Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Dinner Menu

The weather is supposed to warm back up in to the mid-upper 80s this coming week :(  So, I'm not going to be able to make some of the soups I wanted.  Oh well, I've got all winter for soup!  So, we'll stick with some lighter dishes this week instead.  I'm really excited to try the Autumn Chopped Salad.  I found it on Pinterest (have you checked that out yet? Such great ideas for EVERYTHING!) I also found the Orange Beef Stew there as well as a Chicken version.  I had originally planned on the chicken one, but with all the other chicken during the week decided to give the beef one a try.  The frittata is great to use up left overs.  I make it dairy free by just eliminating the cheese (hubs and I put a bit on top of ours before serving).  We haven't been out to eat in quite some time, so I'm looking forward to some yummy Mexican food and great friends Friday night.

Saturday--Roasted Acorn squash pasta with bacon, onions
Sunday--Pad Thai with chicken, mushrooms
Monday--Autumn Chopped Salad with chicken
Tuesday--Spinach, Sausage, Mushrooms, and Potato Frittata
Wednesday--Orange Beef Stew (in the crock pot) and brown rice with sauteed onion and broccoli
Thursday--Tilapia Taco Salad (wanted a light taco salad, going to wing this one with grilled tilapia, corn, black beans, lettuce, cilantro, and salsa)
Friday--Kindergarten parent party, kids eat hot dogs, baked beans, and peas

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Kiddos

Just some regular everyday time with my kiddos.  Everyone says to enjoy this time, it goes so fast.  I'm trying to really focus and truly enjoy this time with them.

Recently Alexander had a school project that involved creating a diorama.
Lately he's preferred taking the pictures as opposed to being in them.

Alexander's suburban diorama with ponds and the Empire State Building....I asked him why the ESB was in his diorama and he said it's there because his was really small and could fit in the box, but the real ESB is huge and is in New York City.  I think we'll have to revisit this a bit.  See that light at the top?  That's the sun :)

Well, the other kiddos couldn't be left out of such fun! Both John Paul and Penelope created their own dioramas too.
He actually glued all of those Lego dudes in there and used Popsicle sticks to create a road.  He's so proud of his project!  I love it!
Penelope is always trying to be just like her big brothers.  She even does homework like them.  She's been writing the letter P now for a few weeks and is working on the letter B.  Every time she sees a B she says, "B, baby!" 
Perpetual ragamuffin! I think that's some hot chocolate on her face.

Trying to tie John Paul's soccer cleats on her feet

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Breakfast Recipes

How about some tasty, warm, and nourishing breakfast recipes today?  Sounds good to me on this chilly autumn morning.  These are all gluten free and dairy free!
I love keeping a few cans of pumpkin puree on hand so that I can add some to so many things besides the recipes here.  My favorite is Farmer's Market Organic Pumpkin.

First recipe up is a long time family favorite.

Rice Pudding
2 cups cooked white or brown rice (use up left over rice or make fresh rice)
2 cups (separated) milk or milk substitute (I use vanilla almond milk)
2-4 tablespoons sugar (if using a sweet milk, can cut back on sugar)
few dashes of salt
1 egg
raisin, nuts, craisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla--all optional
In a pot, combine the cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk, salt, and sugar.  Heat over medium high heat and stir.  The higher the heat, the more often you'll need to stir so that it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.  Once most of the milk has thickened and been absorbed (15-20 min), crack your egg in a separate bowl (I use a large cereal bowl or small mixing bowl).  Use a fork to beat the egg.  Add remaining milk to the egg and use fork again to mix.  Spoon a spoonful of the hot rice mixture in to the egg bowl.  Stir the egg mixture rapidly. (You are tempering your egg.)  Add more rice to egg mixture and stir again.  I do this about 4-5 times.  Then slowly add egg mixture back in to the pot and stir while adding it in.  Continue to cook and stir over medium heat for at least 3-5 minutes.  I usually cook mine longer so that I can get a nice thickness.  During this time, add in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg if using.  Also, nuts and dried fruit can be added at this time or can be added on top when serving.

