Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Food is Comfort Food

     Well Christmas came and went without Monkey making it onto the Naughty list.  She did manage to get her name put down onto the "Check-Twice" list for next year, though; not that that has deterred her in any way.  Nor has it curbed her attitude.  This morning my child had her extra-sassy britches on, and at one point I just looked at her astounded and asked, "Kid, when did you turn 13?"  She responded in with her hands on her hips and a matter-of-fact tone in her voice, "I didn't.  I'm turning 4!" while wagging her head to emphasize every syllable.  I think I have my work cut out for me on this one.

     I certainly didn't need the reminder of how quickly time passes.  With the holiday season coming to a close, my focus has shifted to the next big event in our family: Monkey's birthday.  She has declared that she wants a Princess Party this year, so if any of y'all find some cute ideas, send them my way.

     In the meantime, Monkey and I have been relaxing, watching the movies Santa brought her, playing the games she got from family, and cooking (of course).  Given that we're finally having some wintery weather, I decided to give this recipe a try.

Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Soup
2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you can't find veg.)
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup basil, chopped, loosely packed
2 tsp of oregano
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

     Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a large pot. Add the chopped onion and allow to cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Pour in the two cans of tomatoes (juice and all) and the stock. Stir in the basil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese until well blended. Use either an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup if you prefer a smooth texture. Garnish with chopped basil and grated cheddar cheese if desired.

     This is the perfect winter comfort food, and it was paired nicely with that French Bread recipe I shared a while back.  Enjoy :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"But, Mom! I'm Trying for the Naughty List"

     I think my child is trying to see how far she can push the envelope without getting onto the Naughty List this year.  This morning I woke up to the sounds of her playing around downstairs, which should have tipped me off from the start, but being the morning person I am, I was extremely optimistic that she was merely deciding on what she wanted for breakfast.  I should have known better.  After brushing my teeth, getting dressed and otherwise just wasting time I went downstairs to find Monkey creating her own version of "breakfast".  She looked up at me when I walked in and said, with tears in her eyes, "Mommy, my mouth hurts."  That's when I saw what exactly she had been making.  She had mixed up water, honey, sprinkles and hot sauce in a cup and was proceeding to drink it.  Needless to say she soon asked for a Pop Tart instead.
     After getting Monkey's concoction all cleaned up I went upstairs to begin gathering our bags for our trip home.  I was upstairs a matter of minutes when I heard the unmistakable sound of scissors.  I rushed downstairs expecting to see my mail in shreds or maybe even my checkbook in tatters, but nope.  My child had a wad of her own hair in her hands!  Of course, I happened to be on the phone with my mom, so when I expressed my dismay, she offered an encouraging laugh and a "Well every kid does that.  You did."

"But Mom!"  I moaned. "Her hair was getting so long!"

"Well then glue it back on," was all she could offer before having to scramble off the phone.

     All I could do was hide the scissors and make an appointment to have someone fix her hair once we made it to La.  And well, it turned out rather cute.

     Since I'm already on here, and it's getting so close to Christmas, I might as well share a few of our elf's antics:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Elf's Work is Never Done

     Well I've been as busy as a little elf today, running errands, picking up last minute gifts, and helping a few friends in need.  I even managed to make some super cute goodies for Monkey's teachers at daycare and the dance studio, and of course I have to share!

     Aren't these little sleighs the cutest?  I found the idea on Pinterest, of course, and they were so simple to make it took me maybe an hour to put them all together.

Here's what you'll need:

3 big bags of assorted mini Hershey's bars
3 dozen candy canes (any flavor you choose)
3 packs of 6 Kit-Kats
Hot glue gun

Simply assemble your "sleigh" using 10 mini bars, one Kit-Kat, and 2 candy canes.

Add a bit of hot glue to hold it all together, then wrap with some pretty ribbon or top with a cute bow, and...

     Monkey's dance teachers thought they were precious, and we'll be handing out a few more tomorrow at daycare.  I got 18 sleighs out of my supplies, and now I have a few leftovers.  I have a super fun idea for the extras, but that can wait until tomorrow.  In the meantime, I was to share a recipe I tried last night that was so yummy!

