Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To Shred or Not to Shred


What's in the bags?  Paperwork. Shredded paperwork to be precise.  Four bags full of shredded paperwork that dated back to 2003.  Today was part two of the therapeutic clean up, meant to cure my claustrophobia blues, rather, the funk that I've been in, since returning to our city apartment, from my parents house in the suburbs.

The bags hold random paperwork from the Pediatricians describing various vaccines and rashes, Chalazions and Rotovirus.  Manuals that belong to electronics that we don't even own anymore, such as the $300 Hoover vaccuum that lasted about a year.  This time we went with a tiny $60 Eureka, which I am certain will last at least twice as long. 

I saved receipts from the DJ we hired at our wedding to check stubs from when I was working.  I was holding on to checkbooks from accounts that have been closed for years to cell phone bills from a company that we switched from years ago.

All gone. 

I have to say that it felt really good and I feel like I am making some headway.  It was actually pretty fun and I'm thankful that my sister gave me her little shredder when she moved to her new place.  It was high time that I actually used it.

A good friend called during my shredding party of one.  She had just read my blogpost entitled Binging and Purging and she knew just how I was feeling.  We go back and forth on the pros and cons of city vs. suburban life all of the time, as we are both from the burbs.

By the end of our phone call, I knew that I would be feeling better soon, as I always do.  In a few days, I will not be able to imagine life anywhere other than here, but until then, I will continue to clean.

The best part, is that I will have a perfectly uncluttered apartment once I'm there.

Perhaps I will do some shopping to celebrate!!!! 

Just Kidding.



Stuffed Toy Clean Up - Before and After

Below are the before and after pictures of our big stuffed toy clean up. I think that we did a really good job.  I'm surprised that my daughter was so great about giving up so many of her toys and I think the next go-round will be even easier.

You can read all about my break-down, which inspired this clean up, in my previous post entitled Binging and Purging.


BEFORE


AFTER

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Binging and Purging

We arrived back to our city apartment on Sunday afternoon, after the kids and I spent a week at my parents house in the suburbs for Christmas.  I was so depressed.  I started putting the kids toys away and wondered where I was going to store all of their new toys.  I started to open and put away my Christmas presents from my parents, one of which was a Temptations bowl set from QVC, which I absolutely love, and I began to get teary.  Where was I going to find room for these?  I took it a bit further and got upset that I have no counter space for the Kitchenaid I want, for all of the baking I intend for my daughter and I to do, trying out all of the new recipes from all of our new cookbooks.

In an instant, I climbed up on a chair in the kitchen and removed a set of margarita glasses and a pitcher from the top shelf of the cubbard and I threw them in a garbage bag.  A couple of unused vases and random pottery were casualties of my kitchen clean up as well.  Since the margarita set was only used once since I received it 6 years ago, it HAD TO GO!  The one and only time I used it wasn't even for drinks.  I used it to put the chocolate covered pretzels in it, that I made for the Dora The Explorer themed Birthday party I had thrown for my daughter's 3rd Birthday.

We don't live like "normal" people, I cried to my sister.  Yes, poor Joannie got to be on the receiving end of a phone call I made describing my claustrophobia.  "We live in the city" she said, and began describing how all of us that do, are for the most part, all in the same boat.  I cried to my mother too.  They both offered helpful advice to talk me down from the ledge.

So, yesterday, my daughter and I went through all of the old toys and stuffed animals in their playroom.  We emptied the ZOO, and she told me which stuffed animals and dolls were most important to her to keep.  We gathered some old books and toys to be donated, and are choosing a few to keep at Grandma and Pop Pop's house for when we stay with them.... One of 3 pull toys, one of two toy phones, 3 of many stuffed toys...you get the picture. We made a huge dent but still have more to go.

I started going through some of my closets and drawers too and I threw out 3 huge black garbage bags full of stuff we don't use.  I'm ordering more super slim hangers from Bed Bath and Beyond today and will continue to empty out closets and drawers.

Next and most painful step..... going through the kids baby items that I can't seem to let go of.  The crib monitor, the crib sheets, co-sleeper covers, my Boppy, the baby bottles, blankets....I'm getting all teary as I write this.  So, perhaps I will save that for another day, when I'm not feeling so sad.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Competition

Bright and early, this past Sunday morning, my mom made Rice Krispies Treats Holiday Houses, for the big event; Our 1st annual Rice Krispies Treats Christmas House Decorating Competition. 

The contestants: me, my daughter, Joanne (my sister), my mother and Rose Marie, my brother's girlfriend.

The judge: My father, a.k.a, Pop Pop

My mom had all sorts of deliciousness separated into bowls for use as decorations on our Christmas houses; Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Reese's Pieces, M&M's, pretzel rods, Twix bars, chocolate chips, coconut, oreo cookies and dried cranberries, to name a few.

My mother insisted that we all wear a special Christmas hat during the competition.  Our choices; one of 2 Santa hats, one of 2 Elf hats, a choice between 3 reindeer antlers or a baseball cap complete with moose antlers which says, "Merry KrisMoose."  I chose the Santa cap.

Below are our houses:
This one is mine.  The green M&M's on the top portion of my house are meant to be a wreath.  The 4 red M&M's dangling down from said wreath depict a festive ribbon  The pretzel sticks with yellow Reese's Pieces are beautiful candles flickering for all passerby's to enjoy and admire, through brown M&M windows.  As you can tell from the red M&M's that fill the front, my Christmas house is really a Brownstone. The coconut on the top of said brownstone is snow...I stole the snow idea from my sister Joanne.


This one is my daughter's.  She did a great job!


My mother's.

Rose Marie's house.

Here is my sister Joanne's house.  She's a bit of a show-off with her fancy Christmas trees and snowman. Yes, it's true, I'm just jealous that I didn't think of it first. Well done Aunt Joannie!!!!  You did an amazing job!!!

Naturally, Pop Pop chose my daughter as winner.  Joanne came in 2nd place and my mother, Rose Marie and I all tied for 3rd place!!!!  Awww, thanks for judging Pop Pop!!!  I look forward to next year's competition.  Watch out Aunt Joannie...I'll be coming for YOU!!!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland

It's just a few days before Christmas and the kids and I are spending time with my parents.  We're having a great time at Grandma and Pop Pop's.

There was a big snowstorm yesterday and I awoke this morning to my daughter asking if I thought that if she looked outside the window, she would see a "Winter Wonderland!"

After assuring her that she would, my daughter excitedly ran to the window to see.