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes
1 cup buckwheat (despite its name, buckwheat IS gluten free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1/2-3/4 can of pumpkin puree
Optional--chopped apple and/or chopped nuts

Combine all ingredients except for the water in a bowl.  Stir and mix it all well.  The batter will be thick.  (If you are making this the night before for cooking the next morning, stop here, cover, and refrigerate.)  Slowly add water and stir to get desired consistency for pancake batter.  I usually use about a cup of water added in 1/3 cup amounts.  Heat skillet over medium heat.  Add a bit of oil or butter to the pan.  Just a small amount so that the pancakes don't stick. Pour or spoon desired amount of pancake batter in to pan.  Cook until bubbles on top start popping and the under side is browned, then flip and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Serve with applesauce and or maple syrup (cheddar cheese and apples are also wonderful with these!)

Pumpkin Quinoa Pudding
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1-2 cups milk or milk substitute
dashes of salt
2-4 Tablespoons sugar (I used cinnamon sugar)
1 egg
1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
cinnamon and/or pumpkin pie spice
Combine quinoa and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.  Add 1 1/2 cups milk, dashes of salt, and sugar.  Stir and cook over medium to medium-high heat until most of the milk is absorbed and thickened.  In a separate bowl combine the remaining milk, egg, and pumpkin puree.  Add a spoonful of quinoa to the egg mixture and stir.  Do this about 4-5 times to temper your egg.  Then slowly pour the egg mixture back in to the pot and continue stirring.  Cook and stir for at least 3 minutes or continue until desired thickness.  During these last minutes, add in the cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.  Also, raisins, nuts, or other dried fruit can be mixed in or served on top.

When I serve the rice and quinoa puddings, the kids like theirs with a bit more almond milk added on top.
Linked up at
    *Today's Creative Blog
    *Momnivore's Dilemma

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekly Breakfast Menu

Because the day starts better and goes better with a healthy well-balanced breakfast, I make sure my family eats well at this meal.  The kids can put away quite a bit of food at this time too so I'd rather them eat well instead bowl after bowl of cereal (which they will do if I don't plan a filling breakfast!).
Monday--Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa  and chunky monkey smoothie--banana, peanut butter, vanilla almond milk (this is a favorite often requested by all the males in the house)
Tuesday--Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes and applesauce
Wednesday--Pumpkin Granola and milk, scrambled eggs
Thursday--Oatmeal and sauteed apples with cinnamon and walnuts
Friday--Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes or cinnamon raisin french toast and scrambled eggs

Weekly Menu

Saturday--Roasted Chicken legs, Roasted butternut squash soup (our single butternut squash plant has been quite prolific!), Italian bread
Sunday--Grilled Salmon, Brown Rice, Salad
Monday--Chili and Rice
Tuesday--Beef and Bean burritos
Wednesday--Tomato Basil Soup without the cream
Thursday--Roasted Eggplant Pizza with zucchini and goat cheese
Friday--Baked Potato Soup
This week most of our dinner meals are from the freezer (I froze extras of previous meals) and garden.  Because of that, I was able to get away from the grocery store spending just under $60!  I was so super excited!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cherry Cream Cheese Rolls

This week I wanted something just a little sweet to munch on.  I took my inspiration from my other rolls and created my Cherry Cream Cheese Rolls.  YUM!  While it cooked, the house smelled so delicious, slightly cinnamon-y and sweet.  On a cool morning with a cup of coffee, these are perfect!  My husband enjoyed some after work and for dessert.
Cherry Cream Cheese Rolls
Bread dough (I used a half of my bread recipe*)
about 1/2 cup dried cherries
2-4 oz cream cheese
some cinnamon sugar or just cinnamon
fresh lemon zest from about a 1/4 of a lemon

