Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekly Menu

I remember back when we had to start checking all the food labels when John Paul was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  It was so overwhelming!  Yes, I cried more than once.  Then just thinking about going out to eat--Ugg I HATED it!  I really thought no restaurant could meet our needs.  Why bother going out.  Thankfully my wonderful husband said we HAD to teach the kids how to get the foods they needed while eating out. Eating out could not be avoided for ever.  He insisted that it could be done.  We have since found several wonderful places to eat at that truly care about meeting people's dietary needs.  (I've stopped seeing them as restrictions because there is SO MUCH variety and good food to eat.) Last night, Jaime suggested a new addition to the blog and I think I will try to do it about once a month--Gluten Free KC.  I will feature a restaurant and share their Gluten free options, how we liked them, and prices. I'll also try to include as much dairy free information about them as well.  This week seems like a great time to introduce this new idea since we have a pretty good reason to go out to eat--the boys have a violin concert tomorrow and we'll need to celebrate :)  So, look for the Gluten Free KC restaurant feature this week.

Saturday--Trying a new restaurant: BRGR Kitchen and Bar
Sunday--Grilled Filet Mignon (this is the last of our stocked up meat from before Stella was born), fresh veggie for the side--I'll see what the store has available, and maybe these Gluten and Dairy free Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars for dessert
Monday--Pumpkin Alfredo with Pasta and Kale
Tuesday--Spaghetti and Meat sauce, salad
Wednesday--Simple Buffalo Chicken Soup 
Thursday--Risotto with veggies or maybe this Avocado Risotto depends on avocado prices
Friday--Pizza.  I always make a gluten free crust and for the kids use dairy free cheese too.  If you are interested in a yummy, fast, GF crust leave me a message here in the comments and I'll get you the recipe.  If you have a delicious GF pizza crust to share, I'd love to give it a try--just leave a comment here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Pinteresting!

Today I had Alexander home from school. He was slightly sick...okay, he probably could have and should have gone to school, but every now and then a sick day is okay.  He sure was helpful while we ran errands.  It was great having an extra set of hands to help :)  I thought I'd get in some fun learning for him so I turned to Pinterest for some ideas.  I've been collecting various Preschool activity ideas to do with Penelope, so I thought I'd look for some specific things for Alexander.  I've realized that if you are looking for something, pretty much anything, it'll be on Pinterest.  It's like Google with pictures and comments that you can sort and save!  I'm a Pinaholic, I admit it :)  So anyway, along with looking for things for Alexander I also thought I'd look up busy bags since a friend had inquired about them on Facebook.  I've made a few for Penelope and thought I'd do a specific search on Pinterest for the busy bags.  Oh my, there are some FANTASTIC ideas out there.
Take this one for example:
Toddler Busy Bags

This mom set up an exchange of busy bags with other people.  What a cool idea and way to get a variety of bags for little ones.
Here's another one that so simple, yet so much can be done with it.
Clothes Line Busy Bag
With the clothes line bag, patterning and sorting could be done, fine and gross motor skills are practiced, place the tops and bottoms on a piece of paper and then draw heads, arms, legs and shoes.  So much fun in one bag!
And here's another one that has many fun ideas, but that are all in the same theme with more focus on learning. (This blog has so many things that I like, I've been getting her emails for quite a while now.)
Themed Busy Bags
So many fun ideas out there!  I love these busy bags because I already have so many of the items around the house.  Now I need to come up with some that would work for the boys!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sauteed Kale with Onions and Bacon

Last night instead of our salad I made some sauteed kale to go along with our grilled tilapia and mashed cauliflower.  I had bought the kale last week with the intention of making kale chips.  The week went by and I just never got around to making the chips.  I wanted to try something different with the kale.  I started by browning 5 slices of bacon (I buy nitrite and nitrate free bacon from Whole Foods).  After it was nicely crisped, I removed the bacon from the pan and poured off most of the grease.  Then I added the chopped up kale and half of a large onion chopped. I sauteed this over medium high heat for several minutes.  After the several minutes of sauteing, I added 4 or 5 cloves of finely diced garlic and let it all continue to saute for several more minutes.  To deglaze the pan I added about 1/4 cup of chicken broth.  After the broth of absorbed/cooked off, I tossed the cooked bacon back in the pan.  We all (except Penelope who claimed the entire meal to be too wet) loved this dish (I put red pepper flakes on mine for added yum!).  I will be making it again for sure.

