, and wheat germ, as well as the milk and yogurt... Vitamin C from the mangoes and pineapple... Potassium from the banana and sweet potatoes... and many more vitamins! To put it another way, this smoothie is a meal in itself! :) Oh, and by the way, it is delicious too! Enjoy! :)

1/2 cup tofu
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup mango chunks
1/4 cup sweet potato puree
1 medium banana, sliced
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp wheat germ

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy! This smoothie came out a little bit thick, so if you like yours thinner, you can add more milk. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"My ABC Book"

Well, I have finally finished this quiet book for my son! Let me explain a little... My mom got me my first sewing machine almost a year ago, for my 30th birthday. I was thrilled! I was so excited to start making things for my son! I went to the fabric store and bought a whole bunch of supplies, then started to make a "quiet book". I had no clue what I was doing! Not only had I never used a sewing machine before, but I had never designed my own book either! So, I really had to think about what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to incorporate some tactile/fine motor learning things for my son, such as a button, buckle, shoelaces, zipper, etc. But, I didn't know how I was going to do it... I could have just done it the "easy way" and bought a pattern or template, or the "super easy way" and buy an already made quiet book. But, that wouldn't be as meaningful. I want my son to be able to look back when he's older and say, "Look, my Mama made this!", maybe with a hint of pride in his voice. I know, wishful thinking... Anyways, between my indecisiveness and just plain "busy"-ness, the book project kept getting pushed back, all the fabric just sitting there waiting to be made into something unique... The ideas were sitting in my head, I just needed to start it and design it. Finally I said to myself, "I am going to work on this book NOW!!!" So, I sat and started cutting, playing with ideas, and I came up with my idea of an "easy" way to finish this book.... Ding, ding, ding! "I'll just do the alphabet!" This way I could just do small little pictures and maybe an occasional button or zipper. From the time I actually got serious about starting it and the time I finished it (yesterday), the book project took me about 3 months... It is pretty impossible to just sit there sewing non-stop... I did take an occasional break. So, here it is, finally completed... almost a year after the original idea popped in my head. Now, don't be too critical... Remember I just learned how to sew (and I taught myself), so I am the equivalent of a "preschool" sewer right now. I promise it will get better... Nevertheless, I am still proud of my hard work, and I'm glad I have another "keepsake" for my son, even if it is a little shabby. :) Oh, and by the way, I won't even begin to describe how to make this book. I cut all the letters and pictures freehand, and added on as I saw fit. If you want to try to make one like it, all I can say is go for it, and good luck! :)

I made a "mini" book on the front cover, with a little "love" inside...

A: Apple, B: Ball, C: Car, D: Dog, E: Elephant, F: Frog, G: Giraffe, H: Hat...

I: Ice Cream, J: Jacket, K: Kite, L: Lemon, M: Moon, N: Necklace, O: Octopus, P: Pig...

Close-up of button and J: Jacket...

Q: Quilt, R: Rose, S: Shoe, T: Turtle, U: Umbrella, V: Vegetables, W: Whale...

Close-up of S: Shoe...

X: Xylophone, Y: Yarn, Z: Zipper...

Close-up of Z: Zipper...


Hip Mama's Place Giveaway

Hey, everyone! Just wanted to let you know, one of the blogs I follow, "Hip Mama's Place", is offering a giveaway for I SPY A to Z: Book of Picture Riddles. I entered the contest to win, since my son doesn't have any of these books yet, but I LOVE them! They are fun even for adults to try to find (I'm a nerdy puzzle freak...)! Anyways, check the site out! It is a great blog for moms, and maybe you could enter to win too! :) 

New Life!

Okay, so this really doesn't have anything to do with cooking or crafts... But, I'm introducing you to my other passion (one of many...). I LOVE taking pictures of wildlife! I am not a pro-photographer or anything, but I love my Nikon cameras, and I love experimenting, taking unique photos of nature and wildlife! Now, these pictures are not very unique, but I wanted to capture this exciting event in our backyard. I am not a huge fan of doves. I think they are kinda stupid birds. There are so many here in AZ, and it seems like they love to fly directly in front of moving cars like Kamikaze dive bombers! Or, they'll just sit in the road waiting to be hit by a car... Nevertheless, I was happy to see that a mother dove chose our Texas Ebony to build a nest for her babies!  I soooo wanted a good picture of her feeding the babies, but I also didn't want to risk scaring her away and abandoning her babies. So, I took this pic through my window, which needs some serious cleaning...
Here's mama bird covering her babies. I have to say, she picked a great spot. It was relatively high up the tree. I had to use a stool to get better pics. And if you are unfamiliar with Texas Ebony, they are very thorny trees, so the only one bothering her was me. ;) I used the super-zoom lens as much as possible. When she was out getting food, I got to snap some pics of the babies. 

