Friday, February 26, 2010

Canned Food Alliance is hosting a recipe contest that relates to the Canned Food Allliance.   From what I learned on the TwitterMoms discussion page, the CFA is a resource for information on the nutrition and versatility of canned food.  The CFA also supports the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Fruits and Veggies More Matters program. They also sponsor a website called

A favorite recipe in my family that includes some canned foods is this Mexican dish that is easy to prepare and inexpensive. 

Mexican One Pot Meal
1 lb. ground beef or lean ground turkey
3/4 cup diced onion
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 - 15 oz. can corn kernels
1 - 15 oz. can pinto beans
2 cups rice
1 packet taco seasoning 
Directions: In a large skillet, saute beef and onions. Add remaining ingredients then add 1 cup water, stir, bring to a boil. Simmer until rice is cooked about 15 minutes. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Am I Nesting?

I just cleaned the refrigerator. At 9:15pm. The gooey grime on the shelves of the fridge have been bugging me for days and I couldn't wait one minute longer. As I got out the sponge, paper towels, cleanser, etc. and took all of the food out of the fridge I wondered: could I be nesting?

There are only 12 days until my due date so I think the answer is yes. Either that or my fridge was just really disgusting.

Maybe I'm just looking for signs that my little guy is ready to make his arrival. It's amazing how quickly the first 9 months of pregnancy can go and how slowly the last few weeks creep by. Every ache and twinge makes me wonder if THIS IS IT. I have to be patient. He will be born. It is inevitable.

If the baby doesn't arrive until his due date one plus is that my house should be really, really clean by then. What random thing should I clean next? My laundry room could use a good once over. The kitchen cabinets need to be scrubbed. Maybe I'll clean out Emily's closet tomorrow.

I just wish that my husband felt the nesting urge too.

After writing this post I saw that the Nourishing Gourmet started a Spring Cleaning Carnival about cleaning out the refrigerator so I had to link up! 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fruit Rainbow

My sweet little six-year-old daughter has been begging to have a sleep-over with her friends. Since the prospect of several six-year-old girls spending the night at our house and most likely having trouble going to sleep and then waking up missing their mommies in the middle of the night didn't sound very enjoyable to me, we came up with an alternative idea.

We hosted a pajama party for Emily on Saturday evening. She invited her girl friends from school (8 girls all together) to come over for play time, pizza dinner, and a movie. We made it a "pajama" party so that they could feel like they were having a sleep-over/slumber party but still go home at bedtime.

The party was a great success with lots of giggling, squealing, and silliness. We started out the party with some snacks. I saw a little blurb about a rainbow fruit platter in the latest Family Fun magazine and decided at the last minute to try it out. We used the fruit we had on hand: strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, and grapes. If I had a chance to plan ahead more I would have added green grapes and blueberries too.

The girls gobbled up every last piece of fruit (and I had to replenish the marshmallow clouds). I was so glad that I offered a fun, healthy snack instead of just putting out sugary treats. It goes to show that kids will eat healthy food if it's offered to them.

There were lots of cute quotes that evening with all of those silly girls around but I was happy to hear one little girl say, "This is the best rainbow I've ever tasted!"

This post is a part of Food With Kid Appeal's Big Words, Little Foodies  and Pennywise Platter recipe swaps. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Monster Truck Jam

What comes to mind when you think of monster trucks?

Loud, dirty, maybe a little bit redneck... and a fun family outing? That's what it was for us last weekend. Some friends had extra tickets to the Monster Jam event at the Rose Garden so we decided to go check it out.

The kids were excited to see the big trucks race and jump, but it was so incredibly loud that it took some of the fun out of it (for me anyway). We brought earplugs and headphones for the kids so that helped out a bit, although Mason wasn't that keen on keeping the earplugs in.

Emily was cheering and clapping for every event, but her favorite was the quad racing because a girl won! To quote Miss Em, "Girls Rock!"

Just a few tips if you ever happen to go to a Monster Jam like we did: bring earplugs and binoculars and only bring kids over the age of 3. I saw plenty of younger kids but it was so loud that I don't see how they could have enjoyed it.

The Monster Truck Jam was definitely a unique family outing. Here are some pictures of our "monster" good time!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

There's gnocchi-d-ing when it comes to how much my family loves this unique gnocchi recipe.

 (Did you get the no-kidding = gnocchi-d-ing joke, or was that too much of a stretch?)

