Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Random Thoughts

When I read this title, my brain automatically reads it in the voice from SNL's Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.  I have no idea why. 

Prepare yourself; my mind is a crazy place to be.

1. My friend just had a baby girl yesterday.  This is her second child and first girl.  I am so stinkin' excited for her.  Whenever someone has a baby I am transported right back to the days my girls were born.  It's such a stange combination of sadness that they're not babies anymore and pure relief that we're not back in the newborn stage again.  There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like snuggling a newborn baby.  I can't wait to get my hands on this little squishy and hear her make her little baby noises.

2. Just when I think Emma can't be any more like a two-year old, she goes and proves me wrong.  I've got to give the girl credit though.  It is an art form to make someone laugh while they are about to lose their mind with frustration.  Why do toddlers care about the craziest things?  Is it just my kid and her engineer genes?  I can't even fathom why putting one toy away before another would constitute an ever-loving fit.  Her defiance and need to control everything astounds me (and makes me a little nervous!). 

Me: Emma eat your chicken/put your blocks away/put your shoes on, please.
Emma: No, I'm going to eat my bread/put my book away/put on my jacket first.
Me: $#^*@!#&  Ok, sweetheart.

If this hits close to home for you, read this article, 10 Reasons to Love the Terrible Twos.
It's hard being two, especially when your little sister is always messing up your hard work. Notice the tear-stained face from a recently destroyed tower.  Notice the mom that got the camera to document it all.
3. Sophia has learned the word "kiss." When we say "Kiss!", she'll whip her head around and plant a big one right on our cheek/face/eye.  It is the most adorable thing in the world!  She is more mobile by the minute and I'm afraid that we're going to have to break down and put the baby gates back up.  Emma is NOT going to be pleased.  Sophia has been trying to pull herself up on everything, and we have to watch her like a hawk.  She loathes the jumper now, which makes me so sad.  It looks like we'll most likely be getting rid that last "baby" item soon!
Don't mess with my kid.  She'll bite you.

4. Someone found my blog this week by Googling "Sophia tutu raccoons."  I laughed about that for a good part of Sunday morning.

And just so you don't think my children are biting, crying disasters, I have proof that they love each other. 

Ta ta, friends!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mmm, Mmm Monday- Tortellini & Zucchini Soup

My friend Misty shared this recipe and I knew I needed to try it!  I'm a big soup fan and I love that this soup was light, full of vegetables, but still filling enough to be satisfying.

I bought all of the stuff to make it for our dinner this weekend, but then decided to make it for my sister, who just got back out of the hospital for what was (thankfully) a very short stay.  It was a dish that I could make and let them heat up whenever they wanted it.  It was really easy to throw together, which, as you know, is my driving force when deciding what to put on my menu rotation. ;)

Here's what you will need: chicken broth, onion, garlic, zucchini, carrots, tomato, rosemary, and packaged tortellini.  The recipe called for spinach and cheese, but all I found was mixed cheese.  It really could be any kind.

In a Dutch oven, or heavy stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Dice your onion and carrots and add them to the pot.  Saute until the onions are tender and slightly browned, about 6-7 minutes.  Mince your garlic and rosemary and add them to the pot.  Saute for only a minute or so. Now, the recipe doesn't call for additional seasoning, but I always season each step as I go.  It makes sense to me, but since I've been known to be a little kooky, you do whatever you want. I seasoned the onions and carrots with a little sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Add the diced zucchini; again, season enough for just the zucchini.  Add the rest of your ingredients to the pot, taste, and adjust your seasonings accordingly.  I didn't add any more salt and pepper, but if you use the low sodium broth, you may need to.  If you like to spice things up, add some red pepper flakes.  My sister's a sissy like me, so I left it as is.

I packed it up to take it over at this step, but from here, you would bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer until the tortellini is tender and the tomato begins to break down, about 8-10 minutes.  I quickly tasted the broth to test the seasonings, and it was YUMMY!  I'm definitely going to have to try this again.
There are no reviews from the Peanut Gallery, but the recipients loved it!  My sister thinks it would have been better with meat, but sometimes you need a meatless meal, in my opinion.  I sent it over with some crusty bread to complete the meal.

