Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Family Time and Spinach, Artichoke Pasta

WOW!  I can't believe Christmas has come and gone and I have neglected my blog once again :(  BUT, I am so happy to say that while I was neglecting my blog I was living life to the fullest and enjoying the Christmas season with my hubby and sweet boys!!  We went to Christmas concerts, advent services, Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo, Breakfast with Santa, we shopped, baked cookies and so much more!  It is so much fun seeing the joy of Christmas through the eyes of my boys.  They LOVE Jesus and they sure do love celebrating His birth and all of the Christmas "perks" that go along with it!!

Holidays also mean lots of lonely nights being a chef's wife.  The restaurant is BUSY doing Christmas parties and entertaining guests on vacation.  It is so easy for me to become frustrated with his job and all that it entails, but this year was different.  Don't get me wrong, I still had my occasional "pitty party".   BUT, I really tried to focus on the time we were together rather than dwell on the time we were a part.  I think we drank hot chocolate and snuggled in Christmas jammies every night we were all home in December.  I had our fireplace going, candles lit and Christmas music playing almost every night.  This might seem like its obvious, but I don't know what makes me think I can't do this every day!  There is something about listening to music, especially Christian music, that just makes my heart happy!  I plan on continuing our December family time through the new year!

Here is a picture of my family on Christmas night! 

It wouldn't be a blog post without a recipe right?!?!  So, here is what I made last night!  The boys LOVED it and so did I :)

Spinach Artichoke Pasta
1 pound pasta, cooked according to directions in SALTED water (I used gemelli)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced or diced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out of it
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for topping
salt & pepper

Start by getting your pasta boiling.  While that is cooking heat up olive oil in a large skillet add in onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Let that saute for a minute or 2 then add in the spinach and artichokes and saute until its all heated through.  At this point pasta will be cooked.  Drain and add cooked pasta to the pan with vegetables.  Add lemon zest and juice as well as parmesan and fold it all together.  Serve hot with grated parmesan on top!  There is something about the lemon in this pasta that makes it so delicious and kid friendly too!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Be Generous!! Eat Lasagna!!

Hello blogging world!  How is everyone enjoying their Tuesday??  I started my morning off with MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers).  It is always such a fun time, we have breakfast, hear from a speaker, do a craft and get to hang with other moms all while our kids are being smothered with love and having a BLAST.  Win Win in my book :)

Today our speaker spoke on teaching our kids to be generous.  WOW!  I was beyond moved.  I try to be generous in my day to day life, but I could do MORE and can definitely encourage my children to have a more generous spirit.  She really focused on 3 points: learn the way God has gifted your children to be generous, give them opportunities and encourage them to be generous and be an example of a generous person.  Honestly I never really thought about the fact that I need to teach generosity.  Of course,  I have taught them to share (which they do sometimes!), to love others, to pray for those less fortunate, etc...but I can't say that I have consciously taught them to be generous.  A lot of what she talked about was using their God-given gifts and letting them explore being generous through what God gave them.

I am inspired and motivated to put this into practice.  One way in which I am able to show generosity is through cooking.  I LOVE people, especially moms and what a better way to serve them than by making a meal for a family in need, or right after the birth of a baby, or just because life is hectic and a meal would bless their day!  One of my favorite meals to make for families is lasagna! 

What you need:
1 box lasagna noodles (the kind you HAVE to boil)
2 jars of your favorite tomato sauce (or homemade if you have on hand!)
32 oz container ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
handful of basil, finely chopped
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Start by boiling a big pot of salted water! 

When boiling add in the lasagna noodles and cook according to the directions on the box.  In a small pan saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes.  Put ricotta in a bowl and add in eggs, basil, onion/garlic combo and salt and pepper and combine.  When noodles are done drain and get your assembly line in order :) 

Then just layer your lasagna!  Start with a little bit of sauce on the bottom of a deep 13x9 baker, then lay out the noodles, next spoon a layer of ricotta over noodles, pour sauce over ricotta and then a layer of mozzarella.  Then noodles again and continue this process until your baking dish is full!  I do at least 4 layers.  Then sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.

Cover with foil and put into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 mins (it needs to be heated thoroughly because of the egg).  Take off the foil and let the top get golden brown and bubbly for the last 3 mins.  IMPORTANT STEP!!  Once the lasagna is out of the oven let it sit for 10-15 minutes before you cut it!!  (oops.  apparently we were hungry and I didn't take a picture of the final product!)