All of a sudden I heard my shocked little girl say, Oh NO!!!!  Mommy, there's a truck outside taking all of the snow away!!!

The snowplow had come to plow the streets.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Unexpected Twist

My mom treated the kids to a trip to Build-A-Bear last week for an early Christmas gift.  They loved it!  It was their second trip there, and my daughter was even more excited to go than the first time, because she knew what to expect.  She couldn't wait to give her stuffed creation a bath!

My daughter picked out a pink bear which she dressed in a pink princess outfit and glass plastic slippers.  She named her Princess. 

My son chose a black bear, which my daughter named Blackie, and my mother chose a green, blue and white striped dress shirt and vest for him. 

My son, however, preferred his bear, much like himself, to be naked, and cried at the sight of his bear all dressed up. 

Thankfully, his tears dried when we undressed Blackie and he was further cheered by the fact that Jingle Bell Rock plays when you press Blackie's paw. 

It was a wonderful morning.

When we returned home to Grandma and Pop Pop's, my brother, Uncle Johnny, had another treat in store for the kids.... a trip to the ZOO!!!

We all had a great time there too.  My daughter was thrilled with the site of the peacocks, which were roaming freely.  We also saw a bear and some tigers, a condor, monkey, otter and a blue poisonous dart frog, to name a few.

There was a huge birds nest which belonged to a bald eagle and we all posed by a statue of an enormous cow. Both kids got a huge kick out of that!

Before we went home, the kids and I even took a ride on the Merry-Go-Round.

It was a really great day for them and naturally, their joy made all of us feel very happy too.

Before my daughter fell asleep that night, I asked her what her favorite part of the day was.

Was it Buld-A-Bear? 

Would she choose the Zoo?  Perhaps the ride on the Merry-Go-Round?

"The lovely, red, soft meat".........

My mom made filet-mignon for dinner.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Prep Work Has Begun

We're having a great week so far at my parents and the prep work for Thanksgiving has begun!  Our truffles are made and came out beautifully.  Last night, my daughter helped my brother, Uncle Johnny, and his girlfriend make a beautiful pound cake with cafe mocha ganache.  Looks delicious! These treats are new additions to our list of Holiday favorites....pecan, minced meat, pumpkin, and coconut custard pies.

Now on to the savory dishes.... My daughter and sister have prepped the sweet potato ravioli's, which will be served as our pasta course, before the main event.  I diced up some pepperoni and my mom is shredding cheddar for a pepperoni puff appetizer I found in one of my mom's Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

The Pepperoni Puffs are a new addition to our appetizer course which consists of an Antipasto; Italian meats and cheeses, stuffed mushrooms, olives, roasted red peppers, cream cheese and olive stuffed celery, figs, hot artichoke dip, spinach dip and an assortment of fresh veggies and crackers.  I also make a delicious Giada DeLaurentis recipe in which you top slices of oven toasted baguette, with a mixture of gorgonzola and walnuts, which you top with a drizzle of honey.  I will share these recipes in future blog posts.

For now, I have to go and help finish some of the prep work. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Been a While

It's been a while since my last post.  Things have been busy and a little stressful. Looking forward to the week ahead, as the kids and I will be spending the week with my family for Thanksgiving. It will be a wonderful, and much needed break.  I look forward to getting some Christmas shopping done, while my parents watch the kids, seeing old friends, spending time with my family, and also, lounging around on the couch in my pajamas, while watching The Hallmark Channel.  Their corny Christmas programming has begun and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  aaah, I feel like a kid again when I'm there.

My daughter and I just made our Heavenly Chocolate Chunk Cookies to bring to Grandma and Pop Pop's house.   Our Christmas Truffles will have to wait to be made and their house though, because we've been doing so much baking lately, that the motor on my handmixer burned out, after baking the cookies this morning. I've packed up all of the ingredients, so we're ready to go! If anyone can recommend a good sturdy handmixer, I'd appreciate it.  I think my mom is buying me one for my Birthday though, so there may be one waiting for me there already.

Now...it's time to finish our packing. 



 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Slippery When Wet

I've finally found a way to keep my son out of the bathroom.

I know, I know, I wish it were that simple, we can't just shut the door.

We have a cat. It's my husband's cat. He's had him for 16 years now. His name is Hobbes. Hobbes' litter box is in the bathroom, so the door to the bathroom must be kept open at all times.

Due to the open bathroom-door policy in our house, there is a point in everyday that I have to drag my son, screaming out of the bathroom.

He loves to play in the bathroom. He likes to play in the toilet, he likes to play in the sink. He likes to move my daughter's Dora the Explorer stepstool all over our tiny little bathroom. Mostly to move it over to the sink, where he steps on it and says, "bath, bath". That's how he tells us he wants to wash his hands.

One day, while moving the stool, he fell into the litter box. We heard, "Mommy, Mommy," and there he was sitting in the cat box, crying and scared, with his little bottom lip curled under and quivering, as his little legs and feet dangled over the side.

He likes to brush his teeth. a.k.a. suck the toothpaste off of his toothbrush and then run around the house with it.

When my daughter is taking a bath, he cries to join her. Again, "bath, bath." We always let him go in and he's fine until the time comes to wash his hair. I pick up the big red plastic cup from the ledge, used to pour water all over his head, and he immediately starts to get upset.

This tiny act sends him into a panic. He stands up in the tub and will not sit back down. He's crying at this point and puts his arms out to me, as if to say, Mommy get me out of here!

So, I quickly wet, wash and rinse his hair. I do it really quickly because hysterically crying, wet and slippery baby, standing up in the tub, gives me a little scare. By the end of the hair washing, he is absolutely beside himself.

This has been going on for months now. Stephen and I always comment on how he HAS to go into the bath tub, yet HATES it.

This morning the light bulb finally went off. I see my son in the bathroom, standing by the side of the tub. He's pulling the shower curtain back with his little left hand while pointing into the bath tub with his right hand, saying, "bath, bath."

And it finally comes to me....I say,

Hey there honey, want to play in the bath tub? Mommy will make a nice bath for you!

I then proceeded to fix my right hand as if I were holding the big red cup. I made a pouring motion and said..

Mommy will pour the BIG red cup, FULL of water, ALL OVER YOUR HEAD... I'll wash your hair!.... I then used my hands to pretend that I was washing his hair and said Washie, Washie!

This sent my son running and screaming OUT of the bathroom.