Sauteed Kale with Onions and Bacon
1 bunch kale, rinse, then tear the leaves from the stalk, then chop the leaves (discard the tough stalk)
1/2 large onion, chopped
5 slices bacon, chopped (I cut mine in to pieces with my kitchen scissors)
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
1/4-1/3 cup chicken broth (could use water if no broth on hand)
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
In a saute pan, cook the bacon over medium heat.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon after it is cooked.  Pour off all but a couple of teaspoons of the grease.  Add the chopped kale and onion to the pan.  Stir it all around and saute for several minutes, about 5-7minutes over medium to medium high heat.  Add the garlic, stir around and continue to saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze, continue stirring and sauteing for about 3-5 minutes.  Add the bacon back in to the pan, stir around.  Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Add the red pepper flakes.  Serve warm.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stella is 1 Month

My baby is a month old now.  With each age milestone with my kiddos, I find myself asking, "How can they already be that age?!"  We've had Stella for 4 weeks now and I can't imagine life without her. 

She's an easy going baby who sleeps well, cries generally only when hungry, has occasional bouts of projectile poo, spits up after nursing, enjoys her swing and baths, is easy to hold, and is so snuggly. 

Stella's become such a special part of our family.  It's been amazing watching the other kids with her.  Alexander and Penelope seemed to age overnight as they want and do help out so much with caring for her.  John Paul has shown a sensitive side of himself as he holds Stella. 

He also examines her with a scientist's curiosity...while she's asleep he checks out her ears, hands, lifts her hands and watches them fall numerous times in a row, examines her nose and cheeks. (We had to explain to him that he couldn't test the soft spots on her head!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly Menu

Saturday--pizza for Jaime and I (made this pizza last week on my GF crust and Jaime LOVED it, said he'd pay for it in a restaurant!), cheese and pepperoni pizza for kids, salad
Sunday--grilled fish, cauliflower mashed "potatoes", salad
Monday--Creamy Tuscan White Bean Pasta  use almond milk and GF pasta, a new recipe for the week, should be pretty good, we'll see how it tastes making it dairy free....
Tuesday--tacos, beans, and rice
Wednesday--Frittata with mushrooms, onions, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes
Thursday--Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa this is another new recipe for the week...the picture looks good and it sounds tasty and filling
Friday--Veggies and Noodles with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce
I made this a few weeks ago and we all really enjoyed it--even Jaime who doesn't like coconut (I couldn't taste any coconut flavor)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quality Time with Dragons

Today I let the shower wait longer than usual, let the dishes sit, chose not to vacuum, and left the 2 loads of (clean but unfolded) laundry sit on the counter.  Instead I played, I played and played with Penelope.  We played a game on the computer, then we played a card game.  This card game is one that she has made up, so it seems to change every time we play it with her.  Today's card game led us to a LONG pretend playtime that involved dragons.  First we had to scare the dragon away.  This meant getting out a few pots and a wooden spoon to beat the pots. 

We beat those pots softly, we beat them LOUDLY, slow and fast.  Then we had to make crowns to wear in order to be able to properly scare the dragon while we beat the pots.  Beating the pots turned in to having to make lunch for the dragons (yes, somehow instead of scaring the one dragon away we ended up with 4 dragons for lunch!). 

Penelope stirred and stirred her magic brew in the pot while I whipped up some real lunch.  "Mom, the dragons can't sit at the table!" 
I wish I had taken a picture of the entire spread she set up, but lunch took over 30 minutes today and this was taken within the first 5.
So, lunch was eaten picnic style on the floor...and the dragons ate it ALL and drank their almond milk without spilling it.  At some point during this drawn out lunch/picnic, my daughter became a dragon too.  The wonderful lunch energized the dragons, so they HAD to play tag.  When one particular dragon slipped and bumped her head, all the other dragons disappeared and Penelope returned.  She decided it was time to read a real story and take a nap.
Sometimes letting the messy house be messy is worth it.  Today it definitely was :) 

Now to get to those chores....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012


Going from 3 kiddos to 4 has been pretty easy (granted I'm just shy of 4 weeks in to this!).  It's been pretty easy for a variety of reasons--number one being that Stella SLEEPS! (granted she's just shy of 4 weeks old)  None of the other 3 slept nearly as well as this little girl.  The next thing that has made it easy for me is the help I get in caring for Stella.  Alexander, John Paul, and Penelope (well, and my husband too) practically fight over who gets to hold her.  Penelope is the feistiest fighter and is happy to hold Stella whether she's crying or asleep.  Penelope seriously loves to bring me clean diapers, clothes, take dirty diapers to the laundry or trash, help bathe her, etc. etc. you get the idea.
Tonight, both Jaime and I were making dinner (a post to come about that soon).  Alexander stepped in to help out with a sleeping-but-wanting-to-be-held Stella and he got some reading done at the same time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly Menu