How To
On a cookie sheet, use your hands to spread dough out in a rectangle.
Then drop chunks of cream cheese on top of the dough.  I spread mine out some using a knife.  A spatula would work too.
Sprinkle some cinnamon or cinnamon sugar over the entire area.
Next, sprinkle the dried cherries all over the top.
Then use a zester or a fine grater to zest some lemon over the top.  I only had about a quarter of a lemon and this amount worked just fine.  It was enough to give the roll a little zip.
Next, start at the widest end and roll the bread up.  Slightly pinch the end to seal it to the roll.
This time, I baked the roll whole like this instead of cutting it up.  I did cut a couple of small slashes in top of the roll. It turned out beautifully.  If you prefer a darker crustier finish, now would be the time to beat an egg and brush it over the top and sides of the roll.
Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.
Let cool slightly then slice in to serving size rolls.
Enjoy!*When I make my bread dough, some times after the first rise of 1 hour I will split the dough in half and put each half in a baggie and freeze it.  This way I always have some dough on hand.  Just take it out of the freezer and let thaw either over night in the fridge or for a couple hours on the counter.  Once thawed, it is ready to use.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Homemade Baked Beans

I decided to make my own baked beans to go with dinner instead of buying a can of them at the store.  I read the ingredients on the can and figured I could go from there and check the internet for some other baked bean recipes.

2 cans great northern beans (you can prep these yourself from dry beans, I used the cans because I needed to use them up)
Bacon 4-5 strips, or however much you want, cut up in to 1-2inch pieces
Dijon mustard, 1-2 tablespoons
Molasses, 1 Tablespoon
Brown Sugar, 1-2 Tablespoons
Liquid Smoke, few dashes
Onion powder, few dashes  (Could use chopped onion, but I was in a hurry to get these cooking)
Garlic powder, few dashes
Ketchup 1-2 Tablespoons
Hot Pepper Sauce, to taste, you can use Tabasco or Chulula
Worcestershire Sauce (I didn't use this because of the gluten, but if I were making these non-GF, then I'd definitely add a tablespoon or so.)

How To
Rinse the beans and place in a pot with a lid.  Add the rest of the ingredients along with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup water.  Stir it all up.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover the pot with the lid.  Let simmer at least an hour, but longer is better.  Stir the beans occasionally and check the water level--you don't want them to dry out, but you don't want them watery.  You do want a nice thick sauce with the beans. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Sun Dried Tomato Rolls

The other day Pinterest inspired me to create these Spinach, Goat Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Rolls.  The idea came from some pizza rolls that had been made using pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and bread dough.

I made my bread dough and used about half of it for this recipe.

Bread dough (can make from scratch or use pre-made from the grocery store)
Thawed frozen chopped spinach (probably could use fresh baby spinach too)
Oil-packed Julienne cut Sun Dried Tomatoes (I keep a jar of these as well as a bag of sun dried tomatoes on hand.  As the jar gets used, I fill it up with tomatoes from the bag...economical!)
Goat Cheese (can sub mozzarella or use both kinds, some Parmesan would be great too!)
Garlic powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and pepper (optional)
Olive Oil

How To
Use your fingers to roll out the dough to make a rectangle.  You can roll/stretch it out thinly, but get it so that it isn't thicker than 1/2-3/4 inch.  Squeeze all the water out of the thawed spinach and spread it over the top of the dough.

Crumble the goat cheese over the top.

Add the sun dried tomatoes.

Sprinkle on the garlic powder, some red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Start at the widest side of the dough and carefully roll the dough up and pinch it closed.

Use a sharp serrated knife to slice about 1 to 1-1/2  inch slices.  Lay the slices flat on the cooking sheet.  I was able to get 9 rolls cut.

Spray or brush the rolls with some olive oil. 
Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes. 
Mine in the pictures should have cooked for another couple of minutes to help brown them up, but I was hungry!
Linked up at Today's Creative Blog

Weekly Menu

This week I'm looking forward to some new recipes as well as some old ones.  We haven't had chili here in many many months.  Last night is was wonderfully comforting with our cool and wet day here and it made plenty of leftovers that went in to the freezer for some other nights.
Saturday--Chili, Cheesy Cornbread, Rice
Sunday--Hamburgers, butternut squash fries, hatch chili dip, green salad, baked beans
Monday--Pasta Spinach Bake with Creamy Lemon Sauce and Chicken (original recipe uses tortellini, but I'm using GF/DF pasta)
Tuesday--Thai Peanut Noodles  Everyone loved this dish a couple weeks ago!
Wednesday--Mexican Beef and Bean Casserole
Thursday--Tuscan Chickpea and Sun Dried Tomato Soup
Friday--Baked Potato Soup

