Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween (or what to do with all the candy?)

About 4 hours or so until the big night of Trick or Treating begins. R is giddy, G is playing along, not really knowing what this whole mess is all about and I am about to go finish the rest of our Pumpkin Cookies to take to some neighbors tonight.

The cookies were a huge hit at the preschool party yesterday. Here is a picture of R and some of his classroom buddies:

R is the one scavenging in his treat bag, wearing the yellow fire fighter jacket. After the parade, we went into his classroom to help get his costume off so the teachers could begin the day. G, convinced he is 1 going on 5, decided that pre-K circle time was for him too:

Notice his, "what are you looking at, mommy?" glare.

Last year we let R have a fair amount of candy on Halloween night and then rationed him to one or two pieces a day after nap/quiet time each day, as long as he was on fairly good behavior. Of course, a few pieces here and there mysteriously disappeared every now and then, usually during nap time.

What's your take on Halloween candy? I have heard of all sorts of approaches, but what I described above worked for us last year.

Sweet Eats,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Cookies

R's Halloween Party for school is tomorrow. I volunteered to bring the "treat" for the party. I *was* tempted for a split second to do something healthy since, let's face it, the sugar onslaught is about to begin. But I am a sucker for holidays and didn't want poor R to bear the brunt of his 4-year-old friends' wrath if their party treat was something like, carrot dippers in hummus.

So we made pumpkin cut-out cookies using our favorite Gingerbread Cookie recipe (replacing 1/4 of the flour with whole wheat, just to appease my inner health nut) with a new take on frosting:

Naturally Orange Pumpkin Frosting

1 c pureed pumpkin
3-4 T apple cider
1/2 t ground cinnamon
several cups of powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients, adding enough sugar to make it stiff and spreadable.

For school tomorrow, I am packing up the frosted pumpkin cookies and some chocolate chips so the kiddos can make Jack-O'Lantern cookies like this:

R, of course, was a very willing taste-tester. I joined him in a tasting and I have to say, they were beyond amazing!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Basil Succotash

Here's another one of the recipes from the photos I posted a couple weeks ago:

Basil Succotash

1 c (approx) of frozen shelled edamame
1 c (approx) of fresh green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 c diced tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes or red pepper
2 cups or so of corn kernels (either 15oz can, rinsed and drained, or cut from 3-4 ears of corn)
a good handful of fresh basil, chopped or torn
2 T rice vinegar or
1 T olive oil
1/4 t salt

Steam the edamame and green beans for a few minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Combine all the vegetables in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the vinegar, olive oil and salt. Mix and pour over the vegetables.

This is a great way to use those end of the summer tomatoes and basil.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Meal time performances

G is turning out to be quite the meal-time performer:

I don't know who gets a bigger kick out of his singing, us...or him!

Our weekend was spent playing football, watching some football, and biking down to campus to see all the College Game Day festivities. See a theme?

I also had to (sniff, sniff) pull most of our plants to protect them from the frost. Of course, this means it is the perfect time of the year to use those unripened tomatoes to crown our comfort food dinner with fried green tomatoes.

Our meals for the week:

Pork Carnitas Tacos, Frijoles Refritos, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Fried Green Tomatoes
Popeye Calzones and Hearts of Palm Salad
Taco Fiesta Chicken Soup (somewhat of a running tradition for pre-trick or treating)

Have a sweet week,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oktoberfest Deeelish Dish

You can't judge a book by it's cover.

This dish isn't the most visually wow-ing, but I have to tell you, it is deeeelish. R, not one to hide his emotions, gave me a very skeptical look when I placed his plate in front of him. After a few bites he said, I kid you not, "mommy, this dinner you made is great!" With tears nearly welling up in my eyes, I decided to share...

Oktoberfest Dinner

1 - 12 oz package egg noodles
1 package of broccoli slaw
1 - 14 oz package of apple chicken sausage (or any ole sausage will do) diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 t vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups apple cider
3 T brown mustard
1 T prepared horseradish (optional, but NOT the creamy kind)

In a large wok or pan, saute the onion in the oil. Once it is translucent and a bit brown, remove from the pan. Brown the sausage in the pan and then add the onion back in the pan, and the broccoli slaw. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the broccoli starts to wilt. Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles according to their directions.

