Friday, January 29, 2010

More Snow Fun!

More snow starting falling on us this morning. We got a light dusting compared to our Southern neighbors. It reminded me that I still hadn't sat down to post the pictures of our snow storm that hit before Christmas (along with many other events yet to be posted-bad blogger-I KNOW!). We still have some remaining clumps of snow here and there from that snow storm. It turned out to be quite the mess, but on one very cold day, we got out of the house and played. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for our cheeks to get too red and our fingers and toes to get too numb.

Aleeyah LOVES the snow. We struggle with getting her to understand that just because it's snowing doesn't mean it's Christmas again and "Ho, Ho" isn't coming again until next year! She enjoyed throwing snowballs at us

and always takes the opportunity to ride on her sled!

Chris even decided he would get on for a short ride

This was technically Oliver's second snow. We had him for last years snow, but he was so tiny that we didn't really let him go outside in it. We were still working with puppy pads and so he REALLY enjoyed playing this year. I kept putting him in the house to get warmed up, but then he would whine and whine because he wasn't outside playing with us.

Chris had decided after his attempt to ride his bike in the snow

that digging into the big pile of snow sounded like loads of fun! It was quite humorous to watch him wiggle around in there trying to dig out to the other side.

He finally made it through and Miss Aleeyah had to check it out. Check out those red cheeks--shortly after these 2 pictures were taken, we headed back inside!

And I have to take a moment to brag on my husband. When I first walked out from getting all bundled up, I had expected to walk out and see him and Aleeyah playing right away. I was delighted to see that he had saw a neighbor trying to get his car in his garage with a snow covered driveway between him and his garage. Chris had grabbed our snow shovel and ran down and started shoveling. The elderly man sat in his car while Chris shoveled and they were eventually able to get it into the garage.

Even in all his kid like demeanor he often thinks of others and goes out of his way to help. Warmed my heart on such a cold, cold day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Did someone spray Febreeze on my blog?!

Okay, so if you use feeds to read your blogs, I'm letting you know to stop on in and check out the new, refreshed look! Finally finished my new blog design! I've been itching to change it for a while and have held off. There are a couple of small minor things I'd like to fix/change, but for now it's going to stay. :)

Of course, I'd love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Salsa and Taco Salad for Everyone!

Well, tonight was Mexican food night-AGAIN. I never get tired of eating Mexican food! Yum! Last night was healthy enchiladas and tonight was turkey taco salad. For dessert? Salsa!

I've been a fan of Bill Phillip's book, Eating for Life, since I picked it up one day at the store. If you've cooked with me even a little you will know this. :) I've made a good amount of the meals in it and have only been disappointed once (carrot muffins-not so tasty!). The meals are always relatively simple and great portions! You don't ever feel like you are cooking to feed 20. Other great advantages of the book are that it goes into detail about proper nutrition and eating well balanced diets. They focus on eating several smaller proportions throughout the day and give great tips on how to achieve this. We find ourselves cooking out of it even when we aren't trying to get healthy. Of course, right now we are joining the ridiculous amount of people who are vowing to get healthy after gaining those holiday pounds. Our family doesn't necessarily set resolutions and such, but it's a better time to start than tomorrow. Wait..there's always tomorrow, right?

Anyway-I've been asked many a times for my salsa recipe and have offered it to a friend just recently. So I suppose now is the best time as any. Since I made the EASY taco salad AND salsa, I figured I'd share them together.

Disclaimer: I don't think I've ever featured recipes here because I sure don't remember realizing how much I suck at taking pictures of food before. None-the-less, you will get a few pics! Never mind, the sucky part. :)

SALSA!! Everyone seems to have their own concoction of what they call salsa. I've had some great and I've had some not-so-great (nobody who reads here, of course). Mine is well...mine. It was derived from another great salsa recipe and Chris and I have tweaked it to a point of liking it even more. Others have raved about it, but it may not be for your taste buds. And that's okay, too. Just tweak it yourself to make it personal for you.

Ingredients and Tools of the Trade

5 cans of diced tomatoes
4 roma tomatoes (or 3 regular ones)
1/2 white onion --you may have to buy a whole one though :)
1 lemon
5-6 cloves of garlic (depending on size of cloves)
4 tsp lemon pepper
4 tsp fresh cilantro
4 tsp parsley (fresh is best, but can use dried)
5 tsp garlic salt
* jalapenos to taste

*This can get quite tricky some times. If you pick the right jalapeno then you can get away with only using one, but if you don't, you might have to pick up several more to get it to spice up. Go for the bigger and greener jalapenos to get the most kick out of your pepper. I pick up a few to limit the possibility of having to make a pepper run. While at the store, you can pick up the ingredients to make something that includes those extra jalapenos that way they won't go to waste.

Other items to have handy and make your salsa making a tad bit easier:

Garlic press -I use a Pampered Chef one where you don't have to peel the garlic
Sharp cutting knife -typically only use it to cut the up the tomatoes, parsley, & cilantro
Butcher knife -works great for everything else, but mostly chopping
Measuring spoon -I use the ones that adjust to size and LOVE them. Drives me nuts to deal with all those little spoons floating around the utensil drawer.
Cutting board -unless you and your significant other are okay with you slicing up your counters
Scraper -not a necessity, but works great to get up all those pieces
A Large Bowl -you've got to have something to put all those yummy veggies in!
Large Spoon -mixing is one of the most fun parts!
A Little Helper -Don't have one? Borrow one! There is always a willing parent! okay, okay. Again. Not a necessity, but makes life a little bit more fuller!