They're so little here! You can barely see the tops of their heads!

It's amazing how fast they grow! I thought humans were fast... I can't imagine being a mama bird and having to let go so soon! I'm glad I at least have 17 more years with my baby... hoping for more! :(

A little while after I took this last picture, the babies flew away! Sniff... bye babies! Be safe! :)


Monday, June 22, 2009

Good For You Muffins

I think I seriously need to open a bakery or something. I make waaaay too many baked goodies! I made up my own muffin recipe this time, and it turned out delicious! I was pleasantly surprised! The best part is, they are good for you too! I didn't know what to call these muffins, since they have so many delicious ingredients in them, so I decided to just call them "Good For You Muffins". It works! I recently bought this hot cereal for my son to try that is 7-grain hot cereal. I thought, seven grains is way better than just one or two, right? The mix (I got the Arrowhead Mills version) has wheat, oats, barley, soybeans, buckwheat, corn, and millet in it! Super hearty! I made some for him, mixed it with some fruit, and he loved it! Well, on the back of the package there are a couple of recipes for muffins/bread. I think my husband noticed the big lightbulb above my head... I got so excited to experiment with a new muffin recipe, that I made some later that night after my son went to bed! I didn't use the recipe on the back of the box because I wanted to put different ingredients in it, so I just made one up based on a bunch of different ideas I had in my head (and also what I had in my kitchen)! I think they turned out great, and when my son does his usual, "Mmmm, mmm!" I know they must be good! Enjoy!

1 pkg. (8 oz) Neufchatel Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup applesauce (homemade or no sugar added)
1/2 cup carrots, grated
Zest and juice of 1 lemon*
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a handheld or standing mixer, beat neufchatel cheese, sugar, and butter on medium speed until well blended. Add banana, egg, applesauce, lemon zest and juice, and carrots. Mix well. 

In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients (except cranberries) together until combined. Add combined dry ingredients gradually to the wet ingredients and mix until moistened. Leave about 1 tbsp of the dry ingredients in the bowl to coat the cranberries. After coating the cranberries with the flour mixture, add to the batter, and fold in with a spoon until evenly distributed. Pour batter into greased and floured, or paper cup-lined muffin tray. 

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from muffin tray. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve and enjoy! Make 12 "puffy" muffins, or up to 18 normal-sized muffins. 

*Note: I had a "Momnesia" moment and thought that I had some oranges on hand, which would have tasted delicious with the cranberries and carrot! However, when I went to grab one, I noticed that the only citrus I had was lemons... Oops! So, I used lemon and it turned out fine. If you decide to use orange, you could use half or all of the zest of one orange, and about 2-3 tbsp of the juice. :)


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Frittata

I made my husband this spinach frittata for his Father's Day breakfast. He LOVED it! Once all the ingredients are prepared, it is pretty simple to put together. I served mine with some homemade hashed browns. I make my frittata in the oven instead of frying it. I'm not the best "flipper" when it comes to large sized pancakes, omelets, hashed browns, etc... Notice I tried not to focus on my ugly hashed browns behind the frittata. They tasted good, but were not very photogenic. Anyways, baking the frittata in the oven makes it much easier to cut up and serve prettier, when you're not a pro-flipper. I love the combination of flavors in this recipe! We are big spinach fans, and I also added some more delicious ingredients that go well with the egg and spinach. You can also add some meat (sausage, ham) to this recipe and it would probably taste even more delicious! Happy Father's Day to all! Enjoy!

4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1 10-oz pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained well*
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together until smooth and combined. Add remaining ingredients and stir until evenly distributed. Pour egg mixture into prepared baking dish, and bake for 17 to 22 minutes, or until eggs are set (not jiggly in the middle). 

