Friday, July 31, 2009

Playing in the Sprinkler

It's been a little dry here as of late (although we've gotten a little rain this week!), and Mr. C's nightly yard watering has become a favorite post-dinner and pre-bed time activity for Little C. We had gone to the pool this particular day and as luck would have it, he was still in a swim suit, so I snapped a few pictures since he was actually some-what clothed for a change...most nights he's usually just playing in his diaper.

It's sometimes hard to remember why we thought things like playing in the sprinkler used to be so much fun when we were kids, but I actually found myself having a blast trying to catch the pictures of Little C without getting soaked, and I think Mr. C had equally as much fun laughing at me when I lost the race and got sprayed a few times. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Diaper Champ - Review from a mom

I'm on a review kick, can you tell?? I guess that's what happens when you are facing a house with two under start evaluating your baby purchases to see if it's worth your while to stick with what you've got or go for a new product.

Today's victim?? The Diaper Champ by Baby Trend.

I chose the Diaper Champ over the Diaper Genie for two big reasons. Bags and hands-on time with the dirty diaper. The Diaper Champ uses standard tall kitchen trash bags. The Diaper Genie requires special Diaper Genie bags. The Diaper Champ has a well that you drop the dirty diaper in and then a handle you use to flip the well and thus dispose of the dirty diaper. The Diaper Genie requires you to use your hands to manually shove the dirty diaper through a tight opening to dispose of it. Something difficult to do with out getting your hands gross sometimes.

Now on to the Diaper Champ's bad side. This diaper disposer stinks. Literally. I use odor neutralizing trash bags and have since day one, but over time, the smell of dirty diapers has permeated the plastic and every time you flip the handle to dispose of a dirty diaper a big waft of dirty diaper smell fills your home. It didn't happen took about a year for the plastic to absorb the smell, but now that it has, there's just no getting it out. I have even cloroxed the entire thing several times to no avail.

I had read several reviews prior to purchasing the Diaper Champ that complained of the same thing...apparently if you have an early model Diaper Champ, then this was not a big problem. Rumor had it the plastic they originally used was different and of a higher quality. As with anything though, as the diaper disposer grew in popularity, they outsourced the manufacturing about three years ago and also started using cheaper materials (namely cheaper plastic) and thus the newer models of Diaper Champs stink.

I thought I could outsmart the plastic with the odor neutralizing bags. I even used those blue scented bags for the particularly gross diapers at first, but that got a bit pricey, so I just started using plastic grocery sacks. No luck, looks like I only delayed the inevitable.

I'm really on the fence here...I'm struggling with what to replace our current stink-bomb with. I still think my reasons for not getting a Diaper Genie are valid. I have used friends' Diaper Genies and it really is a pain to have to push the gross diaper through the small opening, but I don't want to spend money on another Diaper Champ that I'll be faced with replacing in a year when it starts to smell. I think what I'm going to do is just get a nice flip-top lidded trash can.

I don't know, though....what do you guys think? Is there anyone out there just LOVES their Diaper Genie and want to try to sell me on it??

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This week's menu

I guess I should start with last week, though.

We were out of town for the better part of the week, so I only had to cook one meal. I made shepherd's pie. This recipe is F-A-N-tastic because it's all done in one pot (plus one extra bowl to mash the potatoes) and you can freeze the meat, so all the ingredients are frozen and/or already in your fridge. That way if you are out of town for a good chunk of time, you can have all the fixings ready when you walk in the door - no running to the grocery store!

Easy One Pot Shepherd's Pie

  • 1 and 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1/3 to 1 cup ketchup (depending on how much you like ketchup)
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce (depending on how much you like Worcestershire sauce)
  • 16 oz frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans) thawed, but not cooked.
  • 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 24 ounce steam-in-bag Ore-Ida Steam n' Mash potatoes ( potatoes require some milk and butter to prepare)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the meat in and oven-friendly skillet or dutch oven and cook over med-high heat until thoroughly browned (5-10 minutes). While the meat is cooking, prepare the potatoes per package instructions and mix with cheese (if using) then set aside. Once the meat is browned, drain any fat. Mix in the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce (I go light on the ketchup and heavy on the Worcestershire), add the veggies. Continue cooking for about a minute. Turn off the heat and using the back of your spoon, level the beef/veggie mixture. Spoon then spread the potatoes over the beef and veggie mixture (it's ok if potatoes don't completely cover the meat mixture). Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes just start to brown around the edges. Serves 6.
Note: If you don't have an oven-friendly skillet or dutch oven, then just transfer the meat and veggies mix to a casserole dish before adding the potatoes and baking.

