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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Sweet Little Boy

I wanted to expound upon Colin's growing relationship with "Pete."  Every day I'm convinced he understands more about what's happening and has been nothing but accepting and super sweet.  Every morning I put him on the sink to comb his hair (since I'm the only one who can do it for some reason) and he lifts up my shirt, pulls down the belly band of my pants, and softly touches "Pete."  Sometimes he rubs him, sometimes he talks to him, but daily he acknowledges him.  I've recently learned he thinks my belly button is his gateway to the baby's ear.  Whenever he talks to him, he speaks directly into my belly button.  I'd like to think that was good logic but I somehow doubt logic is a factor at all!




(I apologize for the picture quality but that's what happens when you shoot directly into the sunlight.  Lesson learned!)

Last week he asked if he could show the baby where the toys were.  I said of course and smiled that he was already considering sharing and was okay with that.  I just hope he feels the same when it's actually time to share.  He loves to tell us he loves us, he misses us, and loves hugs and kisses.  He's very gentle with other kids and you can tell he's just itching to be everyone's friend.  I would love to take credit for all of that but some things I think they are just born with.

Don't get me wrong though, he still is a wild child who is into everything.  He is still the same sweet boy who starts talking the minute he wakes up and doesn't stop until he goes to bed (and even after that).  He's the one who will repeat himself over and over until you respond.  Maybe mommy and daddy will get a break and Colin will share some of his conversation with "Pete" once he gets here.  I'm sure Pete will want to soak up all of Colin that he can.  As wild and active as he is, he's still such a sweet child.  One day this week he was giving me his typical hug good-bye and put his head a little lower to give the baby a hug too.  Those sweet and tender moments make the wild child moments disappear...at least momentarily!

While we're on the subject of babies, I was directed today to a very inspirational and uplifting post.  This one will take some time but it is a tear-jerker with a happy ending.  If you feel so inclined, take a moment and read Adrienne's amazing journey becoming a mother.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preggo Update and the Winner!

After getting out the calendar to determine what week this is, I'm happy to report I'm in my 29th week of this journey.  In some ways I'm glad that I'm not counting weeks this time but then it forces you to answer in months when someone asks how much longer you have.  Somehow 2 1/2 months sounds a lot longer than 10 weeks.  Either way, it is what it is and I'm feeling great so I can't complain.

I did have a rough spell several weeks ago and I've since determined it was the transition from butterfly kicks to hardcore soccer kicks.  As you can imagine, that takes a toll on your body and requires a little adjustment.  Somehow I had already forgotten this and many other details from the first go-round.  So the big stomach moving kicks are here to stay for a while.  I an tell you it's no less freaky to see your stomach jet in out uncontrollably the second time.  He's a mover and a shaker, just like Colin was.  I'm sure that means he will be just as active as his older brother!  Someone told me today it's the non-active boys you have to worry about.  Was that supposed to help?

Wes and I have both started referring to the baby as "Pete" since that's what Colin so fondly calls him.  We're seriously going to have a hard habit to break once the baby is actually born.  We have a name in mind but a) we're not 100% sure and b) that's the one little secret we like to keep to ourselves.  It saves some looks, comments, and opinions that just aren't necessary.  By waiting, it's a done deal and nothing anyone can say can change it.

I'm having serious shopping withdrawals.  Just today I went in Target and looked through the "regular" women's section in hopes of finding an extra long shirt or one with a forgiving waistline.  I left empty handed.  Gasp!  Leaving Target empty handed is unheard of, right?!  I can't even find shoes I like.  Oh bother.

For what it's worth, I have a feeling that Pete will be arriving before July 12th.  I'm sure I'll be proven terribly wrong but a girl can hope.  Somehow I don't picture this one to have red hair but who knows.  I think he'll be the same whopper size that Colin was and hopefully no more!  Our family loves us some big babies!  I'll take him any way, any time I can get him!!

(Sorry no picture this time.  I promise to do better next time.)

