Friday, May 22, 2015

Guys Grocery Game Date Night.

A few months ago my husband & I were able to go on a date after almost a year without one. We left the kids with my parents, drove to Chinatown where I tasted bibimbap for the first (and most definitely not the last) time. We drank boba & walked hand in hand. Doesn't sound like much, but we're simple people. And I can honestly say that when I look back at all of our dates, that stands out to me as one of the most fun.
I think it wouldn't have mattered where we went or what we did. Just being out of the house, just him & me. Our full attention on each other for a couple of hours.. It was perfect. And when it was over, we made a promise that we would make date nights more of priority.

We are not always able to get a sitter & go out of the house, which is fine with me. At home dates can be just as fun. :)

Last night we decided to have a Guy's Grocery Game Date Night.
I don't know about you guys, but my husband & I are addicted to the Food Network. All of my kids know who Alton Brown is, Ree Drummond is a favorite in our home & Rachel Khoo's voice can often be heard on early weekend mornings as I try desperately to memorize her French recipes.

When my husband got home from work last night we wrote down a bunch of themes for our Triple G Date Challenge. Then we picked one: Fast Food!

I think that secretly this is the one we were hoping to draw. :)
We debated briefly about the different possibilities in this category. Tacos.. Wraps.. But we both knew we were going with the classic.

Our theme: Fast Food - Burgers & Fries.
Our challenge: 5 Ingredients or Less.

We decided to make Teriyaki Burgers. Because let's be real, burgers are always better when you slap a big juicy pineapple slice on top!

We collected our ingredients. We added a sixth ingredient for dessert. :)

I love cooking with my man. He's so much fun to have in the kitchen. :)
We did not time our shopping or our cooking time, but I think we finished in less than an hour, so I think that was pretty good. :)
The kids were already full from their dinners. And were off playing by themselves (mostly). So we got to enjoy a semi-intimate dinner while the kids did their own thing.

The judges (us) voted & we totally ended up winning this challenge.
The burger was cooked to perfection. The pineapple was thick & juicy.
The amount of Teriyaki sauce was just right. Not overwhelming.
And they surprisingly did not deduct any points for the frozen fries. Because we are just that good! ;) 

The date night was a success & will be a repeat for sure. Next time we are going to draw two themes & do a fusion challenge.
I think I'm hoping for Asian & Seafood 'cause those are my favs! :)

In other news: My son picked me a flower from our front yard....
I couldn't love it more.

What is your favorite thing to do on an At Home Date? 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I have returned!

How has it been 20 months since my last blog post???
Where did the time go???

Well, lets see where we left off.
Last time I wrote, I was a new vegan, a mother of two & was trying to fall in love with the craft/diy world.
Now I am a meat eater, a mother of three & I am indeed in love with the craft/diy world!

I am not that great at diy stuff. But I watch the channel all the time! And I do actually enjoy doing crafts with my kids. When I was a teenager, I used to watch my Mom do crafts with kids & I just could not understand how she found it fun, but now I get it. :)

So it's already Christmas time. Is it just me, or has this December just flown by? I feel like I just flipped the calendar & now I am about to replace it already.
I was so determined to get gifts for everyone this year, but alas... My husband & I both have very large families & that proved to be impossible. So we just bought for the kids/teens & I made gifts for the adults.

For my parent's & brother/sister-in-law, we got them a "date around the world". This was inspired by something I saw on Dating Divas (love their site! They have so many great ideas for fun dates) a long time ago. I added my own spin & made it so the giftees never have to leave their home.

"Date around the world!"

We start off with breakfast in Switzerland!

There they enjoy overnight oatmeal. This is all ready for them to add milk or yogurt & soak it overnight in the refrigerator & enjoy it the next morning. Though, they can always just cook it for 5 minutes on the stove top & enjoy it hot too. :)
Muesli or your favorite oatmeal ingredients & a jar are all it takes to put this gift together. Decorate however you like. I was pressed for time so I put a little homemade label on it & some ribbon, but you could really make it look fancy if you wanted to.

Then lunch in Italy!

Pasta & a yummy sauce are all that is needed for this one. I liked this because all they had to use to prepare it was water. I didn't want to give them anything perishable for this one, so I thought it was perfect. And pumpkin pasta sauce?? I almost kept that one for myself & gave them the marinara jar in my pantry! ;)
For my brother/sister-in-law we gave them Udon Soup from Japan (that was supposed to be complete with chopsticks, but I forgot until I found them in my purse the next day...). Again, all that's needed for that is hot water. :)

Dinner in India!!