For the Life As Mom Potluck Recipe Swap and Real Food Wednesday Recipe Swap I thought I'd share a recipe that is simple, healthful, and surprisingly well liked by my kids. This is a recipe I've had for a few years and unfortunately I can't remember the origin, maybe The Food Network or Cooking Light magazine. It's fun to have the kids help with this recipe because they can dig in and get their hands messy.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

1  butternut squash (about 2 lbs.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4  teaspoon  ground white pepper
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground nutmeg
3  to 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for shaping
3  tablespoons  butter, melted
1/2  cup  freshly shredded parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese, such as asiago or pecorino), plus more at the table
Freshly ground black pepper

1. With a fork or sharp knife, poke holes all over squash. Microwave it on high 10 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds. Flesh should be tender when scraped with a fork; if it isn't, microwave on high (cut side down) in 1-minute intervals until tender. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Scrape out flesh (discard peel) and mash until smooth.
2. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine 2 cups mashed squash (save any extra for another use), 1/2 tsp. salt, the white pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, until a dough forms (it will pull away from inside of bowl).
3. Turn dough out on a generously floured work surface. With well-floured hands, knead dough 10 to 12 times.
4. Divide dough in half and cover 1 batch with plastic wrap. Roll other batch into a 3/4-in.-thick rope and cut into 1/2-in.-long pieces. Put pieces on a floured baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with remaining dough.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil gnocchi until they rise to the surface, about 4 minutes; cook 30 seconds longer and then lift with a slotted spoon, making sure water drains from gnocchi, and place in a large serving bowl. Gently toss with butter and top with cheese and a sprinkling of black pepper. Serve hot and pass extra cheese at the table.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chinese New Year: Year of the Tiger

Yesterday was February 14th - so Happy Valentine's Day! Another holiday happened to fall on that day also - the Chinese New Year. Not being of Chinese descent, I don't traditionally celebrate this holiday but I find it pretty interesting.

It is said that people born in the year of the tiger are generally well-liked, charismatic, and straightforward. That's good news for my baby boy.

There is a great description of the Chinese New Year and the year of the tiger on the website GOOP. One good piece of advice on the website's newsletter is to change one habit for the new year. That's doable - one habit - like eating healthier or getting more sleep. Another suggestion on GOOP has to do with meditation and what a great stress reliever it can be. You just have to have the time to do it. Hmm... If you have time for meditation to relieve stress, is your life really that stressful? Well, I guess it's about prioritizing and making the time.

Anyway, for our own Chinese New Year/Valentine's Day celebration I made my version of a delicious Chinese dinner.
We had stir-fried vegetables and I included some that everyone in the family would like: broccoli for me, carrots for the whole family, edamame for Mason, plus red bell peppers and snow peas. I served the stir-fry over rice.

Mason helped me shell the edamame.

I also made pork wontons. They were simple and a crowd pleaser.

Pork Wontons
8 oz. ground pork
2 tbs. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Wonton wrappers
3/4 c. teriyaki sauce
                                                                                          Directions: Mix first 5 ingredients well. Then lay wonton wrappers out on a flat surface. Place about 1/2 tbs. of the pork mixture on each wonton wrapper. Use water or egg whites to seal the edges when you fold the wonton wrapper in half to form a triangle. Fold the two bottom corners of the triangle together and seal with water or egg whites. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Place 5-6 wontons in at a time and cook for just 2-3 minutes. Transfer the wontons to a large non-stick skillet with some teriyaki sauce. Saute for about 5 minutes.

Emily made a funny comment at dinner that I wanted to add to Food With Kid Appeal's weekly Big Words, Little Foodies recipe swap. 
As I passed out the plates at dinner time she said, "Ewww...what is this?" 
"Try the wontons. You'll like them. They're noodles with sausage," I said.
"I don't want them!" she whined.
After Daddy persuaded her to take a few bites she said, "These are soooo good! I love it, Mama!" 
Another great example of trying a food before you decide if you like it or not. If only she could do that with broccoli. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Baby shower

I'm such a lucky girl. Some of my dear friends and my mom pitched in to throw me an awesome baby shower to celebrate the newest addition to our family.

When planning a baby shower a few questions come up. Should you have a shower if it's not your first child? Can children attend? Do you serve alcohol? What type of food should be served? What games should you play? Who should you invite?

