Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day...My Friends and Family Remembered




This Memorial Day has a very special meaning to us.

On January 31, 2002, a dear friend of mine - Chad Carlson - 1st Lt. in the USAF, was killed while flying as an instructor pilot. God rest his soul.


Also, my cousin Brianna is currently serving in Afghanistan in the US Army. She is a ninja ... please keep her in your prayers.
























Happy Memorial Day everyone!


Healthy Recipe: Quick-Cured Sake Salmon with Quinoa











Sake's nutty flavor complements the quinoa and helps tenderize the salmon. This method is a quick way to cure the fish.

This recipe was AMAZING and I am not a huge salmon fan! Please try and come back to let us know what you thought :)

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces salmon and about 3/4 cup quinoa)

* This has been slightly altered by us :)


Ingredients

  • 1 (1-pound) salmon fillet - We got ours from Whole Foods and it was AMAZING!!!!!
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups sake, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Place salmon, skin side down, on a plate. Combine 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon sugar; rub salt mixture evenly over skinned sides of salmon. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight.

Remove plastic wrap from salmon. Rinse salmon under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Combine 1 cup sake, remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, chili paste, and garlic in a zip-top plastic bag. Add salmon; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.

You will need to wash your quinoa, unless you have purchased pre-washed, organic quinoa.

Heat butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add pepper, carrot, and onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add quinoa; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup water, remaining 1/2 cup sake, juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Stir in parsley. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Remove salmon from bag, reserving marinade. Place marinade in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 7 minutes).

Brush skinned sides of salmon with remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil. Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon to pan, skin side up; cook 3 minutes or until golden brown. Turn salmon over, and baste with reduced marinade. Place pan in oven, and bake at 450° for 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve immediately with quinoa.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
519 (23% from fat)
Fat:
13.5g (sat 2.9g,mono 6.3g,poly 3.4g)
Protein:
30.3g
Carbohydrate:
41.7g
Fiber:
4g
Cholesterol:
60mg
Iron:
3.4mg
Sodium:
717mg
Calcium:
53mg
Kathryn Conrad, Cooking Light, AUGUST 2007


Death Star: Eco Friendly?
















Who knew the Death Star was so eco-friendly!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Adventures in Baby Food Making - Week 1: Sweet Potatoes

SWEET POTATOES - Week #1 - Solid Food #1

So after giving up on making cereal for the reasons that I presented in my last blog, I progressed into making the "real" solid foods.

After researching which food I should begin with, I chose sweet potatoes. I'm one of those moms that didn't want to start with fruits for the fear of him not liking the veggies later.

So this is how I made homemade sweet potatoes using the Food Cube Method.

Step One - Select

Select your organic sweet potatoes that are thick, chunky and taper at the ends. Refrain from purchasing vegetables that have wax on them.

Step Two - Clean and Prep

Scrub the potatoes clean and place the in your steamer. We had a steamer in our rice cooker, but is definitely not large enough for making baby food. Therefore, I went to Target and purchased a cheap one that can fit inside of one of our pots. Place enough water in bottom of pot that the water touches the bottom of the veggies.



Our food steamer









Potatoes cleaned and ready to steam





Step Three - Steam

Cover the pot and steam for 30 minutes - Stopping at 15 minutes to turn the potatoes over.











Step 4: Puree Prep

Cut cooked potatoes in half and place in mixer. We are using a mixer instead of a blender or food processor, as the mixing beaters will collect more of the stringy fibers and leave the mash much more smooth. If you want, you can transfer to a blender afterwards to create even more of a smooth texture since the skins will stay on....your choice.











Step 5 - Puree

Blend away!

When the consistency is to your liking, it is time to start the Food Cube Method.

You will need to pick out large pieces of skin and strings to prevent a choking hazard.


Step 6 - Ice Cube Tray Prep

Make sure to select ice cube trays that are of the "good" plastics. They may say "BPA Free." If not, flip them over and look for the plastic number - "4, 5, 1 or 2....all the rest are bad for you"
























Step 7 - Fill the Trays

Fill the ice cube trays with 1 tablespoon of puree. Standard ice cube trays hold 2 tablespoons, but you can measure yours with water.











Step 8 - Cover and Freeze

Cover your ice cube trays with aluminum foil and place in freezer - apart from each other - for approximately 8-12 hours - until frozen.











Step 9 - Bag the Puree

Remove the trays from the freezer and empty the cubes out.















Place in secure freezer bags - The puree will be good for up to 2 months in the freezer or up to 10 days in the refrigerator.













Make sure to label your bags!












Step 10 - Defrosting

The easiest way is to think ahead. Take out enough frozen cubes for the next day and place them in a sandwich bag and put in the refrigerator overnight. If you want to heat them up, you can place in a non-plastic container in the microwave for 5 seconds. A baby at 6 months old will probably eat only 1 tablespoon of veggies along with their cereal.















Step 11 - Sit back and enjoy the expressions!




















