Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Chicken Pomodoro


I made this meal at a little dinner party I had saturday with friends....and it was absolutely delightful.  I served w/garlic mashed red potatoes (recipe below) and salad.  Enjoy!


Ingredients:
3 Chicken Breasts, sliced in two pieces/in half so they are thinner. 
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
2-4 TBS heavy cream (I did use heavy but I think you could use FF 1/2 & 1/2 or light and it would be great)
1/3 cup scallions, mincedsalt and pepper to taste
flour for dredging
2 cloves fresh garlic
For Garlic Red Mashed Potatoes:
8 Red Potatoes, sliced w/skin ON
3-5 TBL Smart Balance Butter
3 TBL of Sour Cream
Garlic Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Season cutlets with salt and pepper. You can pound the chicken to make it thinner...it will cook much faster, as well.
2. Dredge in flour shaking off excess.
3. Add oil to skillet and saute chicken for a couple of minutes on each side.
4. Transfer to a platter and pour off fat(if any).
5. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup wine(or chicken stock). Cook for about 2 minutes.
6. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and lemon juice....you can add some garlic if you like(purely optional).
7. Return chicken cutlets to pan and cook for one minute on each side.
8. Remove the chicken and place on a warm serving platter.
9. To the skillet and sauce add the tomatoes, garlic and cream. Make sure your heat is on low and just heat through for about a minute or so. You don't want the cream to boil.  If you are low on the juices from earlier mixture, add a bit more wine/chicken broth as neccesary.
10. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with scallions. 
For Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
Boil potatoes until completely cooked, mix w/electric mixer & ingredients (don't over mix!)
Serve w/Salad!  Happy eating friends!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Best Foods To Eat During Pregnancy - Guest Post from Zoe (UK)

Now that there are two mouths to feed and 300 extra calories a day in sight, it’s important to follow a healthy, balanced diet for both you and your baby. Those extra calories need to provide your baby with the nutrients it needs to keep developing and growing, and to put him or her in good stead for a healthy lifestyle. As well as eating well whilst pregnant, it’s important to get plenty of sleep before your little bundle arrives, and ensure your sleep is spent on a mattress that is firm, yet soft enough to accommodate your new curves. Also, continue with your regular exercise regime until you feel comfortable. Here we give you a varied list of “power foods” that will ensure you have a healthier, smoother pregnancy.

1. Leafy, green vegetables – a nutritional hero in your pregnancy diet, eat vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and spinach to provide you and your baby with a good intake of fibre, folic acid, vitamin C and calcium.
2. Yoghurt – yoghurt works great as a midday snack, and greek yoghurt with your favourite fruit is even better. Jam-packed with protein, calcium, potassium and folic acid, you can pick up a yoghurt at your nearest supermarket and eat on-the-go for mummies to be with busy lifestyles. Equally, blend with your favourite fruit to make smoothies. Yoghurts can also prevent stomach upsets and yeast infections due to all the “active cultures”, better known as good bacteria, so it gets a double thumbs up.
3. Porridge – a delicious way to get your fibre and iron intake, porridge is a great breakfast to start your day. Add blueberries and apples for a fruity twist, or banana and cinnamon for a bit more of a kick. Or just choose your favourite fruits and get making your own varieties!
4. Wholemeal bread, potatoes and rice – these make up a big part of your daily intake of calories, so go for wholemeal bread for toast and sandwiches, because wholemeal and wholegrain contain loads more vitamins, fibre and omega 3.
5. Avocados – this superfruit is packed full of vitamins, like B6, which can help with morning sickness, and plenty of folic acid, so it’s a great food to eat when you’re pregnant. Try avocado on salads, or spread on wholemeal toast for a great breakfast or snack.
6. Beans – a great source of protein for both you and baby, choose from a wide range. Our favourite is the edamame bean, as they are a yummy way of getting your intake of protein, calcium, folic acid and vitamins. They can be cooked with soups, casseroles and pastas or eaten on-the-go as a healthy snack.
7. Red peppers – containing lots of vitamins A, C and B6, red peppers and your favourite dip are another great snack to take around with you during the day. You can also chop them up and throw them into pasta dishes and stir-fries, or into your sandwiches and salads.
8. Kiwi – another superfruit to add to your pregnancy diet. Kiwis have just as much vitamin C as an orange, so it’s a great way to boost your C-vit intake, and keep your baby healthy and strong. Kiwis are also packed with folic acid and antioxidants to make you and your baby stronger at attacking viruses.

Zoe is an avid blogger and experienced freelance writer, and loves to share her knowledge through content on the internet. Zoe is currently writing on behalf of bed superstore Archers Sleep Centre.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Beef Stew on Toast

This is one of those meals that's healthy but awesome...it's almost a comfort food though it doesn't sound like it.   I was skeptical when first making it as there are so few ingredients...however, it's packing with flavor.