On to this weeks menu. It was raining and a brisk 84 degrees outside when I was menu planning, and I think you can tell I'm ready for Fall...these are a lot of cooler-weather recipes. Wishful thinking I guess!

Minestrone Soup
LOVE this recipe - it makes a TON. It's a tweaked Rachael Ray recipe though, so there's about 5000 ingredients.

  • 2 Tbs EVOO (it's Rachel, I have to use the abbreviation!)
  • 1/4 lb thick cut bacon, pancetta or Italian sausage
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 2 med onions, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 stems fresh rosemary (I use 2 tsp dried)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, thinly slices (I use about 1 or 2 tsp dried)
  • 1 med zucchini, diced
  • 1 15oz can cannellini beans (I use Kidney beans)
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 cups veggie stock (I use more chicken stock)
  • A wedge or Parmigiano cheese with the rind attached (remove the rind and grate the cheese)
  • 1 small bunch kale or chard, trimmed of tough ends and veins and coarsely chopped (4-5 cups)
  • 1 cup ditalini pasta (I can never find this so I use small penne or even just elbows)
Heat a soup pot over med-high heat and add the EVOO. Add the pancetta/bacon/sausage and brown for 2-minutes (some times a little longer if using sausage). Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Season with salt pepper, rosemary and sage. Add zucchini, beans, tomatoes, stocks and cheese rind. Stir them into the pot then place the lid on the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Uncover and wilt in the kale or chard (2-3 minutes). Add the pasta and cook the soup uncovered at a rolling simmer for 7-8 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Remove the pot from the heat. Re-season with salt and pepper to taste and remove cheese rind and discard. Serve with grated parmigiano cheese and crusty bread. Serves 6.

Chicken Fajitas
I don't know if I should even include a recipe for this one, since everyone does their own thing, but here it is.

  • lb of chicken thighs (or chicken breasts)
  • Fiesta Brand Extra Fancy Chicken Fajita seasoning
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • salsa
  • low-fat sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • lettuce
  • diced tomatoes
  • cilantro
  • sliced avocado
Season chicken liberally with Chicken Fajita seasoning and cook over med-high heat in a skillet (6-10 minutes on each side). Warm tortillas and offer all the other ingredients as garnishes. I serve with a side of brown rice I cook with a few Tbs of salsa or Rotel and black beans that I cook with a sprinkle of the fajita seasoning and some fresh cilantro. Viola, somewhat healthy chicken fajitas :)

Easy Texas Chili and Corn Bread
This chili recipe is so easy, I always make the corn bread from scratch because I feel a little guilty about how easy the main dish is. No worries, though, this corn bread recipe is SUPER easy. I'm good at many things but baking is NOT one of them.

Easy Texas Chili

  • 1 lb ground chuck (I use ground Turkey a lot)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, undrained
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 Tbs Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Additional Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine first 3 ingredients in a med soup pot or Dutch oven; cook until meat is browned stirring until in crumbles. Drain and return to pan. Add remaining ingredients; cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Corn Bread

  • 3/4 cup enriched corn meal
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg slighly beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 8 or 9 inch round pan. Blend all dry ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients until dry ingredients are moist. Pour batter into greased pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Ravioli Lasagna
I'm making this one tonight, and have never made it before, so I'll have to let you know how it comes out. It's a modified version of the Spinach-Ravioli Lasagna I shared here.

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 15oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 25oz package frozen meat-filled ravioli (do not thaw)
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
  • Optional garnish: Chopped flat leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese in a bowl and set aside. Combine marinara sauce and beef broth in another bowl and set aside. Spoon one-third of the marinara sauce mixture (about 1/2 cup) into a lightly greased 11x17 inch baking dish. Tow with half of the cottage cheese mixture. Arrange half of ravioli in a single layer over cottage cheese mixture. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining marinara sauce. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley if desired.

Update: Made the ravioli lasana and it was very yummy although a little soupy and too salty for my tastes (these are my complaints about the original recipe too, though, so I shouldn't have been surprised). All-in-all, it was a hit. Will make it again for sure, but will try it with no broth next time to see if that helps make it less runny.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Svan Highchair - Review from a mom

We have had the Svan for almost a year now, and I figured I'd throw out a review to the void in case anyone was interested. My thoughts on this chair can be summed up in one statement:

Form over Function.