*Note: After you thaw/defrost your spinach per the package ingredients, let it cool a little, then squeeze the spinach leaves through some paper towels, or a clean dish towel to thoroughly remove the excess liquid. Otherwise, your eggs will be more runny with the extra liquid. :(


Friday, June 19, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms

Okay, so I kinda stole this recipe from my aunt, but it is so yummy! I did mine a little bit different, but they still turned out delicious. My husband and I LOVE these stuffed mushrooms! I normally make this with the smaller white stuffing mushrooms, but this time I wanted to make it more of a meal instead of an hors d'oeuvre. So, I used Baby Portabella caps. They were so delicious with the filling! I think I'll make them like this all the time! For most of my recipes that call for cream cheese, I use neufchatel instead because it has 1/3 less fat. But, you can use regular cream cheese if you like. I just served mine over some wild rice, and it was super filling! I was full after one mushroom! :) 

5 to 6 Baby Portabella caps*
1 lb breakfast sausage*
1 pkg (8 oz) Neufchatel (or Cream Cheese)
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp (2 cloves) minced garlic

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray, and set aside. Clean mushroom caps by wiping with a damp paper towel. Make sure to remove any stems that are left on the mushrooms. Place mushrooms open side up in the baking dish. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat until browned. Add garlic and onions and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and add neufchatel or cream cheese. Stir until cheese is soft, melted and combined well with other ingredients. Remove from heat. Spoon sausage mixture into mushroom caps, patting down to make sure it is "stuffed". You will probably have leftover sausage mixture. Bake in oven at 350 F for about 20 minutes. Recipe makes about 6 big stuffed mushrooms or 12 smaller sized mushrooms. 

*Note: The name "Baby Portabella" or "Baby Bella" is misleading. The ones I found were a much larger size than the white mushrooms that I normally get. You could also use regular Portabella mushrooms if you want an even bigger mushroom! I prefer to use the Owens Hot breakfast sausage since it adds a little "zing", but you can use regular breakfast sausage or even Italian sausage if you like. You can serve these big mushrooms over rice or some yummy steamed vegetables. I bet it would taste delicious over cooked spinach too! I have also used this same sausage mixture to stuff Bell Peppers, and it tastes just as delicious! :) Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Strawberry-Watermelon Popsicles

Sorry, not a very good picture. It was hard to control a heavy camera with one hand while holding a popsicle in the other, and also trying to balance while my son was playing "Mama bridge" under my legs! Talk about multi-tasking! Anyways, I was shopping the other day when I saw these plastic popsicle molds, and thought, "Oh my goodness! I can make POPSICLES!". I double checked to make sure the plastic was okay (BPA free), then put the popsicle mold in my basket. I was so excited to make them! I had a small seedless watermelon that I hadn't used yet, and some other fruits I had just gotten at the store. I've never made my own popsicles before, but it didn't seem too hard, so I just made up my own super easy recipe, and they tasted pretty yummy! The best part was, they weren't as sugary as the store-bought versions, and I feel better giving these to my son knowing these are made from real fruit, instead of artificial flavors. This was my son's first popsicle, and although he wasn't used to the cold in his mouth, he LOVED it! I only bought one mold, which makes 4 popsicles, but I think I will buy more, so I can make more at a time! I can't wait to experiment with more popsicle recipes! These make a great, healthy summertime treat for everyone in the family! Enjoy! :)

1 small seedless watermelon
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen strawberries
1 tbsp agave nectar

Cut watermelon in half and scoop out flesh into a food processor. Puree until liquid. There will still be small white seeds, even with seedless watermelon. So, pour watermelon liquid through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Push liquid through strainer. All that will remain in the strainer when done is a small amount of pulp and seeds. Next, puree strawberries in food processor until smooth. Add strawberry puree and agave nectar to watermelon liquid. Stir well to combine. Pour fruit mixture into popsicle molds and place sticks on top. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until set. This should make about 8 to 10 popsicles. I only had a popsicle mold for 4, so I gave the remaining "juice" to my son... He loved that too! :)


