Wednesday, October 26, 2011

yummy muesli recipe

I found a great recipe in this month's Food & Wine magazine and thought I'd share it with my health-savvy friends. Although the recipe is for Apple Muesli with Goji Berries, I made mine a bit different since, for starters, I don't know where to find goji berries. So here is my slightly different version of this recipe:

1 large apple, grated
1 cup rolled oats
3 tbsp flax seeds
1 & 1/4 cup coconut water
1 & 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup frozen mixed berries
3 tbsp honey

Combine all ingredients in bowl (except honey), cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, mix in honey and spoon into bowls. Garnish with granola or nuts and berries. Makes 4 servings.

Really the only thing that is different from the magazine's recipe is I subbed frozen berries for the goji berries and left out the salt and mint leaves.

Approximately 250 calories per serving, 3.7g fat, 45g carbs, 5.5g fiber, 26.7g sugar, 12.3g protein (according to recipe analyzer on

Personally, the sugar content is a bit high for my liking, but it's from good, natural sources. I probably wouldn't eat it every single day if I wanted to keep my sugar intake low.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chopped! rematch

We decided to do another "chopped" at home today. Instead of each taking entree and desert like last time, we decided to draw out of a hat for appetizer and entree. Andreas drew entree and I got appetizer. We decided that the kids could be in on the fun this time too so they got desert.

I didn't think of taking the camera out until my round was all done so no pictures of the appetizer round :(

However, here are the pics from the rest of the competition:

Andreas opening his basket of ingredients

sweet potatoes, ribs, crystallized ginger and won ton wrappers

The blur: his new superhero name

our panel of judges

his won tons were looking good with a sweet potato and leek filling

waiting for the delicious food

final result: as beautiful as it was delicious

Ginger honey glazed ribs, sweet potato balls, crisp baked won ton filled with sweet potato & leek, and a leek puree on the side.

Really really good. But he went way over the 30 minute time limit cooking the ribs. AND burned his hand during the process. Poor man.

Incidentally, for the appetizer round, my basket contained:
1) frozen hashbrowns
2) goat cheese
3) horseradish root
4) tuna in oil

I just fried up the hashbrowns. Then made a cheese sauce out of the goat cheese, milk, butter, flour and white wine. I also shredded the horseradish in. It turned out really good. I fried up an egg to put over the hashbrowns and poured the sauce over the whole thing. Unfortunately the tuna threw me for a loop so I just stuck it on the plate next to everything else and drizzled the cheese sauce and some chopped leek over it.

I guess they thought it tasted ok although there was nothing to tie the tuna together with the hasbrowns. I had 20 minutes for the app round and it went lightening fast, but I did get it all plated in time.

Still, the votes (including my own) went for Andreas' dish. It really was yummy.

the kids: ready to open their basket and see their mystery ingredients

crunchy wheat & barley

vanilla pudding mix

marachino cherries

whole grain white rice

and it's game on

Hanna was team captain so she gave everyone jobs

adding the finishing touches

end result for dessert round

I figured that they would combine the rice together with the pudding to make exactly that: a rice pudding. But they didn't. And that's ok. They ground up the wheat & barley which was pretty creative I guess. And chose to add cinnamon for flavor which was nice. All in all they did a great job and had fun in the process.

I'm already looking forward to another rematch! Next time I'll get the entree round and I have a feeling Andreas is going to have it in for me after I chose ribs for him. Oh well. I'm up for the challenge! Bring it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

pretty bear, growing kids and restaurant food

Pretty Lizzy

Today, the kids, my mom, my dog, mom's dog and I, all piled in the van and we went to PetSmart to get Tedward and Lizzard groomed. [I'm surprised our dogs know their real names because they generally get called everything but]

Almost 4 hours after dropping them off, they were done. First out was Teddy (Tedward). He was super cute. I just can't picture that dog a boy because he's just so girly. Except for the fact that he humps all my mom's stuffed animals. Then came Lizzy. She pranced out sporting some festive pumpkin bows in her hair. I have to admit, I've never really been into accessorizing my pets. Although I did used to put cabbage patch kid clothes on my cat and push her around in a baby doll carriage. But I couldn't help but melt when I saw my pretty Lizzy Bear come out all shiny clean, with her paws neatly trimmed and bows in her hair.

And she smelled like cherries.

Look at her.....awwwwww

How is this NOT cute????

She was pretty exhausted after her 4 hour beauty treatment, I've never seen her so mellow. Even in the van on the way home. She didn't try to get on my lap and lick the windshield like usual. Have you ever tried driving with a Newfie on your lap? It's probably illegal. And if it isn't, it should be.