If you want a wooden high chair that comes in a variety of finishes, is adjustable and discrete and looks cool, this is the chair for you. If you want a high chair that is easily adjusted, easy to clean, budget friendly and has a large tray, this is NOT the chair for you.

It was a big's a pricey high chair (about double what most high chairs cost), but I chose it because we have a TINY breakfast area and a table that is already too big for the space to deal with so I needed a high chair with a small footprint. Also, because we have an open plan house (in other words you can see every room from just about every other room), I wanted a highchair that was inconspicuous. And in those two regards, I definitely got my wish with the Svan. It is small and definitely discrete and matches the decor in our kitchen perfectly.

That being said, I sometimes think this chair is TOO small. It boasts that your child never grows out of it, which is true to a certain extent because it converts into a stool that puts your little guy/girl at standard table height and has something crazy like a 200 lb weight limit, but that being said, the tray is TINY. Something that becomes an issue when you child is learning to feed themselves. In order to get traction with their fingers or with their utensil, most kids will push their food, bowl, plate around the tray until they can get a grip. If the tray is small, more food than necessary ends up on the floor and in their laps.

My other big complaint is the seat covers for this chair are not only $40 extra, they are cloth with a scotch guard like coating instead of being made of a more durable and wipe-friendly vinyl or plastic. All the little nubbies of the cover attract food like a magnet (food that gets ground into the texture) and although you can toss the cover in the washing machine, it does NOT hold up well with repeated washes. So the chair cover is constantly filthy and if you wash it with any amount of frequency, you are stuck with needing to purchase replacement chair at a price that could get you a decent booster seat.

Another complaint is that, although this chair is very adjustable, it takes an allen wrench to make any adjustment. That's allen wrench!! So, once you receive and assemble your highchair, don't toss your 'svan key' away! Ours lives in our junk drawer for the frequent adjustments we need to make with a growing child. What a pain!! I would think the swiss could be more ingenuitive than an allen wrench. Oh wait, they are behind the IKEA revolution. :)

Also, because of the afore mentioned adjustment mechanisms there are about 5463 nooks and crannies for food to get in. Every bolt head for the allen wrench is basically a well waiting to filled with food crumbs, and there are all these crevices and cracks that stuff gets wedged in. I literally have to take the chair completely apart to get all the food cleaned out. A time consuming, labor intensive process that is such a pain and leaves me cursing the stupid chair every time I have to do it.

All-in-all, I have a love/hate relationship with this chair. I get compliments on how it looks, but that's where the love ends. I wish I could say I made a wise purchase here, but I don't think I did, and for you parents that have yet to make your highchair purchase, I would say, save your money and invest in a good stroller over a fancy highchair.

I have several friends that have had nothing but good things about their Chicco Polly high chairs,or for you more budget savvy parents (or parents with limited space like us), go for a booster seat. The tray will be smaller than with a standard high chair and for a month or two in the early days you may have to use a dish towel to help junior sit more snugly in place, but it grows with your child and will be usable until they are ready to sit by themselves and it's also good for travel. My in-laws keep a Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster at their house for the grandkids and it is AWESOME. Every time I use it I wish we had purchased something similar. I think the main reason I love it so much is it's completely plastic and is super easy to wipe down. We will definitely be getting one of these for baby #2!

Hope this helps someone!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Spider and Elephant Noises

Little C is at a very cool age right now. His personality just blossoms more and more every day and he's connecting and communicating so much more. It's very neat to watch and be a part of.

He just loves the song 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider'. He does the 'itsy bitsy' hand motion and the rain, but we're still working on the part where the spider gets washed out and then the sun coming out. Still, it is just the cutest thing to see. An what's so great, is he will actually initiate the song..he'll get my attention and start making the 'itsy bitsy' motion. At first I didn't know what he was doing, but when I finally figure it out and started singing the song, you should have seen the way his face lit up! It was priceless.

Then today was another melt-your-heart moment. Since just about birth, we've been making animal sounds. He's never made any attempt to repeat a single one until today. When I make an elephant sound, I alway use my arm like a trunk and make a trumpeting sound. Today, I made the elephant sound and he repeated it, complete with the arm movement!!! He even did it again at dinner for Mr. C to see.

Seriously just a reminder to me that it's usually the smallest things that bring you those rediculous amounts of joy as a parent.