In other news, the winner of the Yoplait Nourish Your Inner Goddess winner is Sweet Southern Prep!  Please respond to my email to claim your prize!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekly Recipe: Thai Chicken Slaw

Warmer weather makes my culinary mind think of more fresh fruits and veggies and trying to find a way to incorporate them into our meal plan.  Our farmers market has opened but it has very few offerings at this time.  March is just not the optimal time for fresh produce in Central Kentucky.  I read other blogs in warmer climates where their farmers markets are thriving and have wonderful selections already.  In the meantime, I'll just have to wait it out and suffice with the produce at the grocery store.

This recipe is a blend of many I've seen online over the last couple of months.  I got the dressing inspiration from an old saved recipe but a quick Google search came up with nothing.  I made so many modifications, I'll just claim this one as my own.

Thai Chicken Slaw

2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp Siracha hot sauce
2 T. honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
juice of 2 lime
3 T. oyster sauce
3 T. soy sauce
1 chicken breast, grilled/roasted/poached and shredded
1 head Napa cabbage, chopped
1 red pepper, diced or sliced thinly
1 package Ramen noodles (discard flavor pack)

Preheat oven to 350.  Break up Ramen noodles and arrange in single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven and allow to cool while you assemble the rest of the slaw.  

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  In a large bowl, pour mixture over the shredded chicken, cabbage, and red pepper.  Add the cooled noodles and toss to combine.  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Recipe Ideas and a Giveaway!

A year or so ago I read about an opportunity to join this up-and-coming group called MyBlogSpark.  It was endorsed to be a group that would solicit members ideas and input in exchange for trying new products and hosting giveaways.  What could be better than getting to review new (free) products, getting free loot, and then getting to give it away?!  I couldn't think of any so I joined.  Over the course of the year I've taken several short surveys and gotten to review several products.  It's been a win-win for everyone involved.  The great news is that you, too, can become a member if you so desire.  Just go here if you're interested in signing up.

My latest Spark was a chance to try Yoplait's new Greek Yogurt.  I have been a fan of greek yogurt for a while now but most of the brands I've been getting have been from Whole Foods or other specialty stores.  My regular grocery store hasn't carried it until recently.  Yoplait has jumped on board, offering 4 flavors - blueberry, strawberry, vanilla honey, and plain.

I tried the vanilla honey and was pleasantly surprised with the creaminess of it.  If I had one complaint about greek yogurt in general it would be that it can be a little stiff, a little grainy, and sometimes a little bitter (depending on the brand and flavor).  Yoplait's was one of the creamiest I've tasted.  With no fat and 12 grams of protein (double that of traditional yogurt), it's a great snack.  The vanilla honey flavor was very subtle but it was still quite tasty.  I'm eager to try the other flavors as well.

So on behalf of Yoplait and MyBlogSpark, I'm giving away a "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack, complete with 2 VIP coupons for 2 free Yoplait Greek Yogurts.  The gift pack has everything you need to relax, a bath towel wrap, slippers, loofah scrub, a wooden massager.

To enter, simply leave me a comment telling me which flavor you'd most like to try or a recipe you love that uses yogurt.  For an additional 2 entries, blog about this giveaway and be sure to link back to my site.  I will use the random generator to choose a winner on Tuesday, April 27th.  Good luck!!

Additionally, here are a few recipes utilizing yogurt that you might like to try.  Some of these I've already tried and some are on my "to try" list.

Classic Banana Bread - Cooking Light
Scones - "Tamasin's Kitchen Bible" by Tamasin Day-Lewis by way of my blog post from last week
Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting - The Pioneer Woman by way of my blog
Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas - Cooking Light and me
Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake - Judial Peach 
Fluffy Yogurt Pancakes - Big Girl's Small Kitchen

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Food Network Spinoff


I wanted to be the first to tell everyone that the Food Network will be rolling out a spinoff network on May 31st.  The new channel, called the Cooking Channel,  is supposed to be "a little grittier, a little edgier, a little hipper."  That means no Barefoot Contessa, no Sandra Lee, and definitely no Paula Deen. 

Some of the concepts seem a little out there to me - I'm not sure how much I can relate to some guys building taco vending machines - but I know I'll welcome another channel to surf when there is nothing on tv.  Of course who am I kidding, television will be a thing of the past in less than 3 months!  TV, and everything else for that matter, will be replaced by sleep, or lack thereof.  I'm looking forward to it, really I am!

