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Friday, August 26, 2011
Last night we had the opportunity to experience the circus. Not only was it a first for my 2 yr old daughter, it was also a first for me. We loved every minute of it! Although the acts were entertaining, I still found myself constantly watching the reaction of my daughter, waiting for her laughter. I cheered when she cheered, I clapped when she clapped. Her emotions were my emotions.

When I really think about it, most of my time spent with her is like this. It no longer matters to me how much I'm enjoying something. I measure my enjoyment by my daughter. If she's having the time of her life at a circus that I might have thought of as so-so had I come here with a group of girlfriends or on a date with my husband, but she loved it and therefore, so did I.

Being able to watch her face light up at the sight of something amazing, something she's never seen before, and being able to share in the joy, that to me is what a mother lives for. To she her child enjoy life, watch the light sparkle in their little eyes in pure joy. There's simply no greater joy than seeing your child happy.

I have lived life through my own eyes and it was fun, but for now, I'm happy to live life through the eyes of my child.



Thursday, August 25, 2011
My daughter's recent taste in music stems from the countless house she spends in a house full of teenagers, mostly teenage girls.  So it's really no surprise to me that she's a fan of Britney Spears, Katie Perry, Rhianna and Bruno Mars just to name a few.  When we get in the car, the first thing out of my baby girl's mouth is "put on my music, please."  At least she's polite about it!  This means put on Q102.  Never in the  15 years that I've known my husband has Q102 been a set station on his radio.  According to him "this is what we get for having my parents watch her."  Oh well, bring on the Britney I say.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I've been debating over this all week.  I have an upcoming appointment with my favorite MasterCuts stylist and good friend, Aubrey, this Saturday and I can't decide what I want to do with my hair!  For the past 2 years, I've been diligently working to grow it out.  I literally haven't had my hair "cut" in 3 years!  I've gone in for my usual trim every 8 -12 weeks {I'm aware that it's supposed to be every 6-8 weeks, but hey, I'm a mom, I have other more important things to worry about}.

This is the longest I've had my hair since I was 5 years old!

I came accross this picture and love the look.
Source: None via Paola on Pinterest

I'd love to have short hair again, but I'm iffy on whether I'm ready to cut my long locks yet.  I need you're opinions!
This picture took my breath away!
It makes me think of all the beautiful moments I have with my daughter that I haven't captured on film.
Monday, August 22, 2011
I was sitting at home the other night thinking about what I wanted to make for dinner.  I had some chicken defrosting in the fridge, but wanted to stay away from the same old dishes I normally made.  While watching Eat Pray Love, I was suddenly strongly craving some pasta, good pasta, like food porn pasta!  Just looking at this picture is making me salivate!

Several years back I purchase this beautiful tall vase for a Christmas arrangment but since then it's been in my closet collecting dust.  I've wanted to use it, don't get me wrong, but with the large opening my flower arrangements came out looking droopy and unattractive!
I'm sitting at the Cool Kids' Table today @ Beautiful Spit Up.  Stop by and check out my post!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I'm probably one of the last to get hooked to this, but at least I'm not clueless about it!  Thanks again to the amazing Eve for introducing me to Pinterest!  If you're already an elite member of the Pinterst community, kutos to you!  If not, don't fret, I was in your shoes just days ago.  It's not just one of those sites you can simply sign up for, it's by invitation on, which gives it that "eliteness" feel.  You too can get in on the fun, just shoot me an email if you'd like an invite!

As I was saying... I'm totally hooked!  You know how it is, you're surfing the web finding all kinds of great articles, decorating ideas, recipes you want to try and so on and so forth.  Then a few days later you want to go back and try to find that same page and wham, it's no where to be found.  Unless you bookmark every stinkin' page of interest, chances of finding the exact thing your looking for without having to google it or search the entire website all over again {or even creating yet another account on some random site just so you can keep track of a couple things of interest}, it can be downright frustrating!
If there's one lesson in life that I have yet to learn, it's how to say "no" to people.  It must be a genetic thing because my father is the same way.  He's a great man, a little goofy at times, but a truly amazing man.  He'll give you the shirt off his back if you asked.  It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  No matter how swamped I may already be, I can't seem to say no to a person in need.  I'll put aside whatever it may be I'm doing at the moment to help out.

Although this is a great quality and something I'm proud of, it's also my downfall too.  Lately I've spread myself so thin, too thin!  My main goal for this month was to get my home in order.  With our upcoming vacation in just a matter of weeks, my goal was to have the house all organized and in tip top shape before we left.  As it looks now, that might just not happen.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
If you're familiar with my blog, you are aware that I only endorse products I use and love.  I feel an obligation to my readers to give them only my honest opinion about a product.  When it comes to what I put on my face - it's mark all the way!  There is no other makeup brand I love more.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Last night I had every intention of making delicious braised short ribs over mashed potatoes when I realized that I forgot to buy the celery I needed for the mirepoix (onions, carrots & celery) for the short ribs.  Although I could have still made it, it just wouldn't have been the same.  So I put my short ribs back the in fridge to use another night and thought about what else I could make.  It's funny how even with a fully stocked refrigerator, I still find myself standing there unsure of what to make.  I was tired of the usual ground beef dishes I usually go for like meatballs and lasagna, and I had exhausted my taste for chicken with roasted chicken and asparagus the night before and a chicken and bleu cheese salad for lunch.  I wanted something different, something I hadn't had in a long time.  Then it hit me!  I remembered a conversation my hubby and I had a few weeks back about how he wanted to make some of the old recipes his mom used to make all the time like cabbage and corned beef, BLT's, and his favorite Shepard's pie.
Friday, July 29, 2011
If you're not familiar with the term "mamavism", don't fret.  I wasn't either until this morning.  Apparently it's an anagram for mothering and activism.  After reading a post from fellow mom blogger, Becoming SuperMommy, featuring mommy activist, Jen - The Evolving Homemaker.  In this post, Jen shares her role as an activist to help the women of Congo (a very tragic story and one that all women should be aware of).  Although being a crusader for women's rights is a very noble cause, she came to realize that there was something more important and more close to home for her to focus on, her family.  It wasn't that she was being a bad mom by being an activist, but she felt that she was so wrapped up in a situation that was taking place thousands of miles away while right there in her home her family needed her more.  Now, she's focusing her time and energy in educating her children, living locally and learning new skills "which will change the face of our national culture away from blind consumption to teaching a generation that will probably need to return a bit to the earth for the survival of humanity."
After a long day at work, coming home to a no-so-clean kitchen and an empty fridge that was practically screaming "please stock me!" with no mode of transportation to the nearest supermarket, I was faced with the dilemma of having to concoct some edible meal with the contents of my refrigerator.  I managed to find some frozen pasta samples that my husband had brought home from work (being that he works in a restaurant, vendors are always bringing him samples of new products that generally end up in our refrigerator and tested in our kitchen, oh the perks of being in the restaurant business), about a pound of spicy chorizo and a bag of broccoli rabe.  Usually I would just put all these ingredients together, but since I was out of tomato sauce, I was drawing a blank on what to make.  After a little web surfing, I came across this recipe and decided to give it a try with a few substitutions:
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I have to start by saying that I love being a mom, it's the greatest blessing that I wouldn't give up for the world.  My daughter give meaning to every second of every day in my life now and I couldn't imagine a world without her!  That being said, are there times in your life you wished you waited to have kids?  To be completely honest, yes, there are times when I wish we had waited.  Waited until we were more financially stable (but who's really financially stable in this day and age?), waited until I was in a better situation at work, waited until I was a little older and got all the "party girl" out of my system...  There's so many reason I sometimes wish I'd waited.  Sometimes I feel guilty for thinking these things, but it's human nature to have regrets.  Well, not so much regrets, that's not really the right word to explain it because I don't regret getting pregnant so young.  It's more like I sometimes wish I had done some more things when I had the chance, before my daughter was born.  I wish I had taken advantage or had the courage, or the money, or the time to do some of the things that I can't do now because it would take away from my time with her.

