Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So Long! Farewell! Kiss.Kiss.

So after a year, of planning, sharing, telling, and enjoying the self directed work of blogging in my own little way, I've decided to hang up my shoes, definitely for indefinitely. I am not sad. Don't be sad.

I have always found inspiration in inspiring others to be their best but now it's time for me to step up to the plate. To be the best mom, wife, friend, and woman that I can be right now, today, I need to focus more on real-life relationships, including the big one with myself. So as of this moment, I am a full time mother to two awesome boys, in love with the kindest man on the planet, trying to let go of any stress or worry unrelated to the present, and frankly, trying to have a bunch more fun!!!

When, and if I decide to step back into the blog-a-sphere, I will let you all know! That day will come, but only if I can commit to it like a proper monogamous relationship, no more friends with benefits for this blogger!!! So with that, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You for all your kind words, support, and inspiration. It's been a fun ride! If there is anything you would love to know more about, just care to chat, or if there is something you think I can't live without seeing, please keep in touch! Have a great 2010!

A Bientot!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Make Your Own: Play Dough!

After spending a small fortune on play dough and accessories, I finally put my foot down and stood up to the opportunity to take matters into my own hands, no pun intended! As a new mom, finding D.I.Y recipes or ideas that are worth while is a full time job! Luckily with my 3 year old starting preschool and being asked to help out by making batches of play dough for the class, the perfect formulation landed in my lap! Before that, I had tried a few different versions and this is by far the best. With this recipe there is no more food color explosions on hands and clothes, it lasts a good while in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware, there's room for creative expression, it's super cheap, makes for great gifts, less worries about pitching grimy stuff after awhile, and it smells like memories of your own childhood!!! Perfecto!!! Bring on the imagination and hand dexterity!!!

Straight from Jake's Preschool to your home,
Make Your Own Play Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (buy in bulk- it's cheaper and you WILL need it!)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix
glitter (optional but awesome!)

Add dry ingredients to a heavy pan or dutch oven. Add water and oil to combine. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until dough forms into a thick, creamy mashed potato consistency. Don't let sit unattended or hard clumps will form. Remove from heat, let cool a few minutes. While still warm, take out of pan and knead a few times to bind. Cool completely and then store in an air tight container.

I usually make 2-3 batches at a time to have enough for sharing, tossing, taking baggies on the road for eating out!!! It's fun to let your child pick out the Kool-Aid packet choosing the color and then deciding on a coordinating glitter color. It makes it more special and custom!!! I also keep any play dough containers and add my own dough. Reusing butter containers is an option too!! Plus, as a gift it goes great with a small rolling pin, some cookie cutters, and cute plastic place mat!

Have Fun. Be Creative. Bond with your kids. Let yourself Play!!!

Happiness is a Beautiful Place in Your Mind

With the start of the new year, there is a sense of something bigger happening. There is no set moment that the winds of change come blowing through one's life. This just happens to be a coincidence of calender timing. But, it's true. I can smell it. I can hear it whispering in my ears. I can feel it down in my bones. It makes me stand differently, makes me breathe deeper, makes me hopeful, makes me focused. It's these moments that those fears of my overwhelming finiteness take a pause to the confidence and courage building a new foundation of possibility in my spirit. Even though this wind has blown through my yard before, this time is different. This time I am more aware and more vulnerable.

I spent the first few decades building up my super power of self protection. I learned to fortress my heart, sharpen my tongue, and stay three steps ahead of anyone I couldn't fully trust. Pain is a powerful motivator. After reigning, rather successfully, as queen of a calculated kingdom, I have fallen from my thrown. I no longer have the energy or desire to keep the walls around my little piece of heaven so guarded. The time has come to decide, to choose. The time has come to change my story. I never quite liked it anyway. I am sick of justifying. Tired of making excuses. Exhausted by the beliefs my fragile former self created out of desperation to make each day a good place to stay. After shredding all those chapters of my biography, barely standing on one leg in my own life, feeling raw, emotional, weak, pathetic, ignorant, used.... it's time to feel brand new! But, the creations of one's mind can be a powerful place to play. You can't just upgrade from one day to the next. It takes a mountain's worth of turns to realize YOU are capable of molding a new reality in your own life. More than anything you need to give yourself the ultimate control to make those tough executive decisions. Once you hand over the keys, rebirth can begin. It's like taking the blue pill and seeing your matrix for what it really is... a perception of one's reality.

