Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Skillet Cauliflower mac and cheese

I blogged before about the fact that I have PCOS...it's a stupid disease that ranges in symptoms from infertility to weight gain to mood swings to insulin resistance. The worst for me is the insulin resistance which means my system doesn't digest grains and sugars like a 'normal' person's system does. I can't go on a low fat diet because I will gain weight. Breastfeeding does not melt away the pounds for me. I have to change my diet completely not just go on a diet..I can't eat whatever I want. I can't use the 'usual' diet and even exercising my butt off doesn't always help. I read an article today on the blog Mark's Daily Apple 
It's fascinating and rather annoying how quickly I can convince myself that I don't really have to watch what I eat...I can do what everyone else is doing...etc etc etc...I'm glad I read the article. I need a reminder of how serious PCOS is and how easily I can change for the better or for the worse. I loved how the guest blogger said, "I allowed myself treats from time to time but I planned them and enjoyed the hell out of them. I didn’t suddenly pack on 10 pounds if I ate something bad, because I stopped at that one thing." This is what I really need to remember!
So, in honor of New Year's Resolutions and getting healthy and actually listening to the needs of my own body and not trying to be like everyone else...I'm going to start cutting grains and sugar...allowing the occasional treat...or as one of my friends says, covering the grains with enough fat and vegetables that your body digests them easier...as in the picture. I put half the amount of macaroni and twice the amount of cauliflower. I used real cheese and lots of it. I sauteed the cauliflower in bacon fat. I also ate a small portion of this along side meat balls and sweet potatoes. So it's not even January 1, but I hate starting things, so I figured I would just do it early.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010...some of our memories

 Sugar cookies...working on my piping skills! I like the way these wreaths came out
the table is set for our Christmas Eve guests!!
 Christmas Eve, the boys open one gift...new chairs from Mommy, Daddy and Uncle Murphy!!!

 Christmas morning...Santa brought a Cars race track and a little people Pirate Ship!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!! Foodie Fridays!!! Pasta with Bacon and Mushrooms

This is one of our family's favorite recipes and I only discovered it this past summer! It is super easy and quick to make and feeds a lot! I must say I love this dish too that my husband bought me last year after Christmas at Crate and Barrel. I'm kind of a sucker for a pretty Christmas platter or plate...I have a rather eclectic collection of Christmas dessert plates. 
My Christmas Eve table is set...showing you my eclectic collection of plates and glasses. Hubs bought me the swirly red ones from Pier One years ago, the other reds were from my Secret Santa when I taught high school!

I usually get 4 new ones each year to add to it. I have snowmen, Christmas trees, poinsettias, berries and new Christmas paisley. I might have skipped a year when I didn't find something I really fell in love with. I'm picky that way:) drives my husband crazy...this year I found some beautiful plates and matching mugs at Cracker Barrel (and on sale. YAY!).  I hosted a cookie exchange last weekend and it's fun to use all my different plates and not worry about everything matching or not having enough of one set!
here is the recipe
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 slices Thin Bacon, Cut Into 1/2-inch Pieces
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 package (10 Ounce) White Button Mushrooms, Sliced Thin
  • 1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (OR Dry White Wine)
  • 1 cup Half-and-half
  • ¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 whole Green Onions, White And Light Green Parts Sliced
  • ¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced
  • ½ cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 1 pound Thin Spaghetti Or Angel Hair Pasta
  • Extra Parmesan, For Sprinkling

Cook pasta according to package directions.In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon pieces and cook until light brown but not crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Do not clean pan.Add mushrooms and garlic to pan. Toss/stir around and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes; increase heat to high if needed to help mushrooms begin to turn golden brown.

Pour in chicken broth. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Cook over medium-high heat for several minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.
Reduce heat and pour in half and half and cream. Stir and allow to bubble and thicken for a couple of minutes. Add sliced green onions and parsley, then cook for one more minute. Finally, add Parmesan and stir, allowing cheese to melt and incorporate into the sauce. Turn off heat.
Add cooked pasta to a large bowl. Add half the sauce from the pan. Toss with tongs. ***Add 1/2 cup hot pasta water at this point if the pasta mixture is too thick and gunky. Toss and add more water until it reaches the consistency you need.***
Serve pasta in individual bowls, topping each helping with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with extra parsley and extra Parmesan.
Here is the link to Pioneer Woman's tutorial 
If you would like to participate in Foodie Fridays and link your recipe here, follow the instructions here

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Book Exchange!!! and other blogging firsts this year!!!

