Sunday, October 30, 2011

Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad

The balsamic vinegar will add a brown tint to the salad, so for a more pretty presentation use white balsamic vinegar.

-1 lb whole wheat rotini, cooked al dente
-1/2 c olive oil
-1/4 c balsamic vinegar
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 large tomato, diced
-1/2 c mozzarella cheese, diced
-1/2 c basil, chopped

In medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.  Toss dressing with pasta, cheese, tomatoes, and basil.  Chill at least 2 hours prior to serving.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Caprese Baked Eggs

I made this Caprese Baked Eggs for a light lunch, but it would be a great breakfast dish also.  It was delicious!  The only thing I did differently than the recipe was I used two whole eggs, plus two egg whites to fill my dish, and then had to bake a lot longer due to the added volume.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baked Panzanella Caprese

A friend was generous to share a ton of her fresh basil with me, so you will be seeing several new recipes including basil over the next week.  Today I started with Baked Panzanella Caprese for a light lunch.  It was great!  The only thing that I changed was that I used whole wheat sandwich bread for the bread, and it worked great in my opion.  This dish is perfect for a light lunch or dinner, and I think it would make a great breakfast or brunch dish also.

1 year old

Here's what is going on with Noah this week, according to;

That major rite of passage is almost here, if it hasn't happened already — some time this month, your baby may take his first steps alone. (If he doesn't, don't worry — it takes some children several more weeks or months to start toddling.) If he's like most children, your little one will take those early strides on tiptoe with his feet turned outward. Keep the camera ready to capture the moment!

Your baby's play probably will start shifting from mastering his fine motor skills — he's got that thumb-and-forefinger grasp down pat — to exercising larger muscles. Some children this age have an attention span of two to five minutes for quiet activities, although your child's favorite games may not be all that quiet.
Your child probably thinks it's fun to push, throw, and knock everything down. He'll give you a toy as well as take one, and he likes games where he can put things in containers and dump them out again. This works well with blocks in buckets or boxes and with pots and pans, which he can nest inside one another. He'll thrill to the loud sounds of those pots and pans banging together, too.

Our little boy isn't a baby anymore.  Wow, how time flies!  This has been a great year, so much more exciting and special than we ever could have imagined.  This little boy has captured our hearts, and taught us about a completely different kind of love than we had already known.

Noah is full of laughter.  He loves to be the center of attention and will carry on with growls and other goofy noises until he has everyone in the room staring at him.  He loves to play with his toy cars and make fun car sounds as he pushes them around.  He LOVES to be outside.  He is constantly busy.  When we kneel down he runs at us and throws himself into our open arms for a great big hug.  That is about all of the cuddling and snuggling we can get out of him though, before he's on to the next thing.  He loves to sit on our laps while we read him books.  He loves dogs and cats, but doesn't understand to stroke them softly, rather than wildly bat at their heads.  He LOVES to eat, and wants to do it constantly.

We've successfully cut out the nursing before his morning nap and it was SO much easier than I expected.  Once our bodies adjust, I'll work on cutting out the nursing before his afternoon nap, and he'll be down to just two a day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Sugar Snap Peas

Sweet and Spicy Sugar Snap Peas

A local restaurant serves a delicious side dish of Thai Sugar Snap peas, but they are also swimming in butter.  This is my healthy knock off of their dish.

-1 lb sugar snap peas
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-2 tsp sesame oil
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Coat a stir-fry pan with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add garlic and sugar snap peas. Cook, stirring often, until sugar snap peas turn bright green (about 5 minutes). In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Pour sauce into the pan with the peas, and cook an additional minute. Turn off heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Noah's birthday party

We had a birthday party for Noah at Jeremy's parents house.  It was perfect!  I think that all of the adults, and kids had a great time, and the birthday boy loved it.

we had all of Noah's favorites... vegetables, cheese, fruit, pasta salad, and more
we spent the entire 2 hours outdoors, which is Noah's favorite place to be!

the backyard was set up with plenty of chairs for the adults, and tables, tunnels, a swing, and a sand box for the kiddos

Noah got to have his first dessert ever, a banana bread cup cake with cream cheese frosting

at first he was timid and just licking the icing
and then he went for it and shoved 1/2 the cup cake in his mouth

he licked up every last crumb and bit of icing... I think he liked it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad

Artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion or bell pepper, and/ or roasted red peppers would all be great in here also.  For an Italian pasta salad substitute pepperoni, salami, mozzarella, or your vegetables of choice for the spinach, feta, and zucchini. 