Dressing the part

So, like any other job in the world, being a stay-at-home mom has a dress-code. It's completely unwritten and I'm sure completely regional, but here in the suburbs of NW Houston, I have come to discover that every stay-at-home mom wears the exact same thing. In case you are contemplating a career in this field and reside in NW Houston, here's the summer dress code so you can be ready (I haven't figured out what the fall/winter dress code is yet, so stay tuned! :)

First you will need a cute tank top or t-shirt. Given the heat, a tank top is preferred. This must be purchased at either Target or Old Navy and you can bet that you will see at least one other mom wearing your shirt in (hopefully) a different color throughout the course of the day.

Second, you will need a pair of Bermuda shorts. The length is very important for the up and down nature of the job...anything shorter and you will flash someone at some point guaranteed. Plus, we are moms and showing off our legs isn't our priority, right?

Third you will need a pair of flip flops. You get some creative licence can go sparkly, beaded, patent, fashionable with a Grecian pair or more casual with a comfy pair of leather reefs. But, one CRUCIAL aspect of the footwear is the recent pedicure in a vibrant color for summer. No, you will never see a self-respecting mom (besides myself) with a grown out or busted up pedi in these parts. And french?? Well, that is SOOO 2 years ago :)

Last you will need your crucial accessories...

the wedding ring (seriously). I've forgotten mine before and felt soooo self conscious. Not necessarily because of the single-mom-status so much as the stay-at-home status because if you are out and about with a child during the day and no ring, I feel like people wonder where the income is coming from.

The modest earrings (nothing too flashy)

And of course the big plastic sunglasses (that double as a headband). Mine are from Target, but this is one accessory you will see that most moms don't get from Target...I see so many Chanel sunglasses in these parts I'm beginning to wonder if they are knock-offs. Probably not, but it makes me feel a little better to think they are.

And finally, you will need your makeup done and your hair coiffed. No time to coif? A pony tail is acceptable, but not the wad-it-up kind that you use to wash your face. No, you will need the straightener for the tail and your bangs at least, so don't get excited about putting away your styling products...a pony just cuts down on the time...time is still required if you have frizzy-prone hair like mine.

If all else fails and there is just NO time to get dolled up, then I have discovered there is ONE get-out-of-jail-free card. You can wear workout clothes. But keep in mind, you have to make it look convincing, like you actually went and/or are on your way to the gym, so you will need tennis shoes, a bottle of water and a baseball hat. This is one look I have perfected.

If you should choose to deviate from this dress code by wearing fancy pants, a dress, or (God forbid) high heals, all of the other moms will assume one of the are either #1. foreign #2. the nanny or some other non-mom caregiver or #3. showing off beyond the confines of the previously stated dress code. That last one is a cardinal sin in the stay-at-home mommy world so don't be surprised if you are looked at suspiciously from then on out .

And now you know :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Here we go again!

funny pregnancy Pictures, Images and PhotosMinimum of two years and nine months. That was my spacing goal between Little C and his future sibling. Apparently the good Lord and mother nature had other plans.

Yes oh yes, I am pregnant and due December 31st 2009 - yikes! I'll do the math for you - 20 and 1/2 months. That is how far apart these two kiddos will be, so my worst parenting fear of two kiddos under two years of age (followed closely by my parenting fear of three under three which is slightly less intimidating since I can guarantee infallible steps will be taken to prevent that) will soon be a fact of life.

Let me be clear, we always said that God willing, we wanted more kids, and after dealing with conception issues and a miscarriage before Little C, I am truly grateful that this new little addition seemed to pop up with er...minimal effort, but let me paint the 'two under two' picture for you. Two cribs, two baby monitors, two car seats, double strollers, two high chairs, two kids in diapers, possibly two kids still drinking out of baby bottles (if one decides to revert since we will have just weened him onto a sippy cup). Sleepless nights but no naps for mom to make up for it since by then Little C will be down to max of one-nap-a-day and I'm sure it will be all I can do to get food cooked and maybe a load of laundry done.

As annoying as all that other stuff is, the worst part (to me) of having two under two is that Little C won't really understand what is going on when the baby arrives. Not that any child is ever really prepared to 'share' mom and dad when a sibling arrives, but at least with a kid that is talking you can explain things to a certain extent. As terrible as it sounds, I have even found myself occasionally resentful of this little has already drained me of so much energy that I could otherwise be devoting to Little C, I can only imagine what things will be like when he/she actually arrives.

I also keep having irrational fears that I won't love this child as much as I love Little C. Considering there was a time I was ever-so-slightly concerned I might not love Little C as much as I loved our two cats (which subsequently I would now like to get rid of if anyone is interested!) I know that this kind of thinking is ludicrous, but still, I find myself concerned about it at times.