While the dogs were busy getting defunked, we went to the dollar store, which happens to be one of my kids favorite stores. Then out to eat at Johnny Carino's where I got a plate of something sort of resembling what I ordered. Ok, not even close. And finally to the mall where I could get my growing kindergartner some pants that didn't look like capris. Can anyone tell me how to get the kid to stop growing? At least until her waist catches up? As a mom, I have discovered that it's really hard to buy for the tall and slim and the short. This almost makes me want to open up my own clothing store for kids called Tall & Short. Seriously. Why has no one thought of this??

Back to my lunch; even though it doesn't really have anything to do with my pretty dog post. I am picky about what I eat, and eating out is no exception. Today, I made up my own order since the menu didn't offer anything like what I would eat at home. I wanted whole wheat penne (just about a cup) with spicy marinara, a plain chicken breast and broccoli on the side. What I got was a GIANT bowl of penne, smothered in some sort of creamy fatty white sauce, with maybe 3 of the tiniest broccoli florets known to man mixed in, and a chicken breast thrown on top. " wanted marinara too" our waitress said and quickly brought me a small ramekin of marinara.


It was pointless. I was probably a pain for ordering something not on the menu in the first place so the last thing I wanted to do was send it back and get something spat in. I didn't eat any of the noodles or 3 broccoli florets drowning in fat. Luckily my mom was gracious enough to give me the spinach off of her plate. Which, incidentally, was delicious. Her pecan crusted chicken was superb as well. I had lunch envy.

What's the worst restaurant screw up you've ever had?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

turkey meatballs with spicy sicilian sauce

Because it's so good and I like to share, here is my very own recipe for

Turkey Meatballs with Spicy Sicilian Sauce
(tasty and super good for you!)

1 lb lean ground turkey
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 grated onion
1 large egg white
1 cup spinach leaves, chopped fine
1 tbsp almond meal
cayenne pepper
Perfect Pinch salt free garlic and herb seasoning
pinch salt
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp anchovy paste (you can omit this if you want - it's high in sodium, but I like the flavor)
12 oz can crushed tomatoes
red pepper flakes
garlic powder
onion powder
3 garlic cloves
*note - all spices are done to taste, not measured


1) in large bowl mix turkey, oats, onion, egg white, spinach, almond meal, spices & chia seeds. Form into balls. You should get about 22 meatballs.
2) heat some olive oil in a large fry pan. Brown meatballs on all sides carefully so they don't fall apart.
3) add crushed tomatoes, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, spices and garlic cloves to the pan. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes to get the flavors to blend.
Nutrition Information:
servings: 7
serving size: 3 meatballs, 1/2 cup sauce
calories: 144
total fat: 8.4
sat fat: 1.4
sodium: 285
carb: 8.3
fiber: 2.8
sugar: 3.2
protein: 15.8

Saturday, October 15, 2011

gourmet dinner at home

the table

I wanted to do something special for my husband last night since he's been working so hard and has been a little stressed lately. So I decided to cook him a meal that could rival a night out at a fancy restaurant. I kept his favorites in mind and set to work.

salad with lemon basil vinaigrette and parmesan crisp

I'm very proud of my parmesan crisp. Even though they are super easy to make, I didn't know it because I'd never made them before. But they look very delicate and elegant. Not to mention delicious.

french onion soup is another favorite

Although this soup is delicious, it's hard to hit on a good recipe. But I think I hit on a winner. I took two different recipes and sort of combined them in my own way (I do this a lot) and my husband was impressed. He told me so far my meal would rival what would be put in front of us at WF Maxwells. YES!!!


I tried my hand at a mushroom risotto. To die for! Then I went safe with the steak and grilled flank steak. Not only is it mouthwatering, it's quick and easy on the grill. Almost impossible to screw it up...unless you overcook it ;) And my carrots julienne were the perfect blend of tender but not mushy. Another successful course!

a closer look

I also made mushrooms in red wine sauce and on top of the risotto are parsnip crisps. Delicious baked shreds of sweet and salty goodness. And it adds a little dimension to my plate.


Last but not least, dessert. I chose Pots de Creme. I used Cognac and strong coffee. I didn't have any but it looked fantastic! And other than not getting a chance to get all the way set, it was a hit.

Overall, the dinner was a complete success. I accomplished what I set out to do and it made me feel great. Because even on most nights when my family thinks I can't cook because I make "healthy" food that doesn't exactly excite them, this proves that I still got it!!

Friday, October 14, 2011


My Emma has had a heartbreaking couple of days.

