Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Baby's Footprint Christmas Tree {crafty MOMent}

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Just a quick note to share a cute little project we did with Ayden for Christmas...  Foot print Christmas trees!  For Halloween we dipped his little foot in white paint to make a ghost on his pumpkins, and it gave me the inspiration to do the same sort of thing for Christmas.

I got non-toxic paint at Michael's, along with a sheet of plain white cardstock.  The whole project was super easy and is an adorable addition to our holiday decor this year.  (It was also a huge hit with the grandparents!)

Please forgive the stellar iPhone photo...

You will need:
glitter glue pens
gold sharpee
picture frame

Cut the cardstock down to whatever size you'd like for your picture frame.  I then poured a bit of paint onto a paper plate and used a small paintbrush to brush the bottom of his foot with a thin layer of paint.  Carefully press that chubby little baby foot onto the cardstock (this is definitely easier with two people).  Allow the paint to dry completely.  Use the gold sharpee to draw the star at the top of the tree, and use the glitter glue pens for the ornaments.  Once everything is dry pop it into a frame and voila!  So stinkin cute.

Merry Christmas! =)


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

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I am at a loss for words; I cannot believe it is nearly the end of the year.  Where has the time gone?  I'm pretty sure it's been exactly 5 minutes since we brought Ayden home from the hospital, right??

This Christmas has been on my mind since, um, forever.  I've daydreamed of Ayden's first Christmas for months and maybe I even had a letter sent to Alaska to get stamped by the North Pole for him.  Maybe.  I know he won't remember any of the decorations, the presents or the food but these moments will be so special to reflect on later.  When he's old enough to understand a letter from Santa, he's gonna be so stoked.

What are your favorite childhood Christmas memories?  When I was growing up we had spanish food for Christmas dinner (one of the stars of the show, here.).  We listened to Manheim Steamroller and read the story of Jesus' birth, and opened all the presents from family and friends on Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning we opened all the Santa presents and stayed in our pajamas most of the day.  I think one of my favorite childhood Christmases was the year I got my roller blades and spent the entire day blading around in the kitchen and in front of the house.  I was so rad.

Thank you all so much for reading my little blog and sharing your kind words and encouragement.  I hope this holiday season is full of joy and that you are blessed in 2015.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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Gobble Gobble!!  One of my favorite holidays is just four days away, and I couldn't be more excited!  We are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I've been planning and organizing for weeks now. It's still not entirely fall-ish weather wise, but at least it isn't 90+ degrees like it was a few weeks ago!  My scarves got to make a brief appearance on a couple of early mornings, but my boots have yet to see the light of day this year.

I know it's cliche, but I've really been thinking about my many blessings recently.  We are so fortunate to live the life we live.  All too often we see horrible reports of heartbreak and chaos from around the globe, and it's easy to fall into a negative mindset.  I've made a great effort to focus on the amazing positives in my life, and every day is better for it.  I'm so grateful beyond words for my sweet little blossoming family and cannot believe I have the privilege of being Robert's wife and Ayden's momma.  I'm so thankful for my job, my friends, my extended family near and far, and for YOU, my sweet readers.  Thank you for welcoming me into your homes and lives and for being such a supportive and loving audience.  I just love ya!

One of the essential sides at Thanksgiving is the cranberry sauce.  Typically it's an afterthought that we hurriedly buy pre-made at the market, but this year is going to be different.  On a whim last night I grabbed some organic fresh cranberries and announced to Hubby "I'm making cranberry sauce!" He wasn't as enthused as I, but that's alright.  My father-in-law looooooves the cranberry sauce that my sweet sis-in-law makes, so hopefully this one gets his stamp of approval on Thursday.  :)  This recipe is very similar to hers, only with fresh cranberries and a few tweaks.

One of the best things about this is that you can make it ahead, freeze it, and thaw it the day before Turkey Day!  Woohoo!  When it comes to making Thanksgiving dinner, timing is everything, and if you can make something in advance do it. 