A good example of this is last night.  Hubby and I were supposed to have a date night.  It wasn't really well planned out, kind of just a last minute attempt at a night out.  Well, being that it was a last minute "attempt", it pretty much blew up in my face and nothing seemed to work out.  At first I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get a sitter, then when a sitter came through (a special thanks to my family who's always available and willing to watch our little munchkin at the drop of a hat - yes, I know you're reading this mom!).  Once we had a sitter, we couldn't get a reservation at the restaurant of choice or any other restaurant that was even up to the standard of "date night" at the Deininger household.  Of course I got in a pissy mood since I had been so looking forward to this outing and having another date night flop and cancelled yet again put a damper on my outlook of the rest of the evening.  As usual, hubby did manage to save the evening with a nice charcuterie plate and a couple bottles of wine.  Although hubby saved the night, I still miss being able to come home and just decide to go out to dinner my husband without having all he hassle.  I get frustrated with myself and my husband for not making the time to be together like we had promised to when we first found out we were expecting.  So many people told us to really try our best to keep up the date night and make time for just the two of us.

Although I sometimes wish I had waited, more so for financial reasons (and sometimes more selfish reasons), I don't regret having my daughter.  I was only 24 when I got pregnant and although that may seem very young to some people, it was just right for us.  Now I have a beautiful toddler who fills my life with pure joy.  There's nothing in the world that I would trade my little munchkin for!  She's the love of my life and my whole universe.
It's just another Manic Monday!

Let's kick of the week with a blog/twitter/facebook hop! But only link up just 1 of the 3!

1. Follow your host, MommyTLC, on the linky form with your blog, twitter, or facebook page.

2. retweet/facebook, Friend Feed, Dig, stumble, whatever this hop. You can do this with the share buttons on the right hand next this post or with the awesome Wibar widget at the bottom of the page. The more people who know about this, the more fun it is...and the more followers.

3. Follow who ever follows you! Of course you might have to initiate a follow by following people on the linky.
That's it!

Manic Monday Blog Hop

If you would like me to follow you, leave a comment and your URL to your blog, twitter or facebook page!

It would be nice if you displayed the button in your post or blog sidebar and/or add the Linky Tool to your blog by clicking on the Linky below to get the code. I simply ask that you only link up Family Friendly Blogs, Twitter or Facebook accounts only.  Link up, have fun and kick off the week with a blog hop bang!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

These days, I'm all about saving a buck! So when I heard from my sister-in-law, Laurissa the DIY Mom, about making your own laundry detergent and how easy it really is, I was all ears! Not to mention that she only spent $4 to make 2 1-gallon battles! Hello, I spend close to $20 for a bottle of Tide. That's $36 big ones I'll be saving!
I'm really bad about throwing out old laundry detergent bottles, so I know I have at least 2 or 3 sitting in my basement collecting dust. That's a great start already! Now all I need is to pick up the following ingredients and I'm making me so homemade laundry detergent!

Recipe #8
2 gallons Water (hot)
1 bar Soap (grated)
2 cups Baking soda (yes baking soda this time–not washing soda)
  • Melt grated soap in a saucepan with enough hot water to cover. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until soap is melted.
  • In a large pail, pour 2 gallons hot water. Add melted soap, stir well.
  • Then add the baking soda, stir well again.
  • Use 1/2 cup per full load, 1 cup per very soiled load.

Liquid Detergents Note

Soap will be lumpy, goopy and gel-like. This is normal. Just give it a good stir before using. Make sure soap is covered with a lid when not in use. You could also pour the homemade soap in old (and cleaned) laundry detergent bottles and shake well before each use.
*If you can’t find Fels-Naptha locally, you can buy it online (check Amazon).

Optional

You can add between 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (per 2 gallons) to your homemade laundry detergent. Add once the soap has cooled to room temperature. Stir well and cover.

Essential oil ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil

My daughter and I both have eczema, so I'm supposed to get the laundry detergent that is for sensitive skin but I don't! I know, bad mommy!!! It's just the cost can sometimes be too much. I'm on a budget here people, and that's not something I do too well with. I do however use Aveeno soap for the shower and since I have the option of adding essential oils (caution - some essential oils cause skin irritation on sensitive skin, make sure that the oil you select isn't one of them by clicking here) like lavender to a fragrance free soap. I'm excited to try this new recipe and I'll let you all know how it goes!