Ingredients:
1-Pd lean ground beef
salt & pepper
1 1/2-TBL olive oil
1- Medium onion, chopped
3- Cloves of garlic, minced (I suggest fresh)
1- 15.5 oz can of fat free beef broth
2-TBL flour or cornstarch
1-14/5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1-Can cut green beans
4 to 6 slices of whole wheat bread, cut diagonally or 4-6 whole wheat rolls toasted

Directions: In large, deep, nonstick skillet cook the ground beef for about 10 minutes or until cooked.  Season to taste w/salt & pepper.  Remove beef & put in a bowl.  Warm oil in same skillet over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic, stirring often until tender.  In small bowl whisk together beef broth & flour or cornstarch until blended smooth.  Gradually stir into skillet and bring to a boil.  Stir in tomatoes & the juices.  Cook stirring about five minutes, until slightly thickened.  Add green beans and ground beef to the skillet and cook another 7 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.  Serve over toast!  ~ Happy Eating Friends, Trina

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Mothers Intuition

I believe we all as mother’s have a little bit of a mother’s intuition.  We all get gut feelings if you will, those teeny little inner voices that tell us when something is wrong or off in a situation. 
I was invited recently to speak at a Mother’s of Preschoolers monthly meeting in regards to our book and blog.  I was super excited, as that is so right up my alley.  I love groups, I love talking, and well…I really love our book and blog. 
In preparation to do so, I was making notes on a speech, printing off business cards with our website info on it, among other things.  I remember a fleeting thought of- what happens if I am not able to go to this for some reason?  What would cause me to miss this?  Then  I had this terrible flash of me having to call the meeting coordinator, Amanda, to inform her I couldn’t come because I had to take my child to the hospital.  Because I frequently have irrational thoughts, I brushed this off as another one and moved on in preparation of my meeting.
Because we’d had a late night the night before, I stopped by Starbucks for a few moments of peace and quiet to go through my key notes and unwind.  While there, I got a panicked call from my husband, followed by a string of explicit words.  Because my husband rarely cusses, I was immediately alarmed.
“What is going on?” I yelled as I could hear one of my children crying in the background.
“We are going back to the F***ing hospital!” He yelled in my ear (we've been to the ER a few times between both our kiddos).
So, there I was, calling Amanda letting her know I was heading to the ER rather than coming to the meeting…and we would reschedule later.  I felt a little déjà vu, like…hello.  This was so my vision I had!
I truly believe God sends us messages in whichever way it is that you communicate with him.  Sound weird?  Maybe…some people claim they actually talk to God.  While I don’t have conversations such as; Hello God, how are you today.  Oh you are great?  Me too! I do feel I communicate through praying or feelings or thoughts with him. 
However, I didn’t feel this required a calling from God.  You see we headed to the ER with a less-than-concerned five-year-old who had a small gash on her chin.  It was a few hours and she was all glued up and ready to go home.  Not quite what I would consider an example of where I would need God’s immediate and distressed warning.
Thus my conclusion is…I feel as mom’s we are just equipped with what’s simply called a mother’s instinct.  Think that guy at the grocery store looks creepy?   He probably is…stay away.  Concerned about the hairs standing on the back of your neck as you cross a dark, abandoned street?  You probably should be.  So while I doubt I will be cancelling all plans the next time I have one of my “visions”…I doubt I’ll be dismissing them quite so quickly. ~Trina

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Toddlers Eating Habits - Just Enough To Keep A Baby Bird Alive?

My child just doesn’t eat.  My husband and I actually read the little sheet the pediatrician gives you; you know the one their assistant prints from some random googled site between her Facebook posts.  It reads “a toddler is only expected to eat as much as a baby bird.”  Check!  We’re good!  That is precisely how much our two-year-old is eating. 
I know what he likes.  At least, this week.  He loves him some green beans and broccoli (no, really!)  And pineapple and raisins.  And beef…taco meat, burger bites, even steak—my diet the first four weeks of his existence in my belly, thanks to many business meetings in Kansas City.  In fact, the first person to know I was pregnant, other than myself, was my KC cabbie shuttling me to the airport the morning my stick showed two pink lines. 
   My husband and I were in agreement that we wouldn’t be those parents–the parents who’d cook up chicken korma with a side of mango chutney and naan just to feed our offspring hot dogs and mac and cheese.  And we aren’t…yet.  We serve a meal and they are expected to eat it.  If they don’t, I guess they’ll figure it out by the next meal that they should eat what they’re served.  However, the trick doesn’t seem to be working.  He doesn’t flinch.  He still doesn’t eat.  He seems to not have eaten a bite.
   Yet, there are those meals where they throw down.  I get such delight in seeing them polish off an entire plate.  I feel accomplished.  Finally, my trice-daily attempt at balanced meals including a protein, grain, vegetable and dairy product (almost always their sippy of milk).  And then it seems he doesn’t eat again for a week.  Still, I take such pride in those fleeting moments.  I take into account the snacks I’d given through the course of the day.  Goldfish seem like the biggest culprit.  Or maybe just milk.  I feel blessed with the fact that they do enjoy the beverage of choice for little men.  But, maybe too much is simply too much when their little bodies are in need of other vitamins and minerals.
   As his primary caregiver, I know I’m presenting him with a nice balance and constantly trying to rework our menu to find something he’ll eat, something that sticks for a while.  There is only so much you can do.  We weigh in healthy at our checkups.  In fact, he is 90th percentile in weight and height, so something is nourishing him.  So, how does he poop?  Cause he poops…today he pooped three times.  I really haven’t figured that one out yet… 
   So, if you’re confident you’re providing a balance of healthy options and they are eating, they are pooping and they are growing, then maybe, in fact, they are eating as much as they need, even if it’s just enough to keep a baby bird alive.   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement~ Southwest Chicken Soup

This was the first time I'd made this soup...and it was absolutely amazing.  First of all, I love pretty much all Mexican food.  Secondly, I love cilantro like there's no tomorrow.  And most importantly as you know, I love healthy food.  So, you can see why this meal is a fav of mine.  I have to be honest, the hubby wasn't a huge fan, he argued for me to cook it once a month rather than my argument of at least once every two weeks.  Both kids loved it.