Here's wishing you and yours a warm and healthy Thanksgiving!  I can't wait to report back with photos from Ayden's attempts at eating turkey and stuffing.  ;)


Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Oranges
| Prep: 10 mins. | Cook: 15-20 mins. |
16 oz fresh cranberries
3/4 c water
2/3 c sugar
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 orange, small diced with rind
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 apple, unpeeled, small diced

Rinse cranberries and place in a medium saucepan.  Pour in approx 3/4 c of water (just enough to see it, but not cover the berries).  Set aside.  meanwhile, wash and dry the orange and apple.  Dice the orange, flesh and rind.  Add to the cranberries and water.  Add in sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and bring to a simmer.   Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries have burst and sauce has thickened (approx 15-20 mins or so).  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Allow sauce to cool completely.

While sauce is cooling, dice the apple.  Add to cooled cranberry sauce and stir to combine.  At this point transfer the sauce to a freezer zip top bag if you plan to freeze.  Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours prior to serving.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Individual Pear Crumbles

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For once my knack for impulse purchasing has paid off...  I was hurrying through Trader Joe's the other day while Hubby waited in the car with a not-so-happy/teething baby and for no reason at all I grabbed a couple of pears with no idea what I was going to do with them.  I like pears but I have a bad habit of buying them and then forgetting them on the fruit tray until they are too far gone.  Doh.

We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year.  Ayden's first!  Yay!  Inspiration hit me during nap time and I got to experimenting in the kitchen.  End result was not too shabby, if I say so myself!  Hubby even said I should make these for Thanksgiving dessert. :)

On another note - Happy Veteran's Day!!  Today is not about having a day off from work or school so you can prop up your slippered feet while you sip tea/coffee.  Today is about recognizing those who have selflessly given of themselves so that we may continue to know the freedom we take for granted.  While we sip our tea in our bathrobes in our comfy homes, there is a heroic soldier a world away staring down the barrel of a gun or gingerly navigating a road littered with explosives, all in the name of a stranger's freedom. I'm so very thankful for all who have and continue to serve, including my spectacular parents, who served in the US Army.  So get out there and hug a vet today!  And make them this dessert.

Individual Pear Crumbles
| Serves: 4 | Prep: 5 mins. | Bake: 30-40 mins. |
2 pears, any variety
1 c rolled oats
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c pecans, chopped
pinch of salt
1/3 c coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut pears in half lengthwise and scoop out core/seeds with a spoon, creating a little pocket for the crumble goodness.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, pecans and salt.  Pour coconut oil over mixture and stir until everything is coated.  Spoon the oat mixture into the pears and bake, covered for 30 mins.  Uncover and continue to bake for another 10 mins or so, until pears are tender and crumble mixture is slightly golden.

Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, if desired.  These baddies are just begging to be served a la mode.


Monday, November 3, 2014

{comfort food} Hearty Chicken Pozole

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Happy Fall!!

It's already NOVEMBER, guys.  When did that happen?? Time is passing at a frightening pace.  Ayden is already 8 months old (say wha?!) and I'm afraid I'll wake up tomorrow and it will be his first birthday!  I could cry just thinking about it.  He is changing so much each and every day (crawling everywhere, jabbering "Momma" and "Dad/Dada") and has blossomed into a sweet, happy boy.  He's already a complete wild man and is non-stop on the go from the minute he wakes until he closes his eyes. We love him so.

We recently took Ayden to the pumpkin patch for the very first time and though it was smack dab during his nap time (parenting fail) he rallied and had fun taking in the commotion of the hay rides and crowds.  We even took a hay ride as a family and Ayden tried to make friends with a little boy sitting next to us.  The kid was totally creeped out by the strange baby touching his shoulder.

That's Ayden's new BFF in the green t-shirt.

I have a great recipe for you today.  I've been dying to make some cozy fall food, but it has been so darn hot around here for the past couple of months that we've been sticking to summer dishes.  On Halloween Friday we finally got a tiny taste of chilly weather so I took advantage and made some Chicken Pozole for dinner.  A rainstorm blew through and gave drought-parched Southern California a good soaking (YAY!) and to be honest, I wanted to jumped around in the puddles like a little kid.  I'm totally going to stomp around in the rain with Ayden when he's big enough to get his own cutie rain boots.

