Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pineapple Salsa

Fresh pineapple...yum. It's the time of year to enjoy this delicious treat. I've had such a sweet-tooth lately that I'm starting to o.d. on cookies and candy. Thankfully the sweet, juicy pineapple I bought this week helped satisfy my cravings for the moment.

The kids were so excited to see what was inside the big bumpy pineapple that they tried a bite without even hesitating. Mason is my fruit and veggie lover so he already likes pineapple but Miss Picky Emily surprised herself by liking it too.

Pineapple is a great deal right now too. I found mine for $2.99 and it was enough to have a couple of snacks and to use for this delish pineapple salsa recipe. I made chicken and bean tacos and even my picky husband liked them (we know where Emily gets it from).

Pineapple Salsa

2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
3 tbs. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. diced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. chili powder
dash salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients and serve on tacos or with chips. For kids or others who can't eat spicy food, the jalapeno can be left out and you will still have a tasty salsa.

Chicken and Bean Tacos

2 large boneless chicken breasts
1/2 yellow onion sliced
1 tbs. chili powder
dash salt & pepper
6 flour tortillas
1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 cup pinto beans
1 cup pineapple salsa (see recipe above)

Saute chicken breasts and onion until golden brown. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and cover to allow chicken to steam and fully cook. Turn heat to low and continue cooking for approximately 6 - 7 minutes. Then chop or shred chicken to be used in tacos. Place a tortilla in a warm skillet. Add a handful of cheese, then top with pinto beans. Layer with chicken and more cheese. Allow cheese to melt and beans to warm up. Add a spoonful of pineapple salsa before serving.

This post is participating in Pennywise Platter from the Nourishing Gourmet and Friday Follow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Children Learn What They Live

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

I saw part of this poem posted on a blog I follow: The Happiest Family on the Block and thought it was inspiring. It's a great reminder that they way we treat our children teaches them how to treat others. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Whatcha Reading? Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was published 4 years ago and became a #1 New York Times Best Seller. Eat, Pray, Love is Gilbert's memoir about her journey around the world after her divorce. She was in her early thirties, unsatisfied with her life, and after her divorce she became very depressed.

Her memoir tells the story of her struggles with depression and her search for meaning in her life. The title is significant because it represents the three separate aspects of her journey. Eat stands for her time enjoying food and pleasures in Italy. Pray stands for the her time in India which she calls her pursuit of devotion. Love signifies her experience in Bali.

Many women in a similar stage of life as Gilbert can relate to her feeling of being unfulfilled, even though it appeared that she had all that any woman could ask for. Her journey may make readers question their own place in the world, but most people can't find a way to travel for a year to "find" themselves. Although Gilbert might say that if she can make it happen then anyone can.

Gilbert's insight and humor draw you in and make you feel like she's one of your own girlfriends. By the end of the book I wished that I could call her up and invite her over to drink wine and tell what she's been up to lately.

Eat, Pray, Love is now being made into a movie, which is what prompted me to re-read for a second time. Julia Roberts is starring as Gilbert and if any actress can do this story justice I'm sure it's her.

This post is participating in Friday Follow hosted by Midday Escapades. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Paralyzed mom seeks visitation rights

I came across this tragic story.

A mom who was paralyzed and brain damaged due to complications from giving birth to her triplets is seeking visitation rights in court. Her parents and lawyer are her representatives since she can't speak. Her ex-husband is not only refusing to allow the triplets to visit her and their grandparents but he is also seeking child support because she won a big malpractice suit.

Wow - my initial reactions is that he's a major jerk but then again I can't imagine being in that situation.

Here's the link to the article on What would you do? That's definitely a situation that you can't prepare for. Sad.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chicken Club Pasta Salad Recipe

Now that the sun has decided to shine in Oregon it is barbecue season. We enjoyed our first barbecue get together with friends last weekend.

I was in charge of salads so I tried a new pasta salad recipe in addition to a standard green salad. The idea for this recipe came from one of my favorite recipe and cooking resources: Cooking for Your Family on I changed a few things according to taste and what I had available. It turned out to be delicious. The only thing I noticed is that the avocado turns a little brown in the salad by the next day so it's not great for leftovers.

Chicken Club Pasta Salad
24 oz. spiral pasta
2 tbs. olive oil
1 cup creamy Italian dressing
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
1 cup cubed Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup bacon pieces
2 avocados, cubed
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 green bell pepper, diced
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions: Cook pasta al dente, toss in olive oil and cool. Toss pasta in Italian dressing, then add all other ingredients. Stir to evenly distribute and serve cool or at room temperature.

For more great recipes and info about healthy eating check out Real Food Wednesdays.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Meal Planning

I'm stumped. I usually do my grocery shopping on Fridays, but I didn't go today. I'm determined to have a weekly meal plan before I do my shopping for next week. The only problem is that I can't decide what should be on the menu for the whole week.