Ahhh...if only I had thought of this sooner.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baking with Kids - Mexican Wedding Cookies

My daughter and I made Mexican Wedding cookies together the other day. I had never made them before but my mom and her cousin made them together last year and I just loved them. I didn't use their recipe, only because I didn't have it. This one is from Gooseberry Patch.

Ingredients

1 c. butter or margarine, softened

1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 t. almond extract

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. walnuts, finely chopped

powdered sugar

Here's What You Do

Beat first three ingredients until creamy. Stir in flour and nuts. Chill for a couple of hours. Make small balls and bake at 375 degrees for about 17 minutes. Cool a little and toss in powdered sugar. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

After we made the cookie batter, I flipped through a Holiday baking magazine and found a different recipe for Mexican Wedding cookies, which contained double the amount of powdered sugar and pecans instead of the walnuts. I bet those would be delicious too.


These cookies were very good and simple to make too.  I'm always surprised at how much I like cookies that don't contain chocolate. I never think that they're going to be as delicious, yet after tasting them am always pleasantly surprised by how much I like them. 



Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Stephen and I are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate our 6th Wedding Anniversary. I went to the salon today to get all dolled up for our big night out. I love going out with "pretty hair" fresh from the salon.

In fact, I planned my holiday hair appointments well in advance on days that I knew we would be going out to dinner. What a dork, highly organized and intentional person I am, right?

I hired a babysitter for the kids so they didn't have to come with me.

Naturally, Stephen had a field day teasing me about hiring someone to babysit so I could go to the salon.

AS if! Ok, technically, yes that is exactly what I did, but in my defense I did not expect that he would be working today and I scheduled all of my holiday hair appointments well in advance, on Saturdays, because he's normally home.

I actually learned that taking both kids to the salon with me was a horrible idea. The hard way.

The last time I went, I brought both kids with me. Talk about being in a daze, it didn't even occur to me, until we stepped inside the salon, that it was a really bad idea.

My daughter was fine but expecting a one year old little boy to sit through mommy's single process and haircut was just, let's call it, silly.

My son is a really good boy so it wasn't that I had to worry about him running around the salon or anything like that. It's just that he was naturally unhappy about having to sit still on my lap for a couple hours. A couple hours, seriously, where had I misplaced my brain?

At one point, while my head was under the ionizer, my son tried to escape my lap. I shimmied down, so as not to hit my head on the big hard plastic globe over my head, and caught my son in a vice grip between my legs to reign him back.

Visions of Suzanne Somers and the Thigh Master came to mind.

Anyhow, I had him! I then carefully shimmied back up, in attempt to put my head back underneath the ionizer AND... SMACK! went my head on the front of the ionizer.

I miscalculated.

I was so embarrassed.

Today, it was just nice to get my hair done in peace, and it was really nice to be able to pick out presents for my husband on my walk back home all by myself; a gift card at our local music store and Baba Booey cupcake from Crumbs, his favorite.

I even had time to pick out a thoughtful Anniversary card for him without any distractions.

I was even sure to ask the ladies behind the counter at the card shop if I could borrow their pen and fill it out there.

As I signed the card, I went on about how the kids were at home, and how it was best that I just fill the card out there, because naturally, the kids would need me as soon as I walked through the door... I didn't want to be distracted and not have the card filled out when Stephen got home.

Then, after yammering on and on, I realized I had just signed his card with not only my first, but our last name too. As if there would be any confusion.

I felt like an idiot, but I had just spent $4.00 on his card, and I was not about to spend another $4.00, springing for another card.

I can't stand the greeting card industry. I'd prefer someone just give me the four bucks... I'd rather fork the 4 bucks over to the gift recipient...or perhaps, add $4.00 to the amount I have in mind to spend on the actual gift... Heck, I'll even kick in another buck and bring it up to an additional $5.00 on the gift itself... It's a guilt inducing industry, that pesky greeting card industry, isn't it?... Can't give a gift without a card...

You know what? I'm gonna start MAKING cards for people.... Just like my daughter does.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Daddy, Close Your Ears

My daughter's teacher, shared with her class at school today, that she is expecting twins! 

My daughter is absolutely delighted with the news and has been wondering aloud all afternoon if her teacher is going to have two boy babies, or if she's going to have two girl babies. 

She has finally decided that she will have one of each.

She couldn't wait to share the news with Stephen, so when he arrived home a few minutes ago, I heard her joyfully say...

"Daddy, daddy, I have some exciting news!!!!!... Wait...Close your ears." 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Until We Meat, I mean, Meet Again

We went to Sam's Club yesterday to do our big monthly grocery shop. I can see that we're going to end up saving a lot of money in the end, even though our first few months of membership ended up being just as costly as our pre-Sam's Club grocery days.

It's just as expensive at first because we've spent more than we normally would on things like Saran Wrap and aluminum foil, but these bulk items are going to last a really long time, and the upfront spending will be worth it. I can see it!

We can't go wrong with the produce, dairy and meats. That's for sure. Nothing is in too large a quantity that anything goes to waste, and we spend the same amount of money or less on items we enjoy, yet get more.

What's not to love, right?

Well...I do get a little frustrated once we reach the juice aisle. At this point, we've filled our carts with non-perishable items, and they're getting heavier and harder to steer. I love grocery shopping but it is at this point, that I begin to welcome the fact that I can see the meat department up ahead. Only meat, produce, dairy and frozen foods sections left to go!

However, it is always at this time, when my cart is getting a little heavy and harder to navigate through the store, that my daughter has to pee. It always happens in the juice aisle. Which, naturally, is at the exact opposite end of the store from the bathrooms.

I figured it had to be subliminal. My daughter agreed but didn't know she was agreeing.

She overheard me talking to Stephen and not knowing what subliminal meant, tried to clear things up for me again, and said...

"Mommy, I think I always have to pee when we get to the juice aisle because I'm thinking of juice".

Yes honey, I get it, makes total sense to me. No one knows my girl better than me.

So, my husband and I leave the juice aisle, and trek to the bathrooms, with our heavy carts and both kids in tow.

We walk past the meat department...

Goodbye succulent pork chops. Don't worry, we'll "meat" again...

then the produce section...

I'll see you in a bit, You big tub of Mixed Greens you! ....

then dairy...

Don't worry, I'll be back for you Butter... and for your little friend Cream Cheese too...

and finally, frozen goods...

I didn't forget about you either, Sweet Peas...

Don't worry any of you big, bulky hunks of deliciousness.  I didn't forget about any of you.

