Sunday, December 27, 2009

Where, oh where, have my ornaments gone?

I am pretty sure that next Christmas, I will pull out all of the Christmas bins (we have A LOT of them!), and upon opening the one labeled, "Christmas ornaments", become confused.

We put our tree away today but left up the other decorations. Yes, already...
There were two reasons for this.

First of all, we needed to make room for a new sectional that we found at a deal impossible to pass up.

Second of all, the poor tree looked terrible. It was nearly bare on the bottom half.

Every Christmas tree, for a toddler, is a learning experience.
From what I remember, with my other kids, it was pretty easy. A few, "DON'T TOUCH!" warnings and gentle hand slaps were all it took to keep them away from the tree.

Levi has been a different story.

At 20 months, my little Bam-Bam loves to throw things. The same goes for my Christmas ornaments. Every day I have to clean up an ornament that has been thrown, and smashed, onto the hearth of our fireplace.

So next year, if I blog about how frustrated I am about how all of my ornaments are missing and I can't recall why, please send a note reminding me that Levi thought we needed new ones!

PS: We had a great Christmas...and a blast with family in NY...more to come on that soon!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Christmas Miracle

I am making light with this title. I wrote it in excitement over a great deal for nursing moms that I wanted to share, but I need to give THANKS for two real miracles first:

Number one, Emily's tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy surgery (2.5 weeks ago) went very well. The recovery was extremely tough for her, but she is better and her sleep apnea seems to have vanished.

And the biggest news in our family this week was that my Uncle Russ, the man who has always been like another dad to me, had a heart attack last weekend. He needed to undergo open heart surgery two days ago, receiving a triple bypass. The surgery went well and he is healing faster than they expected. Thank you, God, for keeping Your hand on our loved ones!

Now for my shopping miracle:
Not sure how long this crazy promo is going on, but if anyone is still nursing, here's a deal on really cool nursing covers:
go to
click on "Shop Now"
pick the one you want,
enter promo code "Thankyou"
it takes $32 off, so you get a free cover, only paying $8.95 for shipping!

I did it, it works!
Spread the news!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

a few faves...

If you know me or keep up with my blog, you know that I am a meal-planning Nazi. I do it in such a way that it is freeing, not restricting. It's become quite a hobby as well as a necessity. It's what gets me going.

I love trying new recipes. I'm not one of those people that are always making the same things. My family may prefer that I did, but I need a little more excitement than that.

However, this week is different. I'm a bit busier than usual, which means that I DO have to stick to a couple of go-to meals. This week's menu includes two of my most favoritest recipes.

Here they are:

Thai Shrimp Curry with Chopped Lettuce and Basil Lime Couscous (courtesy of Rachael Ray)

*this recipe may be slightly time consuming the first time you make it (especially if you're not used to cooking Thai food), but after once or twice, you'll be able to whip it up quickly. I can have it on the table in 20 minutes.
*if you use cooked shrimp (I do), add it when you add the peas.

2 tablespoons vegetable or other light oil, eyeball it
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails removed
6 ounces, about 1/3 pound, shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1-inch ginger root, peeled and grated or finely chopped
4 scallions, chopped into 1-inch pieces, whites and greens
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons mild or hot red curry paste
2 roasted red peppers, sliced
1 cup "light" or unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups couscous
1 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce, 1/2 small head
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish

Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil over high heat. Add shrimp and toss 2 minutes then add the mushrooms, garlic, ginger, scallions, salt and pepper and cook 3 to 4 minutes more tossing constantly. Stir in curry paste, roasted red pepper and coconut milk and reduce heat to low. Simmer a few minutes then stir in peas to heat through.

In a sauce pot bring chicken stock, butter and the lime zest to a boil. Add couscous and stir. Turn off heat, cover pot and let stand. Add basil and the lime juice to the pot and fluff with a fork.

Serve couscous topped with a layer of chopped lettuce then a few ladles of red curry shrimp. Garnish with chopped peanuts.

Butternut Squash-White Bean Soup (courtesy of Cooking Light)

3 bacon slices
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons unsalted pumpkinseed kernels, toasted

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons of drippings in pan; crumble the bacon, and set aside.

Add onion, celery, and garlic to pan; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, and cloves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until squash is tender. Stir in cream, oregano, salt, black pepper, and beans; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Sprinkle each serving with bacon and pumpkinseeds.

And just for fun, I've included this recipe that I like to make with the above soup. My family doesn't think it's the same without it. And it's perfect...while the soup is simmering and cooling, you have time to whip up a batch.

Cornmeal Scones:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and egg to cornmeal mixture; stir just until moist.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Pat dough into a 7-inch circle on prepared baking sheet. Cut dough into 8 wedges, cutting into but not through dough.
Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.