It started on Tuesday. After school she immediately burst into tears telling me that she had lost a barrette from her hair and couldn't find it. Her teacher talked to me before we headed home saying she was very emotional about it. They looked all over and couldn't find it. I tried my best to reassure her that it was ok and I wasn't mad, not one little bit. She has plenty of barrettes at home. Even one just like the one she lost.

We walked slowly home, hand in hand.

On Wednesday. I walked across the street to get her after school and I was a few minutes later than usual because I was waiting for my pumpkin bars to get out of the oven, but I wasn't late late. Usually I am standing by the doors waiting for her to come out, so I guess to her, I was late. Despite having big sister there at her side waiting for me, she was crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she just misses me so much when she's at school. ( heart melted)

So I gave her a piggy back ride all the way home so she could feel close to me.

Thursday, I walked her to school in the morning and she was crying again. She did NOT want to go to school. This is so uncharacteristic of Emma. She's very independent and loves school. It was heartbreaking to make her go. And after school, her teacher talked to me again. Apparently, there was an incident where a boy in class had said "BOO!" to Emma at rest time and scared her so that she started to cry, which scared the boy so he started to cry, and it led to a pretty emotional day. Which was probably due to the emotional morning. Her teacher was wondering if I knew of anything going on that might be the cause of all her tearful outbursts lately. I said I was just going to ask her the same thing. I was clueless. She said she would keep an eye out.

I carried her all the way home, her head snuggled into my neck.

So today (Friday), we spent the morning cradling Emma as she cried and begged not to have to go to school. Last night before bed, we rocked her back and forth as she cried about missing us at school and wishing she didn't have to go. Something is wrong. This is not normal. We finally got Emma to open up to us and what we found out is that there is a girl in her class that has been kicking and hitting her whenever they line up to go to lunch or music. This isn't the first time I've heard Emma talk about this girl being physical towards her. And Emma is constantly telling us about how this girl gets her "green" card taken away and replaced with a yellow or orange card (colors go from green to red; good behavior to really bad). So I already knew of this girl and that she seemed like a bit of a problem child. The issue is, Emma sits at the same table with her in class and so every time they have to line up to go anywhere, Emma is basically forced to be next to her.

And so I asked her, "Does she pick on other kids or just you?"

"just me, because I'm small" [crying]

Oh, my poor sweet baby. It's the hardest thing in the world to know that your child is being bullied in school. You literally feel helpless. I know kids will be kids, but when your child constantly kicks and hits other children, you're not doing something right as a parent. You need to put a stop to it NOW.

So I wrote her teacher a note to let her know what was going on. I said it was just one side of the story but to keep her eyes open and let me know if it happens again so we can do something about it. Moving this girl to another table so they get some separation would be my ideal solution. Maybe a little chat with her parents?

Growing up is hard. It almost makes me want to homeschool my kids and shelter them from the torment of bullies. But, eventually they would find out that the world can be a cruel place and not all people are nice. Maybe it's better they learn at an early age so as they grow they learn to ignore it and focus their attention on the good friends they have made. If you give a bully no fuel for their fire, they get bored and move on.

I think it's probably instinctual for a parent to be defensive, maybe even in disbelief at hearing their child has been the source of bullying. But don't shrug it off as nothing. Even if your child is the "sweetest thing" at home, you aren't at school with them every day. I have talked extensively to my children about bullying. They know it is NOT ok and that they need to treat others the same as they would want to be treated. Please, parents, I urge you to do the same. Our kids need to feel safe at school so they associate positive feelings with learning and being in a group setting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Lunch today

Today for lunch I ate one of my favorite quick meals: sardines

I'd like to say a word about sardines
1) When you open a can of sardines, be prepared to eat alone
[my family hates the smell and will move as far away from me as possible when I eat them]
2) Don't buy the cheaper cans
When you are comparing the price of two brands, take into consideration that it is worth paying a little more for the boneless and skinless sardines
3) They really aren't gross. Spray them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, put them on a bed of greens and squeeze fresh lemon over everything. Mmmmm.

Ok, it was more than a word.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Ok, I just have to write about this. Yesterday, my mom tells me "Did you hear on the news last night that taking all these supplements may actually lead to early death??" She says this to me because I take a number of supplements daily and I know she thinks I'm loony toons because of it.

"Well, what did it say? Why do they supposedly shorten your life?" I say supposedly because I'm not buying it.

She didn't know. She couldn't tell me. All that stuck out in her mind were supplements = death. And all the healthy eating and exercise I do every week doesn't matter apparently. I'll probably die early from supplements.

