Friday, May 31, 2013

Let the 2 Months of Jealousy Begin...

Well, Michael is officially done with teaching for the year, and today marks his first day of Summer break!  Which means this mama is super jealous.  For the next two months, he gets lots of Peanut time, sleeping in time, and a much needed break from work.  JEALOUS.  I just can't help it.  I love my profession, I love that he teaches and as an added bonus gets the entire summer to work on the garden, home projects, and for the second year in a row - spend time with our little lady.  She loves the extra Daddy time, and I love the extra family time - any time I'm off, he is, too.  I know this is great for the two of them and awesome for our family as a whole, but I'm human, and a mama, and thus, super jealous.  **sigh**  I always love our summers, but for today, I think I'm going to let myself be selfish and jealous.  Yep, I just need that.  Tomorrow I'll be excited and happy for us.  But I'll also be off for the weekend... today I'm working a 13.  Words of encouragement appreciated... or you can just scold me for being envious of such an important daddy-daughter relationship.  Either way, your call :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fun with Crepes

Although she gave me the recipe months ago, I just now learned how to make Brittany's crepes.  Something about them scared me, and I felt awful for not trying them before now (especially considering how much I love crepes).  Basically, she marched over here and made me learn how to make them, then laughed as I hogged the fun of cooking/flipping them.  It wasn't super quick, but it was a whole lot of fun!  Plus you can always make them ahead - they keep very well in the refrigerator.  Here's how the Gluten-Free Goddess makes 'em:

Basic Dessert Crepes


- 4 eggs
- 2 and 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cups flour (ours was gluten free!)
- 1/4 cup butter (melted)
- 1 t. salt
- cooking spray for the pan
- toppings:  whatever you choose!  We tried jam/chocolate chips, bananas foster (bananas, brown sugar, butter), peanut butter/chocolate, and cinnamon roll (brown sugar, cinnamon, cream cheese icing), but the possibilities are endless!  I also really like savory crepes with spinach, mushrooms, and cheese.  Be creative and have fun!

ingredients + some toppings

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This is my absolute favorite pie recipe!  Once again, from my Betty Crocker cookbook.  Everyone I've made this for as practically begged me to make it again.  This time, it was in honor of Dan & Shawna's anniversary (this is also my BFF's favorite pie).  It's so easy, and with just a few ingredients, not hard to have on hand.  When Grandpa Eddie used to give me rhubarb each year, I would wash/chop it, and freeze in "pie-sized" portions, so I always had it ready to go.

In case you are one of several people I've met lately who has no idea what rhubarb is, it's that "red celery" looking stuff, found in most grocery stores' produce and/or freezer department.  It has a wonderful tart flavor that perfectly compliments strawberry.  Random pharmacist fact:  rhubarb is high in iodine, so avoid/limit if you happen to be on a low iodine diet... but "who eats rhubarb?", right Melanie?  But don't worry, friends, only a few very specific conditions require a low iodine diet - unless you have been told by your doctor to do so, do not limit iodine in your diet.  Now back to the good stuff, the pie!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


- pastry for two-crust pie
- 2 c. sugar
- 2/3 c. flour
- 3 c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 stalks)
- 3 c. sliced strawberries
- 1 T. butter, if desired

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Peanut Post: Annalyn at 15 months old

Oh, little Peanut, just when I thought you couldn't get any more fun, here you go again.  Suddenly you are directing play time, requesting songs, chatting like crazy, and getting into everything.  You're developing your own little sense of humor and the smallest things (such as "por favor") crack you up.  One of Daddy and my favorites is how you love to put your training pants on your head and call it a hat.  I also can't believe how much and how fast you are learning lately - new words, signs, actions, you name it!  Plus, you are super helpful.  One of your favorite things to do is walk around the house and "clean" everything.