For me, that time is now. I am ready to create. I am ready to live my true reality, fulfill my truest purpose. I am willing to put in the sweat equity. As I stand here at my crossroads, Jedi in training, I have realized like every Zen, Buddhist, Christian, story has told me before, that happiness is not a acquisition or a prize at the end of long hard day. It's not a breath taking sunset, or even a smile from loved one. It's more than a perfect moment, more than a blissful breathe. It's a decision, a spark. It's letting go so life will flow in. It's becoming one with everything and nothing at the same time. It's cracking yourself wide open so all the predisposed expectations, experience altering judgements, self-created stories, can finely rip away from who you really are and who you are meant to be. Only after you detach from the ego you spent your entire life attaching to can this overwhelming sense of calm, faith, security, and stillness wash inward. Once this trust of knowing you are standing in an amazing opportunity blooms within, you finally can begin to free yourself enough to just... BE! Then, the past doesn't matter and the future becomes more beautiful than worry some. When you stand with both your heart and your mind firmly in the present unattached to your ego or your story, love can fill you with your purest potential and life purpose. This cleansing allows for a wonderful new journey. A path towards inner peace, outward compassion, pure lightness of heart, and a joyful mind. What more could we want? From that place, all else is awesome!!!

So as this year adds momentum to a journey predestined for light-speed growth, I plant one foot into my present. It's time to let go of hopes and hold on to truths! Believe me, I still have a few more turns to go before I can fully detach and rebirth a perception full of peace. Until then, I am aware that today and definitely tomorrow the happiness I've been seeking lies so much closer than I could have ever imagined. My happiness, my joy, my light is merely... a beautiful place in my mind! The time has come to write a new story!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gotta Eat This: Gigi's Reindeer Tracks

In Christmas spirit my parents made some yummy treats with the boys! They all had a great time making them together and well, I had a great time playing top taste tester!!! These are SO easy to make, great for kid participation, and taste amazing!!! They are a great take on a sweet turtle from a chocolate shop! Plus, they look like Rudolph just visited and left his tracks all around as proof of the big guys arrival! I know you will enjoy these little sweet snacks and better yet they are great for last minute gifts for the holidays! Throw them in a jam jar with some holiday ribbons and you are GOOD!!! Enjoy from grandma Gigi's Christmas kitchen to yours!!!

Reindeer Tracks:
1 lb bag of Pretzel twists
2 12oz bags of Rolo's, unwrap
1 1lb of pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place pretzels on parchment lined cookie sheets. Feel free to pack them on. Place one unwrapped Rolo on the top center of each pretzel. Place in oven and bake for 3-5 minutes just until Rolo gets soft enough to press down. Take on pecan half and push the Rolo down till flat and pecan sticks to chocolate. After all the pretzels are topped take the cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 5 minutes or until chocolate is hardened. Place Reindeer Tracks in a pretty air tight container like a jam jar, a cookie tin, or eat immediately!!!

Hope you enjoy this quick and tasty treat!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Friday, December 4, 2009

GOTTA EAT THIS: PW's White Chicken Enchiladas

Most of you probably already religiously read The Pioneer Woman: Ree Drummand's Blog.  If you don't, you should most definitely check it out.  A little photography tutorial, a pinch of homeschooling wisdom, some personal and humorous life experience, all wrapped up in my favorite section COOKING!  It's not your healthiest of gourmet fare, but hey you only live once so might as well do it right!!!  With that said, I made yet another of this lady's recipes and LORD let me thank you for bringing all the ingredients in this recipe to this earth, our lives, and well, my table!!!

You should definitely go to her site and check out the step by step photography attached to her recipe. It's beautiful and worthy of her new cookbook: The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  But, in case you'd rather stay here and use my recipe version, with realistic first time tips, here you go!

The Yummiest, life altering, button popping, make you want to do something naughty, White Chicken Enchiladas and Super Duper Moist and Flavorful Mexican Rice! Please stop what you're cooking and make this instead!!!