Monday, June 15, 2009

ABC Block Books

My son LOVES these little books! And of course, I love that he loves them! Every time I ask him, "Do you want to read some books?", he points to this box of books on the top shelf! He loves taking the box and pouring all the books out on the floor... similar to what he does with his big bag of blocks! Then he picks one out and we read it together! Each book has four cute pictures matched with four words that begin with that letter. For example, "A" has apple, alligator, airplane, and ant. So, he's learning his words at the same time he's reading them! I'm hoping he'll start saying more words... :) These books are the perfect size for little hands, and since they are chunky board books, they are harder to destroy! They are also a good size for stacking! Come to think of it, they are a good travel size too! You can put a few in the diaper bag or your carry-on luggage and have some little books for your toddler to flip through in the car or on the plane! My son loves flipping through the pages to find different things, and he's learning! I'll ask him, "Where is the apple?" and he flips the page until he finds it, then pretends to eat it! So cute! Now I just need to get him to say, "apple"...  I ordered my box of books through Amazon, but I'm sure they are available at your local bookstore. You can also check out the publisher's website. Happy reading! 


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Blueberry Oat Bran Pancakes

So, I had this bag of oat bran that I had just gotten from the market, and I was looking online for what I could do with it, besides make it into a hot cereal for my son. I didn't have a bunch of it, but I wanted to incorporate it's goodness into something yummy. Woo hoo! Pancakes it is! As usual, I found a recipe online, got some ideas, and made my own creation. The batter was a little bit thicker than normal pancake batter, but it worked fine, and tasted delicious! And, of course, my son LOVED them! I was happy because oat bran is high in fiber, protein and B vitamins! :) Enjoy!

1/2 cup Oat Bran
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
1 tsp Agave Nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)*

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except blueberries, until smooth. Gently fold in blueberries. Spray a non-stick skillet with non-stick spray. Over medium-high heat, pour batter by the 1/4 cup-full into skillet. Flip when bubbles begin to form on top, or when edges turn light brown. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with maple syrup, if desired.

*Note: You can use any fruit you like. I had a bunch of blueberries on hand and wanted to use them up. :) 


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sausage and Grits

I found this recipe in an old Everyday Food magazine, and my husband and I LOVED it! I changed it a little bit based on what I had and also, since the original recipe was only for 1 serving, I doubled it. My husband and I love grits and I thought this recipe used a great mix of flavors in a unique and delicious way! Enjoy!

1 tbsp olive oil
2 precooked chicken-apple sausage links, halved and sliced
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grits or yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook sausage until browned, tossing occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Cook onion until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add asparagus, thyme and 1/3 cup water. Cover, and steam until asparagus is just tender and water has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add sausage and lemon juice; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. 

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup salted water to a boil; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Stir in cheese; season with salt and pepper. Serve sausage and asparagus over grits. 


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cheesy Pasta

I suppose this is essentially mac and cheese, but I just made up my own thing based on what I had in my kitchen. I wanted to make something quick for my son that would fill him up for dinner. He loves picking up these mini pasta wheels, or trying to "stab" them with his fork! I usually have some already cooked in the fridge waiting for the addition of some kind of sauce. Cheese is a big hit with him, and I also mixed in some yummy veggies with the cheese sauce. I tried a little bit and LOVED it! Anything with pasta and cheese is so comforting! :) Enjoy!

1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup white mushrooms, chopped (any mushroom would be fine)
1/8 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/8 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sweet potato puree
2 turns fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
small pasta (I used the piccolini, or mini wheels but any small pasta would be fine)

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes to pan and saute until soft. In a separate saucepan, warm milk over medium heat. Whisk in cheese and continue stirring until it is combined (and starts looking like a cheese sauce). Add sweet potato puree and stir together until sauce is smooth. Add onion mixture to the cheese sauce and stir until evenly distributed. Add pepper to taste and stir in. Pour over pasta and enjoy! Cheese mixture makes about 1-1/2 cups. 


Sunday, June 7, 2009

2nd Anniversary Cotton "Roses"

I LOVE giving a little something from the traditional anniversary gift list every year. I made these cotton roses for my husband for our 2nd Anniversary. Most of these "roses" are pretty easy to make. They just take a little patience. For the harder ones, I try to get ideas online, or I just order them! :). You can make as many or as little of these as you like. I usually buy some roses for my husband, then add a couple of these homemade ones to the vase! :) You could probably do this craft activity with your kids too! 

