Thursday, March 7, 2013

Crockpot Shredded Beef Tacos!

This recipe could not be simpler and is SO good! I actually surprised myself! It's perfect for a working mom, or any mom, who needs to just dump the ingredients in the crockpot and go. That's how I came up with it... I had a roast for the crockpot but didn't want stew again (and I know nobody else did either!), so I looked around to see how I could change things up but I only had so many minutes to do so between getting myself and my two boys ready, making breakfasts and lunches, and having to rush out to get to work. I'm sure you know what mornings are like!
I jazzed it up with some fresh ingredients at the end, but those were all just a bonus because I had a few extra minutes in the evening to slice a tomato. Let's be honest sometimes that can be too much to ask! This would also make a super base for something like a beef enchilada casserole or something like that. I'll definitely be browsing Pinterest for some ideas along those lines!

Crockpot Shredded Beef

1 onion, sliced
1 tip roast
1 packet taco seasoning (I used a low sodium one)
1 jar salsa or picante
1 bag frozen corn, optional
1 green pepper, optional
1 pack flour tortillas

the fixins...
fresh tomato
fresh cilantro
grated cheese

Slice the onion and put it on the bottom of the crockpot. Put the roast on top of the onions. Sprinkle the roast with the taco seasoning and then pour the salsa or picante over the top. Easy Peasy! I let mine cook on low for about 8 hours. At around the 6 hour mark, I opened up the crockpot and shredded the beef so it could simmer more and get all flavory throughout. This is also when I threw in the corn and pepper. I added the frozen corn and green pepper mostly because my husband likes veggies more than he likes meat. Feel free to leave them out if you don't have them or don't want them! When it's all done it will look like this....

Scoop it out into some tortillas, add whatever deliciousness you'd like, and chow down!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip

So I've really been in the mood to eat something red velvet lately. Not in the mood for just a plain old typical red cake, I went straight to Pinterest for some ideas. I found a red velvet dip and it looked absolutely delicious but it also looked way bad for me. It had cake mix and cream cheese and butter and extra sugar (like there isn't enough in the cake mix already!) I've been trying to make better decisions lately, and let's be honest have a lot of baby way to lose, so I knew I'd feel awful if I made that and wound up eating it all myself. 
So what's a girl to do? Make my own of course and let me tell you it wound up being pretty tasty. It was super quick, super easy, and super yummy. It definitely scratched the itch and it also gave me a way to use the chocolate pita chips I had bought at the store on a whim.

Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip

1/2 box red velvet cake mix (I used Dunkin Hines  Moist Deluxe)
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 container cool whip

Mix these all together until there are no more cake mix lumps. I did it by hand, but it would probably be way easier to use a hand mixer or something. 

For Dipping:
I had Stacy's Chocolate Pita Chips and Nilla Wafers. I think I liked the Nilla Wafers better. 

It would look really pretty if presented with some mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top. 

Oh, and it will fit back into the cool whip container if you happen to eat some right away.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foodie Penpals!

In the back of my mind I have always wanted to have a penpal. I have just always thought it would be so fun! I love the idea of new and different places and new and different people. When I mentioned this to a friend, she gave me a link to The Lean Green Bean's Foodie Penpal program. I was intrigued. How could I go wrong? Not only would it be a penpal, but a Foodie one at that! So new and different places, new and different people, AND new and different food? Um, yes please. I wasn't sure if I wanted to commit right away thinking I might not have a lot of time, etc. (having had baby #2 in August), but I figured what the heck. Any reason not to do it would really just be an excuse. So I submitted my information and waited for a match.
This penpal program is really neat because you are paired with one person that you send a package to and a different person that you receive a package from. So each time you participate (which doesn't have to be every month, btw) you meet two new people! My first match was a woman from Michigan. I had fun sending a taste of Pittsburgh out to the mid-west! She even sent a cute thank you note in the mail back to me. The foodie paired with me was from Delaware. She is a super sweet college student studying dietetics... which is great because i have some baby weight to lose! We emailed a few times back and forth and then she let me know my package was on its way. I couldn't wait. Once it arrived, I was shocked! It was ginormous! I opened it up and under the tissue paper was a ridiculous amount of stuff!! On the very top was some homemade pumpkin granola- a super tasty healthy snack! She even included the recipe so I can make it again- which I plan to do! There was some crimson blossom herbal green tea, multigrain and flaxseed crackers (which my husband promptly found and paired with cheese!), fruit leathers, banana chips, wild rice mix, a can of soup for a quick lunch, healthier brownie mix, mango butter (um, yum! this will be a super new find for me), and some sea salt and caramel chocolates (which I will likely wait to indulge in when everyone else is sleeping). She even included a holiday rubber ducky and activity book for my boys. #1 was also pumped about the fruit leathers! So thoughtful!!Thank you, Lauren!!
This was such a great experience. It was a nice reminder that there are good people out there. I can't wait to sign up to participate again and see who I get paired with! I hope to keep in contact with my new foodie friends, too.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

 Pumpkin Mac n Cheese...

