Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peanut Post: Blueberry-Banana-Yogurt-Oat Smootie

Peanut & Mama have officially fallen in love with smoothies lately.  They make the perfect on the go snack, are easy to pack for road trips and easy to feed in the car/at a restaurant/while getting groceries/etc.  With the help of my handing reusable pouches, I'm having a great time experimenting with new flavor combinations.  Here's a yummy fruit and yogurt treat packed with nutrition.  The addition of baby oatmeal to thicken the mixture also makes it extra filling for hungry baby tummies.  This mama even added a little cinnamon for my little lady.

Blueberry-Banana-Yogurt-Oat Smoothie

- 1 ripe banana
- 1/4 c. blueberries, frozen or fresh
- 1/2 c. yogurt
- baby cereal as needed to thicken
- dash of cinnamon, optional

1.  In a blender or food processor, combine banana, blueberries, and yogurt; puree until smooth.

2.  Since the puree was pretty runny, I added baby cereal to thicken the mixture to the consistency of thick applesauce (ideal for the pouches).  Add a little at a time and blend after each addition.  Add cinnamon, optional.

this is about the perfect consistency

3.  Spoon into pouches, freeze in ice cube trays, or serve immediately.  Peanut was a big fan and it filled up her little belly on our way back from Huntington last weekend to hold her over until dinner.


Guacamole Salad

Inspired by how this mama makes her guacamole, here's a salad version of one of my favorite dips!  Romaine lettuce topped with sliced tomato, onion, and avocado and drizzled with a cilantro lime dressing.  And don't forget the feta! (Which is absolutely a part of my guacamole recipe... sounds strange?  Try it next time!  You're welcome in advance...) 
Guacamole Salad

- 1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped or torn
- 1 large tomato, sliced lengthwise
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/3 c. nonfat feta cheese
- 3 T. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 c. olive oil
-1/2 t. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wow Moment

While working on taxes and budget planning for the year, I came to a huge realization.  If I made only the minimum payment on all my student loans according to their payment schedule, I would make my last student loan payment in 2030 -  just after Annalyn started college.

Let that sink in for a moment.

I would be paying off college debt until this sweet little baby, who's drowning in the tiniest bulldog sweatshirt available at the Butler Bookstore, is in college herself. 
Talk about motivation to pay a little extra each month! 

I can't decide what scares me more - thinking about being in debt for that long, or imagining my tiny Peanut all grown up and ready to leave her mama.  *sigh*

As if that's not enough to make this mama break down, less than a year ago, this little girl was drowning in the smallest Butler onesie we could find, and fit in the palm of my hand... well sort of.  The palm of my glove at least.   **double sigh**

Monday, January 28, 2013

Adventurous Eating: Bobotie (South African Meat Pie)

For me, adventurous eating isn't always about ingesting strange animals or bizarre flavor combinations.  Sometimes it's as simple as trying a dish you can't pronounce or experiencing a different type of ethnic cuisine.  I especially love it when the recipes come to me from a friend or acquaintance who has a personal connection to the dish, though that's not the case with this particular one.  Bottom line:  open mind, hungry belly, delicious recipe!

Bobotie (pronounced ba-boor-tea, according to is the national dish of South Africa.  It's a type of meat pie that incorporates curried meat, fruit, and a delicious egg-based topping.  Like many national dishes, everyone has their favorite way to make it.  It's often served with yellow rice (see recipe at the end) and a side of chutney.  This recipe was inspired by a lightened up Weight Watchers version.  Many of the recipes I looked at also include a slice or two of day old bread chopped up into the meat mixture and/or a handful or two of slivered almonds.  I decided to leave these out this time (simply because Annalyn doesn't eat nuts yet and we didn't have any bread), but might be a nice variation in the future.  It was a big hit with all three of us and we will definitely be making it again!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Bobotie (South African Meat Pie)

