Monday, April 28, 2014

Spaghetti with Lemon and Parmesan

Brody and I thought this was pretty good, but Ross - not so much.  It was just so fast and easy to make that I think I loved it even more...haha.  Guess B and I will just have to eat one night when Ross isn't home :)
Serves 4

1 cup cream
3 cups finely grated Parmesan/Pecorino cheese
juice and rind of one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1lb spaghetti, cooked and 1 cup of cooking water reserved

Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.

Toss with the cooked spaghetti and add some of the reserved cooking water to loosen it up a bit if necessary.

Serve with chopped parsley and some extra Parmesan if required.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian chilies

My cousin Jenn and I went to Pizzeria Lola over Christmas, and we got their side dish of Cauliflower.  It was SOOOOO amazing!!!!  Jenn sent me this recipe she found, so we had to make it at cookbook!!!

This dish has become one of best selling starters at Pizzeria Lola. The key to this dish is roasting at a very high temperature, keeping the outside slightly charred/crisp and the inside delicate. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of this vegetable.

1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1 1/2 inch florets 
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
tablespoons of diced calabrian chilies or chili flakes to taste 
flat leaf parsley diced as garnish 
lemon zest 
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. 

Place cauliflower florets in large roasting pan or baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the roasting pan/baking sheet in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Stir florets occasionally to ensure an even roast. Remove from oven and toss with lemon juice and chilies. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Tortellini Skewers with Pesto Dipping Sauce

I had this recipe on my pinterest board FOREVER, so when we decided to do "sides" for the theme this time, I figured it was time to make these!  It wasn't anything super special, but it was yummy and Brody LOVED them :)

Makes 8 Skewers

24 cheese tortellini, cooked to al dente
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp garlic flavored olive oil or regular olive oil 

Pesto (or just buy store bought)
2 cups clean, dry basil
2 garlic cloves 
1/3 cup fresh grated good Parmesan
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil

Make the Pesto
Throw everything in the food processor and chop for a few minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup of good olive oil. Process until thoroughly combined.

After tortellini is cooked, toss in flavored olive oil. Then alternate tortellini and tomatoes so that there are 3 tortellini's and 2 tomato halves on each skewer. Serve at room temp or chilled.

Cheesy Bacon Oven Chips

You can't really go wrong with potatoes, cheese, and bacon...I would eat each on their own every day, all day :)  This was really easy to make too!!  The sauce was YUMMY but it does have a kick - so if you don't like spicy, then maybe cut out chili powder!

Serves 6

3 large, uniformly-shaped russet potato, scrubbed well and sliced into 1/8" rounds
cooking spray
2 ¼ cups shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste
6 tablespoons crumbled bacon (about 6 slices) - I used real bacon bits
chopped parsley or chives, for garnish (optional)

Chipotle Ranch Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons ranch dressing
9 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
2/3 teaspoon cayenne (adjust more or less depending on how spicy you want).
2/3 teaspoon salt
2/3 teaspoon garlic powder

Place all ingredients in a small bowl, and stir to combine.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bring sliced potatoes to a boil in cold, salted water to cover for 5 minutes.  Carefully drain, and transfer slices to a paper-towel lined countertop or cutting board.  Pat to dry.

Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray, and lay out potato slices so they are overlapping on it.  Spray lightly with additional cooking spray, then sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.  Sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese & bacon.  Bake 12-14 minutes in preheated oven until cheese is melted & bubbly.  Serve with chipotle ranch sauce. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Cards

Cutie Easter cards :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tissue paper "stained" glass art

Yes...more inside toddler activities....hehe!  This one Brody was involved from start to finish - he LOVED being able to rip the tissue paper before sticking it :)  Another spin on this would be to let them decorate and then take and either cut it into a "holiday/fun" shape -- or put a piece of card stock behind it to keep the art work.

