Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Try it Tuesday - Crunchy Tacos Wraps

Crunchy Tacos Wraps

 Well it's Tuesday, and Tuesday at our house generally means tacos in some form. Jackson loves to have tacos and I can't say that I blame him. As usual I am on the hunt for variety and something healthy. I have made this recipe a few times now,  and each time I think it gets better. You can really put anything you want into these tacos, like to use left over items that I want to "repackage"; so give them a try.
Who doesn't love a good taco?!

1 cup cooked rice - I use brown rice
1 large cooked chicken breast, shredded - I used 2 because I like chicken
1 can black or pinto beans, drained
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 package of taco seasoning
1-2 cups shredded Mexican cheese - use the 2% cheese
1 small container fat free plain Greek yogurt
6 burrito size tortillas

One bowl...one pan...and left over food!

In large bowl, mix rice, chicken, beans, pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and taco seasoning.
Arrange mixture down center of tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese (amount that you like) and a tablespoon of yogurt. Roll the tortilla.
Heat large skillet over medium heat; spray with cooking spray.
Place tortillas seam side down onto skillet. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side.
Transfer to plate and serve warm.

Optional additions:
I put jalapenos in Luke's tacos, that's the way he likes them.
I used my grill pan to cook these, and I put a large lid from a pot on top while they cook to press them down.

I think these are a great, fast dinner. I used 2 left over chicken breasts and left over rice from a previous meal to make these and Luke was none the wiser!

These are really delicious and shhhhh they are pretty healthy

It's Taco Tuesday...and time to try something new...enjoy!       Sharron

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Boys on a Plane...Vacation Part 1

Click your tractor tires, we are heading to Oz

Each year Luke likes to take an organized trip back to Kansas to visit Oz. This trek has lovingly been named Burnfest, for the bonfire that smolders each year. This year was Burnfest 5...aka Suburb Boys Eat Dirt. Luke looks forward to this trip all year and he generally makes all the arrangements...here begins the problems. You see I usually make plane/car rental/hotel arrangements and Luke pays! We will get to the travel troubles later...first let's review the preparation that mothers make for travel with 2 small inmates boys.
1-2 weeks before our trip I start checking the weather and looking at the boys clothes to make sure they have the proper attire - I did mention we were going to a farm right? They are Florida boys so they don't have tons of pants or jackets.
Then a few days before we leave I get out all of their clothes and arrange them in order by day. Finally the night before we leave I pack; only after I have checked the weather one last time.  I download a few episodes of "their" shows, that are new to them. I pack:  snacks - many snacks, books, activities, diapers/wipes, oops I pooped my pants clothes, blankets and blankies; the list is endless really. Then I attempt to throw a few items in a bag for myself. During all of this I look up from my pile of plane activities and little boy clothes to see Luke sitting on the bathroom floor. I thought this was really odd. I silently walked a little closer, then I realize that he was merrily cleaning out from under his bathroom sink...Are YOU kidding ME?!!! I have been planning and packing for days only to have a single pair of underwear packed for myself and he has time for some reorganizing of his cabinets. I didn't say a word - I tucked that away for a later time when I will use it against him - seriously I am a woman!
The next morning I get up 45 minutes before everyone to ready myself and get any last minute items packed. I run downstairs, cook a couple things for the kids to eat on the plane. Then I wake Luke. I wake Jackson and get him dressed. I wake Luke again. I get Blake up and change his diaper. I wake Luke again...apparently he's super tired from all his cabinet cleaning.
We get to airport, head to security where we encounter our first travel snafu...Blake is a lap sit infant (I know he's 38 pounds, but he's still only 18 months old) but our tickets do not say that. We can't go through security - because apparently after a 9 year old boards a plane without a ticket they get serious about an 18 month old causing a security breach. So I run back to ticket counter where I was informed that the tickets were not booked to include Blake...grrrrrrr!; they graciously added him and this crisis was averted...for now.
As we reach our gate, everyone in the terminal is staring at us, praying we will not be on their plane or sitting near them. Blake is running up and down the terminal, and Jackson is letting out whale cries at the top of his lungs. We board. Once on the plane the lovely and clearly childless flight attendant offers my 2 cage fighters wings...the pin-on wings. I decline for them, trying to avoid the obvious stabbing that would ensue.
This is prior to the Dirty Look Brigade

We get situated in our seats and I begin to hand out snacks...Luke says he would really enjoy a snack too because he is hungry. He got the first dirty look of the day and no snack.
Here's a secret dirty look
Then we get down to the business of child entertainment. I have Jackson stringing beads to make a necklace and Blake is happily putting stickers all over himself. I catch a glimpse of Luke out of the corner of my eye and he is dozing off. I punch him and threaten his life.