We'll meat meet again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adios Mommy

We're Catholic, but my daughter is attending a non-denominational Christian school. In the mornings parents and siblings are invited to stay for Family Worship. Basically, we sing a few religious songs and hear a bible story.

It's really cute to see all of the kids participating, even the little ones. My son sits on the edge of his little block seat trying to follow the sign language that goes along with the words to the songs, and I sort of get a kick out of watching both my daughter and son run around the house singing the songs they learn at school.

"Hallelujah, praise ye the Lord" is one of their favorites and I think it's because they get to stand up and wave their hands in the air during that one.

You can imagine then, how delighted my daughter was to tell me that her teachers taught the class how to sing it in Spanish too. Now she prances around the apartment singing, "Aleluya, Gloria a Dios!"

After singing it to me, the first time though, she joyously proclaimed... "Mommy, Adios means goodbye in Spanish!"

I'm still trying to convince her that she's singing A Dios, not Adios, but she's not having it.

Baking with Kids - Buckeyes

Our family loves peanut butter. Peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter straight off the spoon. So when my daughter and I were choosing the recipes for sweet treats to try for the Holidays, from our Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, we came across this recipe for Buckeyes and knew that we just had to make these.

Ingredients
2 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 t. vanilla extract

1lb powdered sugar

3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here's What You Do

In a large mixing bowl, mix peanut butter, butter and vanilla together.  Add powdered sugar, a small amount at a time, mixing by hand. Continue to add powdered sugar until mixture can be rolled in one-inch balls that stay together. Melt chocolate in double boiler. Placing a ball on a fork, dip 3/4 of ball into chocolate. Place balls onto wax paper-lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator or freezer to set. Makes 4-5 dozen.


These are Delicious! They were super easy to make too, until the time came to roll 3/4 of the peanut butter ball in the chocolate. I found this step to be very tedious, but in the end, well worth it. We will definitely be making these again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Red Wine Blues

My sister, Joanne, is a proud new condo owner. She bought a brand new unit, in a brand new building, and it is beautiful. The apartment features granite counter tops, hardwood floors, and the latest stainless steel appliances. My very favorite feature is that the bathroom floor heats up with a touch of a tiny little button.

I'm so excited to sleep over one night this Winter, just so I can shower there and use this feature. I can't wait. No more cold bathroom floors for me. My little tootsies are going to be pampered, even if it is just for one morning.

She bought everything brand new, for her brand new place. Everything... from her beautiful new furniture to the free-standing toilet paper holder she purchased for her fancy new bathroom.

So, you can imagine how pissed she was, and how sick and nervous I felt, when the kids and I came over for a visit, and my son knocked the tray table over, which held the glass of red wine that I had just poured myself, and the contents of which splattered all over her brand new living room, in her brand new pristine condo.

The poor little guy just learned how to walk backwards and he was happily showing off his new "talent."

Every single drop of red wine splattered all over her brand new hardwood floors, freshly painted walls and gorgeous sage green couch with tiny delicate stripes of cream and rust.

Both mine and my sister's reactions startled my son, who then started to cry. My sons crying startled my daughter, and then she started to cry. Both kids quickly ran into Joanne's bedroom and hid behind her dresser.

I wanted to hide too but I couldn't. I had A LOT of cleaning to do! Thankfully, for me and my bank account, I got every last drop of red wine out of the couch. I used a mixture of water and Dawn.

There's a new rule at Aunt Joannie's house and that is, no more red wine in the living room! 

I'm sure that after the painful memory has faded though, that she will permit it again.

Any suggestions on how to get red wine out of fabric for when it happens again?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lighten Up - Recipe for Chicken Burgers with Portabella Mushroom Buns

This week's topic at my Weight Watcher meeting was about following their Good Health Guidelines, which are designed to ensure that members meet their body's nutritional needs. The one I struggle with most, is getting in the healthy oils. 2 teaspoons a day are recommended; nursing moms need 3.

Healthy oils are olive, flax seed, canola, safflower and sunflower oil. One teaspoon of oil equals one point though, and it's been hard for me to replace food, that will fill me, with oil, that I feared would not. I am a very hungry girl.

I learned this week though, that not only are two teaspoons of healthy oils a day good for our skin, hair and digestive track, but they also keep us full for a longer period of time. I'm commiting myself this week to finding creative ways of getting them in.  I figured that in doing so, I may have fun with this and will be more likely to adopt it as a lifestyle change.

While watching The Biggest Loser the other night, I got the greatest idea for lunch. Chef Curtis Stone, gave the contestants a cooking lesson, in which they made burgers from ground chicken, instead of beef or turkey,(I hate ground turkey), and used grilled portabella mushrooms in place of a bun. I've replaced beef with grilled portabella before but never ever thought of using the portabella's as the bun. 

He seasoned the ground chicken with garlic and thyme, which the contestants found to be delicious, but that combination didn't do much for me. I went ahead and thought of my favorite seasonings and flavor combinations and went with them for my lunch.
I took out my grill pan and threw the portabella mushrooms on with a little bit of Kosher salt and some pepper. I actually placed the mushrooms on the grill pan dry...(Baby Steps for me)... You can brush them with olive oil though, if you like.

While those were grilling, I quickly diced up a little bit of red onion and red pepper. I threw them together in a little bowl and seasoned them with a little bit of Kosher salt, pepper, red vinegar and one teaspoon of olive oil.

Now it was time to season my chicken burger. I sprinkled my pre-made chicken patty with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chipotle, onion powder and Johnny's Garlic powder.  I cooked it for about 4 minutes or so on each side. I like my chicken burgers well-done.

Voila!!! This was the tastiest lunch that I've made myself in a long time. The flavor combination of the seasonings I chose for the chicken burger, topped with the seasoned diced onions and peppers with red vinegar and oil, was amazing. The burger was delicious and juicy. It was also so quick and easy, that I was able to prepare both my lunch and my kids lunch, in the same amount of time. 

I counted my 3oz chicken burger as 4 points and the teaspoon of olive oil was 1 point. The portabellas, red onion and peppers were FREE!  This was a fantastic 5 point lunch and I plan on making it again for myself for lunch today.
Have you found any creative ways of getting your healthy oils in? 

What flavor combinations/seasonings would you choose?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Children's Health - One Chalazion, two Chalazion

What's a Chalazion? That's what I wanted to know.

A Chalazion is a lump on the eyelid, caused by an obstruction of an oil gland. It resembles a sty but technically, is not. I know this because one has come to dwell on MY little girls eyelid. It's been there for about five weeks now.