As for the updates, here's a few:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gluten Free Naan

One of my favorite parts of Indian cuisine is naan, an oven baked flatbread.  It has this amazing texture, is cooked until slightly blackened, and seasoned just the right amount.  Honestly, I had never even dreamed of attempting to make it, but when I invited my friend, Brittany, over for tikka masala, I decided to try my hand at it.  Not all naan is gluten free, and in fact this recipe can be made either way, but I must say, it's delicious!  The most surprising part of the whole experience was how incredibly easy it was to make.  The ingredients and directions are taken from Aarti Sequiera's recipe on  Here's how Mama makes it:

Gluten Free Naan

- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
(for gluten free naan, use 2 1/4 c. gluten free all purpose flour mix plus 1 1/4 t. xanthum gum in place of flour)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Melted butter for slathering on the finished naans
- Coarse sea salt and or seasonings for sprinkling (I used salt and garlic powder)

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Grain Risotto with Mushroom & Chicken

A twist on the traditional risotto, this recipe combines 5 whole grains, mixed wild mushrooms, chicken, and  just a hint of balsamic.  Mmmm, mmmm!  I can't decide what I love most about this recipe - healthy whole grains, amazing mix of textures/colors, rich flavors.... Need I go on?   Once again, our BFF's were gracious enough to be my guinea pigs for this new recipe.  Guests usually get the old tried and true recipes, but these guys are one of a few that get to test out the new ones!  (Which, of course, means there will be cute baby pics at the end of this post!)

5 Grain Risotto with Mushroom & Chicken


- 1/2 lb. chicken breasts, cooked and finely chopped**
- 4 T. butter (or 2 T. olive oil if you have more will power)
- 1 small onion, sliced thin
- 3 c. mixed wild mushrooms, washed and chopped
- 1/2 c. red wine
- 2 1/4 c. 5-grain mix*
- 2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) stock - use low-sodium or substitute 2 c. of stock with water or the risotto can become too salty
- 4 oz. grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/2 c. grated gouda cheese
- 1 T. balsamic reduction (or balsamic vinegar - I like to cook it down first because it's sweeter and has less of a bite)
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- fresh basil, for garnish

*5-grain mix
- 3/4 c. arborio rice (short grain white)
- 1/2 c. short grain brown rice
- 1/2  c. barley
- 1/4 c. wild rice
- 1/4 c. quinoa

**Vegetarian? Leave out the chicken - it's perfect even without it!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Here's a Pin-spired way to make delicious buffalo chicken without the greasy, fatty breading.  By using a dry ranch seasoning packet in the mix, you don't even need the high calorie dressing! Plus, it's super easy.  Toss the ingredients in a slow cooker, and you're done!  Serve this yummy chicken over rice, in a salad, as a wrap, or on a bun.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

- 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 c. buffalo sauce
- 1/4 c. chicken stock
- 1 pkg dry ranch seasoning
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large carrot (or handful of baby carrots), chopped or shredded
- 1/4 c. onion, chopped

for wraps: (7 WW pts each without the cheese)
- 8 tortilla wraps
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- lettuce
- bleu cheese crumbles or shredded cheese, optional

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Making Mama Moment: When I Grow Up... What (& Who) I Always Thought I'd Be

Since I don't have any of my food posts ready to go yet, I decided to share a little of my latest self-reflection.  Food for thought, if you will.  I've been thinking a lot about how I've gotten to where I am now, including places I never expected to be (like this blog).

When I was in grade school, I swore up and down that someday, I would be a writer.  I loved to read, journal, and write silly stories.  My fourth grade teacher used to give me picture books and ask me to write the stories to them.  Later, I used poetry as an outlet for my writing.  I always loved telling stories, and by the looks of this blog, I still do.  Ironically, now I tell a lot of my stories through pictures. Funny how things change, but stay the same.

Middle school me would have told you I wanted to be a lawyer, mostly because I loved to argue, read, and well, be right.  Though I still possess those traits, I later learned that reading law is boring excruciating and lawyers don't just sit around and argue their point until one gives up and says, "yup, you're right, you win."  (Let's be honest, smartphones settle most of those types of arguments these days anyway.)  After a day of sitting on a jury last January, I can definitely say that I have no desire to be a lawyer.