Ingredients:
1-Can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed & drained
1-Can (14/5 oz) chicken broth
12-oz of your favorite Salsa
3/4 to 1-Pd cooked chicken breasts, cut up into chunks
1- Can corn
2-Tsp ground Cumin
1 1/2-Tsp Chili Powder
1/4-Cup Cheddar cheese shredded
4-TBL light sour cream
1/4-Cup Fresh Diced Cilantro

Directions:
(First, I browned the chicken w/olive oil)
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the beans, broth, salsa, chicken, corn, cumin, chili powder.  Bring to boil, reduce to low & cover, simmer for 15 minutes to blend spices/flavors.
Ladle soup into bowls, top with sour cream, cheese, and cilantro.
Happy eating friends!  Trina

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa

My friend Allie Clay has inspired me.  She spent the first few years of her daughters' lives in Cyprus.  When I met her, I nodded my head when she told me they had recently lived there - oh yes, Cyprus.  I know it well. But I hadn't a clue and I think I'm fairly good with geography.  Though it helped when she related it with Greece, since my parents were married there (Iraklion, to be specific).  Anyway, I'm admitting that I am now just looking up on a map where Cyprus really is.  What's this got to do with a recipe?  Well, not really anything.  Except I like to share what I learn (see yellow square on my groovy little map) and Allie has inspired me to eat healthier and to add fish to my repertoire.  Her kids have been eating fish since they've been given whole foods and it's one of their favorite dishes.  They (ages 3 and 6) even help her pick out the fish when they go grocery shopping with her. She didn't give me this specific recipe (see original here), but this is one I have enjoyed in the rare instances I have made fish for my family.  Hopefully you'll be seeing more fish recipes from me as I introduce them to my family.  And I'll be sure to let you know which ones come from Mrs. Clay.  

Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa



1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets

1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, parsley, garlic, basil, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl and pour into a resealable plastic bag. Add the tilapia fillets, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the mango salsa by combining the mango, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the lime juice and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate.
  4. Remove the tilapia from the marinade, and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade. Grill the fillets until the fish is no longer translucent in the center, and flakes easily with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Serve the tilapia topped with mango salsa.
Buon Appetito! ~ Leah

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Down & Dirty on True Whole Grain


As you all painstakingly know by my anti-chicken fingers movement recipes, I'm a nut for feeding my body with healthy foods.  So, I love researching and learning about what is truly healthy as they come out with new items every day we are supposed to ax from our families diets.

I will tell you one thing: if you are swapping whole grain for refined flour products, healthy fat (such as avocados or nuts in place of potato chips), fresh foods rather than processed foods, you are already on the right track.  Throw in leaner proteins, milk and cheeses, etc, you will be doing great.

So, to hone in on one of these items - what truly is whole grain?  Well, the first ingredient should say "whole".  Avoid or deeply scrutinize products that show multi-grain - loose regulations by the FDA mean  the product doesn't necessarily contain much whole grain.

So why whole grain and what is refined flour?  Refined flour is made from grains that have been stripped of their fiber-rich outer bran and nutrient-dense inner germ.  So...basically, most of the nutritional value has been removed.

Be sure a whole grain (e.g., whole wheat, oats, whole barley, whole rye) heads the ingredient list.  Skip those that list wheat, unbleached wheat, wheat farina, rice, corn or rye flour, as all are refined.  Look for at least three grams of fiber per 100 calories.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be feeding my body, and my children's body, with as many nutrients as possible.  More articles to follow on healthy eating!  ~ Trina

Friday, February 17, 2012

Advice From Books or Friends - Who Do You Trust More?

Happiest Baby On The Block? 
I laughed the other day with a good friend from college.  We were remembering a call I made to her a little over three years ago.  I was crying to her after I finally got a two-week-old Luke down for a nap.  “He’s not the happiest baby on the block! What am I doing wrong?! I’ve read the book cover to cover.  I’m sticking to their schedule. But he’s still waking up too early for his feeding and I can’t just let him cry and not eat if he’s hungry!” She laughed at me.  Yep, straight up, no holds barred, laughed at me which immediately shocked me out of my upset. This mother of three under the age of ten knew better.  “You cannot use any of these books as the end-all, be-all. Every child is different. Every home is different!” Another friend got so mad when I told her how I was feeling that she yelled into the phone that she wished these books didn’t exist at all.  That they seem to frustrate everyone rather than help.  “That’s what we’re here for! Your friends who have been through it!”  She went on to give me the same advice about each child being different and to go with my instinct.
Luke - Sweetly Sleeping

After having two sons back to back (14 ½ months apart), I can really appreciate that each and every child has his or her own way of doing things. Their own schedule. Luke would eat alittle and then sleep a little.  Then eat a little more and sleep a little more.  Zealand would eat and eat and then sleep hard.  Then wake up and eat like he hadn’t eaten in hours! Luke was vocal if he barely wet his diaper, when he was cold or too warm, anything that made him uncomfortable.  Zealand seemed to just chill.  It’s just who they were and indeed, who they are today.

Little Zealand - Chillin' with a smile
If you’re an expectant mom, a new mom or even a veteran mom reading up on each new stage of child rearing, take it from me and read the books out there.  But use these books as guides and follow your heart.  Do what feels right to you and what is right for your family. No book can tell you exactly what to do in every situation for each individual child. Although, I was always looking for that book. Often times your girlfriends do have the advice that will guide you through your experiences. So go ahead and give your girls a call!



