Friday, January 30, 2009

Got Guacamole?

What are your Super Bowl plans this weekend? SPH returned late last night from being in Dallas all week long, so a quiet weekend at home with the boys may be in order. But we may also invite some folks over for the game too...who knows?

If you're looking for a very easy, very tasty guacamole recipe (or one for homemade Wheat Crisps or Tzatziki) for your Super Bowl festivities, I posted one on this week. In fact, the guacamole recipe is so easy, even a 2 year old can make it:

Amazingly, G has not inherited the guacamole-obsession gene that R and I possess. But he loves to help make it!

Have a great weekend and stay warm!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow and Ice and Pancakes too

We got walloped with ice and snow last night, so much so that *everything* in town is closed...the schools, the libraries, even OSU, which seldom closes. This is what I saw when I gathered the papers from the front step this morning:

and our backyard at lunch time (notice the pine branches bending under the weight of all the ice):

While I am bummed that there is no school today, I am incredibly thankful we have power and have enjoyed playing in the snow with the boys twice already today.

We decided to celebrate this morning with:

Snowman pancakes! We used my favorite pancake recipe and poured the batter in little circles, waiting about 5-10 second between pouring each circle, so the batter wouldn't just turn into one big blob. After they cooked, I added a shake or two of powdered sugar. Despite the scary/freaky/weird cranberry eyes, this idea was a hit with the boys!

I leave you with one last ice/snow picture, a glimpse of my lavender:

When life hands you a snow day, make snowman pancakes!

Snowy but happy,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Da Bomb Brussel Sprouts

Yes, brussel sprouts can taste amazing. You know my secret? Bacon. Are you surprised? I wasn't. Bacon makes anything taste better, and it transformed one of my least favorite vegetables into something I gobbled up.

I took Rookie Cookie's Roasted Brussel Sprout recipe (which by the way, was pretty darn good without the bacon!) and added 2 slices of chopped bacon. The result was dreamy. Yes, brussel sprouts can be dreamy.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

1 pound of brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the brussel sprouts. Cut the large ones in half and trim off the ends of the sprout. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, bacon, salt and pepper:
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they are browned and the bacon is crispy.

Yum. Really! I mean it-yum.


Monday, January 26, 2009


Birthday week has come and gone, R and G are a year older, we have another party's worth of memories created and I have learned a thing or two myself in the process:

1. Boxed cake mix just tastes better. I hate admitting this, but after much research and trying, the cakes baked for R and G tasted okay, but nothing like a good boxed cake mix. My regular readers will know how difficult this is for me to admit because my kitchen motto is that we can always "make it better" ourselves. Not so with cakes. They were okay, and the boys loved them, but they were a bit dry, a bit stiff and just not like Betty Crocker.

2. Bought cakes from a bakery are worth every penny. I spent a good few hours on Saturday creating two cakes for the boys. My hands hurt from all the squeezing and my kitchen counter looked like this:

I basically spent all my free (ha!) time on Saturday creating these:

I was proud of how they looked, but I also cringed when they were cut into a couple hours later.

3. Natural food dyes just don't cut it. Ok, so maybe if I had a girl that wanted a pastel princess-y cake, the natural food dyes would have worked. But for a red racing car (what R and G both requested), the natural dyes were a joke. I don't think a magenta-ish/gray car would have garnered a good reaction from R. I am a bit embarassed at how much I spent on the food coloring, so if someone out there has a child with a Food Dye allergy, please tell me and I will mail to you, gratis.

After all the baking, entertaining (we had SPH's folks and my folks staying with us this weekend), and party planning, I am taking a mini-cookcation for a few days. Thankfully Shannon is up for our Monday night dinner co-op tonight, and I have a dinner date planned with a friend later this week. I have a feeling my freezer will get a look or two for the other meals.

Have a sweet week,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday R!

To My Amazing Big Boy R-

You've made it to your "whole hand of fingers" birthday. 5. 5! You have turned into a true boy, as there is little about you that reminds me of your little man/toddler days.

This past year has been transforming in so many ways. You are running and climbing and riding bikes in true big boy form. Your questions and conversations give me pause and help me to realize that you are your own person, one with growing comprehension and amazing insight. Your compassion, joy, inquisitiveness and love bless me more than you can imagine.