I know, I know. I sound like a horrible person who is acting immature and ungrateful for this precious gift of life. In my defense, though, I'm on the back end of close to 17 weeks of morning sickness, and while it has slowed, it has showed no signs of stopping. Silly me, here I though subsequent pregnancies were supposed to get easier - HA!

And could we have had worse timing for a due date?? Mr. C is excited we will be in the running for a 2009 tax break, but that's the short-list of the pro's. The poor kid will constantly be getting those dreaded combo know the birthday/Christmas gift where you basically get cheated out of half of your yearly quota of presents. And don't think as parents we will be any better than the general population. I mean Christmas is hard on the budget as is, so I'm sure we'll end up being guilty combo gift givers on more than one occasion.

I've decided I'm going to have to let this child celebrate their half birthday because birthday parties around the holidays are unlikely. As for the birth itself, well the holidays are shear craziness as it is, but now with a baby on the way...forgettaboutit! I basically need everything baby related squared away by Thanksgiving so I can shift gears to focus on the holidays, not that we will actually be going anywhere to celebrate. We may not even put up a Christmas tree because the last thing I want to be messing with in my limited spare time after my newborn arrives is packing up Christmas decorations (a task I hate so much, I've been known to put it off until Valentine's day).

Anyway, just to catch everyone up, I'm 17 weeks. Due to horrible morning sickness and the impending strain on our finances, we canceled our long awaited anniversary trip to the Pacific Northwest (sniff sniff) and settled for a staycation during that time instead. I also was unable to complete my training for the Danskin Triathlon. Yea, several hundred dollars in registration fees and new triathlon gear up-in-smoke along with two and a half months of training. I'm still holding out hope to compete next year though.

We will not be finding out if we are having a boy or a girl this time around. In the spirit of the holiday season, we have elected to maintain a 'no peeking' policy and are going to let the gender of the baby remain a surprise until his/her birthday (and yes I have a hunch...I am about 1000% sure it is a girl). I hope this will also help me refrain from shopping for all that needless stuff I'm sure to be tempted to buy for the baby and the nursery, but so far it hasn't been working! :)

If you have a sec, any prayers you can send our way for a safe and healthy pregnancy/delivery are truly truly appreciated as well as prayers for my morale which (as you may have noticed) has pretty much been in the toilet for the majority of this pregnancy...and any advice from you seasoned moms of 2 is eagerly welcome as well!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

This week's menu

This week's menu wasn't as kid friendly as I would have liked, but mainly because the munchkin is just being a picky eater these days. He could have eaten everything I made, he just chose to throw a lot on the floor. At least Mr. C and I ate well, even if we had to break out the grilled cheese more than once for the munchkin's dinner. I don't have as any pictures this week because most of these are adaptations of recipes I found and then modified to my liking. Hope you'll give them a try none-the-less, though because they are all really good and very easy!

Dill seasoned Salmon with Tomato and Cucumber Salad in a Yogurt and Dill dressing

Season 2-4 fillets of salmon with the lemon juice, olive oil salt, pepper and fresh dill
cook it any way you like it...we will bake or grill ours depending on the weather

Tomato and Cucumber Salad (this is just enough for 4 people)
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes (I use the container of nature sweet cherubs), washed and dried.
  • 2 cucumbers sliced into moon shaped pieces
  • 1 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tbs fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes in half if you want, and cut the cucumbers into half moon slices. Whisk the yogurt, vinegar, dill, salt and pepper together and toss with the vegetables. Serve with salmon...if some of the dressing touches the fish, fear not, it tastes delicious together.

Chicken Quesadilla Pie (Makes 4-6 servings)
  • 10 ounce can red or green enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or sour cream
  • 4 8-inch flour or wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups (8oz) grated monterey jack or pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated monterey jack, cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded chicken, corn, black beans or any combination of the three
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a small sauce pan over low heat, stir to combine the enchilada sauce and cream or sour cream. Toss to combine all the chicken and vegetables in a second bowl.

Spoon 1/4 of the sauce/cream mixture into the casserole dish. Top with 1 tortilla and a third or the chicken/vegetable mixture. Top with a third of the monterey jack (or pepper jack) cheese. Repeat twice to form a total of 3 layers. Top with the remaining tortilla, sauce mixture and 1/4 cup cheese.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Slice into wedges and serve with salsa, avocado, cilantro and sour cream.

I pair this with a side of brown rice and black beans.