Remember....in order to accurately determine allergic reactions to new food, follow the 4 day plan. This is simply to only provide a new food to your child after 4 days of exposure. Also, make sure to give the new food in the morning, rather than at night, so that you can monitor for reactions.

Have fun!

T-2 days until a new food!

Stay tuned!






Thursday, May 27, 2010

Adventures in Baby Food Making: Cereal Continued


So sorry that it has taken some time to update you on my Adventures in Baby Food Making via the book - Super Baby Food.

My first attempt was a horrible failure - simple rice cereal. I had been using Earth's Best organic, but I wanted to try my hand at homemade.

My second attempt went much better. My big downfall? I used my food processor for the rice and not the blender like the directions told me.

So, here is how I successfully made homemade rice cereal for Noah:

First, I ground 1/2 cup brown rice in the blender for 2 minutes (Don't worry about the motor getting hot! It's supposed to be able to work like this.)














Until it became a fine powder












Then, I boiled two cups of water and immediately reduced the heat to low and added the rice powder. While adding, I stirred with whisk vigorously.










I covered the pot for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Finally, I divided the cereal into Pampered Chef bowls with lids to refrigerate.












My conclusion - My thoughts?


Although I successfully created this Super Porridge, I have decided to go back to his organic boxed cereal from Earth's Best.

For two reasons:

1) He HATED the homemade cereal - I should have started it from the beginning

2) The cereal that I make at home is not iron-fortified.

Therefore, I will keep with the boxed cereal and make all his veggies and fruits at home :)



Monday, May 24, 2010

Swagger Wagon


A friend of ours, Angelle, sent
this video to us and I was rolling laughing and had to share.

I must give props to Toyota for making such a funny video!

Enjoy!



The Adventures in Baby Food Making: Cereal














Ever since Noah was born, we said that I was going to make our own baby food.

Well, not until yesterday did I try this, as we've been giving him Earth's Best iron fortified organic cereals (which he LOVES).

Our good friend, Brynn, suggested that we use the book Super Baby Food as a guide, and then it was reiterated to us by our pediatrician. (She actually told us to listen to it all, except for one thing, which I will talk about later).

I tried to make a homemade brown rice cereal yesterday - their preliminary Super Porridge, but it did not come out as I had planned. The consistency was too coarse and the rice didn't cook enough and it was too crunchy.

Oh well, today - day 2, we'll try it again, but with a ground pearled barley. I'll let you know how that goes.

I'm super excited and can't wait to let everyone know about our Adventures in Baby Food Making!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fingerprint Friday




Fingerprint Friday

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that says:
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
You're a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God
So look around you and see where YOU can see God's fingerprints. Is it in nature? Kids? Animals? Where do you see them?
Here's how to join in.

1. Blog with your interpretation of God's fingerprints. Be sure to link back here so others can find the entire list of participants.
2. After you've posted your blog, sign the MckLinky here. Have fun exploring the other links as well!
Please sign in only if you're participating. Hopefully this will make us look at things through fresh eyes throughout the week.
-----------------------------------------
I went to a Women's Retreat and took some time to walk around and be at one with nature....with God.
Along a creek bed were tiny little shells.
I think that we don't take enough time to see the little things.
Here is one of those little things I would've missed if I hadn't had my eyes open.








Healthy Recipe: Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple Pepper Relish

Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple Pepper Relish











Even for those that don't love fish - This was a great recipe! Tilapia is a farm-raised freshwater fish and one of the most mild tasting fish out there! It was also a very quick recipe to make. We loved it!


Fresh pineapple chunks, now widely available in supermarkets, speed the prep for this relish.

Serve with coconut rice (substitute light coconut milk for some of the water to cook it).

Round out menu with a romaine lettuce salad tossed with lime dressing.


Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet, about 1/2 cup relish, and 1 lime wedge)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 lime wedges

Preparation

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle fish evenly with spice mixture. Add fish to pan, and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Combine pineapple and next 5 ingredients (through jalapeño) in a large bowl, stirring gently. Serve pineapple mixture with fish. Garnish with lime wedges.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
228 (22% from fat)
Fat:
5.5g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.2g,poly 1.4g)
Protein:
34.9g
Carbohydrate:
11.2g
Fiber:
1.5g
Cholesterol:
85mg
Iron:
1.2mg
Sodium:
328mg
Calcium:
29mg
Kate Washington, Cooking Light, APRIL 2007

Step 2 to Green: Green Lawn Care








I blogged the other day about how we had switched from Terminix to Green Pest Guys.

I also mentioned that our next step was to move over to green lawn care.....and we did!

We had a traditional lawn service that did your basic mow, trim and edge.

After attending the Live Green Expo in Plano, we not only met our new pest guy, but we also met Casey from Earth Turf Lawn Care.

When he came out to do our estimate, I asked him what made them "green":

* All of their equipment is flown in from California and therefore produce 60% less emissions than that of traditional lawn care services.