By high school, I was starting to identify my true strengths, especially in the areas of math and science.  Hence the next career on my list - accounting.  Being an accountant seemed like a good enough career choice.  All of the accountants I knew were smart, logically minded people who worked the typical 8am-4pm M-F schedule (jealous!).  But somewhere along the line, I had a chemistry/physics teacher who urged me to look into pharmacy.  In her words (as remembered about a decade later and paraphrased) were "It's a lot of memorization and chemistry, but you'll be fine.  It's a great career for women because you can always go part-time someday while raising a family."  It's funny looking back how even then, when I used to say, "Oh, I'll probably have one, maybe two kids..." that mattered to me.  I wanted to be home with them like my mom was for us.  I knew I wouldn't stay home full time, but the thought of having more time with them seemed to appeal to me, even if it was down a ways on my pro/con list, it was always a pro.  So that settled it, by age 17, I decided - I'm going to be a pharmacist.

Now, obviously I had no idea how many different areas of pharmacy existed, or what the next 10 years would hold for me.  But, I imagined myself managing a pharmacy, working like crazy, wearing pant suits and white lab coats, and carringing a brief case... because that's what important people do.  I assumed there would be a family in there somewhere, but it wasn't the center of my world then.  Funny how much our priorities can change in a decade.  Looking back, I would love to tell myself what was coming.  Not just in my professional life, but things like:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mamas out there!  I hope you get all the love and pampering you deserve.  Being a mama is hard work, and it's nice to be able to take the cape off once and a while to celebrate all that we do each and every day. 

The little and big loves of my life gave me this adorable card and charm bracelet before work today (yep, two years in a row of working on Mother's Day... at least it's only 6 hours!).  I can't decide which I love more - the card is the outline of Annalyn's hand making the ASL sign for "I love you" (I've been taking an ASL class and teaching Annalyn and Michael some as I go) and the bracelet has an assortment of charms celebrating motherhood, including mother/daughter heart charms.  Both are so representative of the last year and celebrate some of my favorite things.  I'm one lucky mama!

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Nutella Silk Pie

Here's is a traditional French silk pie made with Nutella.  So instead of silky smooth chocolate, you get silky smooth hazelnut and chocolate, topped with homemade whipped cream.  Mmmmm.  It's delicious, it's surprising, it's perfect.  I also love that it can be made ahead the night before or morning of a dinner party.  This recipe is based on Betty Crocker's Classic French Silk Pie.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Nutella Silk Pie

- pastry for one-crust pie (I use refrigerated)
- 1 c. sugar
- 3/4 c. butter, softened
- 1 1/2 t. vanilla
- 1/2 c. Nutella
- 3/4 c. fat-free cholesterol-free egg product
- 1 c. heavy whipping cream
- 2 T. powdered sugar
- 1 t. vanilla
- mini chocolate chips or chocolate curls, for garnish

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Michael's Limoncello Cream Cake

Every year for Michael's birthday, he comes up with some crazy elaborate, delicious, ridiculously rich, and usually involving chocolate/peanut butter monstrosity of a cake request. Yikes, that was a crazy run-on description!  For a few years, I'm pretty sure he and his brother, Josh, were in a competition to see who could get the best, most decadent cake out of me.  So when he requested an Italian cream type cake this year, I was a bit surprised (and honestly excited).  I decided to make a limoncello cream cake using his homemade limoncello (we are currently working on a post for this, too!).  Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur made by infusing alcohol with lemon zest, then adding simple syrup.  It's traditionally served very cold (stored in freezer) and sipped in small amounts as a pallet cleanser.   But back to the cake....