I think this one is my favorite because this dish is SOOO yummy! I found the recipe at Veggie Belly & had to test it out for myself before giving it away. I will be making this a lot! It was seriously so delicious. You must try this. Then make up these adorable jars & give them away to your friends. They will love you for it!
My jars didn't turn out as pretty as hers did, but I still think they look nice. I am going to get some patches of cloth & make several of these to keep in my cupboard for last minute gifts (and maybe to use for myself!).

Side note: You should seriously check out her site though. She has a ton of amazing recipes & ideas. Like the cauliflower hummus recipe that I must try!

Then it was back to the United States for dessert in Hawaii!

My husband was born & raised in Hawaii & he said these looked pretty authentic. Though I think he was just trying to boost my ego. He's such a sweet guy! ;)

Rainbow Macaroons & Pineapple Hand Pies
I just used a simple biscuit dough (from Bisquik) for the crust, because personally I cannot make pie dough to save my life. It never turns out! But I have no problem making (or eating) biscuits, so I just went with that. And I used the filling that I found at Fork vs. Spoon. It all came together in about 30 minutes, start to finish. The macaroons are the easiest recipe in the universe.
A 14oz bag of shredded, sweetened coconut, a 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 a cup of A.P. flour & some M&Ms for the "rainbow". Bake until golden (about 9 minutes, depending on how big you make them & how hot your stove is).

Everyone seemed to enjoy their gifts. And anyway, it's the thought that counts, isn't it? I had a lot of fun putting them together & even more fun giving them out. :)

Have you ever given out a homemade gift? What was it & how was it received?

I hope that everyone has a Safe & Happy Holiday!! :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lifestyle Change.

Whew! It has been forever since my last post & so so much has happened!
I guess the most prominent one would be that my husband & I have both become vegans.
Around Christmastime I discovered a site through Pinterest that had TONS of oatmeal recipes. I adore oatmeal. Seriously I thrive on it. The site is called Chocolate Covered Katie & it is just full of different desserts (a ton of which I have tried. All good). But for me the main attraction was the oatmeal. Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding & Coffee Frappuccino Oatmeal are two of my favorites. I made them so very many times with the whole milk that was always in my fridge. Then I started wondering how different they would taste with soy or almond milk. I love soy milk & always get them in my lattes. I started wondering how big of a change it would be to become vegan. How hard would it be? Could I live without cheese & whole milk? What about my cold cereal? Bottled Starbucks drinks? Olive Garden soup & breadsticks!?!?

I didn't think I could do it. But I couldn't get it off my mind. So I got realistic.
Of course I could live without all of the aforementioned things. Would it be hard? Maybe. But the fact is I could do it. The real questions were.. What would my husband think? Would he be supportive? What would happen to our date nights?
Would he be okay only going to restaurants with vegan options? Would he mind if I didn't eat the same meals. Could I handle giving up meat & dairy but still preparing them for my husband & kids?

I decided to ask his thoughts on the matter. And to my surprise he said he would be completely fine with it. His only question was, "Do I have to become vegan?" I said I would never make him & he replied with, "Well , then we'll have to find some good vegan restaurants for our date nights."
What an amazing man I married. ;)

I decided that I was going to become a vegan for one year & see what I thought. Derick started doing his own research about it. He watched a bunch of documentaries & read info on the web.. After just a few days he informed me that he would be joining me on my vegan adventure! :)

We're still in the process of stocking our vegan pantry. It's definitely not something you can do all at once. But our inventory is growing. :)
It's so fun to try out new recipes. One of my favorite things about this switch is that my husband cooks with me now on the weekends. And he enjoys it! I love sharing the stove with him. Both of us leaning over a pan of sauteing veggies & soaking in the aroma together.
We've been vegan for a little over a month now & I have realized something... I am pretty confident that I would have failed on my own. My husband has been such a great support & motivation for me. It's almost too easy. :)

Well, after all of that.. I want to share a recipe. I have a handful of recipes to share, but this one was just too easy & too delicious not to share first. Have you ever had Cantaloupe stuffed chicken salad? It's amazing. But obviously the chicken is a no-no. I was craving it this afternoon & I asked Derick what he thought we could sub out for the chicken. I couldn't decide between spinach, spring salad or some sort of grain.. Then he suggested coleslaw! And the rest is history. :)
This was our dinner tonight:

This is the Perfect dish for summer. It's so light, but incredibly satisfying. We paired it with some Tofu Tom Kha Phak Thai Coconut Soup (it was from a can, I'm not quite that awesome yet). It was delicious!
And there's really no measuring. Just kind of eyeball the amounts.