For a little more info on the new channel, you can read this brief article in the New York Times.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Weekly Recipe: Beef with Broccoli

I'm sure you all know (and love) Ree by now.  If for some reason you've been living under a rock or perhaps you're just new to the blog world (bless your heart), you must check out The Pioneer Woman.  She is a great example of how to do things and how to do them right.  I would love to know what her secret has been - besides the obvious wit, charm, mad writing skills, beauty, etc.  She is a blog phenom and the rest of us are just peons compared to her - ok I'm speaking for myself but I know you would love to be able to give away 12 Kitchen Aid mixers in one day too.

Nonetheless, in addition to the attributes I listed above, she's also a great cook (and homeschool mom and rancher and wife).  One does have to tread lightly as you search through her recipes because the woman loves her some butter and grease!  I try to steer clear of the heart attack on a plate meals but every once in a while she offers something healthy.   This Beef with Broccoli recipe is one of them.  Don't let the small ingredient list deter you.  This is seriously good and it's just a bonus that it's easy.  Ree provides a much more detailed explanation of the recipe so I won't rehash that but I will at least copy it for your convenience.  I used bison flank steak and that made it super tender and oh so tasty!



Jaden's Chinese Beef with Broccoli

1 lb (500 g) top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into 1/8-in (3-mm)-thick strips
11/2 lbs (750 g) broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
BEEF MARINADE
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef
STIR-FRY SAUCE
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
1. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the Beef Marinade. Add the beef and let marinate for 10 minutes (or more) at room temperature.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Stir-fry Sauce.
3. In a wok or large sauté pan, add 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain and remove broccoli from pan.
4. Discard the water in the pan and dry the pan well. Set the pan over high heat and when hot, add the high-heat cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.
5. Pour in the Stir-fry Sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Breakfast with the horses


Something that is definitely synonymous with Kentucky are horses (and horse racing but that's another story).  The are beautifully statuesque and amazing animals - amazingly large that is.  From a distance they are beautiful creatures but up close those not-so pearly whites can be quite large.

Last year we took Colin to Keeneland to have breakfast in the Track Kitchen (a true steal if you're in the market for a huge breakfast).  After breakfast we wandered over to the stalls to see if any horses were out.  There were several and some nice trainers and/or owners offered to let Colin pet them.  He did and talked about it for months after.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  With the beautiful weather, I have a tendency to try to think of all the outdoor activities that I can to soak up the sun.  It was a brisk morning but we headed out to repeat our breakfast with the horses.  Colin talked about it the entire day before and right up until we got to see them again.  The kid has no fear because he wanted to walk right up to one and pet it.  We must have gone at a prime time because most of the horses that were out were getting bathed and no one offered to allow Colin to pet their horse.

There was one that was by a gate and we cautiously approached it.  Just as the horse revealed it's enormous chompers to bite the metal gate, a voice came from the side saying that he might nip.  Ok, that's all I need to hear, we backed off and admired the beauty from a distance.  Colin didn't really understand but the promise of seeing a little man (jockey) on a horse allowed us to move on.  We did get to see several little men and then we were able to leave without much ado.

This has become a tradition that we look forward to continuing with the next little one.  I can hardly wait for the day when one of them asks to buy one!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sweets for my sweets!

Apparently everyone loves sweets, or at least that's what Wes has noticed in terms of your comments.  Who knew he was such a diligent blog observer?  I knew he read it but I assumed that was to make sure my grammar and punctuation wasn't too embarrassing or that I didn't say something about him.  Anyway, if he is right, who am I to ignore your (obvious) requests.  I'm here to oblige with 2 tasty treats.

First are these admittedly odd cookies.  I had read some health studies on coconut oil and on a whim one day purchased some.  I think it has been sitting on my shelf for 6 months but I finally decided to use it.  This recipe was very easy and very tasty.  Now if you're not a fan of coconut, I'm not sure these are for you.  While they don't have actual threads of coconut, I can still detect the flavor from the oil.  I did feel a little better about eating these since they were missing butter but my greasy fingers reminded me there was something else in there!