Her pediatrician sent us to a specialist in Manhattan to get it checked out. We were all certain that her poor little eye-lid was going to be lanced and drained and Stephen and I were sick about it.

So, in an attempt to calm my nerves, I thought, well, what's the worst that could happen?

And then I pictured it.

I envisioned my daughter seated in a chair in a tiny room. Across from her, is the Pediatric Ophthalmologist, holding a little scalpel in hand. I pictured the Doctor gingerly moving the scalpel up to my little girls eyelid...

What?!!!!!!!!...OH NO!!!!...The telephone starts to ring, which startles the Doctor and alas, instead of lancing my cute little girls eyelid, the Doctor lances her actual eyeball instead!

She could be blinded in her left eye forever!

Yeah...this wasn't helping.

Thankfully though, after seeing my daughter, the specialist determined that a hospitalization to lance and drain a 4 year olds eyelid should be the last resort and therefore recommended that we continue with warm compresses for 10 minutes, 3 times a day. She noted that it will probably take months for the Chalazion to go away.

We needed some guidance as to what to use as a warm compress. I had been wetting washcloths with hot water, yet the cloths stayed warm for less than a minute. The process of wetting and re-wetting the clothes was frustrating, as well as ineffective.

The specialist offered a couple of great suggestions and I'm going to pass them along to you...

She suggested we take a small potato, place it in a sock and then microwave it.  We've found that microwaving it for 50 seconds has done the trick! She also said microwaving a sock full of rice works well too. I opted for the potato because it seemed the least messy of the two. 

Note...check the temperature to make sure it's not too hot for your little one, and then place potato/rice filled sock, directly on your child's eye.  This will work for both Chalazions and Sty's.


The potato retains its heat for the time needed and I am happy to report that her eye looks a lot better. We're not out of the woods yet, but I am hopeful that this works and there won't be any hospitalizations in our near future.

Have any of you experienced anything like this? If so, I would love for you to share your story with me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baking with Kids - Christmas Truffles

I was extremely excited to try this Gooseberry Patch Truffle recipe. My daughter and I both love chocolate truffles and this recipe calls for dipping the truffles in various coatings at the end.

I knew that she and I we were going to have a lot of fun making these together, and we did!

Gooseberry Patch suggested flaked coconut, chopped nuts, powdered sugar, chocolate sprinkles and baking cocoa for truffle coatings. All were delicious.

In addition to their suggestions I picked out Heath Toffee bits because I love toffee, and my daughter spied Christmas colored sprinkles in the baking aisle. It was an excellent find because the red/green and green/white sprinkles made for a very beautiful and festive platter. You have to try this one.

Ingredients
2/3 c. heavy cream

12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 T. unsalted butter, softened

Toasted flaked coconut

Toasted finely chopped nuts

powdered sugar

chocolate sprinkles

baking cocoa

*Red and Green Sprinkles

*Green and white Sprinkles

*Heath candy

candy paper cups

Here's what you do
Heat cream just to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate chips and butter; beat until smooth. Place pan over a bowl of ice water. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixture 3 to 4 minutes or until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.


Scoop out one-inch balls using a melon baller or small scoop. Roll between your hands, then dip balls into various coatings. Place in paper cups or on a sheet of wax paper.
Cover and store in refrigerator. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

I don't have a big sweet tooth but I could not resist these and ate quite a few. My daughter's favorites were the ones coated in festive sprinkles. My husband favored the ones dipped in the baking cocoa and my favorites were the ones dipped in the Heath Toffee bits, followed by the ones coated in coconut and then those we coated in baking cocoa.

These festive little truffles are so delicious that we decided they would be the most perfect treats to share with our whole family, not only for Christmas, but for Thanksgiving too!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trusting Ourselves and Our Instincts

After all of the mental turmoil I've endured at the hands of my former Physicians, the only local Doctor that I trust now is my kids Pediatrician.

I remember seeing Isabel curled up in a ball, just floating there, on my 20 week ultrasound. So much so that the ultrasound tech couldn't even get a measurement for her nose or lips. I was scared to death. Stephen was too. We could tell that there was something wrong. I told my former OB how scared I was but he didn't take me seriously. He said the baby was probably just sleeping.

We went back about a week later so the ultrasound tech could try again. This time they got the measurements, but Isabel was still curled up in a ball, hardly moving at all. Stephen and I were extremely worried at this point. I brought my concerns up to my Dr. again, but again, the Dr. said that there was nothing to worry about.

However, about a week later my OB called with news from the High Risk Specialist. This practice, as well as most, send their patients out to High Risk Specialists for the ultrasounds. The specialist told my former OB that Isabel had a 2 vessel umbilical cord. A normal umbilical cord has 3 vessels. He told me again, that it was nothing to worry about, but they would have me come in once a month for an ultrasound to make sure that the baby was growing properly. I want to note right now though, that when we finally got the Autopsy Report, it revealed that Isabel did not have a 2-vessel cord after all, she had a 3 vessel cord.

Stephen and I were freaked out at this point, so I went ahead and made an appointment for us to meet with the High Risk Specialist ourselves. At our meeting I asked about the babies well-being, due to the alleged 2 vessel cord, and I asked if I was going to need an amniocentesis to check the babies overall health. He said NO and told us both again, that there was nothing to worry about and that I was going to give birth to a totally healthy baby girl.

After Isabel died though, I went ahead and obtained all of my medical records and it was then that I saw the brazen lie in my chart. The High Risk physicians correspondence to my former OB stated that he did indeed, recommend amniocentesis due to all of the things that could go wrong with a baby with a 2 vessel cord, and that I DECLINED! I felt shocked and betrayed. I trusted him. I trusted them all.

I called my OB's office immediately and another Dr called me back. He said that he believed me but was sure that the High Risk Specialist really did believe that my baby was fine, but lied in my chart to cover his butt should anything go wrong and I wanted to sue, as a Dr's written word is more valuable in a court of law than the word of his patients. He went on to say that it was a good thing that my husband was in the meeting with me, and heard what really happened so I could not be portrayed as another "hormonal pregnant woman."

The truth of the matter is that had Isabel lived, I would have never discovered the lie in my chart. People don't typically request medical records unless things go horribly wrong.

Now, the story of the Autopsy....

I called my former OB's office a couple times looking for the Autopsy Report and I wasn't getting anywhere. The receptionist was curt and rude to me, so I decided that I wasn't going to deal with her anymore and that I was going to start calling the Coroner directly.