Bros with their daddy-o

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Facing Your Fears (and Why It's Important)

As I’ve written already, Mexico was a complete blast.  It was everything I’d imagined and more…and since I’m quite the optimist this is saying a lot!
Before I even went on my trip, I decided I was going to zipline.  Since with each year of age I've become more frightened of anything above the second story of my home, this is a big deal.  You see, I used to be the girl who took chances.  I was the one who was never afraid of anything, and if I was, I sure wasn’t going to admit it!
I remember getting a tongue ring on a trip to Wyoming with a group of girlfriends who were also supposed to get them.  The lady was cracked out and apparently up on an night meth-binge…but I didn’t care.  I said I was doing it, and by God, I was doing it.  So I went first and guess what…I was the only one who went home with a tongue ring.  Hey, I didn’t blame my friends, I was crazy!
Or, the first trip to Mexico I took where I went para-sailing.  I had to be the first one to go as my friends were all skeptical.  And I didn’t act the least bit scared when the driver of the boat almost sent my flying into a group of buildings on the beach on my descent back.
Somehow, after birthing two children I’ve decided I’m a scaredy cat.  I don’t go on the huge water slides at the parks.  I don’t even ride the roller coasters anymore…my old favorite!  It’s like now I have two very small beings I’m responsible for, and I don’t want to do anything crazy.  Period!  The interest is no longer there to prove I’m the tough girl.  It drives my husband crazy!  He misses the old me.
So, you see my point at the wildness of deciding to zipline…and then on top of that, rappelling from 70 feet in the air.  But, as I try to soar upwards with my dreams, I realize I have to face my fears.  I can’t run from things that scare me anymore; I have to face them head on. 
So, there I went up what seemed like a billion flights of rickety wooden stairs (in the wind, mind you), in the middle of the jungle.  With each step the fear was crawling up, threatening to engulf and nearly immobilize me.  But, I kept on to the top.  I watched Shannon step off the platform of the tower, backwards, secured by only a rope and with a smile on face.  I kept thinking, go back Trina-this is crazy.
But, I didn’t go back.  I didn’t look down.  I stepped off the edge with my heart racing, hoping I wouldn’t plummet down to my most certain death, and rappelled the 70 feet without a hitch.  Ziplining came next-it was much easier.  I felt free, flying over the beautiful jungle and who knows how fast…not a care in the world.
You see I overcame a major obstacle that day…I decided that nothing is going to stop me…ever.  I’m going to take my fears and face my hurdles head on, ready to jump.  Nothing and no one is going to get in the way of me achieving what I want in this wonderful journey we call life.  It may get scary at times, but as I learned, I can handle fear and ultimately turn it to triumph.   ~Trina

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Buffalo Chicken Rolls.

When Leah asked me to post her recipe, I jumped in glee!  Clayton has an ear infection, so I'm home for the second day this week and while he's napped, I've gotten stuff done (nothing insurance I'll have you know!).  There's many things I love as I'm quite the lover anyway-but oh, man how I love cooking (when  I have the time) and just food in general.  Leah, no worries girl - get your packing done for the big move, you are in good hands.  Here's our Wednesday recipe.  As always I'm trying to provide you healthy yet yummy.  The name deceiving? No worries, it's good for you so indulge!  Dinner, party, whatever you want...sounds like an appetizer but I have such a weakness for buffalo chicken, I've had for dinner with just a side salad!  


Ingredients
10 egg roll wrappers
1 - 2 chicken breasts
1/2- 2/3 cup hot sauce
1 cup cole slaw
1 cup cheddar cheese chunks or shredded (light or 2%)
Ranch dressing, for dipping (I suggest making your own or buying from a local restaurant)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

If you have enough room, you can lay out your egg roll wrappers and do this assembly line style
Lay out the wrapper and put some cole slaw on there, towards one corner of the wrapper 
Top with chicken & top with cheese
Fold the bottom up, then the left and right corners in, and roll it up!
Dab your finger in water and rub it along the edge to seal. - Repeat!
Now, put a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and you're almost ready to go.
Spray everything down with some nonstick, then put your little rolls on top
Give them a little shower of the spray too, for a little extra moisture.
Put them in for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with ranch!

Happy Eating Friends ~ Trina

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentine's Ode To Us - The Fabulous Do-It-All Moms

In honor of Valentine’s Day, an ode to us – the fabulous, beautiful, amazing, do-it-all women that we are!

Imagine the following being spoken in the voice of the amazing Barry White!

Woman, you do it all.


From dawn til dusk
You never stop
Even when the sun sets
You’re still on top ;)


Our children wouldn’t survive 
If it weren’t for you, love
Brushing and baths 
We’d sure to be rid of


You take them to the doc
And the dentist too
We need to refinance?
It’s all on you!


You got nothing but time
When you’re home all day
During our kids’ long naptime
You can clean away 


Got milk? 
No? We’re out?
I’m sure you can stop 
It’ll be on your route


Once the kids go to bed
You are too sweet
To let me have the remote
Can you grab me a treat?


Uh huh, oh yeah
What’s that you say
Yes, I’m listening!
You were talking about your day


You’re laying in bed now
So relaxed and sweet
I bet I know just what you want
That’s my hand slippin’ under the sheet


I think to myself
As I close my eyes
You’re such a champion
I’m the luckiest of guys


Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day
I may actually forget
And if I do
Please let me admit


That I treasure and love you
For all that you do
You’ll know it from this verse
That I am lucky to have you


Circ. 2001 - True Love!  Awww!
If I don’t meet your expectations
When the tomorrow’s sun is set
Forgive me, I’m a man
But I’m forever in your debt.


I appreciate you!
Until we’re old and gray.
And if I don’t actually say it
Happy Valentine’s Day!


Dedicated to my sweet, appreciative, and loving husband-MY man-who really does try!  I love you!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement~ Spinach Strawberry Salad

IMG_4275zoom.jpg

I've never really been one to order fruit with my salad..  However - at a dinner party about a year ago a friend made me try her spinach salad with cranberries on it....and I loved it.  Although this doesn't necessarily account a a full meal, it's a great side to a light dish such as chicken or pork.  It's also fabulous for a something quick you can throw together.