Before you start please note:
1. Buy a whole chicken. Ask the butcher to cut it up for you and put the innards in a separate bag or toss for you.  You can ask them to skin it first too, if you are a little freaked out by post-boiled wiggly parts! Yeah, it gets wiggly!
2.  Plan to prep (i.e. boil, cool, shred) the chicken IN ADVANCE!!! Do this in the morning, the day before and cool, as soon as you grocery shop and freeze.  Don't make the mistake I did and assume you can add this step into the recipe. It will take you 3 HOURS!!!! It's still worth it, just save yourself some agony!
3. While you are thinking of saving yourself
 some time.....go ahead and grease those tortillas up in advance too!! They can sit, post oil, covered by paper towels for a few hours.  So do it first or do it earlier. It takes up so much space to have so many different pots and pans doing this and that.  Working with hot oil when you are multitasking three other things on a hot stove can get well, a bit dangerous!!!! 
4. If you choose to do all the above and below at once because you are in the mood for Mexican and decide yummy tequila should go with that menu, save the shooters or margaritas for AFTER you cook this meal.  There are really too many things that could go wrong with hot oil!!!
5.  Add more cheese! Stuff those bad boys to the brim!! Save some of the chicken mixture and add to the white sauce!  Make two pans! You will thank yourself for making more the next 
day or if you freeze the next week!!!  

The OFFICIAL Recipes a la The Pioneer Woman:

Prep Time: 45 MinutesCook Time: 30 MinutesDifficulty: IntermediateServings: 6
  • 2-½ cups Cooked, Shredded Chicken
  • 2 cups Reserved Broth From Chicken
  • 3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 12 whole Corn Tortillas
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole 4 Oz Cans Whole Green Chilies, Diced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded And Finely Diced
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 2-½ cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • Salt And Pepper (to Taste)
  • Picante Sauce (optional)
  • Cilantro, Chopped
Preparation Instructions

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas for no longer than 20 seconds, just to soften (do not allow to become crisp.) Place tortillas on a large towel or stack of paper towels to drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in separate skillet over medium heat. Add onions 

and jalapenos and saute for 1 minute, just to start the cooking process. Add chicken, half of the green chilies, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Stir together. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir. Add cream and stir, allowing mixture to bubble and get hot. Turn off heat and set aside.

In a separate large skillet, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together and cook over medium heat for one minute. Pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Whisk together and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the other half of the chilies. Reduce heat, then stir in sour cream. Add 1 1/2 cups grated cheese and stir to 

melt. Add 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

To assemble, spoon chicken mixture on top of tortillas, one by one. Top with plenty of cheese and roll up. Place seam side down in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Pour cheese mixture all over the top of the tortillas. Top with extra cheese if you’d like, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle generously with chopped cilantro.

Serve with picante sauce, if desired.

Faint. Repeat as needed! 

Good Ol' Basic Mexican Rice

Before You Start Please Note:
If you don't have all these ingredients but have a box of Spanish or Mexican rice in your pantry, just jazz it up.  Add a cup of white rice. I cup of chicken stock ( I usually have a four pack of 1 cup broths just in case or use some of the broth from the above chicken boiling). Add a can of diced tomatoes, a cup of fresh chopped tomatoes, or a can of whole peeled tomatoes and crush with your hand.  Add a little garlic powder, chili flakes or powder, and fresh parsley or cilantro, or if you have some frozen add that!  Trader Joe's sells these great frozen cilantro and basil cubes that make for instant access to fresh herb taste!!! Otherwise a good ol' box or this good ol' rice will do! Enjoy! 
The Official Recipe A La The Pioneer Woman: Good Ol' Basic Mexican Rice
Prep Time: 10 MinutesCook Time: 15 MinutesDifficulty: EasyServings: 8
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • ½ whole Large Onion, Chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cups Long Grain Rice
  • 1 can Rotel (10 Ounce)
  • 1 can Whole Tomatoes (14.5 Ounce)
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (more If Needed)
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin (more To Taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
Preparation Instructions

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and garlic, then cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add rice and garlic. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn’t burn. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Add Ro-tel and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let cook for 2 minutes. Finally, add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 additional minutes or until rice is done. Add more liquid as needed; rice shouldn’t be sticky.

Just before serving, sprinkle lots of freshly chopped cilantro over the top. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my family, my belly, my baggy jeans, and even my one year old did!!! Happy Holidays!!! 

Umm... what are you waiting for? Go make this!!!!