-1 lb whole wheat rotini, cooked to al dente
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 c olive oil
-1/2 c red wine vinegar
-2 Tbsp lemon juice
-1.5 tsp dried oregano
-1.5 tsp dried basil
-3/4 tsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 c feta cheese
-1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
-1 zucchini, diced
-1 c cherry, roma, or grape tomatoes, diced
-a few handfuls of baby spinach

Whisk together garlic- red pepper flakes.  Toss with remaining ingredients.  Allow to sit at least 4 hours (but overnight for best flavor) prior to serving.  Serve at room temperature, rather than cold straight from the fridge.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

birthday hat

I made this fun birthday hat for Noah loosely based on this tutorial, but with my addition of the pom pom on top, and I used scrapbook paper instead of fabric.  I love that it was constructed from a cereal box!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

51 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Baby not walking yet? No big deal! Sure, it's great fun to watch a baby toddle around at his birthday party, but many babies don't walk until sometime in the second year—some not until 17 or 18 months! There's not much you can do to hurry up the process; babies' physical development occurs on their timetables, not yours. Holding his arms and walking with him won’t help, unless he's the one initiating the activity. Just give your baby plenty of space and time to explore. He'll figure it out Some babies pick up some, uh, undesirable habits around now. Biting, hitting and toy throwing all are common on the toddler social scene. That's because babies lack verbal skills and self-control. Your baby doesn't know how to say to another toddler, "Excuse me, can I please play with that toy when you're done?" All your baby knows is that someone else has a neat toy—and he wants it! Now! Twelve-month old babies tend to bite, hit or throw things when they're frustrated. If the other child refuses to hand over the boy, your baby may haul off and hit (or bite) him. As horrified as you may be, try to remember that your baby's actions aren't motivated by malice. He simply doesn't have another way of expressing himself. That doesn't mean you should excuse his behavior. Help him see the results of his actions ("See? That baby is crying. He's sad because you hit him.") Apologize to the other baby and parent and encourage your child to apologize as well. (He might not be able to say "sorry," but he may hang his head or give the offended child a hug.) Expect to repeat these steps over and over and over again in the coming months. Teaching proper behavior is definitely a work in progress! Temper tantrums may also appear around this time. If your baby throws himself on the floor, screaming and kicking 'til his face turns red, when you deny his request for a cookie 10 minutes before supper, ignore him. Make sure he's safe—pull back the chair he's about to bump his head on, for instance—and keep a discrete eye on him, but refuse to interact until he calms down. When he does, give him plenty of hugs and reassurance. Tantrums are scary for little ones too! As your baby's language skills develop, the number of hitting and biting episodes (and temper tantrums!) will decrease.

Noah's 1 year birthday party is this coming weekend.  My how time flies!  I think next week will be my last weekly update on Noah, and I may change to once a month, on his actual birthday day (27th).  Now that he's about to be a toddler he won't be changing at quite as aggressive of a rate as he did as a baby, so I'm not thinking that weekly updates will be quite necessary.

Noah has been practicing giving hugs and kisses and it melts my heart!!!!

The last week he has definitely been testing his boundaries.  He has been going to the things that are "no nos" more often and testing us.  I think that behavior is mainly my fault, because I slacked off (again) in consistency of consequences, and after he figured that out he took advantage of it.  So now Jeremy and I are working hard to be consistent, and Noah seems to be responding well. (This parenting thing is hard work!).  Noah is developing a little bit of an attitude also.  Within the last week he hit me after I stopped him from grabbing some items that he wanted off of our table.  I was so shocked I didn't even respond, because I couldn't believe it just happened, and that my sweet boy's sin nature was starting to show through.  (Stinkin' Adam & Eve!).  Noah is also starting to get territorial.  In the past Luke could grab toys from him and Noah would just move on and play with something else.  But now when Luke tries to touch something Noah is playing with Noah growls at him, defending his territory.

Noah has also figured out how to take his velcro diapers off.  Twice this week I went in to get him up from a nap to find him naked from the waist down. (No, I didn't learn the first time, but now I know to put some type of good shorts over his diapers for naps).  So with future children, I think I will refrain from using the velcro cloth diapers and will stick to snaps.

I don't want all of the updates from this week to sound negative or like Noah is a bad kid.  He is still the sweetest, most fun kid that I know, of course I am biased.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Button Earrings

I made these super quick and easy earrings by covering buttons with a few fabrics and then using hot glue to attach the earring post to the back.  Quick.  Easy. Cute.  and the possibilities are endless!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

This is my friend Crystin's recipe, that I'm sure she got from somewhere else, but I try to document all of the recipes that I love here, so that I can easily find them again for future use.  I LOVE it when I find a good baked good recipe that calls for 100% whole wheat flour and still ends up moist and tasty.  I didn't use the walnuts or raisins, but I'm sure they would be great with them, or with chocolate chips or dried cranberries.