Easy Chicken Curry (with tomato and okra)
  • 1 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion thinly slice
  • 1 tbs curry powder (a palmful)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup heavy cream, plain yogurt or a combination of the two (I do half of each).
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken shredded
  • 1 1/4 cup frozen okra (does not need to be thawed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until tender (5-7 minutes). Sprinkle with curry powder and cook for additional minute. Add teh yogurt and cream and simmer gently for 2-3minutes. Stir in tomatoes, chicken and okra. Cover and simmer until the meat is warm and the okra is heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice and/or with naan bread.

Only made three dishes this week...on Tuesday we had the other half of the rotisserie chicken used in the Chicken Curry and a big tossed salad.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First dentist appointment today

Little C's, not mine :). It was a test of patience and strength, that's for sure. Nothing special, just a checkup. Got a clean bill of health, a sticker, a bathtub toy AND a toothbrush. Only downside was the dentist informed us his baby teeth are crowded. Not a good thing because it means #1 orthodontics are almost inevitable and #2 effective immediately we are supposed to start flossing his teeth daily. Hmm, that should be interesting....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Menu Planning

Every week I try to plan our family's menu and do the entire week's worth of grocery shopping on Sunday. I usually have three goals in mind #1. Limit the leftovers. #2. Mix up the proteins (in other words, avoid the temptation to cook chicken every night) and #3. Fix stuff we can eat as a family (1 year old friendly food). There are many a week, I am lucky to achieve one of these goals, let alone all three, but this week ::patting myself on the back:: I hit it out of the park. Since I'm ALWAYS on the hunt for tasty and easy recipes, I thought I'd share my menu for the week.

Monday: Slow Cooker Lentils and Sausage

Mr. C lovingly refers to this recipe as 'fancy beanie weenies', but it really is a tasty dish and MUCH healthier than frank and beans. Lentils and beans are so good for you, I'm always trying to find way to get them on the menu, they are excellent for little kiddos as well. When little C was younger, I would purposefully over cook this just a tad to make the lentils nice and mushy. Even now, this is a great recipe for a little person learning to use a spoon because it's nice and thick without too much broth. Plus this recipe is the perfect way to use the plethora of sausage we always seem to have in the freezer after hunting season...part of why I love this recipe because it changes tremendously depending on the flavor of the sausage you add. If you do make this for a child, be careful you don't use spicy sausage...they may eat it, but the result isn't pretty! :)
  • 1 (16 ounce) package dry lentils
  • 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • (24 ounce) lg box beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 carrot, chopped (I use 2, sometimes 3 or a couple handfuls of baby carrots)
  • 2 pounds kielbasa (Polish) sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I use whatever we've got)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (I hate celery and skip this)
  • I also add onion (a half or a whole depending on what we have) and usually a garlic clove or two.
Rinse and drain lentils, but do not soak. In a slow cooker, stir together the lentils, tomatoes, broth, water, carrot, sausage, and celery. Cover, and cook on High for 3 hours, or Low for 6 to 7 hours. Stir well before serving.

I serve this with crusty bread and a big salad. I love making this at the beginning of the week and then we eat it for lunch all week long. It makes a lot!!

Tuesday: Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

I had never broiled fish before I tried this recipe, but it's sooo easy, so quick and can easy be halved and/or manipulated depending on what's in the freezer - any white fish works well, and I experiment with the spice combinations constantly (FYI, this recipe is out of sight if you add a little cayenne or crushed red pepper for heat).
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tbs mayo (can use low fat, but if you do, limit the lemon since it has more tang that reg mayo)
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice (I skip this a lot when we're out of lemon)
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt (I usually use garlic salt)
  • Cayenne or crushed red pepper to taste (opt)
  • Old Bay (opt)
  • 2 lbs tilapia fillets
Preheat your oven's broiler (low heat if you have the option between 'hi' and 'low'). Line a broiling pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl mix together all of the ingredients except Old Bay and fish and set aside. Season fillets with Old Bay (opt) and arrange fillets in a single layer on the pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan mixture. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork.

If I have them, I'll add breadcrumbs or crushed croutons to the cheese mixture to give the topping a little crunch. This week, I served this with steamed broccoli and brown rice (the munchkin got his broccoli-rice casserole as we first tried on the dinner impossible night).