stickers are a great distractor...get a bunch at dollar store

Jackson made a necklace...We may or may not have left 300 beads on the floor!
I somehow got the pleasure of sharing my seat and Jackson's seat with Blake. Luke has his armrest down and is enjoying some beverage that has been passed to him along with a Delta snack. I am cleaning up the 5,000 raisins that Jackson spilled in my crotch. Oh, and stopping Blake from putting the tray table up and down 500 times - Delta hates me....why can't the guy who made prescription bottles make tray tables?!
The plane lands and we need to change planes. Luke informs me that we have 35 minutes in the Atlanta airport with the terrorists to change planes...Seriously we are in row 30! So basically I will yet again not be getting to the bathroom. Good thing I haven't had anything to eat or drink. As we quickly make our way to the next gate, Blake falls asleep - perfect he naps while in the airport when he could be running.
The little angel sleeps in between our 2 flights...ugh!
Once on the next flight, the dance once again begins...I attempt to create silence and Luke is looking for  sustenance and relaxation...I privately stare at him and silently hurt him. The boys who generally favor their father when we have wide open spaces and no noise prohibition, now both want to be in my lap  screaming words that are incomprehensible. Luke has all the air vents pointing at him and my alligator arms do not reach the vents without standing. I am sweating.
We land...head to baggage claim. Luke and Jackson go for rental car. I figure Blake and I can easily get the bags. Blake thinks the baggage claim round-a-bout is super fun. He is continuously trying to climb on it. And all I can picture is his arm getting chopped off in the corner sections. At this point some generous Mid-westerner gives us a luggage cart, I hate her. Blake is all over this gift. He climbs in and out...all the while laying on the ground. I cringe. But I do not stop him...mother of the year has once again not gone my way.
Luke (40 minutes later) finally arrives with the car...I think he stopped for a drink before returning. We get kids and bags in. They both pass out...really!!!
We have dinner plans with my oldest and dearest friend. I seriously never have plans. We head to hotel and 30 minutes later they are both ready to rumble...Naps are for wimps!
We head to dinner, I'm prepared for a disaster. I order one large water no ice; one extra large margarita with the brand of tequila that will not make me angry or terribly hung over....I had a wonderful visit with a dear friend...The boys live without me knowing exactly what happened to them. But I am sure they on had the proper clothes!
Who is prettier than her?! 
The next morning we head to Luke's farm...its a bit of a drive. I ask him to please stop for coffee. I want either Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts; I don't care that I am a coffee snob. I like what I like! We get 2 exits out of civilization and I see tumble weeds...
Do you see coffee anywhere in sight? 
I ask for coffee and he feigns ignorance. I threaten that without coffee I will immediately commence drinking once we stop - its 8 am! He finds a McDonalds - this is middle America, McDonald's is never far away! I get a McCafe and I have to say....Its DELIGHTFUL!
Try a McCafe...You will Like, I promise

We arrive at farm...I begin drinking at 10 am!....To Be Continued...

I will finish this story once I get some more wine, travel with kids is super easy - no mother has ever said!....Sharron

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Try it Tuesday - Fall Food

Roasted Carrot Salad and Pumpkin Cake

I know its hard for us Floridians to get excited about Fall food when it is still so hot outside. But this recipe is Fall-ish while still being a salad. I am not a fan of carrots; I don't like them cooked at all and I can take them or leave them raw. But this recipe really changed my view of carrots. Luke asked to put this into our regular rotation.
Give it a try and see what you think...

Roasted Carrot Salad
2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1/3 cup dried cranberries
4-6 ounces blue cheese
2 cups arugula
2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced (optional, but can use leftover chicken)

Preheat oven to 400F
Combine carrots, almonds, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until soft and edges turn brown, about 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, return mixture to the mixing bowl; drizzle with honey and vinegar; toss until coated. Add cranberries and blue cheese; toss to mix evenly. Combine with arugula and serve immediately. May add chicken to the end if desired.

I have also been searching for a great pumpkin dessert. I found a super fast "dump" cake and its super good. I made it this weekend for my family. My teenage niece said that it was super annoying and "motherly" that I am in a Fall mood!...gotta love teenagers.

Pumpkin Dump Cake
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 can (10 oz) evaporated milk
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs or chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350F
Spray 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and spice. Stir to combine.
Pour into prepared pan.

Just before putting in oven
Sprinkle the entire box of yellow cake mix evenly on top. Followed by graham crackers/nuts.
Pour melted butter evenly over the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until center is set.
Serve warm with ice cream.
Just out of oven...didn't get the plated out version...my niece was too busy teasing me!

Fall is here, even if it doesn't feel much like it here...But let's give our kids some seasons...Happy Fall...and it's Tuesday, try something new!....Sharron

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Summer's Over...Bring On the Fat Pants!