He was kind enough to take my phone call but unfortunately for me, mixed my baby up with someone else's in his mind, and told me that he saw serious problems with Isabel's heart and sent it to a specialist in Brooklyn. Yes, seriously. Now, for a whole month I believed that there was something wrong with my babies heart, until he finally realized his mistake and revealed that Isabel's heart was there in the hospital the whole time and was fine. There was nothing wrong with her heart. Oops.

Now about 2 months have passed and I finally have the Autopsy Report in hand and lo' and behold, another shocker, the Autopsy findings revealed that Isabel actually didn't have a 2-vessel cord either. Isabel had a 3 vessel cord, as she should have. The Coroner told me that this was a very important find. It sure was.

He went on to explain to me that Dr’s can’t give their patients proper care because they have to take on too many patients to afford their outrageous insurance premiums. I had just gone through 14 hours of labor and the subsequent delivery of my stillborn daughter. My OB wasn't even there come delivery time. There were 2 residents there on staff that day. The Dr's said nothing would turn up on the autopsy but not having an autopsy done on Isabel was out of the question. There was no way that I was not going to cover all of my bases. Now, I was to understand that the Dr’s couldn’t possibly take care of me and my baby because they have to take on more patients than they can handle because of the insurance companies? We all have a big problem on our hands then.

After Isabel's delivery, I remember the nurses would bring her to me but then after a while would take her away. This went on for what seemed like forever. In the end the nurses told me that it was time to bring her down to the morgue. I asked to hold her one more time to say goodbye. I didn't want to let her go but I knew it was time...she had grown so cold in my arms.

Having endured all of this, I did not accept the Dr's explanation that Isabel's death was a "fluke, just bad luck." I knew that there had to be something else going on and there was no way that I could endure having another stillborn, so I began to ask other women if they had any recommendations for another High Risk Specialist. I was led to another hospital with Dr's, who in the end, determined what went wrong and gave me my son.

The High Risk specialist that was recommended to me looked at my chart for about 5 minutes and told me that it was his opinion that my baby did not die from a two vessel cord and at this point, the autopsy results weren't even in yet. He told me he thought I had Gestational Thrombophilia and that there were "red flags all over my chart." He took 14 vials of blood that day. Side note... my new Dr's recommend women be tested for Gestational Thrombophilia after enduring THREE or more miscarriages or ONE Stillbirth.

I am grateful for my new physicians for taking me on, for determining course of treatment, watching me closely and giving me my son. Had I not been medicated from conception with him, not only would my son have died, a pregnancy for me without blood thinners could prove fatal for me as well.

I'm sharing my story in the hopes that I may empower other women to trust in themselves and their instincts. As you can see from what I have endured, our physicians are not always right. Whether it be a lack of knowledge on their parts, that their priorities are wrong because there is too much focus on how to cover their butts to avoid lawsuits, instead of spending the time caring for their patients, or whether patients are slipping through the cracks because the physicians have taken on more patients than they can handle, doesn't matter.

None of these reasons are acceptable. What happened to us isn't ok.

I will spend the rest of my life wondering if Isabel would be here with us today if I had just gone for a 2nd opinion and switched physicians. Would my new Dr's been able to save her? I ignored my instincts and listened to my former Dr's because they were the ones with the medical degrees. I trusted them. Maybe it was too late for Isabel at that point. I don't know. I know for a fact though that had I not followed my instincts after Isabel died, that my son would not be here with me today.

That is a fact.

My former Dr's thought Isabel's death was a fluke, just bad luck, they told me that I could wait a couple of cycles and try again. That wasn't true though. My instincts told me to seek out new physicians and those physicians determined that I needed specialized care. I needed blood thinners. I needed Dr's who were going to be watching me on an almost weekly basis. Even with the medication, my son needed to be delivered at 35 weeks. Thankfully my new Dr's took me seriously, medicated me and kept a close eye. For as grateful as I am to God and my new Doctors, I know that my son would not be here with us today if it weren't for my instincts and perseverance.

I realize that most people have pregnancies like the one I had with my daughter. Aside from all of the morning sickness, it was perfect. I loved my Dr. at the time because he was a nice guy, but other than performing the c-section for a 10 lb 13oz baby, there wasn't anything involved in my pregnancy with her that anyone had to worry about. Then came Isabel and it all fell apart. Everyone took for granted that I should have non-eventful perfect pregnancies because I had one child already. That lax attitude had grave consequences for my Isabel, and could very well have ended in grave consequences for my son.

I was hesitant to blog about this because sharing my story has resulted in a lot of pain for me at times and I don't want to be hurt anymore than I have. In the end, although difficult, I decided to post this because if I could help one woman trust in herself, then it will have been worth it to me.

I have a lot of respect for my kids Pediatrician...well, so far, so good, and before I even had to go into my whole spiel about my lack of trust in local physicians, he had already written a referral for an eye specialist for my daughter in Manhattan. "They're the best," he said.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baking with Kids - Chocolate Covered Cherries

Ingredients
10 oz. Pkg. Powdered Sugar

1/2 c. Butter, softened

1 T. Evaporated milk

2 t. Vanilla extract

2 10 oz. Jars Maraschino cherries, with or without stems, drained

12 oz. chocolate flavored candy coating

6 oz. Pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here's What You Do

Blend together sugar, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla. Wrap each cherry in about 1 tsp. sugar mixture. Arrange on wax paper in a baking pan and chill overnight.


Melt together candy coating and chocolate chips in a double boiler; stir until melted and blended. Use a candy dipper to dip cherries in chocolate, tapping off excess. Place on wax paper to cool.


Well, this was not one of my finer moments. This is one of the Gooseberry Patch recipes that I was most excited to try too. The recipe looked innocent enough, but, Oh no, NEVER again, what a pain in the neck. This was a tedious nightmare!

It seemed to me, right off the bat, that the powdered sugar mixture was going to be a problem. The texture of it seemed all wrong, the cherries were difficult to wrap, and there was no way that we were going to be able to make them all nice and neat and uniform.

So, my daughter and I wrapped each of the tiny little cherries, in the very messy mixture, as best we could.  At one point, she knocked the bowl containing the sugary mixture off of the table, and some of the sugar fell all over the floor. My son hurried over and had a field day playing in the sugary mess.....eating some and wearing most. I just couldn't get to him fast enough because my hands were so messy from the mixture. Now that I think about it though, he was so messy, what was a little more gunk!