I have three dinner meals planned: tacos, spaghetti & meatballs, and stir-fry & salad rolls (trying a new recipe).

Any suggestions? Do you plan your meals in advance? I'm in desperate need of some meal ideas or we'll be having top ramen and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner the rest of the week - the kids wouldn't complain, I guess. I also need to plan for breakfast and lunch too. Arrgh! Help!

Please post comments if you have any suggestions about meal planning in general or any meal ideas. I usually have lots of ideas but I think that new mommy brain has taken over. I'm drawing a blank.


P.S. I found a blog with a really cute meal planner form. Check it out and download it for free. Future Girl Meal Planner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Outdoor Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

I was looking for a creative way to enjoy the sunny weather and so I took the kids on an alphabet scavenger hunt. We made a list with all of the letters and then headed out for a walk. Emily brought a basket along to collect any interesting items she found along the way.

We looked for anything outdoors that began with the letters of the alphabet. As we walked we would pause and write down what we found. The kids were really engaged in this activity and it kept them busy for quite a while. We walked a few blocks around the neighborhood and found most of the letters. I couldn't think of any "X" items though. No x-rays or xylophones outside around here.

This post is participating in Friday Follow from Midday Escapades.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oprah's Replacement

Emily walked up to me and said in a very matter-of-fact voice, "Oprah is tired so I'm going to do her show for her now."

Then she went on to tell me about how she looks just like Oprah and they have the same voice and hair.

Her first guest on the new Oprah/Emily show was Mason the famous tennis player. She interviewed him and then had him show some great tennis moves. I was the only person lucky enough to be in the live studio audience.

Here's a picture of Oprah's replacement hosting her first talkshow. The resemblance is uncanny, huh?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Whatcha Reading? Book Review: The Happiest Baby on the Block

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp is a book that all new parents should read. What should you do when your baby won't stop crying? Dr. Karp has a plan. It's a simple plan too.

His strategy is called the 5 S's. The 5 S's are: swaddling, shushing, side or stomach position, sucking, swinging.

These five technique work amazingly well when used together. At first your baby may appear to not like the swaddling but once you use the other techniques Dr. Karp is right when he says that it "calms colic crying babies in minutes or less."

When my husband and I found out that our first child was on the way we didn't have a clue what to do so we started reading a few parenting books. The Happiest Baby on the Block was recommended to us by my brother and sister-in-law. After our daughter was born we used the 5 S's religiously with her. She was a great sleeper. She slept through the night at 5 weeks and took nice long naps during the day.

We followed Dr. Karp's advice again with baby #2 and now I've just re-read the book again to help with baby #3. Our own little case studies support Dr. Karp's findings. The 5 S's have worked with all three of my babies.

So for any new parents out there - check out this helpful book with great practical advice. Dr. Karp also wrote a follow up book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block which helps deal with what he calls "little cavemen" and the tantrums that come with the terrible two's.

To find out more about The Happiest Baby on the Block and Dr. Karp's other books, click here to see his website.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mama's Wake Up Call

How did you wake up this morning? 

The first words I heard this morning were, "Mama, Mason has poop on his foot!" 

"What?!?" In a blurry-eyed haze I sat up in bed. What a way to wake up. That's enough to make even the most tired mom leap out of bed. 

In his rush to continue playing with his sister early this morning, Mason jumped off the potty a bit too fast. Yuck. It was a "teachable moment" about proper bathroom etiquette, that's for sure. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup butterscotch and/or chocolate chips or 3/4 cup dried fruit, chopped 

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease or use cooking spray on 9x13 in. baking dish. 
2. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix well. 
3. Firmly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes until lightly golden brown. 
4. Let cool, then cut into bars. 

My kids love granola bars but I find that they mow through a box so quickly that at about $3 per box I'm spending more money than I would like on granola bars every week. They are an easy, convenient snack so I decided to research some recipes for making our own granola bars. It seems like there are thousands of variations on homemade granola bars but the recipe above is my adaptation.

For our first attempt at making these granola bars, I split the base mixture in half and then added butterscotch chips to half and mixed dried fruit to the other half. Then I baked the two batches in smaller baking dishes. One tip is to use a kitchen tool, like this masher, to press down the granola. That compacts the bars and keeps them from crumbling.

Both batches of granola bars tasted great and the kids loved them. They took the bars to school with their snack and gobbled them up. I had one (Okay, okay, I had three - but they were small I swear!) with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

Another added benefit of making granola bars at home rather than buying them is that you are in control of the ingredients that go into them. Compare the ingredients in my recipe to the back of the box on a popular brand of granola bars. Wow, I don't even know what some of those ingredients are.

This post is participating in The Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter and Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday recipe swap.