Here's my helper sifting out the lemon seeds...

Okay, with that said-let's FINALLY get started. I've found that it's easier if you start out squeezing your lemon into the bowl. If you squeeze it into the bowl (while nothing else is in there) you can easily get those seeds out. Now, you could use one of those lemon squeezer or juicers, but well...that would be something else to have to clean later. Work out those forearms and squeeze it yourself. Also helps to get more of the juice out if you roll the lemon on the counter as you push down before slicing it open.

Next, slice and dice everything up (except for the jalapenos!) and throw into the mixing bowl.

HELPFUL HINT: Worried about getting your cutest apron dirty from the splish, splashing of tomatoes falling out of the can? That is where your helper comes in to save the day. Have him/her do the splashing. They will love it and you will get to stand back-free and clear of any flying tomato juice!

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Do your world a favor. It takes just a couple of extra minutes. Rinse out those tomato cans and toss them in the recycle bin over throwing them into the landfill! And if you train that helper right, he/she will help you remember EACH AND EVERY TIME YOU FORGET!

Mix up your salsa! Yes, give it a whirl! My helper told me that we must stir 3 times in one direction and then 3 turns in the other direction and repeat until well mixed. Aides in helping your child count to 3. But I suppose, that if your child can't count to 3 yet, they might not be the best helper in the kitchen! Just a thought there. There could be exceptions.

Now, you ALMOST have salsa! Salsa just isn't salsa without some kick. You may want to start off with 1/2 a jalapeno (this has been the least amount that I've ever needed). Chop it up. It's up to you in whether or not you want to use some sort of gloves. I don't necessarily recommend like an oven mitt (haven't tried it), but something to protect the hands would be great. Even if it means using the bag to hold as you chop. Anything to keep from fully man-handling the pepper. TRUST ME--it's BURNS your eye balls or lips even after several washings if you have a strong pepper. Start adding your pepper until you think it's just right. Save a little for after your salsa has had some time to meld together in the fridge. You may find the next day that you will want to add some more spice to it.

BE CAREFUL though. Add too much and you will find yourself burning the helpers poor little lips...

and then you will feel bad. :(

If you find it's a bit too chunky for your liking-throw it in a food processor and give it a few pulses.

At last--SALSA!

Now for that Turkey Taco Salad(going quicker and simpler this time as my laptop is heading to it's battery's death!)


(makes 4 servings)

1 lb of lean ground turkey
1 can (15 oz) chili beans in chili sauce
5 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup salsa (go ahead and use that new salsa recipe!)
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tomato, diced
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream (we forgo-ed this one)
4 oz baked tortilla chips

Instructions simplified:

Brown your turkey meat over medium to high heat
Stir in chili beans and let cook until heated and sauce thickened a bit
Divide out portions on each plate
Add broken up pieces of tortilla chips

A quick, cheap, and healthy meal! CHOW!

Hope you enjoyed or are going to enjoy! Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Us versus Cabin Fever

Aleeyah and I enjoyed the heatwave today! It was all of 42 degrees outside with a wind chill of 36. It felt SO wonderful to get out of the house and play. We spent over 3 hours outside playing in the snow. Well, she spent a little less than that since we left the snow boots in the car Chris drove today. She wore her tennis shoes and her piggies got a little colder than she liked. We threw snowballs at each other. We played with the sled. We built snowmen. And I even shoveled snow from the drive and sidewalks.

Yes, even though we are looking to have some temperatures finally above freezing and it will probably all melt soon (before the next snow), I shoveled snow. But THAT is what cabin fever will do to you! It didn't matter that my legs and bum were numb under my thin sweats from sitting in the snow. It didn't matter that snow gets heavy after shoveling an approximate 10 foot long path. Because we looked cabin fever in the eye today. We told it that we weren't going to take it any more.

And it felt good!

Aleeyah was more interested in sliding on her sled down the hill than making a snowman. So, I got the opportunity to take my time on her. Making sure that each ball was smoothly round and sized just right. Aleeyah stepped in to finish up the details and offered her hat to finish the look. After spending a good deal amount of time smoothing out the snow down the 10 foot path that currently is about 4 foot high and then covering up a lot of the dirty snow with clean snow so it would look pretty, she was complete. I was happy. And I am quite certain my looming elderly neighbors probably thought I was quite the nut job!

I wasn't quite ready to go back in after shoveling, so I asked Aleeyah if she wanted to sit with me while I made an Oliver from snow. It took me all of 15 minutes and I think he is DARLING! I thought about putting his lime green coat on his snowy replica, but we kinda like Oliver in his coat. So we chose a collar to match the Misses.

Of course, I took a few pics of our endeavors today. None of playing in the snow or building the snowmen because lets face it-cameras and snow covered gloves really just don't go hand in hand.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Missing Your Autumn Warmth

Poem by Robert Frost
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