Bye Bye Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Picky Palate




1 Cup softened Virgin Coconut Oil
3/4 Cup brown sugar
3/4 Cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 Cup flour
1 Cup pecans, ground
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a stand or electric mixer, cream oil and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Slowly add flour, ground pecans, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips until just combined.
2. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, until slightly golden around edges.
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Next up is one of my weaknesses.  I have a soft spot for any breakfast treats.  Scones are one of the delights that I discovered several years ago (at a local tea room) and have loved ever since.  I still haven't been able to duplicate the ones from the tea room but that doesn't stop me from trying!  I thought this recipe was interesting because of all the variations in terms of milk products.  I appreciate that because the ingredients in my fridge are never the same, especially when it comes to heavy cream and sour cream.


Scones 

Yield 12-24 (depending on how you shape them)

Ingredients:
3 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar (+ more for sprinkling)
6 Tbsp butter (freeze right before you start)
and either
2 tsp baking soda + 2 tsp cream of tartar + 1-1/4 cup buttermilk, sour milk, yogurt or sour cream (mixed together - the mixture will start to bubble and rise)
or
2 tsp baking soda + 4.5 tsp cream of tartar + 1-1/4 cup milk (full fat) (mixed together)
1/2 – 3/4 cup strawberries or other fruit or dried fruit
Directions:
Preheat oven to 425F/220C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Sift together flour, salt and sugar. Grate in butter and quickly mix in liquid until spongy. 
Lightly knead until smooth and roll to about 1/2" – 3/4" (1-2 cm) thickness. 
Cut out scones with a 2" cutter...or whatever size you want, set on prepared tray for 10 minutes.  You could freeze them at this point if you didn't want to bake them all at once.  
Lightly brush with egg/milk wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Cool for about 5 minutes on sheet pan then move to rack to cool. 



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tales of an Executive


Imagine my delight when I walked into our office to find this.  I could hardly contain my laughter.  Colin was running from the bathtub and apparently thought Wes' chair was a good hiding spot.  He looks like a top executive, huh?  Well minus the clothes that is.  This kid loves being naked!

A few other funnies from our little jokester.  Last week we were eating dinner and he asked what he was eating.  Wes told him it was quinoa (keen-wah) and Colin said, "Oh, like the boy I played with at the park."  It took me a minute but he was referring to Joaquin.  I can see where he might get confused (:

Wes now refers to Colin as a con artist and it's so true (Colin even repeats it and refers to himself as such).  Here's a perfect example.  We were eating tortilla chips and I told him he couldn't have any more.  He said, "Just one?"  I told him no, not even one.  "Can I have 2?" he asked.  Clever, that one is.  I guess I have to be more precise with my restrictions from now on.

Finally my favorite latest and greatest.  He likes to tell Wes and I daily that he "missed us today."  The best is when he tells us that first thing in the morning when we haven't even been apart.  I don't care when he says it, it melts my heart every time.  He's such a sweet boy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Weekly Recipe: Baked Chicken Cheese Enchiladas with Easy Enchilada Sauce

For years I have struggled to find an enchilada sauce that tasted authentic.  Most of them tasted good enough but it just wasn't that same restaurant taste I was used to.  When I came across this recipe several years ago on a friend's blog, I bookmarked it to try.  I finally got around to it and I'm only sorry it took me this long.  It actually comes together quickly and the end result is definitely worth the fuss.  The enchilada sauce was the closest to authentic I've ever had in my kitchen.  Plus, I had enough left over to make another Mexican dish a couple of weeks later.  The only modification I made was to cut the amount of salsa in half.  I thought we had more than we did so I had to compromise.


Baked Chicken Cheese Enchiladas with Easy Enchilada Sauce
Modified from recipes by Sara Moulton and Emeril (Food Network

2+ tablespoons olive oil (do not use extra virgin olive oil)
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chili powder
2+ cups chicken stock
10 ounces tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup prepared salsa
2 cups grated Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper
4 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced
12 to 14 soft round 6 to 8-inch flour or corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saucepan or large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil and then add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add 2 cups stock, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, place a little olive oil in a skillet and cook the tortillas on both sides to soften them a little before before rolling the enchiladas, so they do not break up later. As the sauce cooks, it will thicken and smooth out. Add salt, adjust the seasonings and add more chicken stock to thin out the sauce as needed.