Cantaloupe Coleslaw Salad:

1 cantaloupe
Shredded green & purple cabbage (or a bag of undressed coleslaw)
1 carrot, grated.
A couple tablespoons of vegenaise
Purple grapes (Green would totally work too. The purple just look prettier, I think)
Slivered almonds (or you could even do pecans)
Pepper to taste

In a large bowl. measure out enough of the cabbage for two people & grate in the carrot (if you use pre-made coleslaw, omit the carrot). Mix in a couple of tablespoons of vegenaise & mix well. Add enough to cover all of the cabbage, but you don't want it to be runny or overdressed. The juice from the cantaloupe is going to help moisten the slaw. Toss in a handful or two of grapes, about 1/4 cup of almonds & pepper to taste.
Cut your melon in half & remove the seeds. Stuff it with your slaw & enjoy! :)
This makes a perfect lunch on a warm day & pairs well with soup or maybe a small serving of pasta for dinner.

Also! You could easily make this for a group by making the slaw in a large bowl & adding cubed cantaloupe to it instead. Tastes the same, just a different presentation. :)

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please let me know what you think, if you try it! :D

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
We had such a fun day (or I should say week, really)! It is the first time I have ever truly celebrated Saint Patty's & it will definitely not be the last!
I am already so excited for next year. To add & continue traditions that we started this year. :)

It started last week. My daughter & I decorated our front window with some shamrock gel clings & put a few other decorations around the house. I was telling her about leprechauns & how if you catch one they will have to give you their pot of gold. She was Very excited about this & decided that we should try to catch one so we could be rich & buy anything we want. I took some tips from Pinterest (seriously can't get enough of that site) & helped her make a leprechaun hat trap.

It turned out so well! It was so cute to see her so excited about this. We set out some Lucky Charms marshmallows, since those are leprechaun's favorites. She went to bed talking about how rich we were going to be & that she couldn't wait to actually see a leprechaun.
However, when she woke up she discovered that the trap had failed to catch a leprechaun. I forgot to take a picture of it, but the little guy had somehow managed to get out of the trap. He left a note saying how clever her trap was, but that he was too smart to be trapped by it. And since she had tried to catch him, he was going to play a trick on her every day. He signed it "Seamus the Little Leprechaun" & left her a gold coin.

Later that morning we discovered that our milk had been turned green! That tricky little Seamus!

The green milk turned my cream of wheat green. I couldn't get past the color at first. I had to eat several bites with my eyes closed before it tasted normal. The mind is a powerful thing! Lol.

I didn't get pictures of the next couple of tricks, but the next day our toilet water was green.
The day after that she found her shoes in the freezer. That one was her favorite. She was cracking up. She said, "His tricks are getting better! The green milk & toilet water were a little funny, but not that great. But the shoes in the freezer is so clever!" Then she commented on how he can only turn things green.

In her room she has a string of pink twinkle lights to use as a night light, but half the strand broke a couple of weeks ago. I have been meaning to replace it, but Seamus did it for me! That kind little guy. He switched them out with a string of blue lights & a note on her mirror that said, "So you think I can only change things to green, do ya? Well green is, in fact, my favorite color, but it's not the only color I have up me sleeve!"
She searched all day for the trick & couldn't find it. Then at bedtime, she plugged in her lights & her jaw dropped. I think that is the one that made it all seem magical. She was just blown away.

The next day (Saturday, the 16th) there was no note to be found. She was So disappointed that she couldn't find it. When we got to the car to leave for the St. Patrick's Day Festival, she noticed that her booster seat & her brother's car seat had switched places. And she finally found the note from her little leprechaun friend in her seat with another gold coin. She loved this trick too.

The festival was a lot of fun, though I think we missed the majority of it. If we go next year, we will make sure to go earlier. We only really caught the carnival rides, by the last ride we were so hungry & exhausted from the heat that we had to leave.

We went to Red Robin! Yum!

Seriously, why is the sun so exhausting?? I was just really glad that we all put sunblock on, because it was hot & not a lot of shade.
We all slept like babies that night though.

This morning when she woke up she found this:

Her bedroom door had been sealed & she was trapped inside her room!
I didn't get a picture of her behind it, because she realized she could just tear it down before I could take a picture. 

