Monday, April 29, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 28th

Sunday:  Chili Cheese Dogs with Veggie Dippers

Monday:  Breakfast for Dinner - Bagel Sandwiches with Fruit

Tuesday:  Chipotle-inspired Chicken Burritos

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (Crock Pot) with Ranch Potato Wedges

Friday:  Crab Rangoon Pizza

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We're goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo!

I took my first trip to the zoo today.  Let me tell you all about what I saw!

Yesterday, we took our first trip of the year to the zoo.  We are lucky to have a wonderful local zoo and we all love visiting!

It was not only our first visit of the year, but Molly's very first visit as an outside baby!  The last time we went to the zoo was in December to see the Wildlights and I was pretty pregnant! 

Visiting the zoo is usually a pretty tiring trip, even when it was just Jack and me.  There's a lot of walking, things to schlep along, etc.  I've found that visiting (anywhere really) with TWO little ones is exponentially more tiring!  AND Molly is still extremely portable so I'm sure it will get even more difficult from here! 

Okay, well, I slept through most of it, but I did see fish in the giant aquarium and thought it was pretty cool!

It was a pretty good visit.  The weather was perfect.  Jack was excited to go.  Molly ate shortly after we arrived and then pretty much just slept in the wrap the rest of the time.  New this visit was Jack wanting to walk more than he wanted to ride.  It makes me nervous that I don't have him contained in such a big place with so many people, but he is getting older (and pretty big for the stroller) so it's going to happen.  I feel like I was on anxious, high alert the whole time, but he did pretty good with it overall.  We'll work on it. 

Molly pretty much saw the aquarium and then slept the rest of the time.  Jack was more interested in running around than seeing any animals and had a few episodes of 3-year-oldness, but he got over it and enjoyed himself most of the time. 

I thought for sure after all that walking and running around that Jack would take a nap when he got home, but unsurprisingly he did not.  *I* was more than ready for a nap, but Miss Molly slept the whole time we were there so she was bright-eyed when we got home!  On top of that, Mark is out of town so I'm flying solo with both kids for the first time.  At least we all slept well last night!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 21st

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday:  Smoked Ribs with Corn Pudding and Southern-Style Green Beans (Crock Pot) 

Monday:  Grilled Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  The kids and I are own our own for dinner so we'll do leftovers, something quick, or maybe some soup from the freezer

Wednesday:  Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

Thursday:  Freezer meal - didn't get to this last week because we had an extra leftovers day

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 14th

Ugh, tax day.  I hope everyone already has their taxes filed or at least has a few painless tasks to finish up to be done for the year.  I really dislike doing taxes, it's just not a fun process and they seem to make it as complicated as possible.  I still have to file our taxes for Ohio because back when I filed our federal and local taxes apparently the state didn't have their online filing system yet updated to reflect new tax code.  That's helpful.  No idea if the changes even affect us, but I didn't want to take a chance and instead put it off.  And then put it off again.  And again.  So, nothing like waiting til the last minute.  At least filing for State is a relatively easy process.

We had a pretty busy weekend around here.  On Saturday, Jack and Mark did a grocery store run, and then Mark's brother came down with kid's in toe to drop off some hand-me-down clothes that Molly will eventually grow into (yay for hand-me-downs!).  Jack enjoyed running around with his cousins for a bit.  Saturday evening we met some friends and their little one, who were in town from Cincy, for dinner and then headed back to our house to a bit for some fun playtime.  Jack loved getting to see so many kids in one day!  Of course, the impromptu visits happened to fall on a day that for whatever reason my house was messier than usual.  That seems to happen on the weekends... I blame Mark!  Or my weekend laziness.  We don't typically have so much company though.  Ah well, it happens!   

Then, Sunday was spent moving an apparently very heavy swing set into our backyard.  This task was accomplished with the help of my dad, my sister's fiance, Mark, and one of Mark's friends.  I don't know who is more excited about this play set, me or Jack.  I think he's pretty excited, but I am SO happy that we'll have something more entertaining for him to play with in the backyard now.  Yay for outside time!  Poor kid, last week we were playing in the backyard and all he had to entertain him was his sandbox (which does hold his attention for quite a while), his old, now too small toddler climber that he was trying to play on, and a bubble mower sans bubbles.  He had fun for a bit, but then he ended up bored and instead wanted to go in and out of the house because he can work the sliding door on his own this year.  Not a fun game (for me).  He's going to have lots of fun with this swing set!  I do have to say though that before it was all set up, Jack was way more excited about the fact that it was transported with the help of his great grandpa's flat bed truck and trailer.  This boy is so vehicle obsessed! 