What you'll need:
Cotton Balls
Green Plant Stakes
Green Floral Tape
Silk Leaves (optional)

What to do:
Take a cotton ball and shape it into a "rose" shape. I usually just tug the cotton gently with my fingers until it sort of resembles a rose. I also poke the top center a little to make it look like the inside of a rose. Shape the bottom of the "rose" by tapering it off a little bit to resemble the beginning of the stem. Poke the plant stake through the bottom portion of your "rose" with the pointy side up. Gather cotton around the plant stake, then begin securing it with the floral tape by wrapping it tightly and twisting it down and around the stake. If you would like to add leaves, make sure they have a little bit of a stem on them. Then, stick the stem portion in between the stake and the tape as you are wrapping it down, making sure the leave portion does not get wrapped up in the tape. If you want, you could probably add color to these roses by spray painting them or something. :)


Friday, June 5, 2009

Egg Scramble

I was so excited to use my first veggie from my garden... a beautiful green bell pepper! I picked it in the morning, then used it in our breakfast! It was delicious! I'm sure this recipe exists elsewhere... cookbooks, diners, etc. But, I just threw a bunch of stuff I had on hand together and it made a great start to the day!

5 eggs
1 tbsp butter
1 medium tomato, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced (I like Vidalia... so sweet!)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs together until smooth. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat (I also spray a little non-stick spray, just in case..). Saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add tomato. Cook for about 2 more minutes. Pour egg mixture into pan and start scrambling! Mix all ingredients together until eggs are done. Add salt and pepper to your desired taste. Serves 2. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fruit and Ricotta Parfait

This is a super easy and delicious recipe that my son LOVES! It is simple to put together in no time when I can't think of what to make him for a snack, but I know that I don't have a ton of time to think about it... This particular recipe only uses a few ingredients. You can make it as simple or complex as you want by only using a couple of ingredients, or adding things to make it more interesting. :) I am not a big fan of cottage cheese, which is often times paired with fruit. But, I LOVE ricotta cheese and fruit. It seems so decadent, like eating ice cream! I had mangoes and strawberries (and of course bananas) on hand, so this has a wonderful amount of vitamin C, plus potassium from the bananas, calcium and protein from the ricotta. I used whole milk ricotta for my son, but you can use low fat (skim or part skim) if you are making this for older kids or adults. If you are making this for babies who aren't eating bigger chunks yet, you can use pureed fruits. You can add a little more flavor to this by using a little bit of cinnamon or nutmeg mixed in with the ricotta. It will be yummy either way! Enjoy!

1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup strawberries, chopped (or pureed)
1/4 cup mangoes, diced (or pureed)
1 medium banana, chopped (or pureed)
1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)

If using spices, stir together with ricotta in a small bowl. In a fancy glass or dish, alternate layers of ricotta mixture and fruits/fruit purees. You could also just mix everything together if you don't have time to make it "pretty" ;). It will still taste pretty! You could also add a little wheat germ for some extra folic acid and protein! Makes about 1-1/2 cups. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Veggie Success!

I made up this recipe trying to get my son to eat some more veggies. He has his good days and bad days when it comes to veggies and meats... I hate to resort to sneakiness, and this dish really wasn't very sneaky at all! I was so happy that he LOVED this dish! I thought it was pretty yummy too! :) I mixed some scrambled egg (Yay! Protein!) with his favorite veggie, sweet potato and some broccoli. I was one happy mama when I saw him sign "more"! If you have younger babies (under 12 months), you can use 2 egg yolks instead of 1 whole egg. Also, you can use broccoli puree instead of chopped broccoli if your baby isn't eating chunky foods yet. Enjoy! :)

1 tbsp butter
1 egg (or 2 egg yolks)
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup broccoli, chopped and cooked (pureed if desired)
1/4 cup sweet potato puree
1 tbsp onion, finely chopped (or you can sprinkle some onion powder)
2 turns fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese (any shredded cheese would be fine)

Melt butter in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion to skillet and saute for 2 minutes. Whisk together egg, milk, and pepper (and onion powder if using instead of onion). Add to skillet and cook until only middle is soft. Add broccoli and sweet potato puree, and mix to combine with egg mixture. Cook until everything is heated through and combined. Serve in bowls with cheese on top (I like to mix-in the cheese with all the other ingredients so you can taste it throughout). Makes about 2 toddler-sized servings.