Wednesday: Tasty Chicken Anytime

I have made this recipe so many times, it's ridiculous. I never get tired of it. I love that it uses chicken thighs because the munchkin needs dark meat at this stage and they are so much cheaper than breasts! Of course if you don't have a 1 year old, you can make it healthier by subbing chicken breast for the thighs and leaving out the butter. 2 lbs of chicken is a lot for our little family, but I always make the whole amount. Because you make the chicken separately from the sauce/topping, you can keep the extras in a tupperware container and use them on salads or with other dishes...I've been known to use rest in pot pies and casseroles. One thing I never mind having leftovers of is cooked chicken, it goes in everything!!
  • 2 lbs boned and skinned chicken thighs
  • 1 tbs Greek seasoning (or Italian season if you don't have Greek)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini diced (I often use 1 zucchini and 1 yellow summer squash for color/variety)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic undrained (I can never find this, so I usually just go for the oregano and basil seasoned diced tomatoes)
  • 2 tbs cold butter, cut up
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar (I frequently use white wine vinegar depending on what we have)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with Greek seasoning and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side or until done (it always takes me close to 10 minuets on each side to get the funky shaped thighs completely cooked, less for breasts though). Reduce heat to medium and add zucchini and onion. Saute 2-4 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often 7-10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve chicken over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.

This week I served this over mashed potatoes. I have to say, I like it over rice better. I have never tried it over pasta, but if someone does, let me know what you think.

Thursday: Spinach-Ravioli Lasagna

Love this recipe. Perfect for a toddler - ravioli is the perfect finger food. I love to make this recipe in the same week I make the tasty chicken anytime because it's a vegetarian dish and Mr. C likes meat with his meals, so he can have the leftover chicken to round out his plate :)
  • 1 (6 oz) pkg fresh baby spinach washed
  • 1/3 cup pesto sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (can use veggie broth if making for a vegetarian)
  • 1 (25 oz) package frozen cheese filled ravioli (do not thaw) (I love to use mushroom ravioli when I can find them frozen)
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded Italian cheese blend
  • Chopped fresh basil and paprika for garnish (I use dried basil)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop spinach and toss with pest in a medium bowl. Set aside. Combine Alfredo sauce and broth. Spoon 1/3 of alfredo sauce mixture (about 1/2 cup) into a lightly greased 11x7 baking dish. Top with half of spinach mixture. Arrange half of ravioli in a single layer over spinach mixture. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining Alfredo sauce. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish and serve.

I've never tried it, but I'm sure this would be delicious made as a more traditional lasagna by using meat-filled ravioli and subbing the spinach/pesto mixture for a mixture of cottage cheese and shredded mozzarella and using a jar of marinara thinned out with beef broth. Even though it becomes a basic lasagna, I still love that it incorporates the kid-friendly ravioli instead of slippery lasagna noodles. Will have to give it a try sometime and let you know how it comes out!

Friday: Papa Johns Pizza

Mr. C is in charge of dinner on Fridays, and sometimes he grills, but more often than not take-out or pizza make up our Friday dinners. It works out reserves if not adds to our leftover to get us through the weekends (when, with the exception of Saturday pancakes, I have a strict, sandwich only cooking policy :)

So, even though I had a good week, I of course now have a whole 'nother week to plan for. I need four delicious kid-friendly recipes, so let's hear your favorites!!!!

Happy Friday everyone!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Weekend

Mr. C was lucky to have a four day weekend, so Thurs we took a family trip to the Houston Children's Museum. It was spectacular - they have an entire space called 'Tot Spot' devoted to toddlers. Little C had an absolutely blast, and we ran into some friends too! Great minds must think alike - besides, with it being 103 degrees outside, it can't be too surprising to run into people you know at a fantastic air conditioned space!! :) Took a fair amount of pictures (I know you're shocked) before our camera battery died. Click here if you want to see the slide show. (If you click on 'Gallery View' and then 'Full Screen' you can avoid staring at the Weezer advertisement the entire slide show)

We spend Friday and Saturday with Mr. C's family celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday and Independence Day with lots of delicious food, sunshine and laughter. Little C's cousins are so much fun, and to watch these three interact was about the most precious and hilarious thing I have ever seen. Especially his oldest cousin. I may be hiring her at the ripe old age of 5 to do some babysitting!

Good times at the (baby) pool

Playing the piano

About to slam the lid down

Little C with my oldest niece

A try without the paci

My very cute youngest niece :)

We had a lot of fun with one brief exception. We got a call from the alarm company letting us know our alarm had gone off and the police were being sent to our house. It turned out to be nothing, just the dumb cat setting off the glass break sensor. When we got home nothing was even broken...he had just knocked his glass food bowl over setting off the alarm. Ugh, I'm so over this dumb animal. He is our problem child to say the least, and if anyone wants a cat, please call us!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

BOB Revolution - Review from a mom.