Plus, I'm super psyched we got the set for such a great deal.  $150 on Craigslist.  Steal! 

With everything going on the weekend seemed to fly by!  Hopefully this week won't seem to drag on for too long :)

Sunday:  BBQ Chicken Panini with Chips and Carrot sticks

Monday: Chipotle-inspired Chicken Burritos

Tuesday:  Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa & Sauerkraut (Crock Pot ) with Pierogi

Wednesday:  Spicy Pineapple Chicken with Brown Rice

Thursday:  Freezer Meal

Friday:  Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Potatoes with Salad

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tried & True Recipe: Garlic Butter Breadsticks

I've talked about my love of soup and I've shared a few of our favorite soup recipes already.  You know what goes great with soup?  Bread.  Bread goes great with everything (or all by itself!), but I really love it alongside soup so I can dunk it in the broth.  I've already shared a recipe for bread bowls, which are SO delicious, but you have to start those well ahead of time.  If you're looking for something a little quicker (and I often am!) then I love this Garlic Butter Breadstick recipe.  These breadsticks only require a single rise, which cuts the prep time in half.  Because of that, you really don't have to plan too far ahead in order to have some fresh, warm, super delicious breadsticks to enjoy with dinner.  These are supposed to be a copy-cat recipe for Olive Garden breadsticks (and who doesn't love those?!  SO good!), but I've adapted them to be made with half whole-wheat flour making them a little more healthful, but they are still very, very tasty and are certainly reminiscent of the Olive Garden variety. 

Garlic Butter Breadsticks
Adapted from One Particular Kitchen, Originally from Food Network Magazine

For the dough:

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt

For the topping:

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
garlic powder

Combine yeast with water and a pinch of sugar.  Set aside a few minutes to allow yeast to bloom.

Add remaining ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook.  Add yeast/water mixture.  Allow dough to knead on a low speed ~8 minutes.

Turn dough out onto counter and roll into 2 foot long log.  Cut into 16 equal pieces (I cut the log in half, then in half again, etc.).  Roll the pieces into an appropriate breadstick shape and size (keep in mind these will rise some) and place 2-inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm spot (I always use my oven with the light turned on) to rise until doubled (~1 hour).

While dough is rising, pre-heat oven to 400-degrees.

Once dough has properly risen, brush breadsticks with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.  Cook in pre-heated oven until very lightly golden, ~12-15 minutes.  Remove breadsticks from the oven and brush with additional melted butter and sprinkle with garlic powder.

Note:  I've had success with freezing the dough before allowing it to rise for later use.  To bake I just place the dough (still frozen) on a baking sheet and allow it to come to room temperature and rise (this takes a couple hours, just keep an eye on it) and then continue on with the recipe as written.  You could also bake off all the breadsticks and freeze some, then just pop them in the oven to re-heat from frozen.  


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

{Semi-} Wordless Wednesday

Oh the adorableness!  This is Jack's very first drawing that isn't just a variety of scribbles.  It's a 'Miley Face (in Jack-speak). 

And a few gratuitous Jack pics just because:

Jack is 3 years and 1 month old.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

40 lbs of Chicken

2 sleeping babies, 1 1/2 hours, and 40 lbs of chicken later.

It was a considerable amount of (not fun) work and the kids are hardly ever sleeping at the same time during the day (mainly because Jack no longer sleeps during the day.  Would have been nice to just take a quiet break!), but it was worth it to have 40lbs of quality chicken totally trimmed and individually frozen for only $1.79/lb.

If you don't already know about Zaycon Foods you should totally check them out.  Their prices can't be beat and they have quality products.  Their chicken isn't injected with a bunch of saline solution to artificially inflate the weight, which also changes the taste and texture of the chicken.  You have to purchase in bulk, which might not be for everyone, but you might think about splitting a case with another family.  It's a great deal!