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Stir in 1/2 cup of the salsa. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese. In a second bowl toss together the chicken, the corn, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and 1/2 of the scallions/green onions. Add the chicken mixture to the cheese mixture and stir to combine.

In a baking dish spread half of the enchilada sauce or enough to cover. Place about a 1/3 cup of the filling on a corn tortilla, roll up and transfer to the baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat process for remaining tortillas. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, spreading to coat all of them. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over the top. Enchiladas may be prepared up to this point 12 hours in advance. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until hot and bubbly. Enchiladas may be reheated in the oven, covered with aluminum foil. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and serve warm.
Yield: 6 to 7 servings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Your opinions please

Are you able to visualize things before actually seeing them?  I'm not.  I'm one of those people who have to see the finished product before I can tell you whether or not I'm going to like it.  There are exceptions but given the choice, I'd always choose the finished product/image over using my imagination.  As you can imagine, walking into a paint store is one of my worst nightmares.  Too many choices!

So I enlist the help of you, my lovely and much wiser readers.  I'm sure there are at least a handful of you who are good at visualizing the end result.  I've been waiting patiently but clearly Little Boy Blue's room is not going to be magically transformed by David Bromstad or Candice Olsen.  I've narrowed the field to a very light khaki or a very light blue.  The room gets LOTS of sunlight so I thought a lighter color would be best.  I want to keep it light and neutral because the cornice board fabric is pretty bold.  The bedding is a pale blue toile. There is a twin bed in there too that's going to stay and it will have the same darker KY blue that's in the curtains.

Here's the curtain fabric:

I tried to paste some of the samples I had from Benjamin Moore but I couldn't get them to cut and paste.  So what do you think?  Pale blue, light khaki, or a white?    

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wes Birthday: The Cake (Part 2)

One thing you can count on in our house around birthday time is a homemade cake.  It's generally up to the birthday boy or girl to dictate what type or provide some direction but then I usually just run with it.  Wes always wants chocolate and I always try to cleverly find a way around it since I'm not a huge fan.  This year his love of salted caramel steered me in the same direction as his cake last year but I made a few minor tweaks to make it a little less rich (why bother, I know).

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting and Chocolate Ganache
adapted Erin's Food Files


Ingredients:
CAKE:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING:
2 T. water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 T. butter
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt, kosher or sea
1/2 stick butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar


CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 oz good quality chocolate


CAKE:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
SALTED CARAMEL:
1. Combine the water, sugar, in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar is incorporated. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
2. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Do not stir from this point on, but it is important to carefully shake the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
3. CAREFULLY pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Stand away from the pan and be careful. The mixture will bubble up. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
4. Measure 1/2 cup into a glass measuring cup. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick like molasses and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
**The recipe will yield slightly more than 1/2 cup so you can reserve that for the topping of the cake.
FROSTING:
1.  Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
2.  Add in 1 cup powdered sugar and beat to combine.  Add in 1/2 cup caramel.  Add in additional cup of powdered sugar and continue adding until you reach your desired level of sweetness.
3.  Let frosting set in the refrigerator while the cake cools completely to room temperature.  
GANACHE:
1.  In a small saucepan, warm 1/2 cup heavy cream until steaming.  
2.  Remove from stove and add chocolate.  Stir until completely melted.
3.  Allow to cool 15-20 minutes.
TO ASSEMBLE CAKE:
1.  Place one cake layer on cake stand.  Top with salted caramel frosting.  Place 2nd cake on top of frosting.  Pour ganache on top and allow to drip down the sides.  Cool in fridge before topping with additional caramel, if desired.




Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Wes (Part 1)


To my sweetie, my peanut, snookums, daddy, dad, Wes.  Although he responds to just about anything, love of my life is the name I choose for him.  Wes is one of the most laid back people you'll ever meet.  He's also one of the most honest people (sometimes annoyingly so) in the world.  I guess he had big plans o f transforming the otherwise corrupt land of lawyers but thus far has been unsuccessful.  He's smart, witty, loyal, a great father, and devilishly handsome (if I do say so myself).  But enough of my smutty smut, I'm just here to wish him a Happy (belated) Birthday!  He won't mind my tardiness because he has a tendency to put things off too and therefore wouldn't possibly judge me for doing the same.

Growing up, my family always made a big deal of birthdays.  It was your special day and it was handled accordingly - think surprises, gifts, and food.  Not so for Wes.  It was just another day.  You can see how these 2 worlds of thoughts might collide.  I have taken it upon myself in the 13 years (gasp!) that I've known him to make up for the 20 years that went by without proper celebration.  He now knows and appreciates the art of surprise and even reciprocates it.  I've almost built it up to a fault though.  Last year we took a surprise trip to Boston, as in I secretly packed his bags and he thought he was going to work that morning until my mom dropped us off at the airport.  As much as I love lavish surprises, they set the bar pretty high for future celebrations.

This year we're celebrating the weekend after his birthday (this weekend) and he knows every one of the details.  I almost feel somewhat guilty or that I've failed as a planner because there are no surprises.  I realize I'm the one who enjoys them more but I feel like I'm letting him down.  I have no doubt he'll thoroughly enjoy our dinner and night away at the B&B though.

At least there's that.  I was really spinning my wheels when Colin asked the night before Wes' birthday what a birthday party was.  Any descriptive I came up with did not apply.  Friends.  Do Colin and I count?  Presents.  Um, you got your running shoes a couple of weeks ago and we're going to dinner and staying at an Inn but sorry, no actual presents to unwrap.  The whole concept of a birthday party was crumbling right before my eyes.  That is until I was able to partially redeem myself.  Cake.  Check!  Finally, something I was able to deliver on (recipe to follow in a 2nd post).

Funny how the concept of birthdays changes over the years.  We go from having a party, complete with decorations, friends, presents, and cake to being thankful we made it another year!  The good part is that with our increasingly busy lives, the duration of our special day gets longer.  It's just so hard to try to get everything scheduled in one day, especially a weekday.  We refer to it as "Birthday Week" in our house and it's quickly living up to its name.  So Happy Birthday Week honey bunch!  I hope you enjoy every minute of it because you certainly deserve it!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Brusha, brusha, brusha


Today was a big day.  Today was the day I have been fearing ever since I saw Jon and Kate take their clan to the dentist for their first visit.  Most of them did well but 2 were holy terrors and I feared that would happen to us.  Biting, lips sealed, crying, kicking, screaming all were visions that danced in my head last night as I dreamt about what our first trip to the dentist would be like.

Wes and I were both there for this monumental day.  Colin was geared up and ready to go after a fun morning at Gymboree.  I met them there and quickly saw he was having fun with a little boy about half his age.  He's non-discriminate, what can I say?  At least I got that much right.  They had a miniature carousel that he rode no less than half a dozen times and a circus tent in the middle of the room.  Clearly these people have kids and know how to distract them.

When Colin's name was called, I didn't have to be fearful because he jolted for the door in eager anticipation.  He led the way and was ready to see the dentist!  The hygienist was wonderful and I later found out she has a 2-year old of her own.  He got his teeth brushed with the electric toothbrushy thing and he even laid down and let them use one of those metal scraper things to get some plaque off (I thought his bottom teeth were permanently discolored so I was very pleased.).   She told us it was time to start flossing and I hope I didn't roll my eyes because that's definitely what I was thinking.  She did it and he just lay there perfectly still.  I was proud as punch of my little guy.  Both she and the doctor complimented him on being one of the best behaved 2-year olds.  The hygienist said it's rare to have a 2-year old allow her to do so much.  I think the cool sunglasses they gave him helped a lot!