Well, of course my husband drudges up the same article on MSNBC, so I read it. It was a little funny to me because in the study, 40.something percent of people in this 20 year study who were taking a mulitvitamin died earlier than the 39.something percent of people who weren't. Is it just me or are the numbers 39 and 40 pretty close? Is that really enough to prove that taking a multivitamin every day increases your chances of dying early? And what about underlying conditions? Might the people who are taking supplements be doing so to help some kind of health condition?

I take a multivitamin to fill in any gaps in my pretty-darn-fantastic-already diet. I take a few extras also since I do weight bearing exercises and sometimes my workouts can get pretty intense. These things include: calcium, BCAAs, glutamine, chromium, glucosamine. But I also take an EFA because everyone knows that is healthful, vitamin C, and a milk thistle/dandelion combo (liver purifyer...although I probably don't need it anymore since I very rarely drink alcohol and stay clear of processed food). Oh, and 5 HTP for mood and sleep. I know that probably sounds like a lot, especially when I don't need to take any of it.  <----interesting view on the Renegade Health Show

So what do you think about this 'new' information? What do we think about any information we hear these days? For every study there is another with contradicting information, it seems. Don't eat eggs! Eat eggs! A glass of wine a day is good for you! No, even as much as one glass a day is too much!

Matt Lauer had someone on his show who did some random testing of one lot of different brands of vitamins, all price ranges, and found that one had a high dose of lead, one children's vitamin had way more of vitamin A than was necessary for a child, and some didn't contain the vitamin claiming to be in the package at all! Scary. And when it comes to price, one $3 a day brand failed compared to a nickel a day brand that passed. Not to say that all expensive vitamins would fall short but it's not always the most expensive brands that are best.

Of course, as with anything, too much of a good thing can be bad. More does not necessarily mean better. We have to research and be smart about what we are putting into our bodies. Some vitamins can be toxic in high doses, but I am guessing it would have to be a really high dose of something that builds up in the body over a long period of time. I guess I will bring my entire arsenal of supplements with me to my next appointment with my doctor, just to make sure.

I got a cape with an 'S'......

I feel lazy. And spoiled. My husband has a good job and I am one of the lucky moms who gets to stay at home with her children. And have done so for quite a number of years. Now that my children are all in school, I feel even more lazy and spoiled.

I sometimes complain when my family leaves their things laying around after I've just cleaned up or after having to clean the kitchen 3 times a day, but that's essentially what I have chosen to do. I have chosen to stay home and do everything domestic. Clean, cook, clean, raise children, clean, etc.

It gets monotonous and annoying to have to clean the same things over and over day after day. Some days it makes me crabby. Didn't I just wash clothes? How many dishes do we need to use? More dog hair!?!?! But again, it's the choice I made.

If I were a working mother, these chores wouldn't go away. I'd still have to do them. I'd just have to do them after working 8 hours. I honestly don't know how working mothers do it. I have so much respect for women who do it all at home plus have a career. So much.

The choice to stay at home with the kids was not made because I felt that leaving the kids for someone else to look after during the day was a horrible alternative. I don't think that children who grow up with a stay at home mom are any better off than children who grow up going to day care. I haven't read up on any studies or anything, that is just my own opinion. I'm sure it's beneficial for the parent and child to get to spend that time together, but there comes a point that I think it's possible to spend too much time with your child also. They get too used to having you with them 24/7 and scream when you try to leave them with other people for a short while so you can recharge.

There are parents who will boast about how they never spent a night away from their child in the 18 years they were home. Good Lord! Is that really something to brag about? I love my kids and I love being with my kids but let's face it, they aren't going to be scarred for life if I let go of them and spend a night away with my husband. You aren't a bad parent if you take some time for yourself now and then. Sure, being a parent is a full time job. But even full time jobs get vacation time.

I remember when my parents would go away for a week now and then without me. I had to stay with the neighbor. I hated it. And I would miss them terribly. But I don't think I grew up worse for wear because of it. If anything, it made me appreciate them more. Even their quirks that annoyed me when they were around.

I grew up in a household where both parents worked. My mom was a nurse and she worked "odd" hours so that when she was home, she was sleeping a lot. I remember once I made a comic and taped it to the cupboard in the kitchen that had a picture of someone lying in bed and a child next to the bed. The child said, "Mom, are you going to sleep all day?" and the mom in the bed said, "No, just 23 hours of it". And my parents thought I was crying out to them through this comic. That I didn't like the fact that my mom had to work nights and slept while I was home. While I did wish she could have been home with me more, the comic was just that...a comic. I was trying to be funny. And I was a child proud of her drawing so I taped it to the cupboard. I always felt loved and cared for enough. My parents both worked. I didn't know any other way.