Pozole is traditionally made with pork, however, it's becoming more and more common to find it made with chicken these days.  We found beautiful local produce at the market, including the most amazing bunch of organic cilantro I've ever seen.  The entire car smelled like cilantro on the way home.

This is a great make-ahead recipe and also freezes really well!  It's not overly complicated and the ingredients are easy to find.  I'm thinking this could be an awesome crock-pot recipe, too!  Served with creamy avocado and crunchy cabbage, this is a hearty meal in a bowl.  Hubby crumbled a couple unsalted tortilla chips in his, while I dunked crusty bread into mine.  Delish!

Chicken Pozole
|Serves: 4-6 | Prep: 10 mins | Cook time: 30 mins |
2 tsp coconut oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
3 cloves garic, minced
1 lb chicken breast, cubed*
2 qts. low sodium chicken broth
1- 25 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
2-3 tbsp chili powder (to taste)
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
2 bay leaves

For serving:
shredded cabbage
sliced radishes
sliced avocado
fresh cilantro
lime wedges

In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil on medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and diced tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 3-4 mins.

Pour in broth and stir to combine.  Add in chicken, hominy, chili powder, poultry seasoning, oregano, cayenne and bay leaves.  Stir to combine.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

*Chicken can also be shredded.  I find cubed is much easier/quicker.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baked Frittata with Spinach and Feta

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Let's be real.  The past 24 hours have kicked my butt.  Teething has been torturing my poor sweet boy, turning a mellow, happy baby into a fussy, sleep-fighting, overtired and cranky mess.  I'm hoping that this extra large mocha I'm gulping down so lady-like will keep me semi-functional despite being up since 3:30 a.m.. Teething bites.  Nyuk nyuk.

I've had lots and lots of yummy ideas bouncing around in my head, colliding with to-do lists and an ever-changing informal schedule of naps and feedings, but the yummy ideas have mostly been just that.  Recipes these days are simple and quick and today's can even be done one-handed while balancing a squirming 6 month old on one hip.

Frittatas are essentially Italian omelettes, loaded with various cheeses, vegetables, meats and even pasta!  Traditionally made in a skillet, and either flipped to brown both sides, or slid under the broiler, they are a great way to use up the random odds and ends that tend to accumulate over the course of a week (random tomato half, I'm lookin at you...).  In the interest of convenience, I went with baking.  I'm a sucker for a stick-it-in-the-oven-and-walk-away recipe.

This dish is great either hot out of the oven/skillet, or at room temp.  Pour yourself a mimosa, serve up some fruit and toast and it's time for brunch!  What add-ins would you put in your frittata?  I'd love to hear the combos you come up with.  Enjoy!

Frittata with Spinach and Feta
| Prep: 5 mins | Bake: 17-20 mins | Serves: 6-8 |
6 eggs
2 tbsp. milk
salt & pepper
2 handfuls spinach
2 tsp olive oil
Tomato slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a pie pan or spray with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and saute spinach until just wilted.  Set aside to cool slightly.  While the spinach wilts, beat eggs with milk.  Make sure to beat the eggs well to break up the whites.  Add cooled spinach to eggs and mix.  Pour eggs and spinach into pie pan, sprinkle with feta, and top with sliced tomato.  Bake approx. 17 minutes or until eggs are cooked through.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Breakfast "Milkshake" {and yes, it's healthy!}

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Ya know those "hungry days" that happen out of the blue?  You wake up and for some reason are ready to devour a large pizza or plate of enchiladas?  As any nursing mom will tell you, those days are quite frequent.

Weekday mornings are always pretty fast-paced for me.  I get up while A is still asleep so I can get myself ready for work before he's ready for his breakfast.  He usually wakes up at 7 and is ready for a change and a snack, then it's time for Momma to get dressed and out the door while he and Daddy snooze.

Busy mornings don't leave a lot of room for healthy breakfasts, so I try to think of ways to pack in a nutritious on-the-go snack for the morning drive to work.  I also happen to have a wicked sweet tooth.  This smoothie is perfect for busy mornings and is deceptively healthy!  Bananas and agave give it a sweet, decadent flavor, and all-natural peanut butter and greek yogurt provide a punch of protein to keep the munchies away all morning.  The addition of unsweetened cocoa powder sends this smoothie over the top, making me feel like a little kid who's been allowed to have a chocolate milkshake for breakfast.