* All of their mulch and fertilizer is all natural and produced locally

* All of their vehicles are low emission

* All of their uniforms are made of organic cotton

* Their home office uses Green Mountain Electricity, which we use as well

Why did we choose to switch?

Well - Noah is about to crawl AND we have 2 puppies. If they eat anything out in the lawn, they will not be eating chemicals!

Also, when it came to price, I was a bit concerned. But...we were able to negotiate and get the same rate as we are now for increased services. We get our lawn serviced all 52 weeks of the year, whether it be the full mow or just an edge in the wintertime. Then, for the same price as our former service, we will get flower bed service, organic mulching and hedge trimming!

We really couldn't pass it up!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

6 Months Old



Noah turned 6 months old on Monday! Wow. Have fast it has passed.

I would have written this blog entry on Monday, but Noah has been sick with a sore throat, fever and congestion. And being the loving son that he is, he shared.

I went to the doctor yesterday and was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and a sinus infection :( If it wasn't for my mom helping with Noah, I don't know what I would have done!

So - On to the happy news.....Noah is 6 months old!

At his 6 month appointment, he weighed in at 17 lbs 7.5 oz. - 50th Percentile.

He measured in at 27" long - 75th Percentile.

And his head has jumped from the 50th to 75th percentile!

I can't believe that it has been 6 months since we gave birth. I just remember the surprise when Dr. Herr told me that we had to take him that day. I had gone into labor nearly a month early and not only could they not stop the contractions, my amniotic fluid was low and the gestational diabetes was at the point that we couldn't control it.

All in all though, the decision was well worth it - We had Noah Bradley at 6 lb. 7 oz. - Stubborn as could be - never turning upside down.
























Do you see that red mark on his face? That was where my ribs were digging into his cheek! I can still feel that pain!

And then 6 months later, we have an amazingly beautiful and healthy baby boy!





















How God has truly blessed us!




If you can't beat 'em

As the saying always goes....

If you can't beat 'em.....join 'em.

Marquis was not too thrilled about Noah being here at first.

My how things have changed!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Step 1 to Green: Green Pest Control: Continuing to Go Green







So today I had Greg, the chief Greenie, from Green Pest Guys come to our home to do a free estimate on pest control. We met him at The Green Expo in Plano, TX about a month ago.

There were two main reasons that I signed up with them today:

1) They are green!

2) I hated the way Terminix treated us!


We are keeping our termite control with Terminix, but now have a green pest service!

What could be even better than this?

They were $100 cheaper per year than Terminix - Without all the chemicals! And....Greg was super nice and I didn't feel as I was getting weaseled into pest control like what happened to us with Terminix.


Next step - Green Lawncare!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paperbackswap.com













I've been meaning to blog about this for the longest time and it always escapes me (or another blog consumes my mind).

Recently, I have had the addiction of collecting all of Sandra Boynton's books for Noah's collection. I love her books....but that is another blog.

I found a great website called Paperbackswap.com.

The way it works?

* Post books that you no longer want.

* Someone will come along and claim the book.

* They give you the labels for packaging and you pay to mail the book to the requestor.

* They will post it as "Received" and you get a credit.

* Then, go on their website and find books that you want and request them from their owner and use on of your credits.

* They then pay the cost of shipping the book to you.


I have traded over nearly 50 books on this website and love love love it!!!

Go ahead - Check it out - And then tell me how much you love it too!!!



Healthy Recipe: Chicken Baked in Coconut-Curry Sauce



Definitely try this one! It was amazing! Not too hot - just right!


What I really liked about this recipe is that I really couldn't taste the vegetables. I hate squash, but I wanted to eat it since I know it is healthy for me. This recipe his the taste and I was able to eat it without having to hold my breath! LOL!

Make it and let me know what you think! YUM!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chicken Baked in Coconut-Curry Sauce




Right before it went into the oven







Mmmmm....Fresh out of the oven






Laura Martin, Cooking Light, APRIL 2007


The rich coconut milk, hot curry paste, and garlic create a sauce that keeps the chicken moist. Serve over basmati rice.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 packet and 1 lime wedge)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow squash (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup 1/4-inch-thick red bell pepper strips (about 1 large)
  • 1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 lime wedges

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound each piece to an even thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over both sides of chicken.

Fold 4 (16 x 12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil in half crosswise. Open foil; layer 1/2 cup zucchini, 1/4 cup squash, 1/4 cup bell pepper, 2 tablespoons green onions, and 1 chicken breast half on half of each foil sheet. Spoon 3 tablespoons of coconut milk mixture over each serving. Fold foil over chicken and vegetables; tightly seal edges.

Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 22 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Place on plates. Unfold packets carefully, and sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
278 (27% from fat)
Fat:
8.4g (sat 5.9g,mono 0.8g,poly 0.6g)
Protein:
41.7g
Carbohydrate:
8.4g
Fiber:
2.3g
Cholesterol:
99mg
Iron:
2.8mg
Sodium:
523mg
Calcium:
57mg