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!

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:

  • 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

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


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!

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