Friday, August 28, 2015

Five on Friday!

Hi friends! It's Friday and I could not be more excited! You know what else I'm excited about? These five things...
 
- one - Playdates! We've been squeezing in so many playdates lately. Yesterday we fed the ducks, had a picnic lunch and played on the playground with our friends April and Camille! Today we are heading back to another playground too with some other friends! I wish maternity leave would never end!
- two - Since we've been on a low carb fix, I have become obsessed with zoodles. I bought a spiralizer a long time ago but went a little too cheap and ended up hating the one I purchased. After lots of research and recommendations from others I decided to get the magical Paderno spiralizer and love it. There is just something so awesome about eating veggies in curly fry shape.
One of our favorite zoodle recipes lately is Zucchini Shrimp Scampi!
- three - Dropbox! Friends, I have been terrible about backing up all of my photos for years. If something were to happen to my computer I would literally lose my college years, my wedding day, Caroline's first year of life and SO much more. So one of my maternity leave projects was to back up ALL of my files and pictures. I went with Dropbox to do it because not only is it FREE but I can also sync all of my cell phone photos to my dropbox! Don't delay - back up your photos! You can sign up (here)!
- four - Don't forget to enter my giveaway for $125 credit to Minted!
- five - This song: First by Lauren Daigle. So good. So, so, so good.
Wanna join Darci, April, Natasha and I on the Friday fun? You can link-up on any of our four blogs every Friday! All you have to do is...
1.) Write your post about five things you're lovin' this week (or any five things you want to share!).
2.) Share the logo on your blog and link back. 
3.) Link-up at the bottom of the post so some new readers can check out your five things and say hello!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thomas' Birth Announcement {Minted Giveaway}

I said I wasn't going to send birth announcements for baby 2, but then Thomas arrived and it seemed unfair not to share his adorable little face in paper form with friends and family. It was a difficult decision selecting a favorite newborn photo from over a hundred amazing images from Allison and then picking an announcement from so many gorgeous options from Minted! I can be incredibly indecisive so there was a lot of "okay, which do you like better? This one or this one?" chats with Matt. He likes to humor me and play along in the selection process. Together we decide on this adorable combo...
{front}
{back}
So for all of my blog friends and lovely readers, consider this your virtual announcement from our family! If postage wasn't 49 cents a stamp (when did that happen?), I'd totally mail you all one. 
And because the folks at Minted are super amazing, they have offered one lucky reader $125 credit towards their birth announcements! Just enter using the rafflecopter below! Good luck!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Toddler Meals {HELP!}

Mamas, I need some help! I am desperate for some new toddler dinner ideas to throw into our regular chicken nugget, mac & cheese and spaghetti rotation for Caroline. On the days that I can get it together enough to have dinner ready for the whole family by the time Matt and Caroline get home we eat the same meal together as a family. However, once I return to work that will be a tad unrealistic because I'll have exactly 4 minutes from the time I walk in the door until the time that Caroline will completely melt down for dinner so quick is key!
Don't judge! Here's what you can usually find on Caroline's plate (or the floor):
  • Frozen vegetables (usually broccoli)
  • Fruits (usually blueberries, grapes, watermelon or a banana)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Chicken Nuggets 
  • Spaghetti
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Turkey slices
  • Scrambled eggs
  • English muffin or toast with peanut butter
  • Grilled cheese
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans (usually black or chick peas)

Even Charlie is sick of these foods. So I need some new ideas - preferably healthy, preferably easy and quick to make, preferably something I can prep on Sunday and feed for the entire week!
Kitchen / Chef Outfit (similar) / Eggs

*Side note: the egg crate set has been one of Caroline's most played with toys since her birthday. Worth every penny (and hour spent looking for the pieces around the house)!
What do you feed your toddler?!
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pineapple Cheese Ball

Yesterday was my turn to host playdate. There are really only two requirements for a successful play date in my opinion - 1. fun friends who don't mind if your house is a wreck and 2. wine (and lots of it)! Babies and food are optional but definitely a bonus.
I wanted to serve a light snack that was easy to toss together and I could prep well in advance. And since we like to keep things pretty simple I thought a Pineapple Cheese Ball would be perfect! Only four ingredients, very little prep time and I could tackle it the day before so all I had to do was pull it out of the fridge and add some crackers. Oh, and I should mention that it's absolutely delicious too (so don't wait until the holiday season to make this)!
Did I mention it's only FOUR ingredients? And if you don't like pecans, you can omit them and serve this as a dip instead!
Pineapple Cheese Ball
Adapted from Snack Cups and Smiles

Ingredients:
2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, well drained 
1/2 cup of finely chopped green bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped pecans
crackers for serving

Directions:
1. Combine the cream cheese, pineapple and peppers. Mix well. Form the mixture into a ball and cover with cling wrap. Chill it for several hours (or overnight). After it is chilled, roll the cheese ball over chopped pecans. Gently pat the pecans all over the cheese ball so it is entirely covered. Serve with crackers.
Yields one large cheese ball or two small cheese balls.
I would be remiss not to include a few pictures from playdate too. I know you were all hoping for some, right? 

 The sweetest little hostess, Caroline made sure to keep the wine and syrup flowing for guests. 
 We were 0/6 on getting everyone to look at the camera.
During tummy time Caroline tries to roll Thomas to his back to help a brother out!
 The aftermath of a fun playdate! Not pictured: the toddler self-serve snack station including 534534586545 crushed goldfish and animal crackers all over the floor. Success!
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Since Thomas was born we've been really lucky to have so many friends bring us a meal. From our favorite take-out to delicious home cooked meals we've been so grateful for food as we transition to a family of four. It's amazing how much more time you have to snuggle your new baby and chase your toddler around when you don't have to food prep, cook and clean up the kitchen! I have a feeling there will be a lot of cereal for dinner in our future. 

Anyway, last week my friend Lisa dropped off an amazing dinner which included quinoa and sausage stuffed peppers. She even included a laminated recipe card with our meal so we could make it again and again...which we will absolutely be doing. And because it was so delicious, I feel inclined to share this goodness with everyone! So here it is...a pretty and savory dinner served in an edible cup!
This meal is a great option to bring to someone who recently had a baby, experienced a loss or had surgery. All the recipient has to do is pop it in the oven for a few minutes under the broiler and it's ready to eat! This also lasted us several meals too!

Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Peppers
From 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook 
 
Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
4 large bell peppers, any color
1 link (3-4 oz) mild Italian sausage, casing removed 
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup diced mushrooms, any variety
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional but recommended)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a medium saute pan, melt the butter over very low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3. In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the quinoa and 1 1/3 cups water over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the water is completely absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. 
4. While the quinoa is cooking, cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise. Scoop the cores and seeds out of the middle and discard. Place the peppers in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with the cut side facing up and bake until tender when pierced by a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. While the peppers are roasting, turn the heat under the onion up to medium. Add the sausage to the pan. Crumble the sausage using a spatula while it cooks.
6. When the sausage is almost brown all the way through, add the garlic, mushrooms, and pine nuts. Cook for 3 or 4 more minutes, until the pine nuts have begun to turn brown.
7. Stir in the salt, cream, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and cook until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked quinoa. 
8. If cooking liquid has accumulated inside the peppers, use tongs to drain the peppers into the sink. Divide the quinoa filling evenly among the pepper cavities. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake the peppers for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese on top turns a golden brown. Take care that it doesn't burn; the broiler works quickly! Serve warm.
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