-2 c sugar
-½ c canola oil
-3 eggs
-1 ½ c pumpkin (100%, not pie mix)
-½ c water
-3 c whole wheat flour
-1 ½ t baking powder
-1 t baking soda
-1 t salt
-½ t cloves
-¾ t cinnamon
-1 t nutmeg
-1 c raisins (optional)
-1 c walnuts

1. Oven to 400.
2. In Lg bowl: mix sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water.
3. In Sm bowl: mix flour, baking powder and soda, salt and spices.
4. Add dry to wet and blend w/ mixer.
5. Add nuts/raisins.
6. Let stand 1hr at room temp. (I didn't do this and they were fine; mine might have sat 15min)
7. Grease muffin tins or line w/ paper cups.
8. Bake 15min or when toothpick comes out clean. Don't over bake- this will dry them!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

This is my favorite baked oatmeal yet!  (But I do still love my blueberry baked oatmeal and my pumpkin pie baked oatmeal).  Baked oatmeal is such a healthy, easy meal that tends to be a crowd pleaser.  We have it as a breakfast for dinner often.  The chocolate chips and nuts are optional, but that's how Jeremy and I like our banana bread so that's how I made our oatmeal.  As always, if you're not concerned with calories, a few tablespoons of melted butter stirred into the batter would add even more flavor, but it's still really good without so I don't worry about adding it.  I think my next experiment might be stirring some peanut butter in and making a peanut butter and banana baked oatmeal.  For this (and banana bread) I always use bananas that got super ripe that I stuck in the freezer and then defrosted on the counter the day I am baking with them.  I've heard it makes the texture more moist, plus it's a great way to save those over ripe bananas until you are ready to use them.

-1/2 c sugar
-1 c milk
-2 eggs
-5 mashed bananas (I mashed the defrosted frozen bananas with a fork)
-3 c oats (whole or quick)
-1 Tbsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 tsp vanilla
-optional: 1/2 c chocolate chips and/ or 1/2 c chopped nuts
-2 Tbsp brown sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, eggs, mashed bananas, and vanilla.  Stir in the oats, baking powder, salt, and optional ingredients (if using).  Spread into a greased 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle the top with the brown sugar.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

50 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Have you noticed your baby taking care of a doll or stuffed animal? If so, congratulate yourself! Babies learn nurturing behavior from their caregivers, so if your baby gently pats her stuffed dog on the back to reassure him after he falls to the floor, you can be sure she learned from you. Babies this age are excellent mimics, and they're also developing a sense of empathy. Ever notice the distressed look that crosses your baby's face when she hears another baby cry? That’s because she recognizes a cry as a plea for help. Now, she may even toddle over and attempt to comfort the other baby. Sweet, huh? After months of constant, steady weight gain, your little one may begin thinning out. Some of it is simple growth and development. Now that she’s getting older, you baby is taking on the shape of a toddler, not an infant. She’s developing her leg muscles; those pudgy baby thighs are a thing of the past! Some babies even lose a little weight around the 12-month mark. That's because almost-one-year-olds are so incredibly busy! They're constantly moving (do you know any sedentary toddlers?) and reluctant to sit and eat. Give your child plenty of chances to graze during the day—experts say up to six small, nutritious meals a day may be healthier than three large ones anyway—but don’t stress out if the scales show a slight dip this month. She’ll regain it soon enough. If your baby is still nursing, feel free to continue. Breastmilk remains an excellent source of nutrition6 for your baby. (And a good thing for moms as well. Did you know that extended breastfeeding decreases your risk of breast cancer?) When the time comes, drop just one breastfeeding at a time and give your baby and body plenty of time to adjust before dropping another feeding. Most physicians don’t recommend cow's milk until after the first year, but if you're this close, talk to your doctor, who may give you the green light to offer whole milk in a sippy cup.

Noah is definitely one chunky little guy right now.  I blame it all on breastmilk, because cheese and yogurt are about the only fat he eats, most of his food intake comes from fruits and vegetables (which wouldn't put the pounds on).  Over the course of the next month I'm going to be working on getting him from 4 nursings a day, down to 2.  I've been DREADING this, because although the books said not to, I took the easy way out and have easily nursed him to sleep for both naps, and at night.  Now will begin the task of putting him down for a nap without a nursing prior to it.  This will mean new freedom for me, in that I won't need to be present for a nursing before each nap, but I'm not looking forward to listening to him cry in his crib as he fights his way to sleep over the next few weeks.