I love that despite all this growth you still have a tender heart and the need to snuggle with your mama. I love that you still give eager hugs and like it when I "stay a little bit" after our bedtime routine. I love you.

This next year will bring so many new adventures. The end of preschool. The beginning of elementary. Untold new adventures, new friends, new hurts, new experiences, new fun. I can't wait to see what the next year holds!

With so much love,

Some pictures from the last year...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Knee deep in birthday week

Birthday week continues, with G taking a birthday treat (Super Bars with no nuts) to his preschool "Mom's Morning Out" friends yesterday, and R taking a treat to his classroom this morning (Slacker Chocolate Chip cookies, made into bar cookies and cut into the shape of race cars). If I don't bake again after this weekend for a long, long time, I will be a happy camper.

I still have the grand finale of birthday week baking for their party Saturday. I am making two homemade cakes in the shape of a race car. I was excited to find this recipe for homemade cake mix. In classic Sweet Pea style, I will be tweaking the recipe a bit to see what works best and to make it all natural, so I'll be sure to report back on that end.

I also found natural food coloring:

I've never used natural food dyes, but I am going to give them a whirl...we'll see! Has anyone out there ventured into natural food coloring?

Baking up a storm,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


A few weeks ago I wrote about Everybody's Nuts pistachios, and how I particularly loved the Salt and Pepper variety. I have to admit, I have developed somewhat of an obsession with these healthy nuts. They are amazing, and more than once I have gone to the store to pick some up, only to see they are sold out/not in stock.


Imagine my delight when I was at Costco this weekend and found:

A three pound bag! Of my favorite nuts! For less than $12!

Giddy Up,

Monday, January 19, 2009

G is 2!

Dear Sweet, sweet G,

Today you are 2. You were supposed to be our "February Baby," but you had other plans and decided to arrive a few weeks early. I'll never forget the day I found out your birth was imminent...all my lists and baby preparation plans for the last two weeks of January were thrown out the window. It was a surrender to you, a surrender to God's perfect plan of your arrival. When you weighed in at just over 8 pounds, I decided a 37 week baby was just fine by me.

I have a sneaky feeling that you came early so your birthday could always be *before* your brother's birthday...let's face it, you get a lot of things that R has already used, his clothes, his trucks, his toys, even his sippy cups. Although you never seem to mind all the "seconds" of R's stuff (yet), I know you will love always having your birthday first each year.

When you were born, you were vocal. There was no doubt your lungs were fully developed as you wailed vociferously as you came into this world. Now 2 years old, you continue to be vocal. We once termed you the "little dictator" when you began solid foods...your squawks and squeals were demanding in the sweetest of ways, and your gregariousness now proves that this trait is just an innate part of who you were created to be. Singing, talking, sharing, laughing with you bless us in ways that are impossible to limit to word. You are a joy.

We love you G!
SPC, SPH and R

G, 2 days old

6 months

12 months

18 months

a hair shy of 2

Friday, January 16, 2009

ABCs and MP3s

We made paninis this week and oh-my-goodness, were they good. We made several different types, but our favorites were the ABC and MP3 paninis.

ABC Paninis

Apple, sliced about 1/4 inch thin (we used Gala apples)
Bacon, 3 slices per panini
Cheddar Cheese, several healthy slices, preferably sharp cheddar cheese
spinach leaves
Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Sourdough Boule Bread
Olive Oil

MP3 Paninis

Mozzarella Cheese, sliced thin to cover one side of the bread
Parmesan Cheese, a few slices, shaved from a hunk of cheese with a carrot peeler
Prosciutto Ham, 2-3 slices
Pear, sliced about 1/4 inch thin (we used a firm Bosc pear)
spinach, a few leaves
Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Sourdough Boule Bread
Olive Oil

I feel funny telling you how to make a sandwich, so I am not going to tell you how to make one, but do make sure you layer the cheese on the outer layer, so it will melt fully.

If you aren't into fruit in your sandwiches, I encourage you to give it a try, as it works really well. But if you *really* aren't into fruit in your sandwiches, SPH made a manly man panini using proscuitto, bacon, both cheeses and spinach which he declared the panini winner.