I started looking for inspiration, searching for lemon cream cake recipes similar to those at some of our favorite restaurants.  A few days into my search, I came across this recipe which is based on several other recipes... we all get inspiration from somewhere, right?  It was the closest thing to what I wanted, and with a few minor additions/changes, it was perfect for my Michael.  The only real changes I made were using limoncello in both the lemon curd, and in place of the lemon simple syrup, as well as adding a layer of limoncello soaked lady fingers to the center of the cake.  The result was lovely, luscious, lemony layers (go ahead, say that 5 times fast!).  The hardest part of this cake (aside from trying to make it while Peanut 1. destroyed the house, 2. constantly asked to be picked up, 3. threw a fit because she couldn't have the microplane zester), was that it was time consuming.  Not only do the steps take awhile, but there are several times throughout the process that the curd, cake, filling, etc. just has to be chilled.  Needless to say, this will be a special ocassion cake.  As I said before, the majority of the recipe and directions are from Sara Schewe's recipe from, but here's how Mama makes it:

Limoncello Cream Cake

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Peanut Post: Prune Banana Avocado Smoothie with Oatmeal & Flax

Another yummy smoothie/puree for Peanut!  We just can't get enough of these nutritious, easy smoothies.  I love that I can make up a big batch and have her snack or breakfast covered for the whole week.  This one sneaks in all kinds of goodies:  prunes for sweetness and to promote regular bowel movements, avocado for healthy fats and smooth texture, bananas for sweetness and potassium, yogurt for calcium and creaminess, ground flax for omega-3 fatty acids that promote brain and overall development, and lastly fortified baby oatmeal for added iron.  Maybe it's the pharmacist in me that makes me write recipes according to nutrients, but I like to think it's just the mother in me.  Here's how this nutrition-conscious mama makes it:

Prune Banana Avocado Smoothie with Oatmeal & Flax

- 1 ripe banana
- 1 ripe avocado
- 5-6 dried plums (aka prunes)
- 6 oz. vanilla or plain yogurt
- 1-2 t. ground flax seed
- 1/4 c. baby oatmeal (iron fortified, for extra nutrition!)
- 1/2 c. whole milk or water, plus more as needed to thin consistency

Friday, May 3, 2013

Peanut Post: Where does that light hair come from?

Where does she get that light hair? 
How do you two have a little blondie? 
We get asked these questions over and over when we're out with Annalyn. 

The answer is quite simple - our hair wasn't always this dark.  Michael was actually blond up until high school according to his family.  And in the name of full disclosure, my hair is only this dark because I have an awesome soon-to-be sister-in-law who makes it that way.  My natural hair color is almost exactly the same as Michael's (except I have some lovely natural white "highlighting" that I typically blame on pharmacy school.  Although I hear you can blame kids for that, too.)

To prove she belongs to us, here's some baby pics of Michael & I at 1 year and I think about 18-24 months old.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Not only is this one of the prettiest salads I've ever made, it's one of the tastiest!  Fresh strawberries on a bed of baby spinach, tossed with a tangy balsamic vingaigrette.  Top with some crumbled gorgonzola and sliced almonds for a perfect spring salad.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

- 1 lb. fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
- 10 oz. fresh baby spinach (2 boxes, if feeding more than 2 people)
- 1/2 c. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 1/4 c. sliced or slivered almonds
for the dressing: (I usually double this and keep in a jar in the fridge)
- 1/4 c. + 2 T. balsamic vinegar
- 2 T. honey
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
Want to make this a meal?  Add some slices of grilled chicken!  Or serve alongside a juicy steak.
(serves 4)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Peanut Post: Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Equal parts of oats, milk, and yogurt give this dish is creamy, delightful texture and taste with minimal effort.  Granted, oatmeal is not an extremely labor-intensive dish to begin with, but anyone with a kid/pet/job/spouse/life will agree that an extra 15 or so minutes each morning is a huge deal.  Besides, who doesn't love waking up to breakfast already made for them?  I know this mama does!   Here's a toddler friendly version of this delicious breakfast staple:

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

basic overnight oats:
- 1/4 c. rolled oats
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt
suggested add-ins:
- 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 t. cinnamon