She made her own little bow out of the ribbon & said that she was going to keep it forever. :)

 Then we discovered that all our shoes were missing & we found them on the ceiling fan!

And some of them were on the coat hangers! And our coats were on the shoe rack!

Brushing her teeth was hard since the toothpaste had been replaced with mustard!
She found the toothpaste in the fridge where the mustard was supposed to be.
"Mustard for toothpaste?? Gross, Seamus!"

Then there was the note.. The note wishing her a happy Saint Pat's. The note telling her that he had fun tricking her. The note bidding her farewell. And the note telling her about the clovers he brought her from his home.

She almost cried.

Dinner was a blast & super delicous!

We usually eat as a family, but it's normally on the floor or around the coffee table. So family dinner around the table is a nice treat for everyone. I think I want us to do it more often. :)

My son loves his big sister so so much. He would not take his eyes off of her.

She was making him laugh, it was adorable!

Green Garlic Orzo with Sausage
Gold Nugget Biscuits
 The orzo was so easy. I just melted one stick of butter, added one can of evaporated milk, garlic powder, white pepper & salt. Then I poured it over the cooked orzo noodles & added a ton of green food coloring. You can not tell from the picture, but it was pretty green. And it was absolutely yummy!
The biscuits were just bisquik biscuits (because I have yet to find ones that my family likes more) with a little bit of garlic powder in it & a LOT of yellow food coloring. Again, the picture couldn't capture the pretty gold color they turned into.
We had green sherbet ice cream with 7up (Irish Floats) for our drinks & sugar cookies with green frosting for dessert.

Oh, by the way! If you have not seen Secret of the Kells, you need to watch it. It will be on our St. Pat's watch list every year. It's an Irish cartoon that is kind of based on a true story about the church they're trying to build. It just has a bit more magic thrown in. Plus the animation is just beautiful! And it'll have you speaking in an Irish accent all day! :)

Honestly this was one of my favorite holidays that we have celebrated. I can't wait until Seamus comes back next year! Now to start getting ready for Easter. :)

How did you guys celebrate Saint Patrick's Day?? 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Complaint Free World

Have any of you heard of the complaint free purple bracelet? I remember seeing it a few years ago on TV & I thought about getting one, but I just never did. It has been in the back of my mind ever since & I decided that there is no point in not trying to accomplish this. I do not have a purple bracelet, but I do have a bracelet from my church & I am just going to use that. The concept is this: Go 21 consecutive days without complaining. Every time you let a complaint slip (no matter how small) you switch the bracelet to your other arm. I am proud to say that I have only complained once since putting it on. I told my husband, daughter & brother (who is over here quite often) to let me know if they catch me complaining.
I'm pleasantly surprised that it isn't as difficult to give up as I thought it would be. Though it's only been two days & two of least favorite things are joining my life again very soon... Las Vegas heat & seasonal nasal allergies. Lol, quite a time to attempt this, but I think I'll manage. ;)
All part of my attempt to make a better me. :)

We're going to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year. I have never in my life celebrated St. Patrick's other than wearing green & threatening to pinch those who don't. But a couple of weeks ago I decided that I was going to pick one or two minor/silly Holidays & make big traditions out of them. My first two thoughts were "National Flip Flop Day" & St. Patrick's Day. I haven't thought much about the former because as soon as the latter popped into my head I got too excited. I hopped onto Google to do a little research about the Holidays origin & found out that not only is it a religious Holiday, but that a lot of people recognize it in their own ways. I discovered the idea of leprechaun traps through Google/Pinterest & got a lot of good ideas. I had never heard of a leprechaun trap before & my daughter is beyond excited to set one (and let's be honest.. I am too). She already has a list of things she is going to spend her gold on, lol.
I saw that there is an Irish Festival in Henderson (about 30 minutes from us) that we will hopefully be able to attend. I bought some lime sherbet ice cream & 7up to make "Irish Floats", which were a huge hit. The sherbet turns the 7up a pretty shade of green, which matched the straws I put in the glasses. And to top it off they're delicious! I have sugar cookie dough in my fridge to make some shamrock cookies with my daughter, but the poor thing got sick yesterday & is still not up for much today. So I guess I'm on my own when it comes to the cookies.
All I have to do now is decorate the house a little, figure out what I'm going to make for St. Patrick's Day dinner & see if there are any good movies/books about the holiday that we can watch/read every year.
I was going to make a traditional Irish dish, since I found a lot of them on the internet, but... I really don't think my daughter would eat any of them. So I figured I would make a dish I know she will like & just add green food coloring or something. Hamburgers with green homemade buns, green pasta, chicken with green potatoes, etc... I think this is going to be fun. :-)

Have you ever celebrated St. Patrick's Day? What were your traditions?
What is your favorite non-major holiday?