We finally finished the cherries, cleaned ourselves up, and placed the cherries in the fridge to chill overnight.

The next day my daughter and I dipped each sugar covered cherry in the chocolate and again, it was a very messy, tedious project. At this point, I didn't even bother to melt the dipping chocolate and chocolate chips in the double boiler. I just opened up the pre-packed chocolate, put it in the microwave and we started dipping. The added weight of the chocolate on the sugary cherry pulled the stems off some while dipping.

They were too sweet for me and Stephen but on the bright side, my daughter was happy and she and my son loved them. We shared with Stephen's cousins and they loved them too.

If we make chocolate covered cherries in the future, I think we'll skip the sugar step altogether, and just dip the maraschino cherry straight in the chocolate.

This is not to say that you won't have better luck. If any of you try this recipe and can give me some helpful tips, I'd consider trying it again... sometime in the not so near future.... perhaps a few years from now, when the memory of the tediousness has faded, and I start to think of this ordeal, as the time when my son looked absolutely adorable all covered in sugar, while my daughter and I had a fabulously-fun time making chocolate covered cherries together!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turkey Bacon - EXPOSED!

I'm sure, like me, some of you have purchased Oscar Mayer's turkey bacon in place of their regular pork bacon. I used to buy it when I was in the mood for bacon and eggs or a BLT. I was getting the taste that I wanted, without the guilt. After all, there it is written in large print on the front of the packaging, "50% less fat".  For me, it was a pretty easy and painless food swap.

But then, I read an article in one of my husband's magazines...Men's Health, "Eat This, Not That"....and there it was..... the real bacon is better for you! Why? The fat and calories are exactly the same, per 2 slices of bacon, only turkey bacon has 360mg of sodium and Oscar Mayer's "real" bacon has 290mg of sodium.

I had to check it out for myself, so I went into the grocery store and checked out the nutritional information labels on both packages and I noticed, for the 1st time, that the turkey bacon's fat and calorie content is based on 1 slice of bacon, while the regular bacon's label is based on 2 slices.

Confirmed..... same fat and calorie content per 2 slices of bacon, only turkey bacon has 70mgs more sodium than the "real" thing!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baking With Kids - "The Best Bread Pudding" by Paula Deen

My daughter and I typically bake on the weekends. Last nights bread pudding adventure was inspired by an overabundance of Italian bread. See, my husband's cousins were given many loaves of bread by a friend who owns a small restaurant. The poor guy ordered all of these loaves for a customer, to be included in their catering order. The customer cancelled the order last minute and our friend was left with loaves upon loaves of Italian bread, which he so generously shared with Stephen's cousins, and they in turn, very generously shared with us.

What to do with all of this bread? Why, make bread pudding, of course!

Except, I had never made bread pudding before so I did a search on Food TV's website and came across "The Best Bread Pudding" recipe by Paula Deen. It seemed simple enough and I am so happy that we tried it because this bread pudding recipe is outstanding! It is rich and sweet and delicious and if you like bread pudding, I highly encourage you to try it too!

Ingredients

• 2 cups granulated sugar

• 5 large beaten eggs

• 2 cups milk

• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

• 3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl

• 1 cup packed light brown sugar

• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

• 1 cup chopped pecans

For the sauce:

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

• 1 egg, beaten

• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

• 1/4 cup brandy

Here's What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.


For the sauce:

Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

This recipe calls for you to bake the bread pudding in the oven for 35-45 minutes, however, I kept it in much longer...about an hour. I did this because I was envisioning one of those thick bread puddings, that my husband has been served numerous times before, in various steakhouses (bread pudding is his favorite). I kept checking the pan and it seemed "loose" to me so I kept it in. When I finally went back to consult the picture on Food Network's website, I saw in the picture, that the bread pudding is meant to be on the loose side, with more of a yes, pudding-like appearance, rather than thick cake.

Our bread pudding was not at all over done though, even with the added baking time. We all absolutely loved it!  I hope that you try it and love it too. 

Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Curb Your Enthusiasm

One of my friends was teasing me the other day, telling me that she wants me to write about corduroys because she loves them and says she wants me to bring them back! This cracked me up.

I'm also a fan of the corduroy pant... so I figured... heck, why not? I thought, hmmm what's so great about corduroys? How can I sing its comfie praises? How can we bring corduroy back? Well, not exactly back, as I noticed many pairs in fashionable colors at Ann Taylor Loft the other day.

Hmmm... Larry David, of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld fame, wears corduroys... and I have BIG love for him....SO....

Haiku to YOU, Larry David!

"Oh! Larry David.

Put on your corduroy pants.

Autumn brings a breeze."

Monday, October 5, 2009

What I Like About YOU, Sam's Club

1. Gallon of skim milk $1.90

2. Poland Spring, natural spring water, 35 pack case $4.34

3. 32 oz package of strawberries $3.90

4. Wonder, large white bread, 2/24oz loaves $2.97

5. Arnold Selects, 2 count package $4.08

6. Mott's 100% apple juice, 2/86oz bottles $3.82

7. Kellogg's Raisin Bran, 76.5 oz $6.58

8. 90% lean ground beef, $2.49 a pound

9. Kedem Grape Juice, 96oz bottle $4.38

10. Aisles and aisles of low priced deliciousness.... priceless.

We've finally done it! We've taken the plunge and went ahead and purchased a Warehouse club membership all of our very own. Sam's Club! I'm not a total stranger to warehouse shopping, as I've been riding my parents Costco coat tails for years. Only shopping for non-perishable items while visiting them though, as there is a two hour car ride from their Costco to our fridge. Secretly, I was always a little jealous of their robust pork chops, mouth-watering chicken pot pies and decadent spinach dip. But not anymore! We have arrived! Now, WE are a part of the warehouse shopping community and I LOVE every single budget-conscious, high quality, bulk purchasing, morsel of it!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baking with Kids - Heavenly Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I thought it would be fun for my daughter and I to do some baking on this nice lazy Sunday. I decided to try a recipe that we flagged in one of our Gooseberry Patch Christmas cookbooks. Just the other day, she asked if we could bake chocolate chip cookies on our next adventure, so I thought this would be a great recipe to try. They're not your average Chocolate Chip cookies either, as the recipe calls for 2T. instant coffee granules. It's a nice twist on an old classic.

Ingredients
2 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

3/4 c. butter

2 T. instant coffee granules

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

11 1/2 oz. pkg.semi-sweet double chocolate mega-chips or 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. walnut halves, toasted (optional)

Here's What You Do
Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine first 3 ingredients; stir well.