I wasn't sure about the etiquette of having a baby shower for a third child but my friends said that it was a great excuse to get together and celebrate. Baby showers are a fun tradition and I appreciated spending time with my friends and family, not to mention the wonderful gifts they gave the baby. I had my six-year old daughter come along to enjoy the "girls" day and it was fun to include her.

We had some great food. There were two type of lasagna: traditional meat lasagna and mushroom bechamel lasagna. My friends also made some delicious appetizers and had a nice selection of drinks. They had mimosas and wine and then some non-alcoholic options like punch for the those of us who couldn't drink.

We played a couple of simple games, which is nice because people usually want to just visit with each other rather than play lots of games.

I hope that all of my baby shower guests had as much fun as I did. I appreciated it all so much.

Here are some great websites with ideas and tips for throwing a baby shower:

Some of my favorite activities and games from baby showers that I've attended or planned in the past are:
•Decorating onesies (the host provides plain onesies and fabric paint/decorations),
•Baby photo game (guests bring their own baby picture and everyone tries to guess who is who)
•Dirty diaper game (place mystery foods inside diapers and guests try to figure out what it is)
•Diaper raffle (every guest who brings a package of diapers is entered in a raffle for a gift)

Most of all I would advise not to worry too much about etiquette or tradition. Be creative and just have a blast celebrating a new life with your friends and family.

A special thanks goes out to my mom and girlfriends for throwing my baby shower (I promise this will be the last one!).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Green Stuff

On Sunday afternoon we had friends over for a Non-Super Bowl Party while all the dads went to watch the big game together. We were getting some snacks out to share and I asked Mason what he wanted for a snack.

He answered that he wanted some "green stuff." I wondered what kind of green stuff he meant. Out of everything he could have asked for he wanted green stuff. When I asked him what kind of green stuff, he said, "Green stuff in a bowl to dip." He meant guacamole!

I get this strange sense of pride when my child asks for healthy food. It makes me feel like on the bumpy road of motherhood I've done one thing right. Instead of asking for candy or junk food he wanted some fresh avocado. Yippee!

Here's my basic guacamole recipe:
2 avocados
1 tbs. sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 tbs. lemon juice
dash of salt & pepper
Mash avocado and mix in the remaining ingredients.

Another delicious avocado recipe that includes several of Mason's favorite foods (and Emily will at least eat the corn) is one that I adapted from a Paula Deen recipe.

Avocado Corn Salad 
2 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen
2 avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest 
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 
1/4 cup chopped cilantro 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion in a large glass bowl. Mix together the dressing ingredients in another bowl, pour over the salad, and gently toss to mix.

Enjoy the "green stuff!"

This post was inspired by the Food With Kid Appeal Big Words Little Foodies Recipe Swap. Check it out for more kid-friendly recipe ideas. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

This is for the birds!

We're going for the birds around our house. Well, things are going fine with us but we've been "bird-sitting" for our neighbors. It's been quite interesting to have some new pets around the house. Thankfully our cat Fiona and both of the kids have been intrigued but not intrusive. The birds were named Dora and Diego by our four-year-old neighbor but Emily decided that we should call them Ella and John while they stayed with us.

For more information about kids and pets see my recent article: Good Pets for Young Children on 

The birds go home tomorrow but it's been a fun experience watching them. I wasn't sure about them at first but now I see that birds can be low-maintenance pets that help teach children responsibility and pride of caring for an animal. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Funny kid quotes

I've been saving up a few funny quotes from Emily and Mason to share. I'd love to hear some other people's  funny kids quotes so please feel free to share in the comments section below. 

Mason and I were in the car on our way to his sports class on Saturday morning and he wanted to tell me a story.

He said, "I want to tell you a really good story, Mama. It's a really good one. I won't even say poop. Really - I won't say poop!"

Well, thank goodness for that! Saying poop can really ruin a story.

Then, on Sunday morning Mike called Mason to come brush his teeth. Mason was playing a computer game (one of his favorite pastimes) and he didn't like being interrupted to do something as annoying as taking care of personal hygiene.

He told Mike in a very serious, grown-up way, "I'm busy, Dada! I'm too busy to brush my teeth right now." When we insisted that we needed to get going he still wouldn't budge. "But I'm busy!"

We convinced him that he needed to brush his teeth so he can stay in the "No Cavity Club" at the dentist's office and he managed to find some time in his busy schedule.