Yes, that's right. Pumpkin Mac n Cheese. I have been looking for more things to do with pumpkin besides make weight watcher friendly cakes and cookies. This definitely isn't weight watcher friendly in large portions, but it is oh-so-good.
Here's the recipe...

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

1 box macaroni- shape to suit your fancy (i used small rigatoni once and cavatappi once)
2T butter
2T flour
3c milk
15oz pumpkin (a small can- not pumpkin pie mix!!)
16oz cheese (any kind really, for this batch i used a bag of sharp cheddar and a bag of mild cheddar because that's what i had on hand)
black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
add-ins (meat or veggies, optional)

Make the macaroni according to box directions. I always cook it for a minute or so less so it's not mushy. The macaroni needs to maintain it's integrity especially if you bake it.
Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a sauce pot. Once it's melted, add the flour and whisk it together. Let it cook for a minute or two and then very slowly (especially at first) add the milk whisking so it doesn't get clumpy. Once all the milk is added, continue stirring until it is brought up to temperature. Once it begins to bubble, you can turn the heat down because as you add the rest of the ingredients and it thickens, it can start to spit at you which is no fun. So the mixture is now beginning to bubble and thicken. Now you can add the cheese in small batches, stirring to melt it in. Then add the black pepper and smoked paprika, if you have it. If you don't, it's still super tasty. You could also add cayenne pepper or something like that if you'd like a kick. If you think it needs any salt, now's the time to add that too. i didn't add any because i thought the cheese would add some saltiness and i don't like things overly salty. Now is also the time to add any extras you would like to put in. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge so i chunked that up and added it. You could also add veggies like carrots or corn or peas, maybe even asparagus or broccoli. I bet a little fresh ground nutmeg would be good too. Experiment. It's the funnest part of cooking! Now add the macaroni and stir to combine. Today I served it just like this- ooey-gooey and melty. Next time if I have more time I will probably try to bake it- put it in a greased 9x13 pan, add some bread crumbs and sprinkle cheese to the top and bake at 350 until the top gets brown and crispy.
Let me know if you try it, if you like it, and what you add to it!  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

terrarium fun!

tyler and i decided to make a terrarium. i got the terrarium box from my old boss, and she was excited to see how it would go... here it is! it was actually a lot of fun to hunt through the yard to find the bits of moss and plants and rocks and and sticks and such. tyler had a great time finding different varieties of moss. it was a wonderful way to teach him about how different things can be even when they look the same from far away. even i didn't realize how many different kinds of moss there are just in our own backyard! i think tyler had the most fun picking out the treasures that he wanted to put inside. we have seashells, shinybeads, and marbles.
put some rocks on the bottom of your terrarium container. then some sand. then some good soil (miracle grow would be good). then plant yourself some pretty green things! use a spray bottle to keep it moist. only spray it when there isn't any condensation left on the glass.(that's a good little 'chore' for little ones too!)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