**The above recipe will create a 13x9 lasagna, as well as an 8x8 or 9x9 lasagna.  Keep one for your family and be generous with the other :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful...and pumpkin french toast!

Let me just start by saying I am soooo glad Halloween is over!!  I am so not a fan of ghosts, witches, skeletons, zombies and other ewey, scary stuff!  I feel like as soon as October (or even sooner!) starts I, as a mom, have to be on the look-out.  When we walk in to a party store, craft store, Target, etc there are images that my kids are scared of and things I just don't want in their little minds.  I'm constantly avoiding certain places or telling my kids to cover their eyes as we walk through.  Then, don't get me started on kid TV!  My "safe" shows for my kids are no longer safe and my kids don't understand why I won't let them watch certain things.

 Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE dressing my kids up!  This year they were all superheroes: Captain America, Batman, Spiderman and Superman.  So cute, so fun!  THAT is what Halloween is about for me and my family, just a fun time to dress up and let my kids (and me) eat lots of candy!

Then, what happens November 1st?  It's like Fall is over.  Pumpkin patches are closed, pumpkins go on sale and stores move all their Fall stuff out in order to make room for Christmas!  Again, I am so excited for Christmas.  BUT, what about THANKSGIVING!?!?!?! 

I LOVE Thanksgiving, it is a time to reflect about how blessed I truly am.  I saw some others doing #novemberthankful on Instagram and decided to join in!  Every day during the month of November you post a picture of something you are thankful for.  It can be a full night of sleep, coffee, a picture showing God's grace, or anything in between.  What a great idea!  As much as I am looking forward to Christmas and the birth of my Savior I am going to take this time to be thankful every day and to remember that all of my blessings come from my Lord and Savior.  So, join me in keeping Fall alive a little longer and make my delicious pumpkin french toast below!

Pumpkin French Toast
1 loaf white bread (I used french toast bread)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
Maple syrup and powdered sugar for serving

In a shallow bowl (I use a pie plate) whisk all ingredients besides the bread.  When combined well, put bread in mixture to soak it up, make sure you turn so both sides are coated.  Heat a non-stick pan or griddle and lightly coat with butter or cooking spray.  Put pumpkin coated bread in pan and turn the heat to low/med-low.  Cook until nicely browned and then flip.  Cook until both sides are browned and serve with maple syrup and powdered sugar :)  This is super yummy and a great way to enjoy FALL!

Friday, November 2, 2012

How I'm feeling today.

Today is a different kind of day...I am feeling really melancholy and I'm feeling this strong desire to open up, be honest and share my soul with whoever will listen (or read).  I want my blog to be a little different than how it was in the past.  It will still have lots of recipes, but I want it to be about my life, kind of a memory book for my family.  I got that idea from reading my friend Ashlee's blog (you can read it here)!  She is a friend from high school, we recently reconnected and I LOVE reading about her family and her heart :)

So, these are the things on my heart today:

i wish i had a magic fairy that would do my dishes every day
true friendship is so precious
being the wife of a chef is lonely
my children bring me great joy
God is so FAITHFUL
being a mom is hard work
i wish Halloween candy counted as negative calories
i can't wait for sunday date night
God has a plan for my life that is different and better than what i could plan for myself

How are you feeling today??  Is your heart heavy??  Can you relate to my thoughts and feelings??  I would love to hear your thoughts! 

and for those of you hoping for a is a super simple and yummy TREAT to pair with your favorite fruit...I did not create this recipe...I am stealing it from my mama...I hope she doesn't mind!

1 jar marshmallow cream
1 block cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tblsp. lemon zest

Whip all ingredients together and enjoy!  Seriously so good!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


When we had our first son I never even considered making baby food.  My hubby had other ideas...he made it known that it was ubber important to him that our baby be fed only the best!  Well, of course, I agreed I wanted him to have the best, so I would buy organic?!?  What ended up happening was me buying only the best, organic fruits and veggies and pureeing those to give him super wholesome and yummy food that were straight from my kitchen so I knew exactly what was in salt, no sugar, no chemicals! 

