Friday, June 15, 2012

Cranberry Almond Granola

I'm starting to pay attention to how much we spend on groceries, and came to the realization that we spend $10 to $15 on cereal EACH WEEK. Insane, right? Hubs eats a ridiculous amount of cereal (2 huge bowls a day) and Little B has recently started eating an adult-sized bowl for breakfast several days a week. In an attempt to save a little cash, I started making my own granola. (Have you seen how much they charge for a tiny little box of organic granola?) I've made 3 different batches over the past couple weeks, and the last batch was by far my favorite. Here you go...

Cranberry Almond Granola

5 cups of oats
3/4 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. sunflower seeds (shelled)
1 c. dried cranberries
3/4 c. honey
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix oats, shredded coconut, almonds, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Combine butter and honey in a saucepan. Heat until butter is melted; stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and stir well.

Spread onto a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring well and re-spreading twice. Remove from oven and leave in pan to cool. Once cool, store in a ziptop bag or canister with lid.

You can mix this up with whatever "filler" you've got on hand - raisins, walnuts (I threw a few of those in, too), flax seeds, whatever sounds good. I'm also working on perfecting my peanut butter granola recipe; will post that soon! Enjoy!

Chicken and Sweet Potato Crock Pot Magic

As you may have gathered by now, I'm just crazy for sweet potatoes. Love them. Ditto for my slow cooker. It requires an act of God in our house to just open the damn oven - I swear my 2-year-old can sense danger from a mile away and immediately runs toward it - so the Crock Pot is a tool on which I rely heavily. At least until he learns to climb up on the kitchen counter. Which will probably happen tomorrow.

And so - 2 of my faves collide in this super yummy, SUPER easy recipe. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

3 chicken breasts
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 onion, sliced into rings
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1/8 c. orange juice
salt, pepper & cayenne pepper to taste

Place the chicken in the Crock Pot; season generously with salt and pepper. Top with the onion slices and then the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly across the sweet potatoes and then pour the OJ on top of everything. Season the sweet potatoes well with salt and pepper, and a good sprinkle of cayenne pepper. (I make mine pretty spicy, which gives a nice edge to the sweet ingredients.) Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Serves 2 and a couple kiddos.

Weeknight Date Ideas (at home!)

I was inspired by a great post I saw over at Audrey Confidential on 101 things to do with your husband. I loved the idea of doing something creative with your spouse and busting out of your date night rut. BUT, since I left my "real" job over a year ago, we're on a serious budget and, as a result, date nights have decreased in frequency. More often than not, once B is in bed, we find ourselves parked on the couch watching mediocre TV. So I felt compelled to find some creative ways to hang out with my Hubs any ol' night - no Friday night babysitter required!

1. Engage in a Wii battle. We like bowling, frisbee golf and other games that keep my booty off the couch.
2. Play darts (we have a dart board in Hubs' study) or pool, or another "bar" game you may have access to.
3. Cook dinner! Forego a family dinner and instead prepare and eat a romantic dinner after the kiddos are in bed. Bonus points if you do not eat said dinner in front of the TV. (Also, please feed the children something before you put them to bed.)
4. Toast marshmallows...In front of the fireplace or at an outdoor fire pit.
5. Re-arrange the furniture. Ask your husband for input on the layout of a particular room and then get moving!
6. Play bartender. Fix each other fancy cocktails and sip them on the porch.
7. Clean. I know, this is pretty lame and not particularly romantic, but every now and then my husband will help me clean bathrooms after B is in bed. It's so nice to have someone to chat with while you scrub!
8. Play Scrabble. Or, in our case, Words with Friends. We're too cheap to buy the real game, so we just pass my iPhone back and forth.
9. Read a couples devotion. (Disclosure: I bought a book awhile back but we haven't gotten around to using it. Honestly, I think most of them are a bit corny for our taste, but I'm sure it would be a good exercise and help us to be more mindful of keeping faith at the center of our marriage.)
10. Take a bath. Hubs usually refuses on the grounds that baths are hot and miserable, but the idea of getting naked together occasionally convinces him.
11. Play strip poker.
12. Get online and research your dream vacation.
13. BBQ. Make a meal in which every item of food is prepared on the grill, including dessert.
14. Watch your wedding video, if you have one, or look through wedding albums. I recently looked back at our guest book (which also featured hilarious photo booth shots of all our guests) and was overwhelmed with fond memories.
15. Make sushi together. Or pizza, if you're not into raw fish. (But really, it's 2012. You should probably get around to eating sushi.)
16. Do a DIY project together. Refinish a piece of furniture or actually DO one of those cute ideas you've pinned on Pinterest.
17. Have a dance party. Make your own themed playlists (think 80's music, old school hip hop, etc.) and take turns playing your tunes. Who doesn't like busting a move to the classics? I like big butts and I cannot lie...
18. Make infused vodkas together. Find some recipes online or develop your own creative flavors.
19. Find a baseball game on TV. Assign each of you a team - when your team scores, your significant other loses an item of clothing. Hope for a shut out.
20. Have a spa night. Put on white bathrobes, apply face masks and soak your feet in the tub. (If anyone actually convinces their husband to do this, please report back.)