I honestly think we just picked the right age to take him.  He would not have been ready at 2 when they suggest you go.  For once, I'm glad I put it off.  He has matured so much in just the last month that I almost feel like my little baby is all grown up.  I guess I'll have another shortly to fill that void.  Until then, I'll eat up every kiss and hug from my super sweet little boy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Weekly Recipe: Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Warmer weather makes me want to spend less and less time in the kitchen and more times outdoors.  When I can find a quick and easy recipe that utilizes the grill, it's a win-win for everyone involved.  There's just something about grilled chicken that gives it so much more flavor that skillet or oven baked chicken.  This recipe for Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing certainly fits the bill for a great spring or summer dinner.  It's very light, yet quite filling.  The dressing had quite a bit of flavor and with the addition of some pickled red onions, this salad didn't lack in flavor.  I made some adjustments but kept the basics as written.  My version is posted below or you can click on the link above for the original Cooking Light version.




Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Ingredients

  • CHICKEN:
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray

  • DRESSING:
  • 2  tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3  tablespoon  extravirgin olive oil
  • 1  tsp  finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
  • 2  tsp  Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  tsp  salt
  • 1  tsp  ground cumin

  • SALAD:
  • 8  cups  mixed salad greens
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced peeled cucumber
  • 1/4  cup  thinly sliced red onion (soaked in 1/4 cup white vinegar + 2T. sugar)
  • 1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

Preparation

1. To prepare chicken, combine the first 5 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add the chicken to the bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning the bag occasionally.  Additionally, in a small bowl, combine white vinegar and sugar.  Add sliced red onions and allow to marinate in the fridge as the chicken marinates.
2. Prepare grill.
3. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Let chicken stand 10 minutes; cut across grain into 1-inch-thick slices.
4. To prepare dressing, combine oregano and next 7 ingredients (through cumin) in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
5. To prepare salad, arrange 2 cups greens, 1/4 cup cucumber, a few slices of onion, and a few cherry tomatoes on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 chicken breast. Drizzle dressing over each serving.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Hippity Hop

Easter is one of the few holidays that we migrate east to Wes' house.  Two things can be for certain every time we go,  lots of hugging and a good home cooked country meal.  This year we had the added bonus of great weather, so the kids were actually able to wear their sleeveless Easter dresses without sweaters and sandals without freezing their tookus' off.  It also made for pleasant egg hunting, as can be seen here.  I was so proud of Colin for finding 4 money eggs - he takes after his mommy with his competitive thriftiness.


Thankfully Colin took to all the aforementioned hugging and kissing and kindly obliged anyone who asked.  His 2 favorites were Wes' younger sister, Anna, and Papaw Jerry, Wes' dad.  He could not give enough hugs and kisses, as can be seen here:

And to prove I was there too, here are a few more, including one with my bump.

I've saved the best for last.  The egg hunt and Easter meal were at Wes' grandmother's house.  Please keep in mind she is 80+ years old, was born and raised in Eastern KY, and is not what I would call a social reformist.  I remind you this is Eastern KY where they are several years behind the rest of the world.  You've seen Dateline so there's no need for me to expound, you'll realize the humor in the next picture.   
Just 2 little brown boys who have been fixtures in Mamaw's yard for 20+ years.  Colin sat down in between them, completely unprompted, and proceeded to put his arms around them as if they were his long lost friends.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Comparison Shopping

One of the great things about reading and following other blogs is discovering other blogs and websites that you never would have found previously.  Of these websites, the shopping ones are, of course, my favorites.  I'm not sure it's a good thing that I've found so much eye candy but thus far I've managed to curtail the urge to splurge.

In looking at these said sites, one often discovers similarities, or shall I say knock-offs.  Enter exhibit A:

This is the Tory Burch Miller Thong that retails for $198.  Cute but I have a hard time justifying that kind of money for so little shoe!

But what if you found a close replica?  Would anyone really notice that far down on your foot?  Oh sure, a true fashionista would but in reality how many of those do you come across every day?!  Enter exhibit B:

This is LoveMyShoes.com version that retails for $18.98, only 10% of the cost of the Tory Burch sandal.

I personally think they're both cute and make me long for the days of walking on the beach or heading to the pool.  In the meantime, I'll enjoy the wonderfully delicious spring weather we're in the midst of right now!