Saturday--Roasted eggplant and red pepper, caramelized onion, goat cheese pizza
Sunday--Risotto with peas and prosciutto
Monday--Grilled fish and Corn cakes with avocado goat cheese salsa
Tuesday--Penne Pasta with Balsamic Sweet Potatoes (maybe add bacon?)
Wednesday--potato dumpling soup
Thursday--spaghetti squash and Creamy Avocado Pasta
Friday--dinner from a friend :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Unstuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage and Quinoa

I really should have taken some pictures of dinner while I made it and before I served it, however I prepped and cooked 90% of this meal one handed while the other hand held Stella (who is amazingly already 3 weeks old and still an angel of a baby!)  I call it "unstuffed" because I had originally planned on putting the stuffing mixture in the squash, but due to time, having 5 people to feed and only 4 squash halves, and my one-handed abilities, I opted to serve the stuffing next to the squash. 

Unstuffed Acorn Squash
For the acorn squash
2 acorn squash (cut each squash in half and scrape out the seeds)
1-2 Tablespoons ghee, butter, or butter substitute
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Heat oven to 400.  Put the squash, cut side up, in a 9x13 baking dish.  Place 1/4-1/2 tablespoon of ghee/butter in each half of the squash. Sprinkle the sage and garlic powder on each half of squash.  Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes.  The squash should be fork tender.  When done, you can either scrape the squash in to a serving bowl and discard the outer skins or serve the stuffing inside each half of acorn squash.
For the stuffing
1 pound Italian sausage (casings removed)
1 onion, chopped
4-6 ounces mushrooms, chopped (I used some mini portabella mushrooms that I had on hand, but the white button ones would likely work well too)
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 apple, chopped
handful or two of dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup quinoa--mix both in a pot, bring to a boil, simmer about 10-15 minutes)
salt and pepper to taste
While the acorn squash is roasting, cook the quinoa in a small pot.  Also, in a skillet, brown the sausage.  When sausage is cooked, remove it from the pan and pour off all but a couple of teaspoons of drippings (depending on the quality of sausage, you might not of much in the way of drippings).  Add the chopped onions and mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic powder, chopped apple, and dried cranberries.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add the sausage back in to the skillet.  When the quinoa is cooked, add it to the skillet.  Mix it all up well and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the stuffing inside or along side the acorn squash.
This is a delicious meal all on its own or fabulous meal with a salad on the side.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chocolate Pancakes, shh, they're healthy!

I made some chocolate pancakes for us to have for breakfast.  They are gluten free, dairy free, and healthy.  Healthy as in made with buckwheat and quinoa healthy!  And oh do they taste GOOD.  They're delicious plain, with some peanut butter, with some jelly, with some peanut butter AND jelly.  I bet they'd be great with some marshmallow fluff too :)  We will be enjoying these along with some berries (and I bet a couple people in my house will have some with peanut butter and banana slices!) for breakfast.
GF/DF Chocolate Quinoa Pancakes
2 cups GF all purpose flour* (I use Silvana's blend from Cooking for Isaiah)
1 cup buckwheat
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (could sub another sweetener if desired)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4-1/3 cup milled flax seed
2 eggs**
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 cups almond milk (or rice, soy, cow milk)
2-3 Tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
1/2-1 cup cooked quinoa (I used some that was left over from a previous recipe. To make the quinoa, use 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, mix the 2 together in a pot, bring to a boil, simmer for 10-15 minutes. Let cool before adding to batter.)

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add in the eggs, oil, vanilla, quinoa, and 1-1.5 cups of the almond milk.  Mix well.  Slowly add in more almond milk until your batter is the consistency of thick pudding (if you want thinner pancakes, use more milk to thin out the batter).  Let batter rest while the pancake griddle heats up.  Use about a 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  If your batter is nice and thick, use the back of a spoon to help spread it in to a round pancake shape.  Cook until the edges are done then flip to finish cooking.  For me, this made over 2 dozen pancakes--plenty for breakfast for the family as well as some to stash in the freezer.
*Can be made with regular all purpose flour
**Can be made egg free by using more milled flax seed (3T=1egg)

Leave a comment here and let me know if you give these a try.
Linked up at A Little Nosh and Momnivore's Dilemma 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekly Menu

Last week I picked up some squash that was on sale.  I'm glad I got it because it'll save me some time shopping and planning this week :)  I've been getting several of my recipes from a great site called How Sweet It Is.  It's a great site filled with delicious recipes that are not necessarily gluten and dairy free, but are easy enough to adjust to my family's needs.