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shedding Some Light

Today I think I'm going to tackle a difficult subject.  I've been thinking about writing about it for the last couple of weeks.  This morning on Facebook I came across someone else who wrote about it today and figured I probably should do so now too.  Depression, specifically depression during pregnancy.  What?!  Yes, did you know that depression (even with no other times of being depressed) during pregnancy can occur?  This current pregnancy of mine came just 3 short weeks after a miscarriage.  Shocked, definitely!  Ready, no.  Excited, no. Hormonally messed up, you bet!!!!  It's no wonder I fell.  Crazy hormones combined with awful all-day and night sickness.  Despite having 3 other kiddos to care for, I spent days in bed.  GROSS!  I've never been one to enjoy naps, stay in bed all day, go more than a day without showering, go days without getting dressed.  I didn't completely realize it at the time, I thought I was just pregnancy sick, but I had a feeling there was something more going on.   I suppose I'm sharing this just to help spread some awareness, to help others feel they aren't alone and that their feelings are okay.  I'm happy to say that now I am over it and am very excited to have this sweet baby. :)
Have you or anyone you know gone through this particular type of depression?  I encourage you to read the other article on this matter as she covers more and provides more information.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Even Bigger Boy Now!

Saturday evening my big boy got even bigger.  John Paul can now ride his bike WITHOUT training wheels!  He had been asking, no begging, for the training wheels to be taken off for quite some time now, but with the heat of the summer we kept telling him, "Not now, when it cools off."  Well, it cooled off.  He got the hang of it within 20 minutes!

Dinner Revised to Chicken Curry

Do you every plan something for dinner and then just not feel in the mood for it?  That was me tonight.  It's hot again (okay, maybe not hot hot, but we had to turn the air back on) and I just wasn't in the mood for my quinoa and zucchini and beans meal that was planned.  I made the beans earlier today, so those are ready to go both for dinner tomorrow night as well as some other time.  Earlier in the day I had decided to add some chicken to the quinoa meal, so that was thawing.  Since I just wasn't in the mood for our usual dish, I went to one of my favorite cooking/recipe sites, The Kitchn, to get some ideas.  I wanted quinoa so I searched for some quinoa recipes.  One click led to another and I was on my way to some great Indian recipes.  Now, Indian recipes use rice instead of quinoa, but hey, why not substitute?  Another click or two led me to this great base recipe for Indian Chicken Curry.  I had everything on hand with the exception of the coconut milk.  A quick call to Mom's Pantry remedied the situation! :)  A can was delivered right away along with some time with Grammie Julie for the kiddos.  The bonus tonight, everyone had seconds!

My Version of Indian Chicken Curry
small bit of olive oil
1/2-1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T curry
1 t cinnamon
1 t paprika
1/2 t sugar
1/2-1 t fresh ginger root*, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves cut in to bite sized pieces
1-2 T tomato paste*
1 can coconut milk**
couple dashes of cayenne pepper
Frozen peas

How To
Warm the olive oil in large skillet.  Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat until slightly browned.  Add all of the rest of the ingredients except for the cayenne pepper, peas, and chickpeas.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add in desired amount of green peas and chickpeas and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  A minute or so before serving add in a touch of cayenne pepper.
*I keep a ginger root in a baggie in my freezer so that it is ready to go when needed.  Just set it out a for a few minutes to soften a bit then use a sharp knife to slice some ginger off, cut off the skin edges, then chop it up.  Fresh ginger always on hand!
*Rarely do I use an entire can of tomato paste when I open it.  So, I just put however much is left over in to a small baggie and spread it out and freeze it.  To use, just break some off and pop it in to your dish as needed.  Never waste tomato paste again.
**The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of plain yogurt. To keep it dairy free I just added the entire can of coconut milk and it turned out great.  Some of the reviews did the same as me and some did the opposite--all yogurt and no coconut milk.  Some used neither and subbed in half and half and cream cheese.  Also, the original recipe called for some lemon juice to be added at the end.  I had planned on doing that, but forgot. Oh and it called for a bay leaf too, but I didn't have that either.  It still tasted great!