This recipe makes about 10-12 ounces of smoothie.  Feel free to adjust to your liking.  I think next time I'll add in some oats and flax for an added boost!

Breakfast "Milkshake"
2/3 c milk (almond milk would be a fabulous substitute)
2/3 c plain greek yogurt (Fage is my favorite)
1 large ripe banana
1/2 c all-natural peanut butter
2 tsp agave (or honey), to taste
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 large ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender and whirl!  Serve with a fun stripey straw because it tastes better that way.

PS - I would love to be able to make this the night before.... Thoughts?  I feel like it will be a soupy mess if I try...  Talk to me, people.  Let's make this happen.

Happy 6 months to our sweet little muchacho!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Dusting off the ol' blog... and a little life update

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*knocks...  hears hollow echo of knock*

Queue creaky door squeak, Halloween style


*blows dust off blog...  cough cough*

*waves away cobwebs*

I know what you're thinking...  "Well, well, look who finally decided to come back to the party!"  My absence on the blog has been embarrassingly lengthy, I apologize.  I promise there's a good reason for it.

So the last time I was around these parts, posting yummy things like pizza with peaches, prosciutto and basil, I was harboring a teensy tiny little secret...

Think you know what it is?

Take a guess.....

A bun in the oven!!

Last summer we learned that our family would be increasing in size, and were over the moon!!  While making dinner one Friday evening, I decided to take a test.  All day I had just had that "feeling" that I was maybe (read: definitely, without a doubt) pregnant.  Three incredibly loooooong minutes later - a big fat positive pregnancy test!  It took me a full hour to make tacos for dinner that night, thanks to my distracted daydreaming and constantly going back to check the test to make sure it really was positive.  I think I half expected the test to change as soon as I walked away from it.

I fully planned to keep blogging and cooking my way through my pregnancy, but a little thing called morning sickness had other plans for me.  (Who decided to call it "morning" sickness, anyway??  False advertising, folks.)  So between that and me just being flat out lazy, SWAW got pushed to the back burner, so to speak, and sat collecting dust while I collected baby weight. Ahem.

And speaking of baby weight, I think it's downright cruel that pregnant women are made to stand on the scale at every OB appointment.  Like we need the weekly reminder that our cankles and our waistline are having a contest of which can expand the most?

Fast forward many months, to February of this year.  At our weekly appointment with our amazing OB, she said it was time for baby to arrive!  We were instructed to report to the hospital that night for induction, and the excitement (err - anxiety!) was palpable.  After 19 hours of labor, at 7:24 p.m. on Thursday, February 13, our sweet baby was born.  We hadn't found out the sex of the baby beforehand, and I can still hear the awe in R's voice as he announced "It's a BOY!!!"

Ayden Lucas, 6 lbs., 12 oz. of pure perfection.

Each day with our sweet boy is pure joy.  He is so amazing!  It's a wonder how love can grow and grow with the passing of each moment.  We are so in love with him and have been blessed with the best baby!  Truly, he is such a good boy.  We joke that he is such a good boy that we are afraid to have any more in the future, for fear that they will be the complete opposite.  Ha!

Being this boy's momma is such an honor, and I can't believe we were given this sweet little angel to look after.  Not only that, to see the love of my life as a father is so lovely it moves me to tears.  R is a complete natural!  So much so that I was actually jealous in the first few weeks because he took to it so easily while I felt like I was a hot mess (I was) and had no idea what to do with this tiny creature with big lungs.  Seeing my boys together ...  it's indescribable.  It is every wonderful thing one can imagine, multiplied by a thousand to the hundredth power and then some.  They complete me.

My loves on Father's Day

So, now that we've caught up a bit, I hope you can forgive my absence.  I'll have some yummy recipes to post for you soon, and I'll probably toss in some baby spam with my posts from now on.  In the mean time I'll be knee deep in diapers.

And loving every minute.

I mean, really...