- cooking spray, for pan
- 1 lb. uncooked lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium apple, yellow or Granny Smith, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 c. carrots, finely chopped
- 1/2 c. raisins
- 4 bay leaves, (2 for cooking + 2 for garnish)
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1/4 c. dry red wine
- 1/2 c. mango ginger chutney
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c. low-fat milk
- 1 T. curry powder (as mild or hot as you like it)
- 1 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 1 t. chili powder
- 1/2 t. turmeric
- 1/2 t. ground cumin
- 1/4 t. ground cloves
- 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Friday, January 25, 2013

Super Simple Broccoli Cheese Soup

Looking over my last several posts, it's not hard to see what this mama likes to cook when it's chilly... soups, stews, and more soups!  With the super cold week we've been having, all I could think about was how badly I wanted a hot, creamy soup to warm me up.  Here's a super simple recipe for one of my favorite soups.  It's so easy to toss together, and with Mama's secret ingredient, it's packed full of nutrients.  Sure to be a hit with the whole family!
Super Simple Broccoli Cheese Soup


- 2 (12 oz.) bags frozen broccoli
- 1 (12 oz.) bag frozen chopped onion
- 1 (32 oz.) carton chicken stock
- 2 c. low-fat milk
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1/2 t. nutmeg
- 16 oz. Velveeta cheese (lite, if you can find it)
- 1 c. fresh or frozen spinach, optional
- 1 c. shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

**quick disclaimer:  by all means, use fresh veggies if you have them on hand or have the time to buy/wash/chop them... this mama's been working on figuring out how to pay taxes as an employer since our nanny is considered a household employee - very time consuming, super confusing, and all around not fun!  But I think I'm finally done - at least until our W-2's come and I have to do our personal taxes... *sigh*  In the meantime, there's no shame in shortcut cooking, my friends!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken & Kale Soup

Here's a special I'm going to be late for work if I don't make this in the next 15 minutes post.  The pictures are hurried, unorganized, and sporatic, but I didn't even take time to turn the lights on, so at least the natural morning lighting is really pretty!  But, never fear, Mama made it in time to open the pharmacy! (It's a good thing I have that cape.)  The life of a working mama! 

Slow Cooker Chicken & Kale Soup

- 2 c. shredded chicken, cooked
- 1 c. chopped onion
- 2 T. minced garlic
- 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
- 3 c. kale, washed and chopped
- 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 1 c. sliced carrots
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 6 c. chicken stock
- 1 t. cumin
- 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 2 t. dried tarragon
- 2-3 t. salt, to taste
- 1 t. black pepper

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Peanut Post: Pretty Painted Piggies

How precious are these tiny painted baby toes?!  Annalyn and I were having a girly moment and decided to do pedicures (sadly, I started with hers and mine has yet to be done...).   Believe it or not, this is not the first time I've painted these piggies, just the most challenging.  I painted them a couple times last spring/summer while she was sleeping and holding still.  But there is no holding still for this little lady anymore!

I think maybe the only thing cuter than these piggies are the chubby little fingers inspecting them!

Since I didn't have time to get a food post together for today, I thought I'd share this precious mother-daughter moment with you instead.  Just a reminder to savor the little things.

Happy Hump Day!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baby Product Review: Beaba Babypote - Reusable Food Pouch (Recipes included!)

Back when I bought all of my baby food making supplies, I came across this silicone reusable food pouch.  I didn't have a lot (well, any) experience with the disposable food pouches, but several friends had raved about how awesome they were for older babies and toddlers on the go, so I decided to give this reusable one a try.  Well, about a year later, we finally got to give it a shot! 
Beaba Babypote - Reusable Kids Squeeze Pouch

Monday, January 21, 2013

Family Friendly Cincinnati Style Chili

Here's a recipe that's sure to be a hit with the whole family. Chili with chocolate and cinnamon! Served on top of spaghetti. Topped with cheese. I mean seriously, what little kid (or big kid for that matter) wouldn't love this? Michael & I first had Cincinnati chili on the way back from our honeymoon. We met our friend, Jeff, in his hometown of Cincinnati at a Skyline Chili restaurant. Needless to say, we were instant fans! On our recent trip to Cincinnati, we took Annalyn to Skyline for her first "3-way" (spaghetti topped with chili and cheese). Before I could even give her a bite, she grabbed a handful of the cheese and fell in love. It may not be Skyline, but here's how Mama makes it:

Cincinnati Style Chili

- 1 lb. ground beef, browned
- 1 c. diced onion
- 2 T. minced garlic
- 1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 c. water
- 2 T. cider vinegar
- 2 T. cocoa powder
- 4 T. chili powder
- 1 1/2 t. cumin
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. black pepper
serving suggestion:
- 1 box whole wheat spaghetti
- shredded cheese
- spoon over hot dogs

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Peanut Post: 11 Month Update!

My little Annalyn, you never cease to amaze me.  With only one month til your first birthday, you are changing and learning so fast!  Every day is an adventure as you become more and more mobile, curious, and brave.  I started writing this post, then for whatever reason decided it was time to update your baby book (I was really good about it for the first 4-5 months, but the last few have been a little neglected).  So now that it's midnight and I'm pretty well caught up on your book (minus the pics), I'm finally finishing my post.  You will never have to doubt where you're obsessive nature comes from - that one's all me, kiddo.

such a lady...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mexican Beef Poblano Casserole

This layered Mexican casserole starts with a layer of poblano peppers, then taco meat with corn and black beans, and finally a green chile and cheese topping.  The result is more than worthy of the one-pot-wonder title.  Like it spicy?  Add some hot sauce and jalapeno peppers to the taco meat.  Extra mild?  Use green bell peppers in place of poblanos and mild salsa verde in place of the green chiles.  Not a fan of red meat?  Try shredded chicken or ground turkey instead of beef.  It's just so versatile!

Mexican Beef Poblano Casserole


- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 lb. ground beef (or mix it up and use shredded chicken)
- 2 poblano peppers, halved and seeded
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
- 2 T. taco seasoning (my recipe here)
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 (7 oz) can diced green chiles
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 c. shredded cheese

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Comfort Food Classic: Ham & Bean Soup

Here's a comfort food classic for leftover ham.  I found this great dried bean mixture made specifically for ham soup, so I decided to give it a shot (you can also use the dried bean mixes for bean soup).  From there, add veggies and spices of your choice and you've got a perfect way to use leftover ham.
Ham & Bean Soup

- 1/2 bag dried bean mix
- 1/2 lb. leftover ham or hambone with some ham left
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 T. minced garlic
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 t. chili powder
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1/2 t. dill weed
- 4-6 cups water (I had to add a couple more cups while simmering because it cooked down so much)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Peanut Post: When Life Gives You Lemons

Being the great parents that we are, we decided to let Annalyn try a lemon after dinner the other night.  Naturally, we assumed she'd make a funny face, want a drink of water, then be done with it.  But not our Peanut.  Oh no, this little lady thought it was awesome.  In fact, she actually screamed when we took it away from her.

first taste

loving it...
obsessing over it...
the face we expected her to make,
but is actually just from the flash

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pumpkin Monster Cookie Dough Dip

An unusual take on my pumpkin fluff dip?  Well, yes.  But a slightly healthier, safer-than-raw-egg-version of cookie dough?  Absolutely.  Today Peanut & I are celebrating that I didn't have to report for jury duty on my day off (granted, I'll probably have to go in tomorrow, but at least it's in place of work, not Peanut time).  What better way to celebrate than with cookie dough?!  Funny how girls think, isn't it?  I'm upset... I want cookie dough.  I'm excited... I want cookie dough!  We should celebrate... I want cookie dough!! Sorry, I digress...

Point being, I wanted a fun treat, but call me crazy, wasn't quite ready to feed my baby raw eggs.  Therefore, this creation was born!  Why the pumpkin you might ask?  Basically, it adds a little flavor, great texture, and some hidden nutrition in an otherwise lacking dish.  And it's better for me than butter... Now for the fun part - the MONSTER!  Giving cookies the title of monster pretty much means you can throw anything and everything into them and expect it to be delicious.  My favorites are chocolate chips, M&M's, oatmeal, and raisins.