Saturday--Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Veggie Tostadas
Sunday--Citrus Pomegranate Quinoa Salad  this sounds so different and fresh!  Roasted Acorn Squash (How Sweet It Is has a few different recipes for acorn squash, but roasting it with butter (or ghee) and maple syrup is a yummy simple way too)
Monday--Dinner provided by a friend--A perk of having a new baby :)
Tuesday--tacos and beans, these are simple and quick since it's violin night and we eat at 4:00 like senior citizens!
Wednesday--hot dogs and salad for the kids and something else for J and myself--provided by another sweet friend :)  this day may swap with another day later in the week.
Thursday--buttercup squash pasta sauce (roast the squash, puree it, add some cooked bacon and herbs) tossed with pasta
Friday--Roasted Red Pepper Pizza and salad

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Brought to You by The Letter B

This morning during morning prayers, Penelope said among other things like dogs, mud, sunshine, and trees that she's thankful for the letter B for baby.  :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fresh Start, Goals, and a little Annie Sloan

I love the new year for the fresh start it offers.  It's a time to begin a new, start over, dream, and accomplish.  Today I'm faced with a big or shower?  Well, here I am. :)  I've got all 4 kids to myself today.  Jaime went back to work.  So far so good this morning.  We've all had breakfast, brushed teeth, and everyone but me is dressed.  Currently the older 3 are coloring and Stella is soundly sleeping.  We slept really well last night too!  On my list for today is buying a tarp to wrap our fake Christmas tree in to store it better (the black trash bags just weren't getting the job done, my fabulous SIL suggested the tarp idea, hope it works!), finish putting away the little bit of Christmas decor I set out in December, finish all the laundry--this includes stripping the beds too, enjoy my kids on this last day of their break, and shower.  Not too much and I think it's all very doable.  Now, the list of projects I'd like to get done this year is quite long since I essentially took off ALL of last year with being pregnant practically the entire year.  I'm excited to get sanding and painting again.  I can't wait to tackle some furniture that I have to hunt for in the local thrift stores, the girls' room, and the master bedroom.  I've  been collecting so many ideas via Pinterest.  I am excited to save some money and order some fabulous Annie Sloan paint and wax.  Seriously, this stuff sounds INCREDIBLE.  I spent all of last year reading about it.  The only thing is, NO ONE in Kansas carries the stuff so I'm going to have to order it online.  If anyone ever wants to get me something....Annie Sloan stuff would be the perfect gift :)

I'm off to tackle today's list!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blessings and Thank you

I realized this morning before Mass started that I have not thanked everyone who prayed for Stella and me during my pregnancy and delivery. 
Prior to Mass starting,the cantors sang the song, Blessings by Laura Story.  I'd never heard this song at Mass before.  I've heard it twice now in the last week.  I haven't heard it since March.  I can't hear it without getting teary eyed or crying.  When I heard it in March, it was just after a miscarriage.  At the time, obviously, I had no idea of the blessings I would receive as time went on.  We found out in April that we were pregnant again, and again unexpectedly.  The miscarriage was my first cycle in 3 years, then to immediately get pregnant many emotions.  Our doctor said we could be cautiously optimistic about the pregnancy. 
I found myself being much more private about this pregnancy, but at the same time needing and asking for prayers.  I was humbled from the beginning.  I was tired and didn't feel well--as is normal with early pregnancy.  Then I had to start progesterone injections.  I continued to feel sicker and throw up so often that it didn't phase my kids anymore and they would even mimic me. 
By June when I was just about 11 weeks along I found myself in the hospital for 3 days to rehydrate and recover from some anemia.  It took the rest of June before I finally had some energy back.  I was determined that we'd go on our family vacation to the beach and south Texas to see Jaime's extended family.  In August school started and then we had our sonogram.  We'd had a couple early on due to the previous miscarriage and when I was in the hospital, but this was the exciting one.  This was the one where we got to find out boy or girl, see baby's profile, hands, and feet.  Also, I was finally starting to feel better!  It'd been a LONG 22 weeks!  At my next prenatal visit we found out that not all was well.  The radiologist suspected something called amniotic bands.  These could cause malformations, amputations, or death of the baby.  A week later we met with the perinatologist for a level 2 sonogram.  Relief swept over us as he ruled out amniotic bands, but then he diagnosed velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord.  Not near as serious as amniotic bands, but still a serious condition.  We started our weekly sonograms and non-stress tests.  Many many prayers were prayed.  We thank everyone who prayed for us.  We have truly been blessed to have you in our lives, to have you to pray for us, and to now hold a healthy baby girl.  I pray that 2012 brings you many blessings and much happiness.


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