Thanks for the recipe Misty!

Tortellini & Zucchini Soup
Recipe adapted from Shine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 14-ounce cans chicken broth
2 medium zucchini, diced
9 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh or frozen tortellini (preferable spinach & cheese)
4 plum tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar (I didn't use this)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add carrots and onion; season with salt and pepper.  Stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, about 6-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. 

Stir in zucchini; season with salt and pepper.  Cook for just a couple of minutes.  Add in the broth, tomatoes, and tortellini.  Adjust seasonings according to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until the tortellini are plump and the tomatoes are beginning to break down, 8-10 minutes.  (If adding) Stir vinegar into the hot soup just before serving. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


We took the girls to Greekfest this evening.  We look forward to going every year (mostly for the food!).  I always see lots of former students and fellow teachers, and this year was no exception.  We went around dinnertime so we could enjoy a yummy Greek dinner.

After we ate, we watched the Greek dancers and then the crowd got a chance to get on stage and dance.  Last year, Emma walked right onto the stage and walked right back off again.  She wouldn't dance for anything.  I wasn't expecting much from her this year, but she surprised us by dancing like crazy!

She wore her little jingle wrap and shook her hips while we walked around.  When she got on the dance floor, she was ready to go!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Looking Out

Sophia has a new favorite hobby.  She likes standing on the couch and looking outside.  She tucks herself in between the cushions, hangs onto the back of the couch and will sit and stare outside for huge amounts of time (well, for a seven month old).  Today, she stood and looked for 30 minutes.  She has a better attention span than some of my third graders! ;)

I guess there must be something exciting to see out there--maybe it's the birds, the cat, the cars, or the trees.  All I know is that she is such a serious little thing.  She will focus on something and stare at it so intently.  She just likes to check stuff out.

She looks so pitiful here, with her big eyes and red, stuffy nose.  Thankfully, both girls appear to be doing much better today than they were yesterday.  I hope the healing continues!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mmm, Mmm Monday- A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I know I'm late with this week's recipe.  I caught the crud this weekend and did NOT feel like cooking a thing.  Today, I felt better and this White Chicken Chili was just what I needed.  I am SO ready for fall, and this totally hit the spot.  I got this recipe from my mother in law, and it's one of my favorites.  Andy really loves regular chili, but I'm not really a fan.  This recipe is a happy (and healthier!) medium.

What you'll need: cooked chicken, white beans (I used Great Northern Beans), chicken broth, garlic salt, diced green chilies, onion, cumin, cayenne, and cilantro, which you need to imagine is sitting on my counter. ;) 

 Just a little side note: I never cook chicken for recipes like this anymore.  It is cheaper and easier to buy a rotisserie chicken.  It's already cooked and about $3-$4 cheaper. I'm up for anything that makes my life easier!
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Add onions and garlic salt.  Cook until the onion is soft. 
Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  I made mine the night before and let it refrigerate overnight.  It makes the flavor even better.

That's it folks!  I love recipes like this.  It's filling, delicious, and easy-peasy.   I top mine with cheese, chopped cilantro, and Baked Scoops tortilla chips.

 Reviews from the Peanut Gallery
Me: 5 out of 5 stars.  Yum.  So good. Love it.  That is all.

Andy: 5 out of 5 stars.  Delicious.