If you've tried making your own laundry detergent, what did you think of it? Was it as easy as the recipe described? Would you recommend it to a friend? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a line!
I was doing a little blog hopping this afternoon and came across this one post by Loving Earth Mama about the 10 things she thought she knew about motherhood.  Her post got me thinking about the things I thought I had figured out before I became a mom.  My frame of mind pre-baby:
  1. Motherhood would be a snap!  I nannied for years and I was totally ready for kids.  I knew all I needed to know about being a mom from my nannying experiences.
  2. I wouldn't be one of those moms who "freak out" at their kids in the supermarket.
  3. Moms who let their baby "cry it out" were just plan WRONG!  I wasn't going to be like that.
  4. I can do it all, be a mom, have a career, and still be a social butterfly.
  5. My relationship with husband would stay the same.  We've been through it all and nothing could pose a challenge for us.
  6. Breastfeeding would be easy as pie.  I didn't get why some women had such a hard time.
  7. I would never be one of those moms who left their needs by the wayside.  I'd always make sure that baby and I were always presentable.
  8. I'd still be able to get plenty of rest after baby came and all those nay sayers who keep telling me to "rest now, you won't get to once baby comes along" don't know me what I'm capable of.
  9. I can handle anything that comes my way and I didn't need anyone's help.
  10. My life would stay the same, just with a baby.
My frame of mind post baby:
  1. I don't know jack squat!  All of a sudden I'm responsible for the life of this little person.  And being a mom is a full-time gig, there's no breaks and no real-time outs for mom.  Yes, I had plenty of experience with children but they were never my children and that changes the scope on everything.  You follow other people's rules when it comes to nannying, but you have to come up with the game plan when you're a parent.  If you screw up, it's on you baby!  When it comes to motherhood and parenting, I'm learning as I go.  I now understand why my parents always said I was their "guinea pig".  It's a learning process and unfortunately, the first child is usually the one parents experiment on.  To my baby, I have to say: Sorry honey, I'm trying my best!
  2. Although I love my child with all my heart, sometimes I just lose it and sometimes in the most embarrassing places.  You can't help it when you're just at your wit's end and your child does something that just breaks the camel's back.  I would never lay a hand on my child, but I can be a little harsh with my words and lose my temper.  I don't mean to and I don't do it intentionally, but you mother's out there know what I'm talking about.  Sometimes you simply can't help it!
  3. I tried at the beginning to not let my baby cry it out and would rush to her crib or bassinet the instant she made a peep.  I'm not saying that my daughter is a cry baby now, but I've learned my lesson that letting them cry it out is a good thing.  Teaches them to self sooth and, later on it teaches them that they can't have everything they want.  This is a good technique and it will most definitely be used the next time around.
  4. I can't do it all, not all the time.  Sometimes I can do a lot, but something always falls through the cracks.  I'm not super mom and I've learned to accept that.  It doesn't mean, though, that I've thrown in the towel and have accepted defeat.  I'm still striving to do my best at everything, but I've learned to accept that sometimes, not everything will get done and get over it.
  5. Although my husband and I love each other very much, having a child has put a bit of a strain in our relationship.  It's not my daughter's fault by any means, but making time for us has been more difficult.  It's a work in progress and it's something that needs to be worked at.  Keeping that spark in the relationship is something that you'll have to put effort into and more time for.  Don't just let your relationship fall to the way side and think you can pick things back up at a later time when the kids are older.  This is something we're still working on and will continue to work on for the rest of our lives.
  6. Some women have it easy when it comes to breast-feeding and some just don't!  I was one of the one's who didn't.  It took time and practice and lots of help.  One of the nurses had me a the brink of giving up and thankfully I was strong enough to tell her to leave.  Thankfully, the next nurse to come help me was much more patient and can help me learn.  It wasn't easy, but with time and practice I was able to get the hang of it.
  7. Finding time to do my hair, makeup and sometimes even getting out of my pj's at the beginning was sometime near impossible!  Even two years later, I sometimes struggle to get myself properly dress.  I now understand why moms put their needs aside, because the need of their child and their family will always come before their own.  I willingly put my family's needs far above my own and sometimes fulfilling these needs means I just don't have the time to take care of myself.
  8. I'm so sorry for doubting anyone who told me to rest while I could, I was just plain old WRONG when it came to this!
  9. When it comes to motherhood, I'm pretty much clueless and am learning things as I go.  I've learned to rely on fellow moms for advice and support.  After my daughter was born I found out how little I truly knew about what it takes to be a good mom.  It was hard to ask at the beginning, but now I welcome it so if you have advice to share, please do!
  10. My life has changed in so many ways it's hard to keep track.  My old life, though it was only a little over 2 years ago, seems more like a distant memory.  There's no more staying out late, coming and going when I please, etc.  Now things need to be planned out because just getting out the door is an hour ordeal.
Motherhood has changed my life in more ways that I ever imagined.  It's opened my eyes and made me realize that there's still so much for me to learn and figure out.  I don't have the answers to everything and when it comes to raising a child, I'll take all the help I can get.  Becoming a mom has been the greatest blessing of my life and I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, spunky and outgoing little girl.  She has taught me to be more humble and I'm grateful for every moment and experience I get to share with her.  My life is definitely more enriched and fulfilled with her in it.
Friday, July 22, 2011

Photo courtesy of SheKnows.com
I'm dying here, people! Not literally, but figuratively. How the heck is it possible to have 4 cameras in the house and only one of them is working? Of course, the one that actually does work is on my husband's iPhone and is not around when I need it! I mean, COME ON NOW! Our cameras are only a couple of years old, yet neither will hold a batter charge and one won't even turn on when I put fresh batteries in. Then there's my iPhone, which I can't live without - partially because of its handy dandy camera - that at the moment is frozen and has been like this for the past few months. I know, I need to get that checked out, but apparently it's not a software problem according to the Apple Tech I spoke to on the phone. It appears to be a hardware problem meaning I need to get a new phone. Thankfully, mine is still under warranty so I shouldn't have to pay for the replacement, but still!

I could just about scream right now. AHHHHH!!!! A little dramatic? Probably, but you have to understand! I'm missing priceless moments here, people! Milestones and silliness that I'll never be able to capture again. I'm now relying on my webcam to take still shots, but that's not very much help. If you've used a webcam before, you'll know what I mean. The picture quality isn't the greatest and there's a little lag time that mostly means I end up missing the moment anyways unless by some miracle I can get my toddler to sit still for 3 seconds. Something's gotta be done ASAP, like yesterday!

How is any mom supposed to work under these conditions? One of the joys of being a mom is capturing those little moments when your child does something new, experiences something for the first time, or does something that's outright silly. I hate missing out on this. I finally realized how much I've been missing out on when I was going over recent pictures. The last time I really took any pictures of my daughter was on her birthday, and they were very few. Thankfully, my husband has been taking some pictures here and there when he's around, but that's limited too. After looking at the photos from January and one we took just this past week at Hershey Park, I was astonished at how much she's changed in what seems like such a short period of time. She's such a little lady now and with a spunky personality to boot. I feel like kicking myself for allowing so much time to go by and letting so many precious moments slip through my fingers. BAD MOMMY!

There's only one thing left to do, get my stinking iPhone fixed, repaired, replaced, WHATEVER! It just needs to work again.
After reading a post from fellow blogger, The Domestic Diva, about how she recently embraced her "curly girl side", I was curious to see what that was all about. She wrote about how another blogger had gone back to the "no-pooing" way of washing her hair. Ok, that doesn't sound good, right? Wrong! Apparently, the term "no-pooing" means not using shampoo. As it turns out, most shampoos have some form of sulfate as a main ingredient and these sulfates are typically found in dish washing detergent. These sulfates are lathering ingredients that break down oils. Yes, our scalpe naturally releases oils and too much build up of these oils lead to hair looking and feeling greasy and totally gross, but a small amount of these oils is needed to help protect and nourish hair.
Here's where I was really intregued: curly hair needs more of these natural oils than straight hair! And if you have curly hair and you're washing your hair normally with shampoo, you're stripping your hair of these oils which in turn causes frizzy, unmanageable hair. Also, most people who think that just have wavy hair can actually have beautiful curls and never even know it - CASE IN POINT, ME!


I never even knew my hairs true potential until after I read this post! I always thought my hair was just wavy and unruly and that the frizz was caused by the over abundance of humity in my area of the region. In realizy, my hair is not wavy at all! According to Lorraine Massey, creator and co-owner of Devachan Salon in New York City and author of Curly Girl: The Handbook, my hair would be classified as "Botticelli Curls" - yes, as in like the hair in Botticelli's Birth of Venus! I'm thrilled that I found out about this. All this time I've been dealing with the worst hair, always having to tie it back because there was simply nothing I could do with it if I didn't flat iron it or attack it was a curling iron. All this time all that I needed was to stop using, well detergent, basically, on my hair and allow those oh so beautiful natural oils do their thing.