We've had our BOB stroller for over a year now, and it normally lives in our garage completely set up and ready to go for walks/jogs (I mainly use our Maclaren Triumph umbrella stroller these days for anything away from home), but the other day I had to travel with it for the first time in a few months because I took Little C to a discovery park.

I realized, that while I do love this stroller and would buy it again in a heartbeat, there are a few things I absolutely hate about this stroller too and thought I'd share if any one was interested in getting it - forewarned is forearmed, right? So here's my personal review...


1. Very heavy duty...park paths, grass, cement, asphalt, the mall, it effortlessly goes from one surface to another.

2. Handles like a dream...can push and even turn this stroller with two fingers, somthing very important when you are want to get tired of running before you get tired of pushing :)

3. Turns on a dime...can completely do a 360 in a very tight space...perfect for navigating tight aisles and around clothing racks in the shopping mall.

3. Canvas construction makes it sturdy, durable and yet relatively lightweight.

4. With the purchase of an infant car seat adapter you can use it with your child's infant seat.

5. Does triple duty as an infant travel system, stroller for an older child and jogger, and therefore is a good investment and worth the heafty price tag in my opinion.

6. AMAZING sun shade / rain canopy...I haven't seen anything that compares. Nothing makes you feel worse as a mom than when you've got bright sun or rain beating down on your child and you are trying to get home as fast as you can, but in the mean time there's nothing you can do about it because the shade isn't adequate to block the angle of the rain or sun rays.

7. 5 point harness and adjustable reclining seat keep Little C riding in comfort and safety :)

8. It looks cool - ok, I know this is a lame pro, but honestly, as new moms we pick diaper bags, car seats, and everything else with looks in mind, we would be kidding ourselves if looks didn't play a part in picking out a stroller too.


1. It's heavy...takes me two hands to get it in and out of my car and even then, I've scratched the back of my car a couple times because I couldn't quite hoist it up in one move (shhh, don't tell Mr.C about the scratches!).

2. It has no 'locking' mechanism when it is folds. You have to thread and tie a Velcro strap to keep it secure once in the folded position.

3. It's big/bulky. The front tire is removable, but unless you plan to remove it and than reattach it every single time you get it in and out of your car, it's unlikely it will fit in the trunk of a sedan without folding a seat down. I have a Toyota Rav4, and I can get it in w/out folding a seat down, but I have to fold the armrest down so the front tire has a place to rest.

4. The basket in the bottom is tiny and if you have a large diaper bag that you want to put anywhere besides over your arm or on the handles, you have to wedge it in before you put your child in the stroller.

5. If you want a place to put drinks, you have to buy an attachment for the handle. I don't normally carry around a big gulp, but because we use this stroller primarily as our heavy duty stroller - when we have it out, it's in use for long periods of time (trips to the zoo and such), and I find that more often than not, I have a drink or a water bottle I'm carrying around with no place to put it.

6. The infant car seat adapter is not included, you have to buy it separately and it's not compatible with our first choice of infant car seat - the Chico Key Fit, it's only compatible with the Graco brand infant seats and I think the peg perego car seats.

7. When you have your infant seat in the stroller, it's very top heavy and tips easily if you hit a big bump or are on an incline. As a result, it's really not super safe to use this stroller as a jogger while your child is still in an infant seat.

8. You have to maintain the tires just like a bike. Mr. C and I are not cyclists, but this part isn't a big deal to us because, oddly enough, we do keep a bike pump handy in the garage, but if you don't then you are going to find yourself with a flat tire/flat tires eventually. When I was using our BOB for daily jogs (you know, before the temperatures started topping out in the triple digits), I had to air up the tires about once or twice a week to maintain optimum tire pressure. If you aren't as anal about stuff like that, and don't use your stroller for multi-mile walks/jogs daily, then you can probably get away with a monthly tire check, but I have several friends that have the BOB that didn't maintain their tire pressure and pulled their stroller out of the car only to realize they had a flat tire.

9. The snack tray isn't adjustable and sits WAY too high. The snack tray is an optional attachment that comes as part of the infant car seat adapter package (you hook the tray onto the same bar the infant seat sits on once you are no longer using that feature). Anyway, Little C will have to be about 13 before he will be able to easily reach snacks on this tray, so we just don't use it. It's not a big deal, but it's annoying that you are basically paying for a useless feature when you buy the adapter/snack tray package.

Wow - so I realize I wrote more cons than pros, but I really do love this stroller and think it's a solid investment...just thought I'd be honest about some of the stuff that has been a little annoying over the past year!