I hope this has sparked some of your own ideas. Please share!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Casserole

I've been home with my son for a year now, and I still struggle to get dinner prepped and on the table with a little monkey running around the kitchen. More often that not, we feed Little B something quick and easy and then Hubs and I sit down for dinner in front of the TV after B is in bed. Not exactly the family dinners I dream about. So, I'm always on the lookout for make-ahead meals that I can assemble during nap time and then stick in the oven when Hubs is on his way home from work.

I came across a great recipe on the Picky Palate blog that I adapted for our family. It was delicious as written, but I made a few changes to make it a bit more healthful. Enjoy!

Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Casserole

(4) servings of brown rice, prepared according to package instructions
(2) chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
(1) 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 c. light sour cream
1/4 c. fat free plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. Verde enchilada sauce
(1) 15 oz. can of black beans, drained
1 c. shredded reduced fat cheese (like Weight Watchers Mexican cheese)

In a large bowl, combine chicken, diced tomatoes, sour cream, Greek yogurt, and enchilada sauce. Stir to combine. Spread cooked rice in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Layer black beans evenly on top of rice. Spread chicken mixture evenly over black beans, and top with cheese.

You may cook it immediately at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from fridge and bring to room temp before baking. Enjoy!

Toddler Meals: Iron-rich Meatballs

We recently found out Little B is anemic. Iron supplements wreak havoc on his digestive system (hello, constipation) so I've been making an effort to up the iron naturally in his diet. He loves meatballs, so I created this meatball recipe that tastes yummy but also is rich in iron and other nutrients. In addition to the ground beef (red meat is obviously a great source of iron), these meatballs feature spinach which provides iron and vitamin A. I love sneaking veggies into recipes! You can tweak this to use whatever your little one likes or whatever veggies you have on hand. Next time I think I'll try these with ground turkey and grated carrots.

Iron-rich Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 package frozen chopped spinach
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. worcestershire sause
1 egg
olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add spinach, reduce heat to medium, and cook until thawed and most liquid has evaporated. Place the onion-spinach mixture in a colander and press with a spatula or wooden spoon to remove remaining liquid.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, spinach mixture, oats, parmesan cheese, worcestershire sauce and egg. Mix well to combine. Using moistened hands, roll into balls and place on a greased baking pan.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so (depending on how big your meatballs are).

Let them cool and freeze in Ziploc bags. At mealtime, grab a couple meatballs out of the freezer, microwave on a plate for 45 seconds and you're ready to go!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

1st Birthday Party

I find myself amazed that we are coming up on Little B's 2nd birthday. As I started thinking about how we'll celebrate his big day (basketball theme, for sure) I thought back on his 1st birthday party a year ago. He shares his birthday with his cousin (they were born on the same day, 6 hours apart) and we had a joint party to eliminate the need for family to suffer through 2 rounds of cake-smashing and present-opening. We settled on a dog theme. Dog was B's first word, and his cousin loves them just as much.

We hosted the party in our back yard, but supplied a few water play tables to keep the kids cool. Late June in Memphis can be brutally hot, and this day was no exception. I just wish we'd accounted for the flies. We set up the cutest buffet table outside, but almost immediately had to move all the food upstairs to our screened-in porch due to the most insane amount of flies one has ever seen. Oh well. No one seemed to notice or care, especially the birthday boys! I just wish I'd gotten a picture of it before we had to tear it down - it really was cute.

Here are a few of the details from the day.

Welcome to the party!

 Family & friends hanging out in the back yard.

The presents!

The cute smash cakes: one for each birthday boy!

Can't wait to share photos from B's 2nd birthday party in a couple months! He's obsessed with basketball, and I'm working on some details that he's going to love!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm the worst blogger ever...

Actually, I'm a great blogger over at my business blog. It's this blogging-for-fun thing that I suck at. That being said, I've missed keeping up with this blog and hope to make up for my absence.

Where to begin? It's been several months since I updated ya'll and I have some big news! As I alluded to above, I have started my own business! Back in April, I quit my job to go off on my own as a marketing consultant for surgeons. Needless to say, I have been beyond busy getting my business up and running, but it has been so worth it. Best thing about being my own boss? The ability to work from home and hang out with Little B all day. I am able to maintain a career (one that I love) while also getting to be a stay at home momma.

Yeah, I miss the steady paycheck that was magically deposited into my checking account every two weeks. And I miss the 401k contributions that my company matched. But I don't miss dropping my baby boy off at daycare every morning and picking him up at dinner time - and that's just when I was in town!

My days are insane. Little B is almost 15 months now (I know - crazy, right?) and he's into EVERYTHING. When I'm not busy keeping him fed, diapered, engaged and happy I'm able to do some work, fire off some emails, etc.. At nap time I'm pretty much glued to my laptop. Occasionally I have to catch up on work after B's in bed, but I try to reserve that time to hang out with the Hubs. Housework never seems to get done - I consider it a success if I can squeeze in a load of laundry so that my kid doesn't have to run around naked because all his clothes are dirty. Fortunately, it's hot here in Memphis, so a naked baby running around isn't all that alarming. I guess now that the weather is cooling off I'll have to make B's laundry a higher priority.

Alas, despite the insanity, I've still managed to stay healthy and fit and am raising a happy, healthy little guy, too... and I have lots of fun things to share with ya'll! Stay tuned for more of the recipes, fitness tips, and fun extras that you know you love!