For the past week, I've gone to the "no-pooing" method, stopped using a towel, even for a second, to dry my hair and have purchased the proper silicon free products to style my hair. Rather than towel drying my hair, I've turned to using a cotton t-shirt and plopping (yes, that is a technical term and I've attached a link if you want to know more about it) my hair to help speed up the drying time. As a result, here's what my hair looks like now...


For more tips, check out Curly Girl Method WikiHow.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I'm packing up and moving out!  It's not what you're thinking, I promise.  After some careful consideration, I've decided to make the switch to Wordpress.  It's nothing against Blogspot, I've loved it here, but there's just something I want to do that I've felt a little limited with here.  My new site is up and running and I'd love it if you'd stop and drop a line, let me know you're thoughs and spread the word.  You're support has meant the world to me and I'd love to hear from you!

Follow my future posts at the *NEW*  Domestic Diva in the Making.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I don't care if your a stay at home mom or a working mom, when it comes to having some "me" time, it's damn near impossible sometimes.  Between work (whether it's inside or outside the home), cooking, cleaning, bathing, entertaining and all the other minor tasks that every mom faces throughout the day, finding that little window of time to just gather your thoughts and regain your sanity is hard to do.  But it has to be done ladies!  We need that time, no matter how large or small that window may be, we need to seize it!  A little "me" time goes a long way.

I can't remember the last time I really did something for me.  Yes, I went out a couple weeks back for a few drinks with friends and yes, I went out for lunch with a girlfriend earlier in the week, but I'm talking about taking a few moments alone and doing a little something just for me.  By the end of last week, I was simply at my breaking point.  I had been so stressed out from work (although I tried to not let my family see how stressed I was), my daughter starting camp for the first time and our well overdue visitor finally leaving and having to clean up after the disaster left behind, I just about had it!  My back was tense and I was snapping at people for no reason (SO NOT LIKE ME).  I needed a TIME OUT!

While doing a little blog hopping earlier that day, I came across a post from a fellow Domestic Diva (an an inspiring women!), where she wrote about home mani/pedis.  This inspired me to search for some at home remedies and treat myself to a little spa night.  Thanks to Glamour's 13 DIY At-Home Spa Tricks, I was able to find some great home treatments and I came up with a couple of my own to help me feel soothed and relaxed.

When I was done making dinner, getting my daughter showered, putting her to be and tiding up the house, it was finally time for me.  I got a nice bubble bath going, placed lite tea candles all over the bathroom and a few scented candles around the bath tub (choose relaxing fragrances like vanilla or lavender, or go for your favorite fragrance- mine is lemon grass).  Since it's summer, I don't have the heat running so placing my favorite lotion (Twilight Woods from Bath & Body Works) on my heater, I opted to fill the sink with hot water and submerged my lotion in the water to allow it to heat up a little.  After soaking in the tub for a good half hour or so, I kind of lost track of time after a while and finally decided it was time to get out when I began to feel like a prune, I smothered myself with the heated lotion, dressed in my favorite pj's and headed downstairs for a little pedicure.  With my trusty Ped Egg I removed the ruff skin and applied a generous coat of nail polish to my toe nails and relaxed with a good book while they dried.  Once that was done, I applies some more lotion to my feet and put on my socks to allow my feet to soak up the lotion, leaving my feet silky smooth and looking cute as can be!

I enjoyed my little spa night so much I plan on making this a weekly event.  It's a great way to de-stress after a long week.
There's really nothing better on a hot summer day then a cool, refreshing and invigorating fruit smoothie.  The best thing about smoothies is that there's really no wrong way to make one.  I don't know about your area of the country, but we've been hit with some scorching hot days and a cool treat like this is a great alternative for some other unhealthy icy treats.

Here's my favorite recipe for delicious fruit smoothies even the kiddos will love!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups light vanilla yogurt (or frozen yogurt)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit of your choice

Blend together all ingredients together to desired smoothness, about 1 - 1.5 minutes.  Serve chilled.

Here's a little tip, if your doing a berry smoothie, strain the smoothie before serving to get out the seeds.  This is a great tip when serving kids.  Enjoy your smoothies and Buon Appetito!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Mommy, I finish my meatballs! More please?"  Out of the mouth of babes... If there's one thing I've realized I can make and my entire family enjoys, it's spaghetti and meatballs.  Now, I'm not talking about the pre-made meatballs, dried boxed pasta and marinara sauce out of a jar.  I'm talking real meatballs made from scratch, sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes and fresh pasta.

I know what you're thinking, making something like that takes too much time and if you're a busy mom like me, time is precious and very limited, but trust me when I tell you that it's not a difficult as it may sound.  You don't have to roll out your own pasta to have it fresh, opt for a refrigerated or even frozen pasta.  They take anywhere from a few seconds (refrigerated pasta takes 30-45 seconds to fully cook in boiling water) to mere minutes (frozen pasta can take up to 3 minutes) as opposed to dried pasta which needs to cook for several minutes.  Although these pastas are very easy to cook, they are just as easy to over cook, causing them to stick together and form a hard gooey mess!  Just make sure that when you're ready to cook the pasta, you're there at all times ready to blanch the pasta and pull it out quick.  This is the closest thing to rolling out and cutting your own pasta and only takes seconds.


As for the sauce and meatballs, that's a cinch too!  Here's my recipe for the perfect sauce:

Ingredients
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (buy crushed San Marzano if you're pressed for time)
  • 1-2 cups of beef stock
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat olive oil in sauce pan.  Mince garlic and saute in oil oil until golden brown (Do Not overcook the garlic because it will give the sauce a bitter taste).  Add San Marzano tomatoes, beef stock, thyme, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves.  Stir until all ingredients are combined.  Allow to simmer covered for 1 hour on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to flavor and serve.

If there's one thing I have to say, it's this: there's nothing like San Marzano tomatoes when it comes to making sauce!  You can try fresh tomatoes or regular canned tomatoes, but I assure you, the taste just doesn't compare!  Don't just take my word for it, try it yourself if you don't believe me.  I know I didn't think anything of them before I really started to try to understand the whole art of cooking, but I now have a deep appreciation for these canned beauties.

When it comes to the meat balls, here's my secret - COOK IT IN THE SAUCE!!! I can't stress that enough.  By cooking the meatballs in the sauce, you're allowing the meat to retain it's natural juices making your meatballs all that much more tasty!  Thanks to my darling chef of a husband and the infamous Mr. Mario Batali for this precious tip!  For one thing, it's one less step to deal with, cooking the meatballs in a skillet or in the oven, which causes the meat to lose a great deal of it's juices making the meatball dry and flavorless.  Try my recipe for the prefect meatball and cook it in your sauce next time you go to make spaghetti and meatballs.  I promise you this, once you try meatballs like this, you'll never go back to your old ways again!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I've enjoyed making them! Buon Appetito!
Monday, June 20, 2011
I'm feeling a little naked and exposed at work today!  For the past 2 months, I've made a point at trying to look my best a work, you know "put your best foot forward" type of thing.  My clothes have been prestine and more "office" approprate (at least now I look like I'm as assistant to an executive rather than someone working in the mail room!), my hair has been styled day in and day out, and I've managed to apply makeup on a regular basis - at least giving myself a "natural" look if I don't feel like wearing too much makeup.