Press n Seal
Tissue paper

Put press n seal on window - sticky side out...then rip up some pieces of tissue paper and let your little ones stick them up! WOOT WOOT

Friday, April 18, 2014

Picture Basket

As everyone knows - I LOVE since I have so many laying around, I decided to make a little basket for Brody that contains fun pics for him to learn names / words!

It's awesome -- he sees himself doing fun things in them, and he has picked up on names of family members and new words!

Butternut Mac n Cheese

Friday in Lent so needed something the whole family would enjoy....Brody and I really liked this -- Ross was not impressed.  He said it didn't have enough flavor (but I just think that's because it didn't have any meat...hehe)

8 oz whole wheat rotini
1/2 C fat-free milk
6 oz butternut squash
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
pepper to taste
1 tablespoon parmesan, freshly shredded
1 tablespoon bread crumbs 

Prepare 8 oz whole wheat rotini according to package directions.

In medium saucepan, simmer 1/2 c fat-free milk with 1/2 12 oz package frozen butternut squash until combined. Remove from heat and mix with 1 c shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, and pepper to taste.

Pour drained pasta into 8" x 8" baking dish, stir in cheese mixture, and top with 1 Tbsp each Parmesan and bread crumbs.

Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

 One of my favorite things about my week nights, is coming home from work and playing with B!  However, I always walk in the door - and start making this cuts down on play time with my favorite little guy...SO you have to LOVE crock pot meals :)  I swear they were invented for the working parent!

4 chicken breasts
1 jar of salsa
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
1 packet of taco seasoning
Toppings: taco shells, shredded cheese, hot sauce, sour cream

Put chicken, salsa and taco seasoning in crock pot.  Set on low and let cook for 7 hours.    
Shred chicken breasts at around 7 hours; add corn and beans.  After an hour, enjoy! 
Put on taco shells or make a taco lettuce wrap.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Science Experiment

Baking soda (enough to fill the bottom of 9x13 pan)
Food Coloring
Eye dropper

B couldn't quite figure out how to get the liquid out of the dropper, so I had to help him....BUT he loved the fizzing!!!  He kept touching it and making very excited noises :)

After we were done with the dropper - I let him play around with the baking soda...he thought it was moon dough :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fine Motor Skills

Working on B's fine motor skills...and his appetite :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Easter Themed Tub Tub

Yup -- that's right...this is a Easter Themed Tub Tub!  The Easter Bunny came and made a Egg Hunt for Brody during his tub tub!
Easter Grass
Easter Eggs
Little trinkets to go in eggs (water safe)

Dyeing Easter Eggs - Toddler Style

You know how I LOVE my traditions...well, I wanted Brody to actually be able to participate and I finally found a way he could!  As long as the weather cooperates - it's totally worth letting them get dirty!
Hardboiled eggs
Food Coloring
White Vinegar
I put ~1T of white vinegar in a container...then filled it with water, and put about 15 drops of food coloring.

Then I brought B outside and let him get to work!  His hands only stayed stained for a couple hours...but I washed him up quickly after...

Finger Painting Art

So cute! So fun!  So easy!  And now I have art work for the scrapbooking room!!!

Cardboard / canvas
Painters Tape
Finger Paint

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Greek Steak and Rice

Y-U-M-M-Y!!!!  I would have cooked my steak a lot be like medium well, BUT I comprised with my grill master and tried to eat it like this.  This was soooo good!!!!  Yum -- all 3 of us ate this right up!
Serves 4: Recipe by Our Best Bites
Marinade & Dressing
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup olive oil

Steak and Rice
1 1/2 – 2 lb flank steak
non-stick spray or drizzle of olive oil
10-12 ounce pack grape tomatoes
6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
2 cups cooked  brown rice (or quinoa, cous cous, or white rice)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup reduced fat or fat free feta cheese

Rinse steak in cool water and pat dry with paper towels.  With a sharp knife, very lightly score the top in a diamond pattern.  Place steak in a zip-lock bag or a shallow pan.