Chicken Piccata
Makes four servings

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in half lengthwise, to form 4 thin cutlets)
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
6 TBS butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped  (I'm just now noticing I forgot the parsley; oh well!)
8 ounces angel hair pasta
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pour the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Pour the beaten egg in a seperate shallow dish. Take one chicken cutlet, and it dredge in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess breadcrumbs and place on a plate. Repeat with all cutlets.  In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Place two of the coated chicken cutlets into the skillet. Cook on each side, for 2-4 minutes each side. Once thoroughly cooked, place on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  Repeat with remaining butter and chicken, set aside.  Pour the lemon juice, chicken stock, and capers into the warm skillet. Stir and scrape up any of the loose brown bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and let sauce simmer for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook angel hair pasta according to package directions. Drain water and add 2 Tablespoons butter to pasta and 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Serve chicken with sauce and pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley and more grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

   Well I hope y'all enjoy.  I'm back on elf duty; I have to get those presents wrapped while Monkey is dreaming of sugarplum fairies and dragons.  Goodnight!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Condescending Mutt

     Thursday I was finally able to emerge from my cave, rested and ready to reclaim that long-lost social life of mine.  Monkey is still in daycare, so I have just about all the "me time" I can stand.  Thank goodness for the holidays because I'm just about sick of my own company!

    With the school chaos at bay until about the middle of next semester, I'm trying to catch up on my running.  As I'm sure y'all recall, I did the Couch-2-5K program a few months back, and I was starting to work on a 10K when school became hectic.  These past two months I've been lucky to get one run in every 2 weeks.  Today I decided that I would hit the pavement after dropping Monkey off at school.  I even thought it would be fun to take Roux along with me.  I figured she could use the exercise.  Ever since we found a new home for Andouille, she hasn't had anyone chasing her around the house, nipping at her ankles.  That is, unless Monkey decides to play "puppy".  At any rate I figured the fresh air would be good for her.  And it was.   What is wasn't good for was my self esteem.  There I was jogging along, giving it all I've got, feeling like my lungs were going to explode when I glanced down to check on the dog, and I realized she was walking!  Granted, a brisk, bouncy walk, but a walk none-the-less.  Talk about a kick in the pants.  I tried running faster, but she would just bounce along at her brisk walk, mocking me with her superiority.  I mean, what gives?  I know I haven't been working out as much as I should, but the dog hasn't seen a track since her daddy deployed 6 months ago, and here she was taking it all in stride...literally.  Damn mutt!  Needless to say, I'll be venturing out to the track a little more often.  In my defense, however, since we've been home I haven't sat still, but Roux collapsed on the floor and hasn't budged an inch.
    As usual, I have a yummy recipe to share with y'all; after all I have a lot of making up to do. This is a  recipe for Chicken Fajitas that was a big hit with my Monkey and was pretty easy to throw together.

Chicken Fajitas

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
12 flour tortillas, warmed to serve

Preheat your oven to 400.  Grease a 9x13" baking dish.  Mix together chicken, tomatoes, chilies, peppers, and onions in the dish.  In a small bowl, mix together oil and spices.  Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken mix, and toss to coat.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender.  Serve with tortillas.  Enjoy :-)

    Now I'm going to hit the heavy bag for a little bit, but first I'm going to check and make sure that my mutt is still breathing.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Little Girl Who Needs Presents

     Today I turned in my paper for the English Final at about noon.  Is it bad that it just now hit me that I'm finished with English!?  I don't think my mind can focus enough to appreciate that fact.  I still have four exams left, but they aren't until next week, so tonight I took a bit of a break to spend some extra time with my little Monkey.  I'm glad I did;  I ended up having a truly proud Mommy moment.

     My Psychology teacher is very active in the community and orchestrates many charities and fundraisers around campus.  Today she told us about a Christmas charity where they're collecting stockings filled with little things for a child of any age or gender you choose.  She asked that if we participate that we bring ours in on the day of the final, and she'll see that it gets to the home.  I decided to get Monkey involved, so after explaining to her that some children aren't fortunate enough to have a Christmas tree and lots of presents, we went to Wal-Mart.  She was under orders to pick out a stocking and a few things to put in it.  I honestly thought this was going to be a fight, considering she's at the age where all I hear is "I want that" as we peruse the aisles of any store.  She definitely impressed me, though.  She was so excited to pick out things for "the little girl who needs presents".  She filled the little girl's stocking with a teddy bear, a baby doll, a coloring book with crayons, a sticker book, and a small Snow White doll.  The only moment when she was even a little disappointed was when she figured out she wasn't going to get to hand the gift directly to the little girl.  She cheered up, though, when we began talking about how happy the different things in the stocking would make the little girl we'll never meet.  It truly did warm my heart to see the pure joy on her face at the thought of helping someone else.  I hope she never loses that.

     If anyone is interested in filling a stocking, I'll be happy to drop it off for you.  My final is next
Wednesday at 1:00, so I'd just need it before then.  There's also a Teddy Bear drive going on at school. They're collecting stuffed animals that are in good condition or new to give to the police and firemen to be handed out to children in emergency situations.  Again, if anyone is interested in donating, I'll be happy to drop them off for you.