Ingredients
  • 6 oz (approx 6 cups) baby spinach leaves
  • 1 pint (approx. 16 medium-size) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered or sliced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons poppy seed dressing (see below instructions)
  • 1/2 cup candied pecan pieces (you can buy these at the store or use just regular pecans)
Directions


In large bowl, toss spinach, strawberries, onion, and cheese with dressing. Sprinkle candy pecan pieces on top just before serving (so they remain crisp).

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup grated/minced red onion (half of a small onion)
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste (you can substitute 1/2 truvia & 1/2 sugar for less sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (yes, I splurged and used this)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
3 EASY WAYS TO MIX THE DRESSING:
--Mince the onion. Add vinegar, sugar, mustard, & salt to the blender or food processor and mix until combined. Add the oils. Blend until well mixed (this is important!). Add poppy seeds and pulse just until mixed.
--In a bowl. Whisk together vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, minced onion, and poppy seeds until well combined. Continue whisking while adding the oils in a thin stream. Keep whisking until well combined.
--In a jar. Add everything except the 2 oils to the jar. Cover and shake to combine. Add 2 oils and shake vigorously until well combined.

If too thick, may be thinned by whisking in water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Television and Our Children

Alright, mamas!  Let's take a look at what are kiddos are watching on TV.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children under the age of two not watch any television and that children older than two watch 1 to 2 hours per day of quality programming.* Yet so many of the moms I talk to are similar to me and, at the very least, have their television on as background noise.  And when we do let our kids watch TV, many of us rely on Nick Jr. and Disney to be said "quality" programming.  But are these characters the best role models for our children?  Let's take a look at a few, shall we?

Study #1 - Blue's Clues (Role Model: Joe)
Seriously, sometimes these characters act like they aren't any older than three themselves.  Just the other day, Joe (I always want to call him Steve) was trying to teach our young about what we do when we wake up in the morning.  The first thing is to "do, do do, do, do"...did you catch that middle "do do"...is go potty.  So he's leading us through the motions like he's in charge, but after Blue does his deed, Joe can't remember what to do next.  He looks so confused and looks directly at my son for help as he scratches his chin.  "Hmmm, what are we supposed to do next?" Then a little kids voice from inside the TV calls out, "FLUSH!" And all of a sudden, Joe is reminded, "right, flush!" And he smiles and sings his "do do" song.  Sure, we all forget things from time to time.  Understood.  But then seconds later as he's coaching Blue through washing his hands, he looks all sorts of confused again and asks, "what do we wash?" to which some child shouts out, "hands!"  Really, Joe?  You couldn't remember that we wash our hands after we go potty.  This is quite disturbing to me now.  And this isn't the first episode like this...he's confused and at a loss for words in most.  Beware, mothers.  Beware.

Study #2 - Dora The Explorer (Role Model: Dora)
Here we have a really cute, likable young lady.  I won't go into it now how her hairstyle bugs and that she should think about changing her outfit every now and then, but I do want to talk about her attentiveness.  One episode that concerned me was when several watermelons were rolling down a hill or mountain and she was more concerned with looking back at the camera and asking my children to tell her to jump than she was about just watching for the dang fruit and jumping for herself.  The lessons being taught her are to ask your friends for help rather than be responsible for yourself and doing what you need to do to take care of business. Same with her relationship with Swiper.  She's always asking for help to lookout for this crazy thief, but nine times out of ten he's right behind her.  If she'd just be a little more vigilant, she might get further in life. Just sayin'.

Study #3 - Special Agent Oso (Role Model: S.A. Oso) 
Here we go again with a leader of kidville acting as the leader, then proving that he falls short in so many ways.  The episode that sticks out here is when he riding on some sort of super fast subway and opens the door so that two of his Agent buddies can ride their motorcycles up into the craft.  Someone tells him to wrap it up and he doesn't shut the door in time and the subway's open door clips the wall of a tunnel and stops the rail machine from moving any further.  Clearly, costing the city and tax payers mucho dinero!  But before he can deal with this crisis, he's being called half way across the world to help a little girl pick strawberries or catch a ball or something.  When he gets there to help her, he calls for help from our children to help him figure out the steps, even though his palm pilot gives them to him.  I guess the good news is after he learns from our kids, he goes back to his agency and fixes the major problem at hand.  Whew!

Study #4 - Dino Dan (Role Model: Dan)
First of all, where is his dad?  They never get around to that!  And I'm not crazy about how he rolls his eyes at his mom almost every time she says something to him.  But, what I'm really worried about is how bossy little Dan can get sometimes.   When he's not telling his little whiny brother what to do, he's bossing Angie around. Go here. Go do this.  Go get that.  To which she willingly agrees with a smile.  But the craziest part is every time she comes back, she finds out she just missed seeing a dino.  Wouldn't you think the next time, she'd tell Dan to go take care of something for himself for once so she can get a glimpse of a brachiosaurus?

Study #5 - Fresh Beat Band (Role Model: Marina)
No, no, no! I'm not going to get into the fact that the first actress who played Marina got preggers and left the show.  Gasp!  (I had to Google "Marina +Fresh Beat +where is she now" to find that out!)  Anyway, kids aren't dumb.  You can't replace a character with someone who clearly doesn't look like the old character and call them the same person.  At least Blue's Clues got a Joe instead of Steve.  They didn't try to pass of Joe as Steve.  So how can the Fresh Beats do this to our kids?  "Mom, why are they calling that girl Marina?" Now my son hasn't said that yet, but I know he's thinking it.