starting kindergarten and some kid quotes to enjoy

tyler started kindergarten this week, on my 7 year wedding anniversary. i think my husband said it all when we woke up that morning, i said 'happy anniversary' and he said 'what the hell happened?' where did these 7 years go? it started with a wedding on a rainy august saturday that made the news and now we have two perfect little boys. one just getting used to air and sunlight and the tornado that is his big brother, the other who is taking tae kwon do and starting his 13 year journey of classes and friends and cafeterias and homework.
eliot and i brought tyler to school that morning and walked him into the auditorium. i am so proud that tyler was so good about it all. he is taking this all so well (new baby, new school...) he adjusted better than me! i think the only thing that kept me from crying right then and there was that i know i am going to do it all over again with my second baby boy. i'm not going to say i didn't cry, i just didn't do it in front of anyone! 
i would like to take this time to document a few quotes from tyler. there is something wonderful about the mind of a child (except when he calls me back into his bedroom, after he should already be asleep, to tell me i will need to do some exercises after the baby comes)...
*"i really do like babies, even though they are disgusting" (talking with hockey mimi, august 2012)
*"did you marry dady because he got all As and A+s?" (july 4, 2012)
*my sister: "i hate star wars" tyler: "well do you like the nauseous parts like the kissing? they have those parts" (july 2, 2012)
*"your life is awesome so don't complain about it" (to my sister, june 22, 2012)
*me: "how do i look?" t: "smaller but you're still in the shape of pregnant" (trying on clothes, june 13, 2012)
*"my dad is a nerd for books" (march, 2012)
*"you just don't remember because you're pregnant. it takes away your mind" (june 4, 2012)
*"if you obey me you'll get a flower. if you don't obey me you'll get a booger" (May 8, 2012)
*some of the more wonderful baby names (before he decided upon eliot david) Mr. Poopcrotch Harold, tyler junior james harold (he would then be tyler james harold the first), Cockroach of Doom, and Plaster Dirtyman.
*Greg: "i used to write poetry when i was a young man" t: "you did? guess what you're my favorite writer" (april 9, 2012)
*"i have a good idea. if we win it's a race if we lose it's not a race" (feb 16, 2012)
*"is batman mark twain?" (november 28, 2011)
*"peeling is my favorite thing to do in banana skills" (november 21, 2011)
*t: "mommy, is this a ninja?" me: "no, sweetie, that's mother teresa" (november 18, 2011)
*"this music is like crap going into your face" (greg playing slayer, raining blood, september 11, 2011)
*"did you guys ever have kids? you have to teach them to be quiet when you're on the phone, oh and when they're hungry you have to feed them" (teaching my sis and bro in law "how to be parents" august 8, 2011)
*question: "why did you let bugs bite you?" t: "shirts don't glue to people" (june 2, 2011)
*"i'm gonna whisper something to you... i farted on daddy (*laugh*) i told you it would make you laugh" (may 25, 2011)
*"i am too gonna do big things" (january 17, 2011)
*"buy me! buy me! i'm in a cage!" (after climbing inside laundry bin, december 1, 2010)
*"mommy!" "what?" "i love you...thanks for everything" (just closed the door for bedtime, nov 29, 2010)
*"mommy mommy...i like her" (seeing pic of me and t, july 20, 2010)
*t: "i am sick" mimi: "from what?" "jessie's feet. she made me smell them" (april 29, 2010)

the new addition: a tale of two (completely different) labors

ok i know it's been a while since i have posted. ok a while is an understatement. but in my defense, i spent the past 9 months in the bathroom. my body hates hormones! i expected it though this time around since i was just as lucky with my first pregnancy. if it says anything at all, my all-time favorite preggo book is called 'pregnancy sucks'.
on august 11th, his actual due date, eliot david was born. it was a surprise for two reasons...only 5% of babies are born on their due dates AND tyler came 10 days early (so i was prepared for maybe even having a july baby!). this labor was definitely faster and way different, just like everyone said it would be. with tyler, i had contractions from wednesday evening until we finally went to the hospital friday at lunchtime. he wasn't born until saturday at 3:10am. it was long and slow and i pushed for 3 hours! eliot on the other hand, i had on and off contractions for weeks but nothing regular. at my ob appt on the 10th at 3pm, there was still no progression. around 6pm i felt contractions enough to start writing them down. i was up all night. they came every 20 min... then 11... then finally around 5am they started at 5min apart. at 630 i called the dr and she said to come in. i guess i shouldn't have waited, but in my defense the contractions felt way different. with tyler, it felt like my whole uterus was contracting and pushing down. with eliot, they started low, moved up to my bellybutton, and then wrapped around my back- and felt like death. they were so different i wasn't even sure i was in real labor for a while! anyways, i called my mom and she came down to watch tyler until i was admitted into the hospital. by the time we left the house the contractions were 4 minutes apart. 20 minutes later by the time we got to the hospital, they were every 2 minutes. it was going so fast that while we were in the car i had my mom wake tyler up to come down right away instead of waiting. by the time we got from the parking lot to triage, they were every minute. i was already in transition! they checked me in triage and i was already 5cm. the contractions were so close together that the next one would start before the first was finished. and it was all back labor- it felt like he was pushing out of my spine. NOTHING prepared me for this... not even having gone through labor before. by the time we got to a birthing room, which was not long at all (enough time to take blood and get me the heck out of triage), i was 7cm. it was excruciating. the anesthesiologist came in minutes. (this is way different with tyler, where i spent hours in triage and just waiting and waiting for someone to feel some type of sense of urgency that i was having a baby!). the epidural helped and the guy gave me an extra something for the back labor. got scared for a minute when my bp and his heartrate dropped when i switched sides but once i switched back it was ok. 
eliot was born at 11:10am, after (to my shock and delight) 6 minutes of pushing and only 3 rounds of pushes (again with tyler it was 3 hours!). he was perfect. the next shock was his hair! there was so much and it was so long we all couldn't believe it. then came his weight. 8lb 9oz! a full 1lb 2oz heavier than t. 
tyler was the first to come in. he officially told eliot what his name was and we spent some time together before the other guests came in. we are so lucky to have such perfect little boys. 
now i'm just waiting for this compression neuropathy to work itself out without having to pay any co-pays...

brotherly love at the hospital
8/29, after his bath. can you even stand it?!