I should also add that the above is a referral link, but I'm just sharing the love about a good value.  I'm not affiliated with Zaycon Foods in any way :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 7th

We enjoyed some really beautiful weather this weekend and it seems to be continuing into this week.  Dare I ask, has spring finally sprung?!  I sure hope so.  I don't even realize how much the weather has an impact on my mood until I finally experience a breath of fresh air (literally).  I think this may be it though, we may finally have made it through the longest winter ever, yay! 

In other news, we'll be kicking our week off with a visit to the park to play with friends and picking up 40lbs of chicken (not so much looking forward to this, but I'm excited to have good, cheap chicken in my freezer again!).  Pretty good for a Monday!

Sunday:  At parents' house for dinner

Monday:  Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with Ranch Potato Wedges

Tuesday:  Mom's Night Out!  I'll be enjoying a dinner out with friends, the boys (+the girl) will be on their own

Wednesday:  Crispy Baked Fish Nuggets with Roasted Broccoli

Thursday:  Enchilada Pasta Casserole

Friday:  Strawberry Avocado Salad with Bacon Poppyseed Dressing

Saturday: Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tried & True Recipe: Tortellini Minestrone

I love soup.  It's warm and comforting and can be very healthful.  It also tends to make a good amount, yielding leftovers to eat throughout the week or to freeze for later.  It's also usually very cost effective because of how many meals you can get out of it.  Mark is not a soup lover, but he puts up with it without too much grumbling throughout the colder months when I like to make at least one soup a week.  Unlucky for him, it's still pretty chilly out so even though we've technically made it to spring, my soup cravings are still going strong!

This Tortellini Minestrone is a recipe I stumbled upon recently and I've already made it a few times.  I love that it has a nice variety of veggies, is meatless, but is still plenty filling because of the pasta and beans, and it's loaded with flavor for a broth-based soup.  It also comes together really quickly so it's perfect even on a weeknight!

I highly recommend you give this one a try while it's still chilly enough to make you crave warm, comforting foods.

Tortellini Minestrone
Adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Cook's Illustrated, Soups and Stews

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 oz mushrooms, sliced (optional.  I usually leave these out because Mark doens't like mushrooms, but I think they would be very tasty!)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups V8 vegetable juice or tomato juice can be substituted
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (any white bean can be used.  I've also used chickpeas/garbanzo beans with great success!)
1 (9-oz) package fresh cheese tortellini (preferably whole wheat)
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and chopped
1/2 cup pesto (homemade, or if store-bought, use the refrigerated variety)
1/4 tsp salt, plus additional to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan, for serving

Heat EVOO in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion, 1/4 tsp salt, plus some ground black pepper, to taste, and cook until softened.  (If using mushrooms, add them once the veggies just start to soften.)  Add garlic and oregano and cook just until fragrant.

Stir in broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Stir in vegetable/tomato juice and beans.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook ~10 minutes.

Add pasta and zucchini and continue to simmer until soft and cooked through.

Stir in pesto.  Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve topped with a little grated parmesan.



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A New Adventure

Yesterday I had to take both kids to the pediatrician, Molly for her 2-month appointment and Jack for his 3-year.  Boy oh, boy.  If that wasn't an initiation into dual motherhood I don't know what is! 

First, you have the typical getting out of the house rush involving getting all of us ready to go, bag packed for two kids, everything and everyone schlepped out to the car and on the way (on time!  Go me!).  Then we arrived at our destination and had to do it all in reverse. 

Once everyone (and everything) was successfully inside I, of course, had to fill out forms.  Am I the only one who really hates the form filling out process at the ped's?  Whoever thought this was a good idea clearly wasn't rushing to make an appointment on time and juggling kids at the same time.  You're sitting there, trying to keep them from being a maniac in the waiting area, not wanting them to touch anything because who knows what kind of supervirus is crawling over the solid surfaces at the doctor's office, AND you have to fill out these forms (with info they already have!) and they always, always end up calling you before you're even done just adding to the load of things you have to carry with you back to the exam room.

So anyway, I'm trying to keep Jack off the supervirus covered floor, keeping an eye on Molly in her seat (which, side note: why, WHY do I keep schlepping Molly around in that seat that only gets heavier as the minutes go by instead of wearing her in the wrap?  I don't know why I do this.  It always seems like a good idea for some reason until I'm actually walking around with a diaper bag over my shoulder, trying to keep Jack holding onto my hand, and lugging this giant seat around.  I need to stop this!) and filling out the forms while texting Mark to get his social security number (again!  Must memorize this.  I'll add it to my list of things to do.) and of course they call us back.