This year has been filled with a lot of fun firsts for me on this blog...
I started making bento lunches and gained a world of blogging friends with great ideas and great compliments!
I gained my first followers...my first one was one of my former students in Romania! She is an amazing mother of 3 now! teaches English kindergarten and has such a beauty about her...her cooking, her artwork, her lifestyle. 
I have started posting more recipes, taking better pictures (I hope) and trying to keep up with all the fun ideas out in the blogging world.
This December I participated in a Christmas book exchange through JDaniel4's Mom 
I had no idea what to expect especially when I received my partner...a Mom of 2 girls (ages 5 and 10)! What? I'm a mommy of boys and a toddler mommy at that! I looked and looked at bookstores and was quite worried when I bought the book I was to send her. It was a beautiful book, had a girl in the story, was written by a prize winning author...and well I was an English teacher for 9 years before my first boy was born! So, I sent it...I emailed her to tell her it was on its way. 
When she got it, this was her response..."I got your book tonight and I read it right away!  I was excited about it, I have already called 3 people and told them to go buy it.  My girls are going to absolutely love it!  Especially my oldest, she read Edward Tulane when she was 8 and immediately turned around and read Desperaux!  She is a HUGE fan of this author.  You couldn't have possibly picked a better book!  Amazing." 
Wow. Seriously? yeah, I'd have to agree. amazing. (God is good!)

I received her book the following day and had about the same response. We LOVE Eric Carle. Adrian's first books are ALL by Eric Carle. We have puzzles and coloring books too! This is what we received! What a fun Christmas book exchange! thank you JDaniel4's Mom for hosting!!!
looking at all the lights on the tree and pushing the button for a little jingle! so fun!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Menu

I'm always curious what people eat for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...all over the states...all over the world. 
When I lived in Romania, we traditionally ate the best chicken soup, sarmale (cabbage rolls), pork roast and chicken, mashed potatoes, other winter vegetables, cakes, cookies, more cakes, more cookies...did I mention cakes and cookies? It was a 3 day feast and you would have cakes and cookies for visitors and carolers (who would come on Christmas eve late into the night) I went caroling with my students a couple times. I ate the Christmas feast with my husband's parents in 2001. We weren't dating in 2000 and we got married in 2002 and left in November. Our friends have gone to visit my in laws for the feast. My MIL could open a restaurant...easily. She is an amazing cook and baker.
chocolate cake (cake on the bottom with pudding, whipped cream and chocolate shavings)
Elena (my MIL) holding cozonac (cinnamon fruit and nut bread)

Strawberry Cake (cake, strawberries, jam, pudding, whipped cream!)
cornuleti (sweet rolls with walnuts and sugar or poppy seeds...I requested these...and she made 50!)

Here in South Texas, it is very common, at least in San Antonio to eat tamales for Christmas Eve, along with queso and chips, and other appetizers...at least that's how my family has been doing it for years. Christmas Day is much more traditional with turkey or pork, mashed and sweet potatoes, my great grandmother's oyster dressing, Bama's green jello salad,pecan pie, and more.

What is your family eating for the holidays?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday...Christmas week!!!

Today is Muffin Tin Monday! We celebrate the week of Christmas with some of our favorites. In our red snowman tin, we celebrate the 20th Day of Advent. Adrian's chocolate present is nestled in a bed of marshmallows snow. He has a turkey and Havarti sandwich cut into Christmas trees with a cheddar snowman and red Christmas pick attached (hobby lobby), some pita chips with a couple extra snowmen, a Christmas Clementine ornament, and some green tree guacamole.
Today's ornament is bread and wine. How appropriate!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas season with Muffin tins this year. If you would like to see other muffin tins and participate, please check out Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Friday, December 17, 2010

Foodie Friday!!! and other fun things this week

 I am hosting a cookie exchange tomorrow and bringing cookies to church, so I baked some yesterday and will bake a different type this afternoon.
This is Almond Chocolate Toffee Brittle often called Christmas Crack because it is so addictive! It's heavenly and super easy...saltine crackers, 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup brown sugar, chocolate chips (milk or dark) and chopped almonds! It looks like you slaved over it...my kind of easy baking recipe!
Give it a try and you'll either thank me or hate me!
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Line crackers on cookie sheet close together.  Melt butter and brown sugar in a medium pan on medium-high heat.   Stirring often, heat the mixture for about 3-5 minutes until it turns into a nice caramel looking sauce. *note* I have used generic brown sugar without success.  Not sure why it does not caramelize, but instead the butter starts to clarify and the brown sugar clumps.  I recommend using C & H brown sugar.  Pour the sauce over the crackers until they are completely covered.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the cookie sheet.  The chocolate should start to melt.  Spread chocolate over the toffee mixture and top with nuts.  Allow to completely cool before breaking toffee up in pieces.  Enjoy! (from Savory Sweet Life)