I bought a couple of books and LOVED and went to work!  Now that I am on baby #4 I have perfected my method and am able to fit baby purees into my regular kitchen time!  I am happy, Liam is happy and my chef is REALLY happy :)

This is what you will need:
big pot, with lid
ice cube trays with lids (or baby food freezer trays like this)
freezer gallon sized bags
fruit or veggie

I have pictures of making apples so I'll use those as my examples.  The first thing you want to do is wash your produce really well!  Then prepare for cooking.  I don't peel apples when I make them (except with Braydon I did because he would gag over the tiny specks of skin), so I just remove core and cube them and throw them in the pot!  I add a couple cups of water, you don't need to cover the apples, you need just enough that the bottom of the pot is covered and the water should go about an inch up from the bottom of the pot.

cutting up lots of gala apples
ready to cook!
 Cook on low/medium heat, covered, and stir occasionally until very soft.  Now its time to puree them!  Put in blender with a little bit of the cooking water.  Blend on high, taking time to stir the apples so the food gets fully pureed.  Depending on the strenght of your blender this might take some time :)  I normally blend for about a minute!  I also try and keep mine pretty thick( not chunky, but thick)!  Babies can handle thicker foods faster than you might think so I make mine thick and thin with water or breast milk at each feeding...that way you can get the consistency you need each time! 

*When pureeing HOT food remove lid slowly!  Contents have a tendency to pop!  Ouch!*

 Leave out enough food for that feeding and then transfer pureed food to ice cube trays, then put those in the freezer!  Once frozen, pop out cubes of food and transfer to gallon freezer bags and label with type of food and date you made it!  Each ice cube slot is normally an ounce, so when your baby is ready for a meal grab out however many cubes ounces you need! 

I normally make about 5 pounds of baby food, which will make 80 or more ounces of baby food (depending on how much water is used).  From start to putting it in the freezer it normally takes me about an hour and I make one new food each week, slowly adding to my collection.  Then I can also mix foods...grab 2 cubes of peas and 2 cubes of carrots, mix them together and its like a whole new food!  If you have a little one, why not give it a try?!?!  It doesn't take much time, is super healthy, saves a lot of money, and gives you a sense of accomplishment! 

This was a SUPER long post, I hope I didn't scare you off!!  Please let me know if you have any questions, or if your going to give it a try!  I love talking about cooking and I love talking about babies...put the 2 together and I'm a happy girl :)

Liam's 1st solid meal...SWEET POTATOES!

First Foods Cheat Sheet
Sweet Potatoes-peel, cube, steam, puree in blender
Pears- cube, steam in a little water, puree in blender
Peas- I buy frozen (make sure only ingredient is peas...a lot of companies add salt!), steam, puree
Apples- peel (or not, but there will be flecks of peel which some babies don't like), cube, steam, puree
Bananas- cook to order, (if brown just mash and serve) peel, microwave for 20 secs then mash
Avocado- must be soft, just mash and serve (can add water or breast milk to make creamy)
Green Beans- remove ends, steam, puree...for a long time :)
Acorn Squash- cut in half, remove seeds and lay cut down in baking dish, fill baking dish an inch up the side with water, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 mins or until soft, scoop out flesh and puree
Carrots- peel, chop, steam or boil, puree
Butternut Squash- same as acorn squash...see above!
Parsnips- peel, chop, steam or boil, puree
Peaches- chop, steam, puree
Pumpkin- same as acorn squash...see above!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm BACK...Sort of :)

Well, its been about 11 months since I have shared my cooking with you all, and what a crazy 11 months it has been!!  I endured an extremely dificult and painful pregnancy and was rewarded with the most beautiful little bundle, Liam Matthew! 
4 days old :)

Being a mommy to 4 little boys and being the wife to a very busy chef has been so joyous and so CRAZY HARD!!  I am loving it and exhausted, basically all the time!  The hubs has become quite the celebrity making 5 tv apperances in the last 11 months, his restaurant was named one of the top 10 in Orange County and he has been BUSY!!  Cooking with a new little one has certainly added some challenges, but my goal remains the same: healthy, flavorful meals that I can find time to make and that my whole family will enjoy!

Well, since I'm here I might as well share what we had for dinner last night :). Super easy, super yummy and healthy too! 

Southwestern Chopped Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped 
2 tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 ears of corn, corn removed
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed thoroughly
1 avocado, diced
Handful crushed tortilla chips

For the dressing:
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 tablespoon ranch packet
2 tablespoons milk

Put all ingredients for salad in a large bowl.  In separate bowl whisk together ingredients for dressing.  Add dressing to the salad and toss.  
Stay tuned....tomorrow will be a blog all about making baby food!!