Now that you feel like you're really getting away with something bad, here's the best part - it makes about 12 servings (about 1/2 c. each) 7 points each!  Feeling extra gutsy today?  Go ahead, eat a whole cup... it's still only 14 points.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Pumpkin Monster Cookie Dough Dip
-  1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin
- 1 (5 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
- 1 (16 oz.) container lite whipped topping, thawed
- 1 1/2 c. rolled oats
- 1/3 c. chocolate chips (I like the mini chips)
- 1/2 c. M&M's
- 1/4 c. raisins

Monday, January 14, 2013

Peanut Post: Whipped Banana Avocado Smoothie

Avocado and banana has always been a favorite combination for Annalyn.  As she's gotten older, we've added the yogurt and/or whole milk to make it even creamer.  I must confess that I occasionally steal some of this puree for myself because it's so yummy.  It's actually one of Peanut's and my favorite breakfast treats.   Here's how this mama makes it:

Whipped Banana Avocado Smoothie

- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 ripe avocadoes
- 1 small container plain or vanilla yogurt (try to use whole milk yogurt without a lot of added sugar)
- whole milk, as needed to achieve desired consistency (about 1/4 - 1/2 c.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fighting the Urge to Eat Out: Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Chicken

This recipe came from another one of my random Thai food cravings.  Eager to "make my own take out," I started scouring my pantry and fridge for ingredients and inspiration.  We were actually very pleased with the result!  It tastes very similar to my favorite Thai dish, with the added ease of a slow cooker (my latest obsession if you haven't noticed!).  I gave Annalyn some of the chicken, veggies, and rice, but because the sauce had a little kick to it, I rinsed it first (to make a super mild version, use plain diced tomatoes without the chilis).  Here's how Mama made it happen:

Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Chicken


- 1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 1/2 c. red onion
- 1/2 c. white onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 can pineapple chunks
- 1 c. sliced mushrooms
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 (14 oz.) can tomatoes with green chilis
- 1 T. grated fresh ginger
- 2 T. sugar
- 1/2 c. ketchup
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 T. cornstarch
- 3 T. cider vinegar
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 2 T. sweet chili sauce

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Peanut Post: Adorable or Kinda Gross? You decide!

I was snapping some silly pictures of Peanut & Gus when this precious moment happened.  My initial thought was "awe, how sweet" but then I pulled the picture up and it changed slightly to "eww, how gross."  I asked Michael to weigh in and he just smiled and said, "why can't it be both?"  I guess I'm too black & white sometimes to appreciate the duality in life, especially life with a baby.  At the very least, it made me smile and hopefully you did, too!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Another snow day adventure, here's a Pinterest idea brought to life.  This cinnamon twist bread was a delicious and fairly simple morning treat.  It looks fancy, but the technique is pretty basic (although mine was a little sloppy because we were so hungry!).  I used the same dough as I used for this braided fruit pastry, since I had all the ingredients on hand and it's a quick no-rise recipe.  The result was warm, cinnamony goodness!  The only thing I think I'll add next time is a light glaze.  That is, of course, assuming I can keep from digging into it the minute it comes out of the oven!

Cinnamon Twist Bread


- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast (one of the small packets)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 stick butter or margarine
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 - 3 T. cinnamon

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Super Easy Nutella Banana Ice Cream - 3 Ingredients & a Blender!

Here is another recipe curtesy of my BFF, Shawna.  I just don't know what I'd do without this lady!  This recipe is so easy with only 3 ingredients and a blender required.  It blends up so creamy and smooth, you will just die at the first taste.  Michael had his doubts, but even he loved it!  It's only 7 pts per serving (makes 8 big servings, would be less points if you just have a single scoop like I did... if it helps, it's about 55 pts for the whole batch!).

Nutella Banana Ice Cream

- 1/2 c. Nutella (Shawna actually uses 1/4 c. Nutella, 1/4 c. peanut butter)
- 2 ripe bananas (I like to look for the manager special ones that are discounted because they are so ripe)
- 1 (16 oz.) container lite whipped topping (keep the container to store the final product in)