From the minute Noah wakes up each morning, before we've even gotten him out of his crib, we can already hear him in there saying "walk" to himself.  We go for at least two walks a day, every day, but whenever he is inside he will continuously repeat "walk".  He says duck, and do (dog) now, and also knows to baa for sheep.  The cutest thing is that when he eats he goes "mmmmm, mmmmm".  He definitely says Noah, and walk more than any other word, but mom and dad are repeated frequently as well.

This kid is going to be a year old in two weeks!  Where did the time go?  What happened to that little baby who couldn't move around or talk?  As much as I miss the beginning stages, Noah is at such a fun age right now.  I love watching him learn, explore, and observe!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Skinny Broccoli Cheese Soup

I don't know if something with 2 cups of cheese can be called skinny, but it's definitely skinny compared to most versions!

-3 Tbsp butter
-1 onion, diced
-1/4 c flour
-2 c fat-free half and half
-3 c chicken or veggie broth
-2 bay leaves
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-5 c broccoli, cut into bite size chunks
-2 carrots, diced
-2 c cheddar cheese

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat.  Saute onion until tender, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in flour.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Pour in broth and half and half, stirring constantly.  Add bay, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Simmer 20 minutes.  Add broccoli and carrot, cover and simmer an additional 20 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and puree soup (using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor.  Return soup to low heat, stir in cheese until melted.  Serve.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Curry Tofu Scramble

Curry Tofu Scramble

This meal is super quick, easy, and nutritious.  It would be great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The tofu takes on the texture and color of eggs, making it appropriate for breakfast, but being packed with veggies and protein makes this a great balanced meal for any time of day.  I used the vegetables that I had on hand, but tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, and/ or mushrooms would also be great in here.  Serve scramble inside a tortilla for a vegetarian breakfast burrito, or serve on it's own with toast or potatoes.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 red pepper, diced
-1 zucchini, diced
-1 onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 block firm or extra firm tofu, crumbled using a fork or your hands
-1/2 Tbsp curry powder
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-several handfuls spinach

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Saute pepper, zucchini, and onion until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute an additional minute.  Add tofu and spice, stirring well to combine.  Cook an additional 5 minutes, until tofu is heated through.  Add spinach, continue to cook, stirring often, until spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat, serve immediately.

49 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby’s memory may surprise you. For months now, he’s been cataloging information. He knows that his toys are stashed in the toy box (most of the time!), that the remote makes the TV light up and that grandma gives him cookies. He may even know where grandma stashes the cookies. So don’t be surprised if he smiles and holds out his hand when you visit grandma; past experience has taught him that she usually hands him a cookie! If she’s slow on the draw, he may even make his way over to the cookie jar.  Of course, it still takes many repetitions for baby to fully understand something. He didn’t learn that grandma = cookies overnight; it took many visits before your baby realized that grandma is the Cookie Lady! That’s why you still have to tell him to stay away from the TV. He’s heard it before, but he’ll need to hear it -- and experience the consequence of being pulled away -- over and over again before he finally learns to leave the screen alone.

Physically, your baby is on the verge of walking. Don’t worry about his posture; it’s completely normal for new walkers to stick out their bellies and butts and waddle with a wide stance. Right now, your baby is still working on his balance. As he becomes more proficient, he’ll pull his feet in and walk a little straighter.  Push toys are among your baby’s favorites right now. Push carts, doll strollers, ride-on toys with high backs – even kitchen chairs that glide across the floor – allow your baby to “walk” without letting go. He might enjoy a big empty box as well. Watch him fill it up with toys and push it across the living room floor!
Your baby’s speech is beginning to sound more like real language, complete with inflections and pauses. Some babies can already say a few words (“mama” or “dada” are early favorites) but most will wait until some time after their first birthday.

First of all, the hat in all of these pictures isn't because it's so cold outside that Noah needs a hat.  It's his "helmet".  This week he got up to such a high speed walking/ running down the side walk that he fell face first, and his forehead slammed into the concrete leaving him some road rash on his head.  Jeremy and I, both being mentally scared by seeing Noah take that tumble, have started adding an extra barrier of protection just in case it happens again.  Plus, he looks so stinkin' cute in this hat anyway!

This week Noah has started saying some rendition of truck, appropriately with his toy trucks.  He has also started pointing to the door and saying walk.  And going to his high chair and saying eat.  His favorite toys right now tend to be his plastic wagon that he can push or ride in, his books, and toy cars and trucks.

I can't believe how fast this little boy is growing up, and how big he is getting.  He will be 1 year old in less than a month!!!!