If my outfit isn't quite right, it bothers me, but I manage to deal with it and move on with my day.  If my hair isn't behaving, I can manage with a side part and low pony tail or a neat bun.  But to go without makeup now leaves me feeling like I'm completely exposed!  When I look in the mirror, I'm not at all happy with what I see.  I look like I just got out of bed and I'm not quite up yet, even though it's almost 2:00 pm.  I'd do just about anything right now for a little concealer, some mascara and lip gloss.  I don't need much, but I definitely need SOMETHING ASAP!

Before, I was one of those women who rarely put on an ounce of makeup.  I wasn't even really all that good at applying the crap.  After 2 months of practice, I know feel much more confident with a "painted face".  It's amazing how much of a confidence booster something like a little makeup can be.  It's even more amazing how just a little foundation, some mascara and a neutral lip stick can really improve the way you look!

So I guess I'll have to continue my day looking like a zombie and trying to stay out of the public eye!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I've gotten off track with my goal to become a Domestic Diva in the past couple of months.  Due to the recent house guest making an extended stay, and some internal resentment for allowing said guest to prolong his stay when I honestly wanted him out a few weeks back to regain control of my sanity and my home, I've allowed myself to get off course.  Well, in a few days that will all change and my home will be all mine once again.  It's not easy having to clean up after yourself, the hubby and a little toddler tornado, but add to that a house guest who makes dinner at 10:00 pm and leaves me the mess to clean up after.  Yes, he puts most things in the sink, but I'm not too thrilled about having to play maid.

Technically, moms are like personal maids, but that's a job I willingly signed up for.  I'm happy and proud to take care of my family, but just because I'm kind enough to open my house to you to come in and stay with us does not mean that you have a personal maid service to clean up after you!  Enough with the ranting...

So as you can imagine, the past few months have been a little stressful for me, but that time is coming to a close and I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my life.  One free of house guests and back to the peaceful existence of the Deininger household.  First order of business, clean house!  I have some serious catching up to do.  Having to deal with the issues that I've had lately, I'd gotten a little frustrated and pretty much went on strike.  Probably not the best thing to do since the only one really having to deal with those consequences is me, so ultimately I'm just punishing myself in the end.  Great thinking on my part, right!?  Oh well, that's in the past.  Now it's time to get my life back in order starting with getting some order and organization back in my house.  Last night I gave the kitchen a good scrub down, tonight, it's on to the living room, dining room and bathrooms.  That's a hefty load to deal with in one night, but it's probably not as bad as my kitchen was.  I must have spent about 3 hours scrubbing ever inch of that kitchen!  I'm hoping to get a load or two of laundry done as well.

My goal for the remainder of the week is to just get my house tidy so that next week I can start off fresh.  There's nothing like starting the week with a clean house!

As for my cooking... well, that's taken a back seat along with my cleaning.  So starting tonight, I'm back on track with making at least 3 meals a week for my family.  I'm getting back to my home cooking and also getting in touch with my Latin roots.  Thanks to some inspiration from the Food Network and some HEAVY hinting from my darling hubby, I'm looking to learn some of the home cooking I grew up on.  So expect to see a lot more Paraguay meals showing up on this blog in the near future.  I'm going to keep it simple tonight, some Paraguayan tortillas and a tomato and egg salad.  This meal reminds me of being back in Paraguay in my grandmother's kitchen!  What great memories!

Check back with me tomorrow to see how my meal went!
Father's Day is just 3 days away and what better was to start the day than with a fantastic brunch for the entire family.  The idea of creating a delicious brunch used to be an intimidating thing for be before, until I learned how simple the entire meal really is.  It's all about having a good mixing of the sweet and savory!  I came across this recipe while watching Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa Darabian on the Food Network Channel.  It looked so delicious and easy to make that I had to try it myself.  (It has been a while since I took the time to cook a real meal, but this was my inspiration to get back to my Domestic Diva quest)

Huevos Rancheros

Ingredients:
8 (5-inch) flour tortillas
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup prepared chunky cilantro salsa, divided
3/4 cup cooked black beans
8 eggs
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Special Equipment: 12-cup muffin tin

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the outer edge of each tortilla and remove so that the tortillas fit snugly into the muffin tin cups. Brush both sides of the tortillas lightly with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Press the tortillas into the muffin tin, creating little tortilla cups.

In a small bowl, mix half the salsa with the black beans and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the black bean mixture into each tortilla cup. Crack an egg into each of the eight cups. Bake until barely set, about 8 minutes. Top with cheese, cover with aluminum foil, and then bake for 6 to 7 minutes more. To serve, spoon the sour cream and remaining salsa on top of the eggs.

***A little word of advice - spray your muffin tin before pressing the tortillas into it to keep the tortilla from sticking.  Do not use cupcake tin, the egg will overflow causing the huevos rancheros to stick to the tin.

These huevos rancheros go great with a little sweet corn bread.  Since the egg is cooked to the consistency of a "sunny side up" egg, mixing the running yoke with the salsa makes a great dip for the corn bread! Super YUM!!!

Just the thought of this is making my mouth water!  This is a must try recipe!  Pair this with a Raspberry and Lime Brunch Cocktail and you're in for an amazing brunch treat!  Bon appetit!
Friday, March 18, 2011
We have a winner!
Congratulations to Wendy, entry #969!
A special thanks to all those who participated in the St. Patty's Day $110 Cash Prize Giveaway!
Also a very special thanks to all the Heather Jones from Mommy Only Has Two Hands for putting this together and to all the co-hosts for your contributions.
Being a Domestic Diva is more worked than I ever imagined.  Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying myself although I feel like I'm working non stop 24 hours a day, but I'm finding it to be very satisfying and fulfilling in a strange way.  It's nice to know that I'm nourishing my family, I'm keeping a tidy home, and I'm still able to have a little me time in addition.  I'm slowly getting the hang of this balancing act, or at least it feels that way to me.

A few weeks back, hubby approached me about having a good friend stay with us for a few months because of a current issue with his living situation.  At first I was a little hesitant but all my worries vanished when hubby told me who he was speaking of.  This guy, we'll just call him G, has been a close friend of ours for almost 10 years now.  He's the kind of guy that will take the shirt off his back if you needed it.  How could I say no?  So last week we prepared ourselves to welcome G into our home for the next 3 months.  I wasn't exactly sure how things would work out, especially with our little monkey, but so far all has been good.

Well, "good" is somewhat an understatement!  Things have been pretty terrific, actually.  Ok, so hubby and I haven't really had much time alone, but that's just one more things we'll have to learn to balance.  Besides that, I really can't complain.  To be 100% honest, I'm getting spoiled rotten with G around!  Lately, things at work have been really busy between it being tax season and me talking on additional responsibilities that I've been dying for (anything to make my day more busy, I know, I must be out of my mind!), I've been coming home absolutely exhausted and ready for a break.  I haven't really wanted to think about cooking or cleaning or anything else besides my couch, a good book and maybe even a nice glass of wine.  And can you blame me?  Well, since G has moved in, that's pretty much exactly what I've been getting.  I come home and the house is spotless, dishes are washed and put away, kitchen is stocked (yes, he's went grocery shopping for me), and he's taken on his share of cooking a couple nights a week.