Also, think you can't have a panini because you don't have a panini maker? Think again...

Yep, my grill pan worked just fine...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The baking police...

My thoughtful, wonderful mom came across and shared with me this cookbook from when she was a little girl. I will share the contents with you, as they are priceless. But first I have to share what R's reaction was to seeing this cookbook.

Background: I am cooking frantically to get dinner on the table. R is looking at this cookbook on the kitchen floor when I hear an emphatic, "UH-OH!" I immediately start wondering what G has gotten into now, since this is the most logical explanation for R's exclamation. I turn around to see nothing spilled or broken so I ask,

SPC: "R, why did you say 'UH-OH'?"

R: "Mommy, don't you see what is happening here?" (pointing to the cover of the cookbook above)

(pause for you to look at the cover)

SPC: "Umm, no."

R: "Mommy, that boy is eating raw eggs in that dough!!!"

SPC: (amazed and realizing R's incredible observation skills) "Yep...I hope he doesn't get a belly ache."

R: "Didn't his mommy tell him that he can't eat raw eggs?"

At this point I decided against a historical explanation about our agricultural system and the rise of salmonella in mass produced eggs. Instead I just said, "guess not!"

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snowy Hot Chocolate

We got a good 5 inches and counting of snow here in Sweet Pea-ville. The boys, daddy (who came home early from work to avoid the heinous rush hour) and I shoveled and played in the snow for a good bit before dinner tonight.

Our Sweet Pea tradition is to always have hot chocolate when we come in from playing in the snow, and since this was our first *real* snow of the season, we did it up right.

Snowy Hot Chocolate

About 6 ounces of milk
3 Hershey Kisses
Sprinkling of coconut (the snow!)

Mix in a mug:

Microwave on 50% power for one minute increments until the chocolate has fully melted. Stir. Sprinkle with shredded coconut and let sit for about 3-4 minutes to let the coconut get nice and soft.

Drink. Ahhh...

Life is sweet,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mango Jicama Salsa

While nothing soothes the winter spirit more than comfort food, there is only so much cheese, pasta, soup and casseroles a girl can take. Sometimes, in the cold of winter, I long for the colorful foods of spring, summer and fall. The recipe below fits this bill and is great because you can make it any time of the year. Bonus: it is super healthy!

I am such a fan of this new salsa, I can't wait to make it again. I told the boys that the jicama was "mexican apple" and they loved it. Apple and mango salsa? Yummy.

I took a recipe my mom had shared with me and Sweet Pea'd it up a bit. For color, I used radish, but you could easily omit this and use red pepper.

Mango Jicama Salsa

1 medium jicama, peeled and diced
1-2 cups mango, cubed (I used Trader Joe's frozen mango)
5-6 radishes, sliced and then cut in half
3 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalepeno, de-seeded and minced
zest of one orange
3 T orange juice
1 1/2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
2 T cider vinegar

Mix together. Serve with chips. Mmm. Repeat.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Birthday Recon

Friday I took R and G on a little birthday reconnaissance mission: to check out the indoor play area where we are having their birthday party in 2 weeks. Their favorite thing was what they dubbed the "swinging bath tub":

Recreations Outlet is a huge indoor showroom with nearly a dozen huge indoor wooden playsets, trampolines, basketball courts and ride-on toys. There are also two party rooms, so we're having a race car birthday party coming up soon.

They're both genuinely excited about having their party together, which warms this mom's heart more than you can imagine. They're also playing more together, doing joint bedtime together and this weekend they set up shop on the kitchen floor for an impromptu snack together:

I am trying to hold on these moments as best I can, because there are plenty of "mine," "no mine!" moments too. A mentor mom once told me to secretly indoctrinate the boys to be best friends as much as possible. Who knows if this will work, but every chance I can get I tell them, "isn't it so cool that your best friend lives in your house?" or "you two are best brother friends."

An aside: I am trying to add more photos and comments to my recipes. If you have a charitable moment, think of it, and are so inclined, I would love for you to add your two cents to the comment section to any recipe you try or may have already tried. I am also sloooowly adding to my photos of recipes, something sorely lacking in SP&P's early days. Just added: (finally) a picture of my chicken taco soup.