Fall has been in full swing for a week now and it is still nearly 90 degrees here in Sunny Fla. How am I supposed to read all these Autumn themed books to Jackson that tell the kids to grab their jackets before going outside? Three year olds are concrete thinkers and mine is a definite rule follower, I'm going to have to start an iv on him to prevent dehydration if he wear his fall attire!
Well, I have gotten many requests to resume my blogging and now that the temperature has dropped to 89 and the smell of pumpkin spice fills our aggressively air conditioned house I will get back to it. The summer was busy and at the end of each day my options were blog or lay on the couch and watch hours of baseball and Big Bang Theory...Bazinga...my choice was clear. 
To quickly recap our summer...we attended 2 great weddings; the first was a local, beach wedding with Luke's college baseball buddies. 
Adult Time!
The second, Luke's sister got married in Asheville, North Carolina. I will tell you that Asheville is really fun and charming; and they have weddings down to an art. Luke's sister graciously asked our boys to be in the wedding. And then she asked Jackson to carry the rings...let me clarify this for you...A 3 year old hustler boy in a suit, on the side of a mountain with a VERY pricey ring in his pocket. This 3 year olds real goal in most situations is to taunt his younger brother into chasing him and then they both slide onto the ground and wrestle, all culminating in tears, screaming and likely a ring getting thrown off the side of the mountain, never to be seen again. I explained that we were flattered but there was no reason for her to actually let Jackson carry a real ring. She is an aunt of great trust; and she has no children yet to understand the depths of their mischief! 
We discussed the importance of this role with Jackson for weeks. He knew what he had to do and we knew he was up to the task...also the decision was made to bribe him. There would be one very desirable movie Car waiting in his seat at the end of the aisle and he would get that car once he handed those rings off without incident. Worked like a charm. 
Blake was another story all together. First, Blake has gotten to be quite large since my last blogging. He would need a suit that was built for function not necessarily form. Then we would need to get him into that suit. When I first bought the suits, I knew they would need altering but I wanted to wait until the last minute in case their wedding diets caused them to lose weight. So I took them to my parents house one weekend and my mom was happy to do the alterations. It took 3 adults to get Blake into his pants to pin them. Wedding day was no different, except I was wearing a dress, a fancy updo and 4 inch heels. And did I mention that I needed to get a bow tie around his non necked self. Basically we had to get Blake dressed and down the aisle within a couple minutes. Luke and I were a full sweat getting them both dressed. I'm fairly certain it took 5 adults to get the two inmates dressed.
But we did it. And they looked adorable...for 7 minutes. 
Bribery is not wrong, when its the only option

Then while everyone enjoyed the wedding festivities we saw Blake photo bomb the first dance, Jackson driving his "wedding" car all over the stage where the band was, both of them wanting to be carried constantly. 
Notice the small inmate making his way into for the photo bomb

The rest of our summer was spent outside...at the pool, the beach, fishing, etc....we did many outdoor activities to tire our kids out so that we could enjoy the long summer nights with some quiet. 
this likely ended with one of them holding the others head under water

first fish ever
I know! I even caught a fish
Jackson wants chocolate covered pretzels...then he can start making them

Blake is making an SOS call from is monitor...while NOT napping

Pool time with Auntie Amanda

Ahhhhh....the reward for chasing them around

Now summer is over, so says the calendar, and I have put away the shorts and gotten out my fall fat pants; I know Luke is excited!
I will get back on the blog wagon...Jackson is in school, and that brings out the best in me! 
Summers pits and peaks....

Pits: So I guess our biggest peaks were putting our kids to work so that we could have greater income...
Blake learning to change a light bulb
Jackson doing lawn maintenance without pants
Blake has picked up a couple DJing gigs

Peaks: Spending some time with my handsome hubby and my little boys...who are growing up too fast
Amanda's wedding

summer = baseball 

the boys with their cousins
the boys tried out for the Dolphins...Blake has a contract

I hope you had a wonderful summer....and now let's get to comfort food, October baseball and pumpkin lattes....Sharron

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Try It Tuesday - Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad

Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad...

We just love Thai food. And now that Jackson is 3 years old he can have peanut butter. This has opened an entire new group of recipes up for us to try. It seems he is not allergic to peanut butter, which is good since I consider peanut butter to be a food group onto itself!
This salad has a bit of kick to it, some sweet and spicy, plus several different textures that crunch. It's Pad Thai without the noodles! This does call for several items that you may not have just stocked in your pantry.