To make matters even better, hubby now has 2 nights a week off instead of just 1!  So he cooks (or we go out) 2 nights a week, G cooks 2 nights a week, and I cook 3 nights a week.  I could really get used to this!  I'm going to miss G when he leaves but I will enjoy this time while it lasts!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Yes, you read that right!  Doritos for dinner!!!  Who would have thought?!?  A few years ago, my husband's friend and co-worker made this fantastic creation for the staff dinner at the restaurant they worked at and when my husband came home he told me all about it.  A few weeks back, we had some Doritos laying around, so hubby got the brilliant idea to make Dorito chicken parm.  I've never tasted anything like it and I could wait to recreate it myself!

So last night as I went through the cabinets looking to see what I would make for dinner (in the back of my mind I was starting to kick myself for waiting so long to go grocery shopping) and I saw that there was about 1/2 a bag of Doritos sitting in the cabinet.  Now, I could have left that and it would have been consumed by the hubs as a late night snack, but that's just not healthy and I couldn't in my right mind allow that to happen!  Then it hit me, Dorito Chicken Parm!  I had some mozzarella, salsa and chicken laying around, so why not?  I don't know about you, but this looks pretty mouth watering to me!  (I didn't have any Spanish rice as I had hoped for my side dish, so I made mashed potatoes and instead of using sour cream I substituted cream cheese which was delicious!!!)  I mean, if you really think about it, what kid wouldn't like Doritos for dinner?  Here's a healthy way to give them what they want and be satisfied that they're getting some healthy protein!

 Interested in recreating this dish yourself?  It's so easy!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 extra large egg
1/2 large bag (or 1 small bag) Doritos
3 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup salsa
mozzarella
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions:
  1. In a large Zip Lock bag, thoroughly crushed Doritos chips.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium low heat.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Once olive oil is hot, add butter and allow to simmer until all the butter is melted and lightly bubbling.
  4. Lightly coat chicken breast with flour until fully covered.
  5. In a bowl, beat egg quickly.  Dip flour coated chicken breast in egg and allow excess to drip off.
  6. Gently drop chicken breast into Zip Lock bag.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 until all chicken is in Zip Lock bag.
  8. Zip bag and shake it until chicken is fully coated.
  9. Place chicken in skillet and allow to cook for 5 minutes until Dorito coating is lightly browned.
  10. Flip chicken and allow to cook 5 more minutes.
  11. Remove chicken from skillet and place on a double broiler pan (to allow fat to drip to bottom pan) and place in oven for 20 minutes.
  12. Once chicken is fully cooked (no longer pink in the middle), place a few scoops of salsa and mozzarella slices over chicken and place back in the oven until cheese is melted.
I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I do!  It may look like a lot of steps, but I wanted to make sure to give you enough detail to make it easy to succeed.  Once you have the steps down, it's a total breeze!  If you try this recipe, please share your thought!  Personally, I love it and so does my family.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Oh my, it's been a while since I've had a chance to sit down and write!  I've had so much I've wanted to share but finding the time to pull myself away from the daily tasks us moms face has been more difficult the past couple of weeks.  Between the recent increase in stress at work (there's never a dull moment during tax time when you're working in an accounting position!) and the normal goings on of a busy family life, finding some time for myself has been even more limited.  I do have to admit that I've been making some time during the day to sit down and read which I have missed for some time now.

These past few weeks have been filled with a lot more than I had expected possible for myself.  I've been trying extra hard to keep a clean house, never knowing when friends or family may pop by.  It's been nice knowing that if someone called and said they would be stopping over in the next 10-15 minutes that I wasn't frantic to hide whatever mess was lying around.  Rather, I would just tidy up a few things here and there and that would be it.  No more stress in that department.  I've found a pretty reasonable way to keep the entire house clean without feeling like I was spending every waking moment scrubbing or as a personal maid.  I've given myself a weekly schedule of things to do during the week.  Sunday is generally a laundry day where I try to get the bulk of the clothes wash, dried, ironed, and put away.  Since hubby is home on Monday, I try to leave that day free to spend quality time with family.  Tuesday is bathrooms, vacuum and dusting.  Wednesdays are my late day at work but when I get home I try to get at least 1 load of laundry done.  Thursday I take out the trash and thoroughly clean the kitchen (although I try to at least do a light cleaning of the kitchen every day and always clean up after myself as I cook to make the work a little lighter on myself come Thursday night).  Friday I try to give myself a little down time and Saturday I clean the entire house.  My load over all has felt much lighter since I've spread out my work throughout the week.

As for meal time, I'm actually feeling a lot more comfortable in this department.  I've been sampling a few recipes, mostly from my favorite chef of all time, the one and only Mario Batali, like his homemade pasta, gnocchi, red sauce, and milanese.  I've also tried a few recipes I found online like one for swiss chard which is one of my favorite veggies and lasagna.  I've had some bumps along the way like with my pasta.  I did much better than my first attempt with the homemade ravioli.  I rolled the pasta dough much thinner and the taste of the fresh pasta was like nothing I've made before.  There's absolutely no comparison between homemade fresh pasta and store bought boxed pasta.  Homemade is so much better!  And really not all that difficult to make, especially with a stand up mixer.  For all you pasta virgins out there, I strongly recommend you give it a try.  My light fowl up was that I didn't put corn meal on the pasta after rolling it.  No where in the instructions did they mention that but after my husband tried to cook his portion of the meal (since he works late and usually gets home after I'm already asleep) he told me that his pasta was pretty much one big lump of pasta smooshed together.  After rolling out the pasta, it's good to toss it in some corn meal to keep it from sticking to itself.

And then there's the gnocchi!  Over all the gnocchi was good, but I put a little too much potato and not enough flour... the dough was a bit more sticky than I expected and after cooking the pasta, it was not as firm as I had hoped.  Next time I'll add just a little more flour to increase the firmness.  On a side note with the gnocchi, I made the red sauce to go along with the gnocchi and allowed the bison (yes, we do eat buffalo at our house!)  I cooked the red sauce, 4 cups of beef broth, and bison meat for about 2 1/2 hours and when my husband walked in the door he was a little concerned with the smell.  The smell of the thyme in the sauce was a little over powering at first, but once the food was done cooking and it was time to eat, he was surprised at how good it was.  Not too much thyme as he had expected.  That was a pleasant surprise for me.  I was a little concerned that the entire meal would be a flop!

I'd have to say that my 3 favorite things I've made have been the pork chop milanese, lasagna and homemade meat balls.  I wrote about the meat balls in a previous post, but I just have to say once again, they were delicious!  We still have a few in the freezer ready to go whenever we're in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs.  They've held up extremely well in the freezer and are a snap to cook.  Something I didn't mention in my previous post about the meatballs, they don't look or feel like regular meat balls you're typically used to when you think "meatballs".  They're a little more... gooey... for lack of a better word.  So if you try the recipe and you're trying to form perfect meatball "balls", you'll be a little disappointed and think you did something wrong.  They're supposed to be like that.  They don't form the firm balls we're all used to, but trust me, you've never had meatballs like this before.  They are fantastic!