Friday, February 15, 2013

First Ever Valentine's Day Celebration!

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day! Whether you spent it with a significant other, a child, a pet, yourself, the TV or all of the above!

Normally I don't even acknowledge Valentine's Day. Not because I have a problem with it, but because I am not used to having someone to spend it with. I was single for a long time & my daughter wasn't really old enough to know or care about the Holiday. Last year on V-Day (every time I call it that, I think of V for Vendetta) I just made some homemade cards with my daughter & that was about it.
I didn't see it coming, so nothing was done.

This year I was prepared. I planned. I schemed. I waited not-so-patiently for this Hallmark Holiday.
The day finally arrived & went almost exactly as I had planned. I made him coffee, packed his lunch bag (with a card & his favorite energy drink inside) & sent him off to work. When he got in the car he would find a little love note & our song playing on the radio when he turned on the car.

By the afternoon I had set up the table & started working on dinner.

The finished table.

I think it turned out nicely. :)

I made Zucchini Lasagna which I found here & pull-apart muffins which I found here. The recipes are both MUCH simpler to follow than they seem. Very very very delicious!
My original plan was to have everything ready & waiting by the time he got home from work. But (much thanks to my adorable screaming son) that did not happen. Dinner was not quite finished, but the whole house smelled yummy. And it worked out because he had time to take a shower & relax before dinner.

Doesn't the lasagna look so yummy??
We had sparkling cranberry apple juice to go with it. 

My sexy Valentine. <3

After dinner we went to the movies (in our living room ;) ) & watched The Wedding Planner. Then we watched Rules of Engagement until we couldn't stay awake any longer. :) This was such a fun Valentine's Day. So so simple, but seriously so romantic & fun.

Pros to eating in on Holidays:
We had a quiet, delicious dinner.
We saved a ton of money!!
No 15-30 minute waits.
We didn't battle huge crowds.
We got to eat our romantic dinner in our most lovely pajama pants!
The movie "theater" was just a few footsteps away.
Did I mention that we saved so much money??

I would say that even if it's not your thing to cook, set up tables or just eat in... You should try doing this. It was quiet & fun. And it would even be fun if you pulled your significant other in on the planning. Maybe cooking together & then eating together. There are SOO many easy, quick meals online.
We both agreed that we will have to do this more often. We are also going to have a candlelit family dinner, per my daughter's request. :)

How did you celebrate Valentine's Day? Did you even acknowledge it? Either way, I hope it was a wonderful Thursday! :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Strawberry Lemon Bread

Oh my gosh, this bread is so good!

You need to go make this, like right now.
You won't regret it.

I had a quick bread recipe, but I didn't have half of the ingredients, so I just said a quick prayer & started tossing things together. I don't experiment all that often. But I had a feeling this bread was going to turn out nicely & it did. It is just beautiful! :)

It comes together in about 10 minutes, plus bake time.

Strawberry Lemon Bread:
(Makes 1 Loaf)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup of strawberry yogurt (I used Yoplait with fruit inside)
1/3 cup coconut oil (you can substitute vegetable or canola oil)
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon.
1 or 1 1/2 cups strawberries, cut in fourths (I used frozen, since it was all I had. I thawed them out a little first)

Mix the first 5 ingredients together. Put strawberries in a bowl & toss with about 1/4 cup of the dry mix, set aside. Mix the wet ingredients together (if using coconut oil, you will need to microwave it for about 30 seconds before adding it, so that it turns to liquid. Otherwise it'll be too hard to work in). Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture & stir just until moistened. Fold in strawberries. Do not overmix or your bread will be tough.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan & bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing. You can serve warm or at room temp.

1. I'm sure blueberries or raspberries would be delicious too!
2. You could make muffins out of this by just pouring the batter into muffin tins & baking at 325 degrees for about 18-22 minutes (do the toothpick test. If a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, they're good to go).
3. You could sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the top before baking to give it a slightly crisper/sweeter top.

This bread is not overly sweet. It's light, moist & delicious. This will definitely be a bread that I make during the summer. :)

If you try this, please let me know what you think! <3