Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cheers to Four Years!

Dear Johnathan-

Happy 4th birthday, chicken nugget.  It is so hard to believe that you are four years old today.  Wow, time really does fly.  I tried not to listen to all those people that told me to "enjoy every moment, it all goes by so fast". I didn't listen because it all sounded so cliche but between you and me, it is so true.  These past four years have just whizzed right by.   I still remember the day you were born like it was just yesterday. 

You are this sweet little mamma's boy and you're not embarrassed to say, "I love you mommy" or give me a kiss and hug for no reason other than to show me you love me.  Secretly I hope you never grow out of this stage, although I'm quite certain you will.  Your favorite song, "You Are My Sunshine", is the same song I sang to you when I was pregnant with you.  When it is just the two of us, you request me to sing this to you over and over again and it never grows old.

Your favorite things right now:  superheros, vanilla ice cream with sprinkles, your computer, and the color yellow.  You request doughnuts often (and get them rarely), you play hide and seek by just standing still and yelling "boo" (instead of actually hiding), and your favorite days are Saturdays and Sundays (because you get to "stay home all day" with mommy and daddy).

You really are the cutest thing ever (and I'm not just saying that because I'm your mommy).  You love to say, "that so silly" and "doh", just like Homer Simpson (I wonder if that reference will stick by the time you are old enough to stumble upon this).  Just yesterday in the grocery store you turned to one of the stockers and said, "Good morning to you, to you, to you", I think you made his day.

 You attract grown women like a magnet everywhere you go and for that reason, daddy likes taking you places.  You especially like taking trips to Menards with him, not because of the ladies, but because they have a playground area.  You like playing pretend and I like listening to your imagination at work.  You talk about your favorite buds, Katie and Keller, often, despite the fact that you started a new school three months ago and you don't get to see them on a daily basis anymore. You're growing up fast and I can't stop it, believe me, I tried.  You like to remind me by saying, "I'm not a baby, right?".  I like to answer you by saying, "your still momma's baby" but you like to use that against me when it comes time to get your shoes on.  All you have to do is bat those cute little eyes at me and I cave in every time.

Happy Birthday bud, may there be many many many more!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Meatless Monday

Have you heard of Meatless Mondays?  I didn't until a few weeks ago.  According to Wikipedia (that site knows everything), Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.  In this household,  we've been trying it for a few weeks now to improve our waistlines.  The boys didn't even know they were participants until tonight.  I got to say, so far so good. 

Tonight was Risotto Primavera from The Pioneer Woman.  Yes, THE Pioneer Woman. You know, the one all over the blog world, the food channels, and now in all the bookstores.  I've only been to her blog a couple of times now but if all her food is as great as this dish, I'll be back again.

OK, technically this isn't meatless since I used chicken stock, but hey this is pretty darn close and in my world "pretty darn close" is close enough.  Let me show you how to make it.  It is very simple.

Let's begin:

Dice up four cups of vegetables.  You can use any kind you like in any combination (more hidden vegetables just like my post yesterday).  This meal is great for veggies that need to be used up.  In my case I chopped up: 1 small red onion, 5 broccoli florettes,  3 whole carrots, 5 cauliflower, a handful of left over mushrooms, and 1 small yellow squash.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and saute the veggies till soft, about 5 minutes. Remove them from the pan.

Heat the pan back up and add another tablespoon of butter and another tablespoon of olive oil.  Saute 1.5 cups of arborio rice.  Let the rice get nice and toasty for a minute or two.  Then add in 1.5 cups of white wine.  Nothing fancy, something cheap.  We still had wine in the the refrigerator from the holidays so IN IT WENT, adios old wine!  Stir, stir, stir.  Once all the rice has soaked up the wine, start adding chicken stock about 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir, stir, stir.  Once all the rice has soaked up the stock, add some more.  You'll do this until you exhausted yourself the chicken stock.  This step takes about 30-35 minutes.

Once the rice is done to your liking, add in 4 oz of goat cheese.  In my house, only 3.5 oz made it to the pan (yum) and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Dump the veggies back into the pan. Mix.  Serve.

Our meal was paired with a nice spring mix salad and big glass of milk.

Oh and the smurfs joined us for dinner tonight.

Give Meatless Mondays a try yourself and come back and tell me the great recipes you made.

Till next time: "La,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la!"

Because you all should have this song stuck in your head too :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hiding Vegetables

For all you parents out there, you know exactly where this post is going, don't you?  Ha.  I swear my son was a good eater until he turned two years of age and decided he was in charge of what he would and would not eat!  So, in a never ending pursuit to find ways to sneak vegetables into his meals, I made these fantastic kale raviolis using wonton wrappers.  I found the recipe in the March 2012 issue of the Everyday Food magazine (my favorite food magazine).  Here is an online link.  

 These are so simple to make and are loaded with kale.  If you are not a huge fan of kale (or you have never tried it) this is a great recipe for you!  There really isn't a strong flavor to it, it really was just a carrier to all that yummy cheese.  Oh heaven.  These babies were topped with some marinara sauce and a nice big salad.

Speaking of carrier, we saw some real cute camels at the zoo.  The weather was great this weekend.  High around 60 degrees.  We took full advantage of the nice weather and got outside for some fresh air.  

 I caught the polar bear playing with the ball in mid air.  This bear was just as happy as we were about the great weather.  He was making quite a scene playing with that ball.  How do you like my pictures, nice right?  I got a new camera for Valentine's day and the zoo was a great place to test it out.  For some odd reason, animals seem to hold their pose longer than my three year old.  Silly boy.

I also made this great orange cashew rice  from my favorite food blog, Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  If you are having a hankering for some fried rice but want to avoid all the fat, you should really try this.  It was so delicious.  I paired it with some baked tilapia.

Here we are eating dinner.  I'm not a fish fan, can you tell?  It didn't ruin my night though.  That rice was so yummy I hid the fish inside of it and it went right down the hatch with no problems.  Lucky for me, my two boys LOVE fish so I try to keep it on the menu for them. That rice really was very delicious.

I also turned out what I think was our best dinner all week {by accident}.  I wasn't in the mood to cook and I didn't menu plan so I had to wing it.  I hate winging it because it usually ends in some failed attempt at a poorly constructed meal but this one surprised even me.   I baked some frozen chicken breasts in aluminum foil pouches along with a envelope of some Mexican Fiesta seasoning.

While the chicken was baking I made a nice creamy polenta with Parmesan cheese and some {Wisconsin} honey glazed carrots to go on the side.  When the chicken came out of the oven, I sliced it and poured it (with its juices) right over the top of a nice scoop of polenta and DINNER WAS SERVED.

I've also been busy preparing for my son's 4th birthday party.  It is coming up fast.  He is having some friends over and we're crossing our fingers we won't be in the hospital celebrating this year!  I'll give you a little clue as to this year's theme.  It is going to be a "super" fun party filled with lots of 'marvel'ous games.  More to come.