Next would have to be the lasagna.  I just made that the other night and after tasting it was so thrilled with the outcome.  I was even happier that my daughter and husband seemed to like it as much as I did.  When it comes to left overs, they generally don't do too well in our house.  For some reason or another no matter how good the meal was, if it ends up going in the refrigerator it usually only comes back out when it's time to throw away since no one seems to like reheating food in our house.  But this lasagna did and I was beyond proud of that!  There was only one minute piece that didn't get eaten and after finding it the next morning still sitting out on the counter all dried up and pathetic looking, I decided the meal was thoroughly enjoyed 2 nights in a row, it was time to toss the remaining bit.  That's definitely a recipe that will be used again and again!

And last but definitely not least was the pork chop milanese.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!  Thankfully, it was such a big success with my daughter that I decided to make it again tonight for dinner, but rather than using pork chop I used some veal I had in the fridge.  It really doesn't matter the cut of meat you use, the simple recipe was easy, quick and oh so good!  I'll definitely continue to use this on different variations of meat from chicken to beef to veal to pork!  I was hesitant about having to fry anything.  The last time I even attempted to fry meat, also a milanese but I used my mom's recipe calling for almost triple the amount of oil than this recipe required, I ended up splattering oil everywhere including on myself, burning my arms so many times that I quit before I even finished cooking my first piece.  As I stood there getting ready to heat up the 1/4 cup of oil, not understanding how this recipe could require such little oil in comparison to my mom's dish which I do have to say is quite tasty, I feared finding myself in the same situation as before.  But this whole task of learning to cook is more than just learning to cook, it's also getting over my fears.  I've already overcome my fear, or should I say loath, of onion (for the most part, but that's a work in progress), I'm working to get over my textural issue with mushrooms, and now it was time to face my fear of frying food.  It's not something I plan on doing often since I'm trying to limit the amount of fried food we consume, but every now and then a little deep fried something or other is just so darn good!  As you can probably tell since I not only made pork chop milanese, but also made veal milanese tonight, I'm over that fear!  Not only have I learned a new dish with success, but I've also overcome another fear of the kitchen.  I feel that much closer to having a better grasp of the whole culinary experience I've craved for so long now.

I'm also extremely proud of the fact that I've cut down my reliance on deliveries.  I do from time to time call for some, but that's usually limited to maybe once a week, if that at all!  I've been successful at giving my family a good home cooked meal at least 5 nights a week and left overs 1-2 times a week.  I think that's a pretty huge accomplishment for me.  The best part about it is that it's been much easier than I expected and I'm finding that I'm looking forward to cooking each night.  Hopefully things will continue to go like this and improve with practice.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you have any suggestions on some new recipes for me to try!  I promise to try to write more often, but if you're a mom like me, finding time to do anything for yourself is sometimes simply impossible!  Until then, I'll leave you with a few photos of some of my meals.  Enjoy!

homemade pasta, red sauce and meatballs with shaved parmesan cheese

lasagna


pork chop milanese with sauteed brocclini
Friday, February 18, 2011

Yep! You have your chance of winning $110 cash via paypal on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. I've teamed up with nine other bloggers to help give you one awesome prize. CASH! Who doesn't love cash? You have 84 possible entries for this contest and we have provided an easy form to submit your entries below.


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Monday, February 7, 2011

What's more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs?  Nothing!  There's nothing like a hot plate of home cooked meatballs smothered in sauce on a mound of perfectly tender spaghetti.  Sound mouth watering?  Well, it is!

Tonight's menu is a little different than normal nights.  Since hubby has the night off, it's his night to cook dinner but whenever he cooks it's more like a 10 o'clock meal.  Too late for the kiddo so I decided she needed a little something special for her.  Whenever we go out to eat, she'll get 1 of 3 things: pizza, chicken fingers, or spaghettie and meatballs.  I can honestly name the places where she'll actually eat the meatballs on one hand.  Normally she'll just eat the spaghettie and maybe a couple pieces of meatballs.  I've tried giving her the frozen kind but that's a no go!  My husband came across one of Mario Batali's recipes for homemade meatballs and being such a Batali fanatic, I just had to give it a try.  Now, this recipe is not something that's easy to come by so I'm going to share it with you right here:

Ingredients:
3 cups basic tomato sauce (or marinara saunce)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3 cups fresh bread crumbs (5 slices of bread broken up)
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, bring tomato sauce to a fast simmer.
  2. Put the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and pur the milk over.  Set aside
  3. In a bowl of a countertop mixer fitted witha paddle or dough hook, combine the beef and the eggs.  Grate the garlic over the bowl with a microplane. (You can also finely mince the garlic)  Add in grated pecorino, toasted pine nuts, parsley and salt.  Mix briefly just to combine.
  4. Add the milk-soaked bread crumbs to the meat mixture and mix for about one minute until it comes together, but still has some texture and moisture.
  5. Form the mixture into 12 to 15 meatballs, each smaller than a tennis ball but larger than a golf ball.  Gently add the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
  6. Top the meatballs with parsley leaves, freshly grated pecorino and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
This recipe is fast and super easy.  So easy that even a beginner like me is able to make absolutely delicious homemade meatballs from scratch!  My daughter loved her meal and best of all she ate ever piece of meatball on her plate, leaving a lot of the spaghettie behind.  There's very little that's more heart warming that having your child thank you for the meal you made.  It's always nice to hear my husband tell me he enjoyed my meal, especially with his background and expertise with food, but to have my daughter tell me my food is "yummy" and say "thanks mom", that goes right to my core!  If there's a recipe I could ever suggest to someone to try, it's this one!  If you do happen to try it, please, let me know what you think!


I have mixed feeling when I see pictures like these in magazines and online.  Yes, they're celebrities and probably have people helping them because honestly, what mother can look that amazing while running around the house chasing after the kids?  I know lots of moms who look great day in and day out even with little ones running around, and I envy them so much!  How I would love to know their secrets to looking so beautiful and put together.  Not only do they look gorgeous but their kids too, every hair in place, not a speck of dirt/food/snot on their clothes.  How do they do it?  Can anyone share that golden piece of advice with me?

I know I'm not the only one that feels like this.  I can't be, it's just not possible!  There must be other moms out there who feel the same way as me.  I can't tell you the amount of times I've gone into work with a pony tail in my hair (because of the lack of time to even attempt to do anything nicer to my hair), zero makeup, and an outfit that I put little to no thought into (some of the times even getting to work to find cereal or syrup smeared somewhere on my back from that morning's breakfast).  I wish I had the time and energy to put forth the effort needed to look my best.