My point here is this.  These shows can take it step higher.  Dan, involve Angie every now and then.  She's woman, here her roar!  And maybe then she can share in those magical moments when you hear a dinosaur roar (do they roar???).  These shows don't have to manipulate our kids.  Fresh Beat, you don't have to try and trick our kids into believing your new Marina is the old Marina.  If their parents are doing a good enough job at home, they won't find out that the old Marina got preggo.  It's a TV show, so you could just write in the story that Marina left for college and look, there's a new girl in town named Jenny or Kaitlyn.  These shows don't have to interact with our children.  Can't we do enough as parents where they aren't looking for that kind of connection from TV?  Do they need characters talking TO them and looking directly AT them? I'm just concerned that when our kids are 22 they'll be wondering why Ross and Rachel aren't asking them questions when they're watching reruns of that classic show from the 1990s.  Or they'll feel unappreciated when the dude from House doesn't ask them for their medical opinion. Or why Norm doesn't shout out their name when they walk into the room.  (I know, now I'm getting a little dated...but they may watch an episode or two of Cheers.)

Of course, if you know me, I'm not at all serious about this.  It's just funny to me at 6 in the morning when these characters are shouting out questions to my sons and I'm trying to get a few more zzz's on the couch.  Or the fact that I really did wonder what happened to the "old" Marina.  So you know, I do limit the amount of TV watched though I admit that it's almost always on as background noise and I plan on changing that with our move.  So I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any mentions from these or other kiddie shows/cartoons, things that just drive you crazy about a show, I'd love love love to hear them!  Thanks for reading!  I hope you laughed a little.  


*Parents Urged Again To Limit TV For Youngest

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Little Much Needed R&R in Mexico

Well after being together over eight years, married nearly seven; a serious vacation was past due for my husband and I.  We were both cranky, tired, sick of working…and ready for a break from our kiddos that we adore so much. 
As mother’s, we feel responsible to always be the ones that are there for our kids, our families.  We feel guilty for taking any time, especially enough time, to ourselves.  We struggle with the internal battle of control and missing them, and desperately needing time to ourselves.
Then, you throw a marriage into the mix.  That marriage also needs to be nurtured and cared for.  Okay, so where do I find all this time?  I don’t.  Thus, The Seven Year Itch Story, the Doing It All story, and many other articles I write based on my crazy life.  We don’t have enough time, so at least one item or relationship in our lives is always lacking attention. 
My mom agreed to watch our children while my husband and I went to Cozumel, Mexico for seven nights.  Of course, the day she was to arrive Washington State got struck with a huge snow and ice storm, delaying her for nearly three days—and thus her not arriving until after I had already left for our trip.  Thankfully a close friend agreed to keep both my kids, and while Clayton did get sick in between, everyone survived and my mom finally made it.
Enter paradise.  This is literally where we stayed…a beautiful white sandy beach and crystal blue see-through waters.  I spent lazy days reading books and magazines, laying either poolside or oceanside, whatever my little heart desired.  When we got bored, we took long walks on the  beach, collecting sea shells for our daughter and watching the waves crash in.
There were a few fun excursions including snorkeling and ziplining and rapelling (the last two are an entire article in itself) but the best moments were on the beach, relaxing and not having a care in the world.  No wonder my life is so stressful!  All I do is run and stretch myself thin 24/7.  I realized that we all need a little R&R, no matter how short of a trip—we all need it.  Our kids will survive.
Shannon and I had several deep talks…the kind you never have time for when you have little ones running around.  We realized—we are indeed so different.  And we have both compromised many things to be together; which that in itself is a miracle.  However with all of our different views on life, certain aspects of religion, child-rearing, etc—we have so many views we see the same.  And the end destination is the same.  To be together, with a happy whole family.  We realized we need this time apart once in awhile to get back to that.  To find that inner peace we’ve been missing…the peace that we haven’t had in a long time.
So why wait so long?  Mostly money.  We either were having babies or were just starting our careers.  Now, we are at a place financially we can go on trips a couple times a year.  However, to be honest…we could have been going a long time ago.  All I had to do was cut out a little Starbucks, save a few dollars by cutting back at the grocery store…start a trip fund.  Even if it was for only a night or two…it’s well worth it.
I would definitely suggest longer than a few nights if you can, but if you can’t…you at least need a couple away.  Don’t feel guilty…yes you’ll miss your kids but they will be fine.  I found this peace after giving my mind a rest…a peace again I haven’t felt in years.  I am calmer at work…I actually enjoyed a full day of fun with the kids after getting back with little fuss of the house, or cleaning…etc.  While each family is different, I believe to sustain a happy relationship and self-sanity; we all need a little R&R.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who Said Moving Can Be Stressful?

After all, I am a pro.

Not only will this be my 10th state to move to, I've probably moved a couple of times in half of those states. So you get rid of the excess, debate with your husband on what is worthy of getting rid of (select precious newborn outfits from when our babies were so new or his 20-year-old microwave from college that has several groovy stickers on it), pack it all up and load it into a truck.  In a way, this is one way to really "spring clean."  Otherwise, I don't think I would've found the energy to sort through all of our closets and drawers in an effort to simplify.

So what does make moving so stressful?  Is it the money?  You have to cancel your cable and electric and while you're waiting 6-8 weeks for those deposits to be returned; we're paying deposits on our new cable and electric.    Then we're trying to eat up all the perishables in the house.  But doesn't that mean when we get there, we'll have to stock our fridge again with our usual salad dressings, ketchup, honey mustard, butter, and pina colada mixer?