Combine butter and coffee granules in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until butter melts and coffee granules dissolve. Stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature (don't let butter resolidify).

Combine butter mixture, sugars, egg and egg yolk in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixture until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until just blended.



Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts (optional).


Drop dough by heaping tablespoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheets.
















The cookies are really tasty and are very simple to make. As I mentioned, not your run of the mill chocolate chip cookies because of the instant coffee granules. I wasn't 100% sure that my daughter was going to like them because of this, but she absolutely loves them! She's already eaten 3!!! She didn't want walnuts in her cookies, so we omitted them from our recipe. We used regular chocolate chips instead of the mega-chunk chips because that's what we had in our pantry.  We were at Sam's Club yesterday and I scored a 72 oz. bag of regular semi-sweet chocolate chips for just $7.94 (woo hoo)!  I knew that they were going to come in handy with all of baking we have planned.

Hope that you try this recipe with your kids too and that they love the cookies as much as my daughter does.  Looking forward to hearing from you!



Saturday, October 3, 2009

Nice Soft Pillow

"Mommy, your belly's a nice soft pillow"

Thanks honey.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lighten Up

It's been a crazy few weeks, thus making it really difficult for me to stay focused on my weight loss efforts. I'm still going to kickboxing 2-3 times a week, but I haven't been tracking my Weight Watcher points as usual. I'm so close to my goal now too.

As you may have gathered from my "Party of One" post, I am an emotional eater. I eat when I'm happy. I eat when I'm sad. I eat when I'm feeling stressed and anxious. It's been at my current stint at WW meetings, that the light bulb finally went off, and I realized that I look to food to comfort me, when there is no one else to. I recognize it but I do not have full control over it.

I recognize that I'm doing it now, and this new self-awareness is something I'm very grateful for because it has reigned me in, and I haven't done too much damage this time. See, we Weight Watchers follow a point system. I get my daily allotment of points, which are based on my weight and then get to add 5 extra points because I'm breastfeeding my son. Woo Hoo!!! And boy, do they come in handy. Especially for me, someone who has been nicknamed, "Snacks" by my 4-year old daughter.

Lately, I've been tracking the points in my head and not typing them in on my online tracker.  This has made for some creative point counting. When I use my online tracker, the point values of the foods that I'm eating are automatically subtracted from my daily allotment, and the number of points I have left for the day are left staring me right in the face. When I count in my head, I very conveniently "forget" some points that I've used up over the course of the day. A sandwich I may have valued at 7 points at lunch time, magically becomes 5 points at late night snack time. I think this is pretty common too among my fellow Weight Watchers.

I am recommitting myself this week and am going to try and bring back the things that have been working for me for the past 8 months. Now, this is not to say that there will not be many, many more blog posts describing "food parties" for one, as I am a work in progress.

I thought that it would be fun though, to share with you, some of the tips and tricks and creative food swaps that have been working for me in my future blog posts.

I'd love to hear about your Adventures in dieting too!!! Please leave any comments, funny stories, tips or tricks that you would like to share in the comments section of my blog.


side note..some friends have told me that they are having problems when trying to leave a comment on my blog. From what I understand you need to either sign up for a Google account, or leave a comment anonymously. You can always sign your name in the body of your "anonymous" comment, if you don't want to sign up for a Google account. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baking with Kids - "Those Darn Cookies"

Today my daughter and I made one of my mom's recipes, "Darn cookies!" You got it, because they're so darn good! And simple to make too! I have to admit that we actually call them something else when the kids aren't around :-)

Yes, it's true, I totally went ahead and chose a recipe that I was very familiar with to share first, and I am ok with that.

Ingredients

1 1/2 sleeves of Saltine Crackers

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup butter

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts, today we chose walnuts


Here's What You do

Pre-heat oven to 350

Line entire cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with Pam.

Lay out Saltines, completely covering bottom of pan.

Cook sugar and butter for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly (on a low to medium heat) until caramel colored. Do not let it boil over.

Pour hot sugar over crackers. Then spread  butter and brown sugar mixture over the crackers with a spatula. Bake at 350 for 4-5 minutes. tip...bake on top rack and keep a close eye.



Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips on top of hot crackers.



Return to oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate.

Sprinkle with nuts (optional).

Place the tray in fridge to cool. Once the cookies set, you can either just break them up by hand or cut neatly into squares with a butter knife.

My daughter and I made these cookies a couple weeks ago to bring to a party at her school. We didn't make them with nuts then, but decided to "mix it up a little" today (as my daughter says) and sprinkled walnuts on top. They taste delicious both ways, but I think they look prettier with the nuts on top.

Enjoy!!!






Adventures in Baking

One of the things that I enjoy most is sharing quality time baking with my daughter, so I was very excited, back in August, when my mother gave me three of her Gooseberry Patch Holiday cookbooks. I can't help it, I take comfort in reading cookbooks. I just love them!

My daughter and I went through all of them together right away and began flagging the pages of both the sweet and savory recipes that we thought would be fun to try together.


Just going through the books together, in itself, was great fun. I had some of those post-it flags, that she calls staffs... (she thinks they look like a Shepherds staff). As we went through the books, my daughter placed a "staff" on all of the pages containing recipes that looked good to us. We used pink and yellow for the sweets and blue to mark the savory dishes.

When my daughter and I bake together we make very simple, yet delicious treats. The recipes made from scratch are also very simple and most of them have been passed along by family members. I also have some favorites from the Food Network stars.

When we make cakes, cupcakes, brownies and muffins, I typically use a store bought mix, but then dress the recipe up a little or just have fun decorating. For instance, just a couple of weeks ago we made a boxed brownie mix, but then my daughter lined Reese's Peanut Butter cups, up and down the pan, after I poured the brownie mix in it. It was delicious! Another time we made store boxed cupcakes but then "mixed it up a little," like my daughter says, and decorated them with M&M's.

I made sure that all the recipes we flagged from the Gooseberry Patch books were simple. Well, they looked simple. This is going to be an adventure but one that I would like to share with you! I hope that you will try some of the recipes that I share, both new and old.  I hope that you enjoy the old ones and that we both enjoy the new ones too!!!

There is a comments section on my blog, so if any of the recipes look good to you, and you end up trying them out, I would love any feedback that you have. Also, if you have any simple recipes that you would like to share with me, I'd love to try them too.

So as not to make this a super long post, I am going to share today's adventure in a separate entry.