I am a stay at home mom because it works for us. Everyone does what they can with what they have. I know my husband appreciates coming home to a clean house and dinner on the table when he walks through the door after a long day at work. That's why he allows me to stay home. But some days he won't walk through the door to a sparkling clean house. Some days I just have had enough. And that's when I feel lazy. Because I have no excuse other than 'I didn't feel like it' to not have made the house sparkle. I had the time, but I didn't do it. And some days I devote to running errands or cooking or doing some other thing so I legitimately don't have time to get the house in order. I don't always make the beds. I don't always pick up the toys. I might notice the desk getting dusty but don't dust it. There are a million things I could do, because I have the opportunity to do them.

I don't like when people assume I have all the free time in the world. I don't have more hours in my day. I have to plan and schedule and prioritize my daily duties, same as anyone else.

I don't know why I decided to blog about this. Maybe it's because I have so much on my "to do" lists every day and I'll be lucky to get through half of them most of the time. And maybe, today was one of those days where I didn't get much done on my list and I felt defeated by it all. I kept busy. But I didn't do it all.

I didn't feel like a supermom today. But you know what, some days, it's ok to leave the cape hanging in the closet ;)

Monday, October 10, 2011


Today, my husband and I lived out one of our fantasies. No, not that kind of fantasy (you pervert), the one where we are competitors on the Food Network show "Chopped".
We love to cook and we love watching this show. In fact, last night, we probably caught 4 episodes in a row. That is probably the most tv we've watched together all summer long! I know it's not summer anymore, but you get the point.
Anyway, we've been talking about having our own little version of chopped at home. The kids would choose the ingredients and be the judges. Today, we decided to do it. It was the perfect day: Sunday, dreary and rainy, nothing planned. Perfect.

So, since you didn't get to "tune in", here are the details from our "show"...

The competitors: Charlotte (me)
My challenger: Andreas (below)
My challenger
We meet in our own kitchen stadium for the cook off. And yes I know kitchen stadium is from Iron Chef, but we sort of incorporated Iron Chef judging rules for our competition, so I can call it kitchen stadium if I want. So there.

ROUND 1 - Entree
We skipped the appetizer and went straight for the main course

The Ingredients
chicken tenders and/or drumettes
french bread
(all chosen by our judges)

The Panel
(left to right)
Judge Eden (9)
Judge Emma (5)
Judge Hanna (13)

Let the cooking begin!

Emma's score card (since she can't read yet)

Eden and Hanna's score card. They had to rate each dish on originality, taste and presentation. 0 being the worst and 10 being the best.

And the judges are taste testing the entrees

My entree: watermelon/carrot sparkling slushy, potato chip crusted fried chicken drumettes, pear slices and garlic french baguette
The drumette was ugly on the plate, but I figured I'd win them over with fried chicken since they never get to eat it.
I knew that just putting the pear on the plate wasn't very creative but that 30 minutes goes by fast! Now I have a better respect and understanding for what it must really be like to cook something to perfection in just a half and hour, not having a clue what's inside the basket and the pressure of having $10,000 at stake. Wow.

Andreas' entree: marinated grilled chicken tenders with orzo, watermelon/pear bruschetta
His bruschetta was to die for good. The chicken was super flavorful.

On to round 2!

ROUND 2 - Dessert
The Ingredients
cheesecake flavored instant pudding mix
(all chosen by our judges)

Photography by Hanna & Eden
The finished desserts

Andreas made a mocha cheesecake pudding with a side of mocha marshmallow coffee. I liked his presentation in the bowl. It reminded me of food made to look like landscape. I don't know what kind of landscape you'd call this, but it was nice.

I made kind of a conglomeration of things. When you don't have all kinds of pretty bowls and plates and pans, it doesn't get as pretty as it could be. But that's just an excuse. I could have been more creative. Basically it was graham cracker crust on bottom. Next layer was the cheesecake pudding. Next layer was a cheesecake and chocolate chip cupcake drizzled with a coffee marshmallow sauce and crumbled bacon. And a few toasted marshmallows on top.

I took over my camera for a couple natural light shots. I'm a photographer at heart, I can't help it.

The winner of the competition was....

It was a close one though. I think Andreas probably had the entree round won and I had the dessert round won, but in the end, I just barely squeaked out the win.

What a FUN way to spend a Sunday evening with the kids! We got to enjoy doing something we all love together: cook & eat. I highly recommend it!
Next time, it's the childrens' turn to cook for us!