And then there are all of the questions.  How quickly do I want to find work?  And where?  How soon will I start the boys in preschool? And where?  When can I get them into swim lessons?  Where will I grocery shop?  Get gas?  Can I start new routines right off the bat?  New bedtime routines?  New expectations? We

Our dog is tweaking out.  With each box packed he's looking at us for reassurance that we are indeed bringing him (and we wouldn't have it any other way!).  Our kids, especially Luke, says things like "I can't wait to move to Florida! Does Batman live in Florida?" one minute; "I don't want to move to Florida, I want Florida to go away" the next.

As I get closer to the move, there is the rush of sadness in realizing I am leaving behind good friends.  Picture this movie-style...as I drive by (rain pouring down my window) the parks we've played at, the beaches we swam at and the libraries we read - I can hear a little Natalie Merchant playing in the background as I hear the echoes of laughter with my friends as we talked about the crazy things our kids are always doing. In the excitement of the big move, the "we'll see you soon" disclaimer always seemed to make me feel better.  At least I go with a great feeling that I have great friends here!  And there have been so many great times here!

No wonder I snapped at the hubster the other night when the DVR forced him into choosing between Intervention and Smash.  Just about to climb into bed for a good night's sleep, excited about catching Smash the very next morning; I saw the DVR message light up the screen asking him the question "Zac, which one will you delete?" - I darted out to the living room, jumping over the couch - well, almost - "what are you doing, which one are you about to delete?!"  He looked at me stunned, most likely thinking this is just TV.  I grabbed the remote and swiftly cancelled Intervention.  And I stormed off to bed.

The next morning we chalked it up to unusual behavior based by stress from our move.  I've seen a few of these moments like these.  And I wondered why I could get so worked up.  How can I possibly be "stressed."  This is a good thing, overall, this move. So I made a list, I'm going to stick by it and enjoy my last week here in Charleston.  Taking time to breathe and just live in the day.  One day at a time.  Nothing crazy.  It's just a move.  No stress here.  And if you believe me, you should try it sometime!   


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~Pasta with Prosciutto-Sage Cream Sauce

Delicious, I served with Talapia- but use any white meat of your liking.
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter (I use smart balance)
  • 6 cups Cooked Short Pasta - Whatever Kind You Like, Or Enough For 4 Servings (wouldn't suggest whole wheat)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sliced Fresh Sage
  • 6 slices Deli Prosciutto (thinly Sliced), Cut Crosswise Into Thin Strips
  • 2 cloves Minced Garlic (fresh garlic preferable)
  • ¼ cups Toasted Pine Nuts (you can not use these if you don't like nuts)
  • ½ cups Cream (I used light)
  • ½ cups Reserved Pasta Cooking Water (remove The Water Right Before You Drain The Pasta When The Water Has The Most Starch)
  • Salt And Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese For Serving
  • Lemon Wedges For Serving
  • Cooked chicken or fish, or any white meat of your liking.  I served with fried talapia fish, in olive oil with lemon pepper seasoning.  If chicken, I would suggest rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, and a bit of olive oil.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Preschooler's Birthday Party..Amplified

“Exactly what would you like to do for your fifth birthday?” I asked my nearly 5-year-old daughter.  Of course she replied that she wanted to have a princess party.  I explained that she could have a small family party, and then we could go somewhere fun and take a friend, like to the aquarium or to a museum.  Her look of boredom ruled that out.  “Well we could also do a small party and you could pick out a big present.  You know, if you have a big party, they cost a lot of money and you won’t get a lot of gifts too.”  “I want a party!” She told me, nearly exasperated.  “A big one!”
Okay!  I’ve created myself in my daughter for sure.  What is more fun that lots of attention and bling—all focused on you?!  I mean…who cares about a present really…when you can socialize with a group of friends!  So, here we go again, for the fifth year in a row.  We’ve spent too much money, a lot of time and effort, all for this hour and a half party that is going to exhaust us nearly into another vacation.
Just the invites are daunting enough.  Let’s face it friends, everybody hates attending birthday  parties…well, everyone other than the kids.  We are all so busy anyway, so the minute we get that little white envelope, we are already cringing.  Another few hours out of our weekend…no matter how much we love the child it’s for.  Once we get there, we always have fun—it’s just finding the time in our already packed schedules.  So, in turn, getting anyone to actually come to your kiddo’s party is always a stressful event itself.  You invite a million kids hoping that at least a portion of them come.  Sometimes things get crazy, and everyone RSVPS…and you wonder how you will cage the zoo.


Then buying all the groceries, planning the treats, festivities, the snacks…cleaning your house.  Counting and packing the treat bags.  What do you give in the treat bags anyway?  Remembering candy for the Pinata.   Why do we do all the craziness?
Because we have to.  Because our kids love it, and the smile on their faces are worth every penny and moment.  They bring us enough joy to last a lifetime…we can handle planning a party once a year.  If I have to hover over a cake using patience I don’t have to frost a three tier princess masterpiece (or mess rather)- so be it.  The bottle of wine that ensues after the party is over will be well deserved! 

(PS...Grandma ended up mastering the cake.  Thank you Grandma!!!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Classic 70s 7-Layer Dip

Tonight is a big night for America.  Madonna is playing in the halftime show at the Superbowl!!!  I know most of you are just as excited as I am!  And if you happen to be a New England or Giants fan, then it's an even more exciting night for you!  There are a million recipes for a seven layer dip; everyone has different tastes.  And this recipe suits my tastes...and hopefully yours.  :)  (p.s. I left off the olives in my version...you can too!)





Classic 70s 7-Layer Dip
From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish 

1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 (10 ounce) can of refried beans
1 package of taco seasoning
2 avocados
Juice of half a lime
Pinch of kosher salt
3 turns of the pepper grinder
1 cup of finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium tomato, cleaned, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup of sliced black olives
1 green onion top, sliced

In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and mayonnaise together; set aside. In another small microwave bowl, add the refried beans and warm for 1 minute, stir in the taco seasoning and mix well. Scoop out the avocados into another medium sized bowl, add the lime juice, salt and pepper and mash together using a potato masher.