Ingredients and Directions:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup lite canned coconut milk
4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 tsps ginger, grated
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
The sippy cup in the background is an optional ingredient!
Ready to cook
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in the baking dish.
Combine chili sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice in a saucepan, whisking to combine. Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and pour half of the sauce over the chicken, turning chicken to coat completely. Set remaining sauce aside to dress the salad with.
Bake chicken for 25-30 minutes, or until it is cooked through.
1 small napa cabbage, chopped
1/2 small red cabbage, chopped
6 green onions, sliced
1 large cucumber, peeled, sliced and quartered
2/3 cup chopped or sliced carrots
2/3 cup edamame
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup chopped peanuts

While chicken is cooking, combine all salad ingredients, except for peanuts, in a large bowl and toss. When chicken has finished cooking, let cool for a few minutes then either shred or cut into chunks. Serve salad, top with chicken, top with peanuts, then top with dressing.
Salad with some crunch and some bite...try something new and healthy! Why not. its Tuesday!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Try It Tuesday...Salmon with Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Salmon with Black Bean & Corn Salsa...

As usual I am attempting to sneak some fish into Jackson's life. He is a really good eater but I am always afraid that the true toddler in him will rear its ugly head during meal time. This salsa is super good and can really be paired with almost anything or be eaten alone on a chip...that's what Luke is looking for in a meal!

1 pound of Salmon Fillet
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 lime, juiced - I usually use the whole lime
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) corn, drained
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place salmon in prepared baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix soy sauce and lime juice; pour over salmon.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until flaky.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix black beans, corn, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Notice the dinosaur that helped me prepare this tasty dish!

Serve salmon with black bean mixture spooned on top. I served this over rice.

Dinosaur approved!
Super easy, quick, healthy, and yummy...its Tuesday, try something new!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Daylight Savings Time a Terrible Idea...

Who is the idiot scientific genius who thought of time change? Time travel good; time change evil. Daylight savings time sounds like a wonderful idea especially if your toddler goes to bed ONLY when it's "dark outside". And when your baby is finally on a really great sleeping schedule, hey let's move the clocks forward. This daylight savings guy is currently my enemy. And honestly I'm not sure that I am acknowledging the time change.
I'm certain that I didn't care or even remotely notice time change in my 20's. Likely I welcomed the "fall back" as a weekend with one extra hour for drinking or sleeping. And "spring forward" meant one less hour of work. But as a sleep deprived parent tiptoeing around the house trying no to spill my wine when I trip over a matchbox car when the inmates are sleeping, I notice every minute that passes that I don't have to say something like, "Take my phone out of your nose" or "Please don't head butt the cat again."
Luke of course schedules himself to be on call the weekend of the time change...he says it was just coincidental, but I have video footage of him laughing all the way to the hospital. I will get him back, don't worry. So Saturday night we get the terrorists in their cells and we have a few minutes of adult conversation...you know, "Blah, blah, blah...my wine glass is nearly empty...Blah, blah, blah, let's discuss Jackson's poop" We realize that we better get into bed because 11:00 is really 12:00. Let's just say that how I pictured the morning going and how it really worked out was quite different, it's like my mind was dreaming of a TV family.
5:55 am, Jackson needs to pee. 6 am Blake needs to eat. I get up to go to the bathroom; kick wake Luke to respond to either one of the screaming kids. Here's where the morning really goes off track...
I come back into our bedroom, expecting to find a large empty bed to which I would get into the middle of and finish my dream about "silence and wine"...Snap out of it...Blues Clues is blaring (Steve not Joe, I don't like that Joe guy, he creeps me out) Luke is a feeding a very awake Blake, and Jackson and Rocket are sprawled out on my side of the bed. There's just about enough room for my prebaby body to get into the bed. I guess we're up!
Luke quickly gets dressed, runs downstairs, makes a pot of coffee for me as if it were some sort of peace offering and "Has to get to work". I was mentally slashing his tires. It was still dark outside but the shenanigans were underway. I spend the next 3-5 hours playing and entertaining the boys...but I look at the clock and its only 8:30?! How is this even possible. I make breakfast, Jackson ordered oatmeal and bacon. Which he decided he would like to eat without pants on..."fine!" Blake is of course a complete train wreck. He can't decide if he wants me to hold him constantly (not an easy undertaking since he weighs a feathery 30 lbs) or run around screaming, crying and eating cat food. The morning continued on in a similar fashion. I tried to put Blake down for a nap, no dice...Just as he passing into a peaceful slumber, Jackson started yelling for me.
Let's just go outside. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bike riding, it was a beautiful day. Our new single, neighbor came out around 11, he was heading to Starbucks..."take me with you!", I cried. He looked at me like I was out of my mind. Later I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror - not good- no wonder he skidded out of the driveway.
Luke made it home by 1 or so, actually I have no idea what time it was then or now. You see half of the clocks have the right time and the other have the wrong time and then there is the occasional clock that was never reset last time...who cares! He comes home just in time for naps. He has the audacity to fall asleep with Blake, "I was tired Sharron."
Somewhere around 8:30 pm, on some clock in the house, I blacked out!
Daylight savings time...not a good idea.

I hope your time change experience has been less memorable and a smoother transition...