Emily doesn't have quite as many silly sayings now that she's a mature (cough, cough) six year old, but I thought this was a sweet one.

Mike was getting ready to leave to visit some friends and Emily wanted to tell me a secret. She whispered in my ear, "We should  make Daddy some chocolate chip cookies because he works so hard."

Great idea. Chocolate chip cookies for Daddy - and maybe the rest of us can sample a few in the meantime.

Emily is a budding reader and her interest in how to spell words is wonderful. Right after I started up a movie for her the other day, she was asking what some of the letters spell as they flashed up on the screen.

The best one was when she asked, "What does DVD spell?"

They keep me entertained with their witty sayings everyday. I love the way kids are hilarious when they don't even mean to be.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mommy Brain

I was reading through another "mommy" blog recently ( and there was a post asking if mommy brain gets better. Then I saw a local news story about pregnancy affecting women's brains. That is a topic that hits home for me because I've been having a severe case of mommy brain for a while now - and it only seems to be getting worse. 

In case you're not familiar with the idea of "mommy brain" it basically means that sometimes moms and pregnant women become a bit ditzy and have trouble remembering day to day things that they would normally be right on top of. What causes this? Is it the lack of sleep? Is it hormonal? Is it the anxiety of added responsibility? I don't know for sure but I have been suffering from it quite often lately.

For example, I was shopping at Costco last week and after I paid I couldn't find my debit card. Of course I was in a hurry and felt flustered. I looked through my whole purse and wallet. Then I looked all around the check stand where I paid. I even asked an employee if it had been turned in and she helped me look. Then she suggested I check my wallet again. Lo and behold, there it was - tucked into a random pocket in my wallet. Duh! I had my card the whole time. Mommy brain strikes again!

I've been doing other silly things lately like forgetting what day it is, missing information from Emily's school about upcoming days off and other events, and forgetting my checkbook to pay the babysitter. I've had to start writing out extensive "to do" lists to keep track of simple things like phone calls I need to make so that I won't forget. 

I wonder if my case of mommy brain will get better or worse after the baby arrives? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I hate spinach!


For the Big Words Little Foods weekly recipe swap I thought I'd share how Emily came to change her mind about spinach. 
My daughter is a pasta lover. Put a plate with cheese ravioli and garlic bread in front of Emily she will be in heaven. In fact, the whole family enjoys a good ravioli dinner and so I try to find variations that everyone will like.

   My dear hubby is not a vegetable lover (I think Emily inherited the picky-eater gene from him) but he does like spinach. So I was inspired to incorporate more spinach into our meals and from this my version of Spinach & Cheese Ravioli was born.

After I served up dinner with the ravioli my sweet little daughter gave me a big hug and said, "Thanks for a good dinner, Mama. I looooove it!"

"You're welcome, honey. I'm glad you like spinach now," I answered.

"No, I don't! I hate spinach. Yuck!" she squealed.

Score one for mommy. She was eating spinach, loving it, and didn't even know it.

Afterward I told her about the spinach and she was pretty proud of herself for liking a new vegetable. Not long after that we came across a cute book, D.W. The Picky Eater, at the library that related exactly to Emily's spinach experience. She still talks about it whenever we have Spinach & Cheese Ravioli.

Spinach & Cheese Ravioli
16 oz. ricotta 
1 c. shredded mozzarella 
2 c. spinach, finely chopped
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 package wonton wrappers (or you can make your own pasta dough if you're that talented)
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. parmesan, grated

Mix first 6 ingredients well. Layout wonton wrappers on a flat surface. Place about a tablespoon of cheese & spinach mixture onto one side of the wonton wrapper. Put a little bit of water around the edges of the wonton to help seal it, then fold and press edges. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, carefully place the ravioli (about 5 - 6 at a time) in the water. When they rise to the top they are done (about 3 - 4 min.). Gently toss the cooked ravioli in olive oil and parmesan. This recipe makes about 25 ravioli depending how much filing you use for each ravioli. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Healthy School Lunch Items Kids Will Eat

I had the chance to write a guest post on a blog that I follow. Here's the link: Food With Kid Appeal Healthy School Lunches Check it out!
Food With Kid Appeal is a great blog by a mom who has advice and recipes for feeding your family well. I wrote some ideas about healthy lunches and things that have helped me get Emily and Mason to eat some fruits and veggies with their meals.