Emma: She's not feeling well and she wasn't feeling it.  She ate about 5 bites, but this is the face she gave during most of the dinner. I was pretty pleased that she ate what she did!
White Chicken Chili

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 lbs cooked chicken (I used one rotisserie chicken)
3 (15 oz) cans white beans; drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth*
4 ounce can green chilies
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 medium onions; chopped (I only used one onion for my onion-phobic family)
1 tablespoon cilantro; chopped
*1 can of chicken broth is just shy of 2 cups.  I only use one can and don't drain my chilies to make up the missing liquid.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven.  Add onions and garlic salt.  Cook until the onions are soft.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  
Toppings: grated cheese, sour cream, Fritos, tortilla chips

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Sick Saturday

We had big plans this weekend, but they didn't work out at expected.  Yesterday was free teacher day at the zoo, and I had really been looking forward to taking the girls since the weather has been so nice.  Of course, I woke up feeling sick on Friday.  I have been fighting off a sinus thingy for quite a while and I finally lost the battle on Friday night.  I've been trying to stay away from the girls, because I absolutely HATE when they get sick, but staying away is nearly impossible.  The pollen level has been crazy around here lately, so I'm still hoping that it's allergies that have stopped up my sinuses. 

I think it may have turned out for the best, because both girls were super grumpy yesterday.  I don't know what the problem was, but I'm guessing teething.  Emma still hasn't cut her two-year molars and she's been chewing on her fingers and saying her mouth hurts, so I can only hope that they are coming in soon.  Sophia is going through a separation thing and Andy and can't put her down for a second. She doesn't really like her jumper anymore, which makes me so sad!

Her favorite thing to do is to crawl straight to the marble fireplace, which is a big no-no.  The base of the fireplace is level with the rest of the floor, so there's really no way to pad it and make it safe.  We have to do a lot of redirecting. Emma eventually learned to stay away from it, but I'm not so sure that Sophia will give in as easily. Every time we move her away from there, she screams bloody murder.  She's also learned that she can get everyone's attention by shrieking the highest pitch scream in the world.  It's her newest "talent." Emma doesn't think much of this new development and puts her fingers in her ears.

Sophia took a very short nap yesterday afternoon and was so tired that she ended up falling asleep at 7:00.  It was nice to have a little time to spend with just Emma.  Did you ever do that thing on someone's back that goes "Going on a treasure hunt, X marks the spot?"  Anyway, it's basically one long tickle done to a poem.  She loves for us to that to her and she has learned to do it to us.  She makes us "sing" while she does the motions on our backs.  She does a pretty good job and I wasn't complaining about being her guinea pig!

Today, we are planning on running errands and then heading to Andy's parents' house for an early birthday dinner for Andy.  I'm really hoping that I'm feeling much better and that I am able to go.

I've been the worst blogger in the world lately, but work is just crazy.  I think it's the general consensus around the building that we all feel really busy.  I know I feel like this at the beginning of the year, when it's one thing after another, but I swear, I feel even busier this year (Andy says that I say that every year).  When I have any free time, I am grading papers or planning.  Blogging has had to take a backseat.  Boo.   But here are a few pictures from LAST weekend that I never got around to posting to make up for the absence. 

We went to the park last Saturday to have a picnic and then we let Emma play in the playground for a bit.  The weather was so gorgeous and she had the best time just running around the field.

See that speck?  She's running as fast as she can.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mmm, Mmm Monday- White Bubble Up Pizza

I totally had a case of the Mondays today and forgot all about posting a recipe until my sweet friend, Amy, reminded me that I had dropped the ball. 

I found this recipe on Pinterest a couple of weeks back and just KNEW Andy would love it.  Anything that has the word "pizza" attached to its name it usually deemed safe in this house.  Unless it's broccoli pizza, in which case the hubs would divorce me for such blasphemy.

I've had bubble up pizza before, and was looking forward to this one, because, let's face it---Alfredo sauce makes everything better!

Here's what you'll need: 1 jar of Alfredo sauce, two cans of refrigerated biscuit dough, mozzarella, chicken breast, and garlic powder (or if you're garlic freaks like us, minced garlic).

Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Saute over med-high heat.  I seasoned mine with Montreal seasoning.  When the chicken is just about done, add in the minced garlic (if you like lots of garlic) and saute for an additional minute or so. Or buy a rotisserie chicken and skip this step altogether!

While the chicken is cooking, pour the Alfredo sauce into a medium bowl.  Cut the biscuits into quarters and drop them into the Alfredo sauce.  If you are using garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, add it now. Stir and make sure each biscuit is coated with sauce.