Adrian was in his first ever Christmas Pageant...from Kid's Day Out. He was a little unsure of himself and all the people watching til he spotted his Mommy, Daddy, brother, Ludee (grandma) and Papa! No Mommy didn't dress him in Halloween colors for the Christmas Pageant. He went to school in a long sleeved green shirt and a red plaid sweater vest, but when this boy has a pee pee accident, he sprays and this was the spare outfit Mommy had in his bag...he's still my Christmas cutie!
This is my version of Chex Mix
Rice Chex
Wheat Chex
Worcestershire Sauce

Melt butter (1-2 pads) in pie dish for 30 seconds in microwave. Add Worcestershire Sauce and cereals, goldfish, nuts etc. Mix well. Add more Worcestershire Sauce if needed and a little salt. Cook on high 1 minute 15 seconds in microwave. Stir well and repeat. Stir well and repeat. Total of 3 times, then empty into a Christmas tin and let cool. YUMMY!

If you would like to participate in Foodie Fridays and link your recipe here, follow the instructions here

Monday, December 13, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday...Christmas Tree and a couple ornaments!!!

Today I am using a set of Christmas tree silicone cups and mini red cups, both sets from World Market. We are having some San Antonio Christmas favorites...red and green tortilla chips and queso, some cold cuts (sun dried tomato turkey, salami and muenster cheese stars), a couple Ritz crackers, apple sauce and a couple Christmas chocolates.

Happy Muffin Tin Monday to you! If you want to participate or just go looking at all the super cute lunch ideas, click on the button below. Michelle at Muffin Tin Mom has great ideas for lunches and fun things to do with your kids!
Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Santa Pictures and Christmas Cards

Adrian getting settled in and telling Santa all about Thomas the train and Veggie Tales!
Adrian being a little shy, Andrew definitely wanting out of Santa's lap!

Sweet boys under the tree! May your Christmas be the merriest ever!!!
Sweet boys under the tree! (this is about one of twenty!)

Adrian and I played around with this picture...he wanted 
"Christmas hats and stickers!!! Mommy!"
This is about as good as we got this year (extra hats were added on picnic.com)
Last year Adrian was crying and Andrew was okay with a stranger holding him...this year...the opposite. Andrew started crying the minute I put him in Santa's lap, so we quickly took a couple pictures and left. Adrian was telling Santa about Thomas the Train and Veggie Tales, but I think he was more interested in that hat.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Foodie Friday!!! Bama's green jello salad

This post just makes me very happy and brings back a lot of fond memories of my Bama. (more stories I've been told than actual memories. She died when I was little.) She loved my dad and she loved my mom because she married my dad! She was a beautiful woman inside and out. 
This recipe is her 'Green Jello Salad' My mom had the recipe years ago, but somehow it was lost and she found this recipe online that is the same thing or almost the same thing! One of my cousins emailed me Bama's original recipe...she did not use pineapple!
here's the original 
1 package of lime jello. 
1 8oz package of cream cheese(softened). 
1 cup chopped pecans. 
1 medium can of diced pears.
Make jello according to package, when almost congilled, add cheese & beat until fluffy.
Add pears & pecans & let set. Done. Enjoy. 

Here is the Taste of Home recipe
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pear halves
  • 1 package (3 ounces) lime gelatin
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted, divided
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed


  • Drain pears, reserving juice; set pears aside. In a small saucepan, bring juice to a boil. Stir in gelatin until dissolved. Remove from the heat; cool slightly.
  • In a food processor, combine pears and cream cheese; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in gelatin mixture until blended. Stir in the pineapple and 3/4 cup pecans. Fold in whipped topping.
  • Pour into an ungreased 11-in. x 7-in. dish. Refrigerate until set. Sprinkle with remaining pecans. Cut into squares. Yield: 8 servings 

If you have a favorite recipe you would like to share, please link on below!!!

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Snowman Bento

    I used my new Christmas tree silicone cups to hold 4 mini sandwiches...snowmen and gingerbread men. He also had a couple mozzarella cheese bites on ornament picks, marshmallow snowmen, goldfish crackers and a Christmas oreo. He had applesauce on the side. He likes summer fruits so much better, so I have better luck with apple sauce right now than any thing else!

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Fun Finds Today!!!

    A couple of my favorite stores had some great sales going on today! Michael's had their Wilton snowman cupcake mold on 30% off, and then I was able to use the Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon 'because it was a competitor's coupon'!! 
    love a great deal!!!  World Market has a $10 off $30 purchase (if you're a WM explorer member) I needed wanted their griddle pan (flipping pancakes for 2 boys and their daddy takes too long on a skillet!),the tree silicone cup set was $5.00 off (6 cups +cake mix, candies, and decorating icing!) the cookie cutters (not pictured) were BOGO, and I couldn't resist these cute little peppermint picks to bring my total to $30, so I could save $10! I've seen some really pretty food picks at World Market...in their wine/cocktail section, but they're a little too fancy for my boys! I will probably just use these peppermint picks at home for now...they are glass and he is a boy!

