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:
Ingredients:
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
Ingredients
  • 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
Ingredients
  • 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!!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baby Buzz: One for You and One for Me!!!

We don't have the luxury of ignorance that our mother's did! We can't smoke or drink our way through our pregnancies. Damn! We can't throw our kids in the car without proper harnesses. Ugh! We can't even spank our kids to teach them discipline without feeling the fear that child protective services might come after us! Things are just different now and we no longer can take a blind eye to certain topics!  Especially regarding the health of our children!!!  

In a blink, childhood obesity, diabetes, and the 4-A's : Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies have skyrocketed over the last twenty years!!!  We have a serious childhood epidemic taking place and there needs to be a LOT more attention and passion towards curbing and ridding our society of these life altering diagnoses!  It seems everyday there are tidbits of information thrown at us regarding what is or isn't safe, which of course is different than yesterday.  I feel blessed to know all this news but burdened by the weight of constantly seeking out and following through on what's safe, healthy, and non-carcinogenic for my babies!!! I am not sure where my health stands in the big picture being raised on crop dusted fruits, hormone injected dairy, and overly bleached breads, but at least I can try to decrease the toxins and nutritional deficiencies that might attack my child's immune system!  It's tough work but a battle worth waging!!!

It seems almost every conversation I have with girlfriends some version of this comes up!  One day it's dealing with serious allergies, the next it's speech disorders, and scariest of all potential autism cases!  This is not just happening "over there"!  This really 
is taking place in our back yards! What to do? Let's face it, with midnight feedings, tantrums, work-home balance, and maybe a relationship with your spouse or even self, there might not be tons of opportunities for us as mothers to start rallies or petitions to move our government towards impacting this epidemic appropriately.  But, don't despair!! There are tons of little things we can do that might help improve the overall health of your child.  Think small, think consistent, think green.  That already is a huge step forward!!!

One small shift for our family started when we all began taking fish oil supplements. It was a no brainer for me with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriasis.  Then randomly,  I saw a children's version at the store and I was instantly curious. It didn't take long for the research to point out the enormous benefits of this daily addition for my children.  Now, both my boys take fish oil daily. But it wasn't until speaking to a girlfriend whose pediatrician suggested fish oil to help with her child's speech disorder by fostering support of the brain, nervous, and immune system, that I looked into the benefits of Omega-3's for adults and children even more.   

Low and behold, the benefits of fish oil can actually help with just about all the disorders mentioned above!!! Here is some info I found in my little investigation:


Fish Oil:

1. Improves concentration

2. Calms ADHD symptoms

3. Improves learning

4. Increases in test scores

5. Reduces Dyslexia and Dyspraxia

6. Helps language skills

7. Helps with autism

Fish oil is very useful for pregnant women as DHA present in it helps in the development of the eyes and brain of the baby. It helps in avoiding premature births, low weight at birth, and miscarriage.

Type II diabetic patients are more prone to cardio vascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and stroke. As mentioned above, fish oil is helpful in treating various heart problems.

It is well known that fish oil is good for its ability to improve vision. It also helps in avoiding age related macular degeneration.

Since brain consists of about 60% of fats, especially essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6, fish oil helps in improving the functioning of the brain. Further, it is believed that fish oil is useful in the normal development of the brain. It helps your kid concentrate on the studies better. It has been further found that when pregnant women are given regular doses of fish oil, the born toddlers show enhanced hand eye coordination.

Fish oil does seem to have a positive effect on babies and baby formula manufacturers are beginning to add fish oil to their recipes like: Enfamil Lipil, Similac Advance, and Nestle Good Start Supreme DHA & ARA.

Fish oil has the ability to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) due to the high concentration of fatty acids.

Due to the presence of Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil is good for relieving depression, sadness, anxiety, restlessness, mental fatigue, stress, decreased sexual desire, suicidal tendencies and other nervous disorders.

It is believed that regular consumption of fish oil aids in increasing your immunity thereby enabling you to resist incidence of common diseases such as cold, cough and flu.

Recently, a study has been revealed, which mentions that the kids who consume fish oil products have scored higher grades than the kids who don’t consume them. During teenage and infancy, a human brain grows rapidly.