Our meals for the week:
Shrimp and Tofu Stirfry with Bok Choy (never got to it last week!)
Less Mess Sloppy Joes, Roasted Brussel Sprout and Fresh Pineapple and Kiwi Fruit Salad
Paninis (Yes, for you Slacker Mama!), recipe to be posted later this week and Tuscan White Bean Soup
Baked Burritos
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna and Fennel, Orange and Parmesan Salad


Friday, January 9, 2009

Smashies Anyone?

The fine people of Smashies sent R, G and I some portable organic applesauce squeezies to try.

You may be thinking, "what in the world is a 'applesauce squeezy?'"

Well...let me tell you...imagine a Caprisun style applesauce packet, but instead of having icky artificial fruit punch inside, there is 100% organic, all natural, great tasting applesauce?

Buy you may be thinking, "will kids 'get' how to eat them?"

Let me introduce you to my tasting panel:

I didn't give them any instructions, just told them it was applesauce to taste. R had his opened in no time flat:

G needed a little help opening his, but despite my concerns it would end up all over him a la a juice box, there wasn't a drop spilled:

I'm sold. What a great portable, easy, healthful snack! Thanks Smashies!!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

9 for '09

Check out my 9 healthy ideas for '09 at this week. I also posted a recipe yesterday for this:

It's one of my favorite healthy comfort food recipes.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Warms you heart and soul

Today is a perfect soup day. Dreary, cold, with freezing rain coating most of the landscape. It is a "chill-you-to-the-bones" type day. Time to whip up some soup!

I love Butternut Squash soup and it couldn't be easier to make. The hardest part is trying to figure out how to get into the squash itself, since Butternut Squash can be pretty tricky to cut into without a machete sharp knife. To help, try peeling the squash like a carrot before cutting.

Here's my take on Butternut Squash soup. I used clementine zest since that is what I have in the fruit bowl this week, but regular orange zest works great too.

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup with Clementine Zest

1 T olive oil
3 green onions, white parts only, sliced
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1-2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 quart of chicken or vegetable broth
zest of 2 clementines or 1 orange
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, cooking for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the squash and carrot and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the broth, zest, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are very tender.

Puree with an immersion blender, or pour contents into a food processor or blender (do in 2 batches).

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, some croutons or bread, and a slight pinch of fresh nutmeg, if desired.

Don't you feel warmer already?

Sweet eats-

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cookcation over, time to get to the cutting board

The past week has been a blur of antibiotics, eye drops, medicine schedules and oh yeah, did you notice it's a new year?

R and G shared an ear infection back and forth and back again, and SPH came down with a nasty case of tonsillitis that landed him at Urgent Care on New Year's Eve. My night owl husband was, no joke, in bed by 6:30pm on New Year's Eve. Fun times! It's okay though since we stuck with our plan to visit my parents, and I was able to join my parents and their friends for a night of adult conversation...a real treat for any parent of young children.

Just like almost a year ago, by the grace of God I have somehow dodged the nasty germ circulating in our home. But after the past week of trying to take care of three boys, I feel like I might need a few days rest in bed, "cough, cough" (wink).

Santa brought me a few new toys for the kitchen, including this tool I have been pining for for years:

My new microplane zester and grater are without a doubt, the best kitchen tools I have gotten in a long time. If you have been toying with picking one (or two) up, I highly recommend them.

Over the break I also have been coming up with some new recipes to try and post. Slacker Mama, I am on the search for a good, unique panini recipe for you and your new toy. My quest to find a good slow cooker rib recipe has sadly ended, as I have decided trying to live up to our Weber smoker ribs using a slow cooker is a exercise in futility.

So new year, new recipes, new foods, new fun:

Tonight we're doing football fare for the Fiesta Bowl...and then it will be...
Baked Couscous and Spinach Salad
White Bean Mediterranean Quesadillas and Tzatziki
Grilled Steaks, Sauteed Kale, Balsamic Mushrooms
Slow Cooker Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
Chicken Fiesta Soup (and oldie but goodie!) with Jicama-Mango Salad

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't say...