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Texas Transportation Museum Christmas lights extravanganza

    Adrian was in TRAIN HEAVEN!!!!! Can you see the smile??? even from a angle...he was grinning from ear to ear!!! We got to ride in a big train, watch Thomas and Percy and other Amtrack trains go round and round in the transportation garden, walk through a beautiful old (1924) passenger train and see a LOT of beautiful Christmas lights...best part? my 3 year old's face the entire time...he NEVER stopped smiling!

    Climbing up on real trains!!!
    Sitting on the front of the big engine!
    Andrew was not as sure about this whole big train thing...it was cold!
    We got to walk through this 1924 beauty. It was amazing!!!
    All decked out in Christmas lights!!!

    Muffin Tin Monday...Christmas Trees!!!

    Happy Muffin Tin Monday to you!!! This is my showcase of trees...the classic white snow capped tree (mozzarella cheese trees), the marshmallow candy land tree, the natural fruits tree (red grapes), the overdone spectacle tree (apple sauce with sprinkles), the simple homey tree (pb&J),  the trunk with just a couple leaves (honey ham)..aka..the Charlie brown Christmas tree (although my trunk is a little meatier than the cartoon!) Each tree has a mozzarella star, picks from Target (!) and a couple tree candies keep in all together. Merry Christmas!!! Happy Holidays!!! God bless you this advent season!!!

     If you want to participate in Muffin Tin Monday, click on the button below and enjoy a wealth of creativity!!!
    Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Christmas Tree 2010 -- take two!

    It seems that my seasonal allergies should include Texas Grown Christmas Trees. We bought (and cut our own this year...a week ago) and I have been sick since...started with a sore itchy throat, coughing, a little sneezing and head congestion and then yesterday my ears...like I was on an airplane and they hurt, so I told my husband, I know we just spent your hard earned money on this tree, but I think it's making me sick and I'm not sure I'll last 3 more weeks...that's just til Christmas day...
    so last night the tree lights and ornaments came down and the beautiful fresh cut tree got banished to our front porch! and this is what we did last night...got our old staple artificial tree that was in storage and my husband and 3 year old put it together and then Mommy dressed it up. 

    I will say this, after showering all the real tree off of me and getting a good night's sleep, my ears were a lot clearer...Hopefully by Wednesday, this muck will all be gone and I can once again enjoy this Christmas season...allergy free!

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Foodie Fridays!!! Cauliflower Soup

    I originally made this over a year ago, made it for the lunch after Andrew's baptism last January, and made it last night. I think I've made it one other time but I can't remember. It's so good. It's a Pioneer Woman Recipe. Of course, it's good! I would love to say that my house has a cozy fire and I'm nestled up next to it with my boys and it's starting to snow outside...that would be perfect weather for this soup, but no...we did have a cold front, but it lasted a couple hours...that's South Texas for you...San Antonio is hot, but for now it's home, so I will make it the best home I can for my boys and me! 

    Back to the soup, it's incredibly easy and rather healthy. I don't put near as much flour in mine. I don't like a thick cream soup too much. If you don't think you like cauliflower, you have to try this. It's amazing, heavenly and you'll make it again and again and again! I used a bag of frozen cauliflower this time and it worked wonderfully.  I highly recommend this for your winter menus!!!

    • 1 stick Butter, Divided
    • ½ whole Onion, Finely Diced
    • 1 whole Carrot Finely Diced
    • 1 stalk Celery, Finely Diced
    • 1 whole (to 2 Whole) Cauliflower Heads (roughly Chopped)
    • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Or Dried Parsley (chopped)
    • 2 quarts Low-sodium Chicken Broth Or Stock
    • 6 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
    • 2 cups Whole Milk
    • 1 cup Half-and-half
    • 2 teaspoons To 4 Teaspoons Salt, To Taste
    • 1 cup (heaping) Sour Cream, Room Temperature

    Preparation Instructions

    In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to turn brown.
    Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional couple of minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine.
    Cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour in chicken stock or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.
    In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Mix the flour with the milk and whisk to combine. Add flour-milk mixture slowly to the butter, whisking constantly.
    Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup half-and-half. Add mixture to the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt or pepper if necessary.
    Just before serving, place the sour cream in a serving bowl or soup tureen. Add two to three ladles of hot soup into the tureen and stir to combine with the sour cream. Pour in remaining soup and stir.
    Serve immediately.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Christmas Bento--What's for lunch Wednesday???

    Merry Christmas! Happy December! In Adrian's little Christmas bento box (Target), he has salami and colby jack sandwich snowmen pinwheels, jack cheese snowmen, granny smith slices, and snowmen candy (Cracker Barrel). 
    Bento Lunch
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