Tonight I served this over the quinoa (cooked in chicken broth) however I bet eating it with rice instead would make the dish taste even better!  Also, serving it with naan would be fabulous too.

Shared on Today's Creative Blog 
and on Momnivore's Dilemma  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hot Pumpkin Spiced Milk

Oh my, if I end this pregnancy at 200 pounds I know exactly what I will blame it on!  Hot Pumpkin Spiced milk!  Don't judge it as a crazy pregnancy craving just yet.  It is so yummy and the perfect warm drink to end the day.  I was drinking homemade decaf pumpkin spice lattes, but they (along with horrible allergies) really messed up my sleep, as in I wasn't sleeping.  So, I decided to try the same drink just without the coffee.  I'm hooked and sipping some right now :)
So, here's the recipe and how to.
Hot Pumpkin Spiced Milk**
In a microwave safe mug, plop in a couple spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk, a couple spoonfuls of pureed or canned pumpkin, a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice, then fill the mug about half way full with milk.  Stir it all up.  Heat in the microwave until all warmed up to your liking (I like mine practically boiling). Then stir again and fill the mug the rest of the way with milk and reheat if necessary (I always do).  Sip carefully and enjoy!
**To make this dairy free, use vanilla almond milk and toss in a bit of sugar or cinnamon sugar in place of the sweetened condensed milk.

Weekly Menu

We've got a busy first half of the week in the evenings, so the menu is fairly simple.  To make up for it, we ate great last night and tonight!
Saturday--Roasted Eggplant soup, rolls, Roasted Veggie pizza too (see below for the recipe)
Sunday--Acorn squash pasta with bacon and sage, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
Monday--Quinoa with zucchini and beans
Tuesday--Tacos with meat and beans, Mexican rice, and green salad
Wednesday--Spaghetti with sausage, green salad
Thursday--soup buffet (leftover soups from the past few weeks that I've frozen) and rolls
Friday--grilled salmon, green beans, Orange roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Anyone interested in our breakfast weekly menu?  Leave a comment here to let me know.

Roasted Veggie Pizza

Last night I made the BEST pizza!  It turned out so yummy and I can't wait to make it again.  It was spicy, sweet, and deep in flavor while being light yet very filling too.
I had made a batch of bread dough intending to make rolls to go with dinner.  I was making a roasted eggplant soup for dinner, but really wanted pizza.  So, I split the dough in half, half for the rolls and the other half for my pizza.  The vegetables that were roasting (425 for 30 minutes) were eggplant (sliced and chunked), zucchini (sliced), onion (chunks), and garlic cloves tossed with olive, Kosher salt, and black pepper.
While the veggies were roasting, I spread out the dough for the crust, spread a bit of olive oil on it along with some garlic powder and Italian seasoning.  Then, because I had a very small chunk of mozzarella, I shredded that and added it to the pizza crust.
After the vegetable were done, I put most of them in to the soup pot and saved some for my pizza.  I let them cool just a bit while I figured out what else I wanted on my pizza.  I had a single slice of prosciutto, some sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, a fresh block of mozzarella, and some pepperoncinis.  Mmm, I think that'll be good!  See...

There are roasted slices of eggplant and zucchini, chunks of roasted onion, squished cloves of roasted garlic.  Pure yumminess!  Add the sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, freshly shredded mozzarella, chunks of goat cheese (be  generous) all on top of the veggies.  Bake for about 12 minutes at 375.  While the pizza bakes, slice up a few pepperoncinis.  After the pizza is done cooking, sprinkle the pepperoncini slices on top of the pizza.

It smelled so good, we ate it right away and I forgot to get a picture of the entire pizza--that's what was left.  It made for a delicious breakfast.  :)


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