Layer in a clear, glass pie plate as listed below, but leaving a small border around the edge for each layer, so that each layer shows on the outside. Layer in order as follows:

Layer 1 - Seasoned Refried Beans
Layer 2 - Avocado
Layer 3 - Sour Cream Mixture
Layer 4 - Finely Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Layer 5 - Chopped Fresh Tomatoes
Layer 6 - Sliced Black Olives (no thanks!)
Layer 7 - Sliced Green Onion

Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Magical Age of Three

In just the way my jaw would drop if Madonna or Jennifer Aniston walked into a room, I could see it in his face along with the wonder and excitement in his eyes.  Right there in front of him stood his idol.  Batman.  But, it wasn’t just any Batman…this Batman stood eye-to-eye with my three-year-old.  Without even looking up at me, my son grabbed my hand and squeezed.  “Mama, its Batman!  I want to play with him,” he said in a hushed voice.  “Go ahead, sweetheart.  I know he’d love to play with you.” I nudged my outgoing boy toward the little four-year-old.  My son wouldn’t move.  I’d never seen him like this!  This is the same boy that will walk up to anyone in the street and explain to them that he is Batman and he loves cop cars and ambulances and that he plans on having a peanut butter and jelly for dinner.  He still walks up to complete strangers (in my supervision, of course) and asks, “How was your holiday?”  after hearing my husband and I repeat it during the first week of the New Year. But here, in the front room of Charleston’s Children Museum was a 3’ tall superhero that my son was nervous to approach.  I knelt down to him and reminded him that it was just a little boy just like him who just happened to be dressed head to toe in a costume (why didn’t I think of that!). “Just go up to him and introduce yourself,” I suggested.  “No, you go, mom,” he said as he pushed me towards the little guy.  Of course, I’ll do anything for my baby so I walked right up to Batman and said, “Hi Batman, my son Luke loves Batman too and he he’d really like to play with you.” The little blondie looked up at me and looked over at Luke and smiled.  He handed him a ball, “I’m just trying out these golf balls.” For the next twenty minutes, the two boys ran around the room and tried each different golf ball obstacle course.  Luke ran up to me and told me he had to go potty so I grabbed Zealand’s hand and followed Luke to the potty.  When we returned – gasp! – Batman was nowhere to be found.  By the way, while they were playing together I found out Batman’s actual name was Ollie.  And he looked like an Ollie.  “Where’s Batman?!” Luke asked in a panic.   I replied, “I’m not sure honey.  Maybe he went home.” But that was not an acceptable answer to my preschooler.  We spent the next twenty minutes searching each room with no sign of this mysterious boy.  We were running late to meet friends at CiCi’s Pizza so I suggested maybe Batman went there.  The chances were good that Ollie was not at the Mt. Pleasant CiCi’s, but he could’ve been.  This seemed to work for Luke. So we headed out the front doors of the museum.  As we walked to our car, we could see about a block up, Batman climbing into his mom’s minivan.  They drove west on King.  And just like that, he disappeared into the city.  That was a month ago and we have yet to see little Ollie (or a little Batman) again.  Luke still asks about him and wonders why we can’t just go have a playdate with him.  Finally, I told him that when he starts wearing big boy undies to bed; he will get his very own Batman costume and rock everyone else's world!  

I had just read about this magical age of imagination and Luke is modeling it to a tee.  Whether he’s Batman (and he won’t leave the house without one of his three Batman shirts on), or pulling bad guys over in his cop car (our couch), or taking care of that sick patient in his operating room (our couch); he’s imagining all the possibilities of this world we live in. 

I’ve just started to take advantage of this.  At bedtime, after our books have been read, I tell him stories – big and small – about my life and the things I’ve seen.  From cities to the country, from college to a waterfall I swam by.  Even roller skating in a rink could sound interesting to a three-year-old who has yet to actually see one.   Did you take a cross-country drive with a good college friend?  How about that time you sang a solo in front of your entire town?  Utilize this age!  Utilize their minds.  You can paint mesas and mountains in your child’s mind.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Being Charitable has NEVER Been Easier

Too busy to support your favorite charity?  Life taken you by the horns instead of the other way around and you just don't have the extra time, or even the money to help those desperately in need?  Well, just a reminder...giving has never been easier than it is now.  In December, Leah chose Children's Miracle Network, and I (Trina) chose National Children's Advocacy Center to support.  And for every like we get on facebook, we are each donating $1 to our charities.  However, we need more likes!  When we started, we were at 152 facebook likes.  Now, we are only at 162.  We need to get to at least 202 total likes to really get us rolling....which would equal a $50 check to each of the charities I mentioned.  How easy is this?  Like us!  You will be doing your good deed for the day!  If you already like us, get your friends to like us!  Hey, it's for a great cause!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mommies-Need-Sleep-Too/245052782182520

Thank you friends...and to our followers- we love you guys!  ~ Trina

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Honey-Pecan Chicken Breasts

This recipe will bring fun back to chicken breasts.  The key is in the cayenne...use as much or as little to meet your preference!  We use about 1/4 teaspoon.  My husband would probably love around 3/4 teaspoon!  I leave it off of the kids' chicken breasts because Luke is super picky about "spice". Original Recipe

Honey-Pecan Chicken Breasts


2 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

Flatten chicken to 1/2-in. thickness. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne. In a large nonstick skillet, brown chicken in butter; add garlic. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Drizzle honey over chicken; sprinkle with pecans. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

Buon appetito!