Add the cider, mustard and horseradish (if using) to the sausage mixture and stir well to get the good bits of cooked stuff off the bottom of the pan (the fancy term is "deglazing" the pan). Continue to stir well until the sauce comes to a simmer.

Drain the noodles and pour into the sausage mixture. Mix well. Serve. Eat. Say, "yum." Repeat. Bask in your cooking prowess.


PS--When R started picking at the broccoli slaw, I told him, "this dish has two kinds of noodles!" He bought it. I hope your SPs do too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A site to bookmark

I just found out about this site and am already intrigued. lets you pick specific foods by category and lists their ingredients, with "beneficial ingredients" listed in green, "OK ingredients" listed in yellow and "cautionary ingredients" in red. The items in each subgroup are listed from, in my own words, least UFIs to most UFIs.

You can click on any ingredient and read more about it. As an unrepentant label-reader, I could easily spend way too much time of this site...

Happy clicking,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It worked!

I did what I have been meaning to do for a long time...I took out a kid's cookbook from the library and let R choose a recipe from it. Apparently distracted by the pride of choosing the recipe, he ate some things (tomatoes, diced red pepper) that he usually quickly picks out of the mix.

He chose a southwest variation on Shepherd's Pie that we tweaked and adapted and came up with:

Mexicali Pie
1 pound lean ground (92%) beef
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 - 1 t garlic powder -or- 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15oz can corn, drained
1 15oz can tomatoes with chilies, undrained
1 T corn starch
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 T ground coriander
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground oregano
2 t paprika
2 packages of corn bread muffin mix (such as Jiffy)
2 eggs
2/3 c skim milk

Brown the meat, onion, red pepper and garlic until the meat is fully cooked. Drain any extra fat. Add the corn and tomatoes, mix well. Add the corn starch, and spices (chili powder through paprika) and mix well, remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a separate bowl, mix the corn bread mixes, eggs and milk until just blended. In a 2 quart baking dish or 9x13 pan, Pour in the meat mixture. Top with the corn bread.

Bake for 20-25 minute or until the top is slightly browned.


Monday, October 20, 2008

"They grow up fast, those little ones..."

If you're the parent of young children, how often do you hear someone say that? Me? I'd say once a week.

I was looking at some recent pictures that drove the message home to my heart:My boys are inching closer to 2 and 5!

Another week, another round of dinners to be cooked:

Crockpot Ribs, Green Bean Casserole and Roasted Butternut Squash
Lightened Mac and Cheese with 2 Veggies inside
Oktoberfest Pasta Stir-fry (new recipe)
Chicken Parmesan and Salad
Tofu Curry (jarred sauce from Trader Joe's) and Vegetables

Here's to a sweet week-

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend Treat Pumpkin Dip

R and I whipped this up yesterday in the kitchen. It is pretty tasty. We dipped letter cookies (the kind from Trader Joe's), pretzels and apple slices. My favorite were the apples...R predictably liked the cookies best. Then again, he would eat cookies dipped in just about anything.

This is a good alternative to the traditional caramel dip for apples. Think about it...a snack where kids dip fruit in a vegetable? And it has yogurt for some probiotics? Love it.
Sweet Pea's Pumpkin Dip

1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 plain or vanilla yogurt, strained for ten minutes*
3 T maple syrup
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground allspice
1/8 t salt

Mix well. Dip. Repeat.

*Take a colander, line it with two layers of paper towels, and let the yogurt hang out while you get everything else ready. This gets rid of all the extra liquid.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another great tip from mom

My mom is the queen of tips and tricks. Remember her handy dandy way to deal with oven spills?

Here's another one from SPM/SPG (Mom/Grandma):

Need to reach something way up high on a shelf? Try your cooking tongs. Easier than lugging out the stool, and pretty darn handy.

Thanks mom,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pecan Sandies

I have to be honest, if you had asked me to list my top 10 favorite cookies a couple weeks ago, Pecan Sandies wouldn't have even been on my radar screen.

Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal White Chocolate Craisin, Ginger Spice, Chocolate Chip Meringues, Molasses, Macaroons, Oatmeal Raisin, Regular Ole' Sugar, Peanut Butter Kiss, oh and how the list could go on...