First, Jack needs to take off his coat, hat, and shoes and step on the scale to be weighed.  This was probably the simplest of all things to come and he didn't want to remove any of the necessary items or be weighed and instead started running around the exam room area which is just a circle.  Super.  After some finagling, and a second nurse cajoling him onto the scale by demonstrating herself, he finally got weighed. 

Then, all people and goods had to be transported back to the actual exam room were Jack doesn't want to be measured.  More cajoling with me demonstrating and he cooperated without too much drama.  Don't worry, drama ensued when he had to have his blood pressure and temperature taken.  Oy vey.  It was like pulling teeth the whole time.

Then I had to undress Molly, get her on the scale, get out another diaper while she was being weighed, get her off the scale, diapered, and stretched out on the little measurement chart thing so they could get her length.  Meanwhile, Jack is complaining about being there (I don't blame him, I didn't want to be there either!) so I'm trying to tell him what's going on and that we would be done soon.

Thankfully, we didn't have to wait long for the doctor to come in.  We chatted for a bit and I answered her questions about their developmental progress.  The only question I had was about potty training, which she wasn't helpful with.  In her defense, I don't think there's much anyone but Jack can do, but still... I was kind of hoping she'd have the magic advice to unlock this whole potty training nonsense.  Alas, I'm not any more enlightened having discussed it with her. 

Anyway, she then checks out Jack.  He fights her when she needs to look in his ears.  He fights her when she needs to listen to his chest and back.  He doesn't want to take his pants or diaper off so that she could check out the boy parts.  He was already in tears before we even got to the shot portion of our visit.  Oh yes, yes, they both got shots today as well.

Jack was MORE than ready to go after his exam, but then it was Molly's turn, luckily that didn't take too long.

Then it was time for shots.  Jack got to sit on my lap while I held him in place for his vaccine.  Then he cried, of course, and I had to ask the nurse to wait a minute before administering Molly's so that I could get Jack calmed down.  Then it was Molly's turn to be stuck.  Instant tears, of course.  Jack's still teary and now I'm also trying to comfort a crying newborn.  The sad part is, when it was just Jack, I could focus all my attention on him until he was calm and ready to go.  With her, I comforted her until she stopped crying, but then had to put her right down so I could get Jack's shoes and coat on to get ready to go.  Then I had to get her loaded up in her seat, which she wasn't happy about AND THEN I had to collect all of our junk along with the stupid clip board of papers I feel like I have to fill out every time we're there.  Don't you have this info in your computers already?  Forthelove!

THEN to add insult to injury I had to stop at the desk to make an appointment to return in just a few weeks to repeat this whole process (without an exam or injection for Jack, THANK GOODNESS!  But he will have to come along.).  Lucky us.

We did eventually make it back out to the car and we stopped by Target so that Jack could pick out a surprise, which I don't typically (well, ever) do, but man we needed some fun after that experience!

Of course a new truck (a tow truck) cured all Jack's ills and Molly slept through the whole trip and we eventually made it home and lived to tell the tale.

Molly's 2 month stats:

   Length - 22 inches  (50th percentile)
   Weight - 11 lbs 3.5 oz  (75th percentile)
   Head Circumference - 15.5 inches  (90th percentile)

Jack's 3 year stats: 

   Height - 3ft 3in  (90th percentile)
   Weight - 37.8 lbs  (90th percentile)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 31st

Last week, Monday brought a flooded kitchen cabinet.  Luckily, it ended up just being a minor clog + a pipe coming loose.  I guess on the bright side, the cabinet under my kitchen sink got not one, but two unexpected cleanings as the flooding happened twice.  Not so smart to clean up the mess and then check to see if the leak is still there.  Hopefully this week will start out on a much better note!

Sunday:  Happy Easter!  We'll be celebrating with family

Monday:  Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla Pie with Chips and Salsa - carried over from last week due to an unexpected take out night from said cabinet flooding episode

Tuesday:  Teriyaki Meatballs with Brown Rice and Broccoli  

Wednesday:  Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes with Ranch Potato Wedges

Thursday:  Chipotle-inspired Chicken Burritos 

Friday:  Thai Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by