(Pulled from different sites such as: http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-animal-products/organic-fish/health-benefits-of-fish-oil.html;http://www.fishoilblog.com/benefits/fish-oil-improves-behavior-of-children-improves-concentration-and-parent-bonding.phphttp://fishoilbenefits.weebly.com/;http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-206813/Fish-oil-helps-hyperactive-kids.html;http://www.aboutomega3.com/fish_oil_and_children.htmlhttp://www.healthy-oil-planet.com/fish-oils-for-children.html;http://www.nordicnaturals.com/en/General_Public/FAQs/264/; )

With all the toxins attacking our little ones on a daily basis, why not start assisting them now with a simple fishy step forward.  Oh Yeah and while you're taking one beneficially leap for your little one, jump on the train and grab some for yourself! This might be the best health conscience decision you'll make all year!!!  Believe me after a few weeks, you'll be thanking yourself that you did!!! 

•Please note, that before you start taking or giving fish oil to your loved ones, you must check the quality, purity, recommended dosages, dates, and age appropriateness of your product.  There are huge variations of the above and a little research is required!!! Going to Whole Foods, PCC, or your local vitamin or health store would be a great place to start. Otherwise there are tons of resources online!  I found that Nordic Naturals is a high quality, trustworthy brand.  Plus, they seem to always be on sale at our local PCC!!! I take the Nordic Naturals Arctic-D Cod Liver Oil as recommended by my ND as cod liver has least possible mercury and vit d helps with my psoriasis. My kids take the Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Gummies for toddlers and they just eat-em up like candy every morning! Please research what would be best for you. Cross those T's Please!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

YOU CAN DO IT!!!















Groggy. Exhausted. Bummed, it's that time again.  
What time is it anyways?  6:38am! Are you kidding me!?!  UGH.

As the duo of baby monitors hum their peaceful melodies, I try to remember those lovely Saturday mornings when life would gently wake me sometime before noon and slap a big, fat, greasy, two hour brunch in my lap to get me going. Just for a moment, I can smell the coffee dancing in perfect harmony with bacon and hear the symphony of spatulas flipping eggs and hash browns.  Please, Calgon take me away!!  Desperately trying to hold onto this opera like memory, I am shot in the gut with reality as I hear my babes wake from their slumber.  One at a time, one after the next, like some kind of weird and cruel competition.   

Are you up? 
Yeah, I am up! 
It's your turn.
Seriously! I got up last Saturday.
Come on. I am SO tired!
Join the club!

And as we embarked on our weekly who should get up at the butt crack of dawn dialogue, we heard our three year old happily skip over to our 1 year old's room, who was still deciding if sleep or food was more important.  Panic sunk in! NO, don't do it! Don't even think about it!  Please Lord, let him come into our room instead! Like a slow motion movie, I raised my hand in horror and yelped a grumpy, old man sounding "Noooooo!".  But it was too late. At that exact moment, the door knob turned and creaked loud enough to wake up the slumbering baby. Mission accomplished!  Older brother had joined forces with little brother. Instantly, baby shrieked "Hiiiii" and all of our hopes for twenty more minutes of fake sleep evaporated into thin air. 

Do this together?
Fine.

But something happened we hadn't expected.  As we laid there like one of us had just been shot, our boys decided to partake in a self motivation seminar.  After a few minutes of jumping, playing with toys, getting more hyper by the minute, our baby decided to throw a leg over the side of his crib.  Totally impressed by this move, older brother started cheering him on with our latest family slogan: You CAN do it!  So all of a sudden through our creaky baby monitor we heard: 

You can do it!  You can do it Kai!  You CAN do it!  YOU CAN DO IT!!!  You DID it!!!  YEAH!!!  High Five!!! Knuckles!

Did that really happen? Did we just hear our 19 month old crawl out of his crib for the first time through a baby monitor?  Did our baby just fold under an extreme case of big brother peer pressure or was this just the right time and place? Wait a second, does this mean we have to move him to a big boy bed and start that whole bag of tricks?  All these questions, startled me to third cup of coffee awake as our two happy, cheerful, proud, energetic boys ran into our room and tackled us in our bed.  

Guess what Momma? Kai crawled out of his crib all by himself!!! 
I heard!
Rise and shine Momma!  
I'm up!  I'm up!  
Momma!
I know, I CAN do it!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beauty Buzz: Budget Battle #1

In the middle of The Great Recession, what's a lady to do when she needs to buy a face lotion? Not just any lotion, but a magic in a bottle, change my life, skin enhancing potion that costs more than your newborn child or at least the stroller baby will ride in.  I love-Love-Love La Mer face creme. Especially, this time of year! It's decadent, it really does affect the skin, and even though I know there are healthier products on the market, it has that revolutionary, burn healing, yummy "Miracle Broth" that makes my skin glow like a teenager! Plus, my husband noticed a difference in my skin after just one day of using this delicious creme! Isn't that enough? Shouldn't that be enough?