Add the chicken and 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese to the biscuit mixture.  Stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 pan and top with the other half of the cheese.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, or until the biscuits are completely done.  

 Reviews from The Peanut Gallery

Me: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  I thought this was a bit on the salty side.  The original version calls for mushrooms, which would definitely help cut the saltiness down.  Andy hates mushrooms, but he may just have to pick them out the next time I make this.

Andy: 5 out of 5 stars.  He was perfectly happy with the salt amount and even topped his with Parmesan.  He wants me to make this every day.

Emma: Normally, Emma won't touch meat, but will eat pasta and bread all day if we let her.  Of course, she ate all the chicken and wouldn't touch the biscuits. Go figure.

White Bubble Up Pizza

2 cans (12 oz) golden layer buttermilk biscuits
1 (15 oz) jar Alfredo sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups chopped chicken
1 cup mushrooms (optional)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut biscuits into quarters and place in medium bowl.  Toss biscuits with Alfredo sauce and garlic powder.  Add chicken, mushrooms, and half of the cheese.  Toss until well blended.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Pour biscuit mixture into pan and top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, or until biscuits are done.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mean Muggin'

Sophia must have heard that in order to survive in the face of danger, all living things have two choices; fight or flight.  Since she can't walk yet, she's chosen the "fight" option.

In the past few days she has developed a new face to throw our way.  The ironic thing is that she makes it when she's happy.  Whatever its intention, it makes a huge impact on her big sister, who runs the other way when Sophia starts mean muggin'.  

It IS pretty intimidating.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mmm, Mmm Monday- Breakfast Cupcakes

We have pancakes every weekend.  It's become something of a tradition, and the crew comes down the stairs every Saturday to see what new pancakes I've tried.  When I saw this recipe on one of my favorite children's food websites, I knew I had to try them.  

The blogger from weelicious.com made peanut butter pancakes and wanted to experiment with the leftover batter.  She came up with these Peanut Butter Breakfast Cupcakes with Jelly Frosting.

 Cupcakes for breakfast?  Count me in.

Here's what you will need: flour, baking powder, peanut butter, egg, sugar, and salt.  Just pretend you see the salt in this lineup.

In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, sugar, and egg.  Whisk until blended.  Slowly add the milk until just incorporated.

Take the "peanut butter milk" and add it to the dry ingredients that I'm sure you have already mixed and taken a picture of, unlike me.  Whisk until just blended.

Fill your muffin tins 2/3 full and bake at 350. The directions said that the mini muffins would take 20 minutes, but my oven must run hot, because mine were done at the times shown.  Tip: spray your muffin liners with cooking spray prior to filling them.  They stuck pretty badly and we resorted to chewing on the paper liners. 
Allow them to cool completely and then frost them.  For the jelly frosting, you will need to whisk 1/2 cup of cream cheese and 1/4 cup of jelly until light and fluffy.

I upped the ante and frosted mine with Nutella. ;)
 Reviews from the Peanut Gallery

Me: 3 out of 5 stars for the ones frosted with jelly frosting, and 4 out of 5 stars for the Nutella ones. They were good, but I found the mini cupcakes to be a bit on the dry side.  The regular sized ones were good. I think I would like these as just plain pancakes.

Andy: 5 out of 5 stars.  He liked both "frostings" and thought the jelly ones tasted just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Emma: She thought it was her birthday or that I was possibly high when I presented her with a cupcake for breakfast.  Either way, she scarfed four mini cupcakes down as quickly as possible before I changed my mind.

The only one that did not like these was Sophia.  She was not happy that she could not participate in the taste test.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Jelly Frosting
Recipe from weelicious.com

1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups milk

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk peanut butter, egg, and sugar until combined, then whisk in the milk until incorporated. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined.  Line mini-muffin tins and fill 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Frost when cool.

Jelly Frosting
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup jelly

Whisk until well combined and fluffy.