If you're one of those mothers who know how to find the time to pamper yourself and look so beautiful who juggling a toddler, please share!  I would love to know how you do it!
I've been a little held up writing this post.  It's been a bit of a hectic week for me and time for writing has been more limited them normal.  I have been itching to tell you all about the Stuffed Pork Chops I made Tuesday night.  I've tried making pork in the past, usually buying the pre-seasoned pork loin that I would end up over cooking even when following the instructions to a T.  After a few unsuccessful tries at making pork loins and a very direct request from my husband to not stay away from pork in general, I decided to give this new recipe a try and boy, was I happy I did!

Probably not the best presentation but it was the tastiest pork chops I've ever made!  Good enough that my hubby had 2 servings.  Stuffing the pork chops were easier than I expected and the stuffing was nothing more than some shaved cheese (the recipes called for a blend of 6 Italian cheese but since all I had was some Parmesano Reggiano, I used a cup of that instead.  It is Italian, so that's got to count for something), Italian season bread crumb, and dried parsley.  I mixed all the stuffing ingredients, made a nice pocket in the pork by making an incision leaving 3/4" uncut along 3 sides.  Once the pork was stuffed (don't over stuff or filling will just over flow out of the pork before it's done cooking), pinch the open edge to seal the stuffing in.  Rub seasoning mix (salt, pepper and paprika) on both sides of the pork and brown both sides then top the pork with more of the stuffing mixture and allow the cheese to melt while the meat is cooking.  The recipe calls for browning both sides on medium-high in a skillet then transferring the skillet to the over for 8-10 minutes, allowing the pork to cook at 375°­.  Since I have a beautiful cast iron pot, I allowed the pork to brown then covered the pot and let the pork continue cooking for 8 minutes until completely done (no longer pink when I cut the side to check).

All-in-all, it was a very simple recipe to follow and the end result was delicious!  This is definitely a recipe that's going in the book and will be used again!  Speaking of which, I made 6 pork chops and only used 3 Tuesday night.  These are great to make in quantity and freeze!  I put the remaining 3 in a Zip Lock freezer bag and cooked the left overs on Saturday night.  The held up well in the freezer, even the stuffing was as good the second time around.  For the complete recipe go to http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Italian-Cheese-Stuffed-Pork-Chops/Detail.aspx
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Having a sick baby in the house is no fun at all!  Poor kid, could barely breath through her stuffy nose.  And when the little one is sick all she wants is mommy, mommy, mommy.  So you can be sure that last night there was no cooking in our household.  But thanks to my loving hubby how gave me a little break from the kitchen to tend to my needy sick child, for picking up some delicious Bahama Breeze.  A little taste of the islands sure helped me forget about the dreary cold weather outside!

I had been debating putting everything off tonight and just trying to go to bed early since my daughter was up most of the night and well into the morning.  Who needs to have a clean house or a home cooked meal when they can hardly keep their eyes open?  But then again if I put this off tonight, I'll just have double the work to do tomorrow and the endless cycle will begin again.  I understand now what my mother always said to me while I was pregnant, "get your rest now because once that baby gets here, forget about getting any sleep!"  A mom's job is never done!

So last night's menu will now be pushed back to tonight.  Since my darling love is working, it'll just be me and my princess.  I'm starting to get the hang of this cooking thing and I'm contemplating using a recipe I stumbled upon for homemade mac and cheese.  Hayden loves mac and cheese so I might just add this to tonight's dinner since I'm not sure how much she'll enjoy stuffing.  She's never tried it before, but then again she surprised me with her love of sauteed spinach (which she calls "pasta", don't ask me why I'm still trying to figure that one out myself) the other night so she could surprise me here too.

I do have to send out a quick shout out to my mother-in-law who's been buying me these awesome KitchenAid cook books to go with my KitchenAid stand up mixer.  I've been going through the recipes and finding so many I want to make.  Lately, Hayden has been utterly addicted to peanut butter (as she calls it "pee pee budder") so this past weekend we tried making peanut butter cookies.  The recipe called for 1 cup of brown sugar, simple, so I thought!  When I pulled out my tub of brown sugar I found that it was no longer soft and moist as it was a few weeks back when I checked on it.  Instead, it was hard as a rock!  So, thanks to my handy dandy iPhone, I was able to look up substitutions for brown sugar... 2 parts molasses and 1 part granulated sugar.  Ok, molasses - check! Granulated sugar - check check!  I was good to go.  We mixed in the rest of the ingredients and proceeded with making our peanut butter cookies.  Hayden loved rolling the cookie dough between her fingers, but I had to constantly remind her not to eat the raw cookie dough.  We had a blast smooshing down the dough and making criss-cross marks with the fork and then placed the cookies in the oven to bake.

Once the cookies were done and cooled, we each took a cookie and began to devour our creation.  Not so good!  I should have know just by the look of things.  I had a feeling that the cookies shouldn't have been so dark!  All you could taste was the molasses, yuck!  Now, if you're a fan of molasses, then this would have been a delicious cookie for you, but I'm not!  I did eventually throw the cookies away, much to Hayden's dismay.  She wasn't really into eating the cookies, she seemed to have the same problem I did with them.  I think it was more the idea of "throwing out cookies" that had her upset.

Since our last cookie disaster, I have paid a little visit to my grocery story, picked up a few essentials (new cookie sheet, cooling rack, and BROWN SUGAR) so we are officially prepared to make peanut butter cookies!  If my princess is feeling up to it tonight, we'll be making cookies and this time I expect a much better outcome!
Monday, January 31, 2011
I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!  I've fallen head over heals for marinades!  I've tried marinades in the past, picked up a few bottles of this and that at the grocery store then they would sit in my refrigerator for months until finally going bad and being thrown away.  Another dollar wasted.  Well, not this time!  Last night I made my own marinade following a recipe given to me by a friend.  It's very simple and oh my goodness was it delicious!  I loved the recipe so much I just have to share it with all of you!

2 chicken breast halves
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
Salt to flavor

Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and rosemary in a resealable bag.  Add the chicken and allow to sit for 15 minute - 2 hours.  Once ready to cook, set oven to 400°. Place chicken on non-stick pan and cook for 20 minutes (or until center of chicken is no longer pink).

If you don't want to bake the chicken, you can also cook it on the stove adding a little bit of water and covering the chicken.  The steam will help speed up the cooking time.  After the chicken is cooked, add a little white wine, salt and pepper to the left over juices and cook for 5 minutes.  This will make a great sauce to go with the chicken and a great way to bring out the flavor of the marinade too!

This dish was so easy to prepare.  Just throw everything in a bag, shack and that's it!  Just the kind of meal I like to make, quick and easy and full of flavor.  I wish all my meals were as successful as this!  I do have to hand it to my husband for baling me out of a somewhat sticky situation.  He could hear me fumbling around the kitchen and making more noise then necessary to cook chicken.  I was trying to find some way to cook my piece faster (since our daugher was feeling a little under the weather and crying for me to hold her, she's a real mama's girl when she's sick!) and he came in and took over so that I could take care of our sick child.  Thanks to him my yummy chicken had a delicious sauce to accompany it!  So I guess you could say that last night's meal was a joint effort...  Here's to tonight, Italian Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops and Homemade Stuffing.  I'll let you know how that goes if I every make it out of work tonight!

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