Place all marinade ingredients, except oil, in a blender.  Blend for a few seconds and then with the blender on low, slowly drizzle in olive oil.  Set aside 1/4 cup of marinade and store in fridge.  Place remaining marinade in bag with steak and marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours (longer is fine).  Rotate bag occasionally to evenly distribute marinade.

When ready to cook, remove steak and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  You may cook steak in one of 3 ways:
1.  Broil:  Preheat broiler and place steak on a broiler pan.  Cook for about 5-8 minutes on each side, or until top is slightly browned and internal temperature reaches about 135 degrees.
2.  Outdoor grill:  Heat grill to high heat.  Lightly oil grill grates and place steak on grill.  Decrease heat to medium-high.  Sear 5-8 minutes per side or until internal temp reaches 135 degrees.
3.  Indoor grill pan:  Heat indoor grill pan to medium high heat.  Once pan is hot (water droplets should sizzle when dropped on pan) brush pan with canola/vegetable oil.  Place steak on pan and cook for 5-8 minutes.  Flip steak and cook until internal temp reaches about 135 degrees.

When steak is done cooking, place on cutting board and tent with foil.  Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

While steak is cooking, heat a small sauté pan to medium heat.  When hot, add a small drizzle of olive oil and add tomatoes.  Stir/toss often, cooking for 4-5 minutes or so, until skins are slightly blackened in spots and tomatoes start to burst.  Remove from heat and add rice, artichokes, parsley, and feta.  Add 2 tablespoons reserved marinade/dressing and toss to combine.  Slice steak thinly across the grain and serve over rice mixture.

Straw Sorter

Always looking for fun and inexpensive new activities for B!  Found this on pinterest...
Container (used boogie wipe holder)
Just drilled holes into the top of the container, and let him put the straws in the holder...over and over and over again!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Open-Faced Avocado and Egg BLT

We had swimming lessons tonight, so needed something good but quick!  This was awesome :)
Serves 1 - Recipe by Our Best Bites
1 slice whole grain bread
2 tablespoons mashed ripe avocado
optional: 1/8 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
2 slices cooked bacon
a few slices red onion
handful of greens, or lettuce leaf
2-3 slices tomato
1 hard boiled egg
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Toast bread.
Mash avocado with garlic and spread on bread.
Place bacon and onion slices on top of avocado.
Top with greens, sliced tomato and egg.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and if desired drizzle with olive oil.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Toddler Eats!

Made some fun "Toddler Treats" for B to try :)

Apple / Grape Car!

Toddler Activity - sticky paper!

For real, Spring....are you ever going to come to MN?!  We are running out of fun stuff to do!!!  :)

Contact paper (sticky side up)
Stuff to stick (sequins, paper clips, sprinkles...)
Egg Carton to hold all the "stuff to stick"

Brody had so much fun with this...he literally picked up EACH piece and put it on the sticky paper.  We've played with this multiple times too -- he'll pick stuff off the sticky paper and put it back in the egg carton....and then stick it back on!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ball Tunnel

This was soooo easy -- and Brody LOVED it!  Yes, he tried to figure out how they were taped to the wall, and broke it a couple times...but he played with this over and over and over again!

Rubber Band Snapping Art

So easy!  I'm always up for toddler activities, and this one was super easy / cheap - and B loved it!
Finger paint
Just put rubber bands around cookie sheet -- slide the paper underneath -- then put paint right on the rubber bands, and start snapping!

CLEAN finger painting

Finger paint
Ziploc bag

This is so awesome!  Brody LOVED that he could just paint and mess around!  He thought it was super funny!  and I LOVED it cause he kept clean :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sewing for Toddlers

Ahhh toddlers!  I'm constantly trying to come up with ways to educate / entertain B!  This idea was super easy...he couldn't really do it by himself, but he was really proud of himself when mom helped!

Hole punch
Pipe cleaner