But a family member of ours has been recovering from surgery and word was that Pecan Sandies were his fave. So R and I whipped up a batch to mail him, and you know what? They were divine. Using half vegetable oil/butter instead of all butter gives these cookies a lighter, dreamier consistency. Try 'em, and see if they end up on your list.

Pecan Sandies

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cream of tartar
1/2 t salt
1 c chopped pecans, plus whole ones for decorating the top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, white sugar and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the pecans. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and top with a pecan half. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Go Bucks, Go Away Bugs

This weekend started out to hang out with SPH Friday night, ate dinner on our back porch, all was well.

Saturday AM we popped the boys in the bike chariot and rode to campus to check out all the tailgating before the OSU-Purdue football game. R and I were thrilled to run into one of the most famous OSU fans, Buck I. Guy:Then we also checked out the Brutus (OSU's beloved mascot) on Parade display.

We went to lunch, came home, did naps, and then the cold R brought home from preschool on Wednesday hit SPH and I like a ton of bricks. We are managing, but just as R is starting to get his energy back (read: bouncing off the walls from days of lounging around the house), we are tag teaming the boys to get our rest.

I have meals planned for this week, but we'll see how things play out with this bug. If all goes well, we'll have:

Olive Bar Fish
Grilled Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, Asparagus
Mexicali Pie (a new recipe we're trying per R's request)
Ribs, Rice and Bean Salad, Corn Casserole

Hope you all are well...and avoid those cold bugs circulating out there, there seems to be a lot going around!

Happy Columbus Day from your favorite Columbus blogger,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pumpkin Growing Attempted

Back in April we transplanted our pumpkin seedlings, grown from seed in our kitchen, into our yard. Things were looking good for the first part of the summer and I had dreams of opening up a farm stand in our front yard.

Alas, our pumpkin plants got bacterial wilt and ended up looking like this (the other vines completely withered):
But that's why there's pumpkin patches, right?

Maybe we'll try again next year,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Make It Your Own Baked Penne

Looking for an easy peasy, yummy cheesy recipe? You've found it.

The best part? It was made healthier than a traditional baked pasta dish by using reduced fat cheese and whole wheat pasta.

Make It Your Own Baked Penne

1 pound of penne pasta (use whole wheat if possible)
1 (26-32 oz) jar of pasta sauce -OR- 3-4 cups Sweet Pea Pasta Sauce
1 15oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c of any vegetable you choose**
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t ground oregano
1 16 oz container of fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 c grated parmesan
8 0z package 2% milk Italian shredded cheese

Cook the penne according to the package instructions, omitting fat and salt.

While the penne is cooking, heat the pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, your choice of vegetable**, garlic and oregano over medium low heat in a sauce pan. Stir to combine.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drain the penne and mix with the pasta sauce mixture. Place half in the bottom of a 9x13 oven safe pan. Spread the ricotta on top, and then sprinkle the parmesan cheese and half of the shredded cheese on top. Top with remaining pasta sauce and penne, followed by remaining shredded cheese.Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top looks like this:

**use whatever vegetables you wish--I used 1 c roasted eggplant and some chopped spinach...but you can use olives, chopped mushrooms, cooked broccoli, zucchini, peppers, artichoke hearts, etc. -OR- alternatively, you could use ground meat of some type

We loved this recipe, I hope you do too!

Oh, and I will post the other recipes within the next week too...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's up next?

Busy weekend here. My folks were here Friday-Monday for a great visit. This weekend was quintessential autumn...the weather was beautiful, we even picked out pumpkins. Oh, and SPH and I went out for a date. Thanks mom and dad!

I've been busy in the kitchen too and need to figure out which recipe I should post next:

Should it be...
Whatever you choose will get posted first.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Huh? What?

Huh?! It was afternoon snack time and G was insisting upon something, but what, I could not tell.

After I took this video I distracted him with some popcorn and problem solved, but I am still curious. R thought he was saying "dump truck," but he wasn't...

Any guesses?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I am the only one who does this sort of thing?

Why oh why did I get lured into buying these tomatoes? Don't I know that I have tomatoes out the ying yang at home?? Darn you Whole Foods and your fancy marketing of these 99 cent organic tomatoes! I got so giddy about the deal I forgot all about the multitude of tomatoes I have at home.

I'm a sucker for a deal,