Well, it's not.  Priorities. Priorities. And unfortunately uber expensive beauty products aren't on the top of that list.  So, instead of sulking at the beauty counters hoping someone will throw a sample at me, I have decided to seek out cost effective equals or at least runner ups!  These beauty on a budget buys have been tested, compared, and reviewed with surprising results! So wipe those budget blues away and step up to my No Need to Sell Your Baby Beauty Bar!!!

BUDGET BATTLE #1: 



























While visiting Denver Diva, I was in the process of healing myself from the Bottom of the Bottle Breakout so lotion was of topic.  Luckily, I was reintroduced to Origins via the beautiful new global store and Pekoe Sip House.  I had used Origins years and years ago and it was fun to partake in a full circle beauty product journey!  I was instantly reminded of all that I loved of Origins: "natural and certified organic ingredients, 100% natural essential oils, free of: parabens, phtalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, Paraffin, DEA, animal ingredients, and animal testing", and to boot products that work!!!  I was overjoyed by the reminder of this company's commitment to health, beauty, and our environment!  So, of course, I went home with a product or two, including the Make A Difference Ultra-Rich Rejuvenating Cream.  

All I can say is: WOW!!! This new Ultra-Rich version of Make a Difference is amazing!!!  Instantly, it's incredibly soothing, hydrating, healing and yet, so luscious, and light!! A lot of super emollient creams are heavy and after a few hours can start to "melt" off your face.  This cream feels like a night cream designed for the daytime!  It seems to really be healing my skin as much as it's hydrating it!  Plus, at this price I feel like I can apply a nice coat without feeling anxious!  Though you don't really need it!

This product, is completely able to hold it's own against the Creme de La Mer! It seems lighter, spreads with ease: so a little goes a long way, has an equally pleasant aroma, has no nasty preservatives, and has a MUCH better price point. It makes my skin feel and appear smoother, plumper, dare I say younger, and overall healthier.  With this cream my skin feels protected against the elements and even more so layered on top of Origins: A Perfect World White Tea Skin Guardian.  Even though I will always accept gifts of La Mer, Origins Make a Difference Ultra-Rich Rejuvenating Cream will from here on out be my day cream of choice!!! 

With all that said, I can gladly announce the Budget Battle #1 Winner is Origins Make A Difference Ultra-Rich Rejuvenating Cream!!! Yeah for beauty on a budget! Who says you can't have it all?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MY FIRST GIVEAWAY WINNER!!

Hi Friends! My first Giveaway for a lovely bottle of David Babaii Hydrating Shampoo and Hydrating Conditioner has come to a close. I am super excited to announce the winner! Drum Roll Please!!    

The winner is Janette! Janette! Janette! Where are you? I have your crown and roses! 

Congratulations!  I hope you will love these products as much as I do!!!  Please email me at: thewholemomma@gmail.com to claim your prizes!!!  

To everyone else, stay tuned! This was too much fun!  I am concocting a new giveaway tonight in my sleep!!! 

Friday, October 16, 2009

GOTTA EAT THIS: Elliott's Risotto!!!

When I first moved to Seattle, Eric and I were invited to a dinner party from a friend who had just gotten back from India and wanted to share some of the local fare with us!  I LOVE Indian food especially, authentic street food, and was eager to attend the party.  We all had sat down for a beautiful family style meal full of curries, grilled paneer, aromatic rices, perfect nan, chai tea, and decadent desserts.  It was love at first smell!!!  After digging in with much excitement, one of the roommates stood up suddenly and scurried off to the kitchen.  He returned with a huge stockpot, saying frantically, "I almost forgot the risotto!". 

WHAT?? Did I hear that right? We are eating Indian there is no way that guy just said risotto.  Did that guy just say RISOTTO?? Now if you know me, you know I can't live without, will always order if on a menu, absolutely die for, well made Risotto!!!  I have had my fair share of this perfectly creamy, flavorful delight! There is a huge range of quality in this dish.  I would say most restaurants are brave to serve it.  If not done right it's just an overpriced bowl of rice. Believe me, I have had too many watered down, pathetic, luster lacking attempts of this dish.  But, if made with heart and skill, like how I imagine short, plump, old Italian women have been for centuries, it becomes life altering comfort food!!! 

The guy, whose name I later I discovered was Elliott, plopped the huge pot right in the middle of the table next to the tikka masala and coincidentally right in front of ME! Lifting the lid, he said,  "I know we are having Indian and it's so good, but with all this rain I just had to make this Risotto! Enjoy!". The sex appeal of this guy shot out of the roof!  The risotto looked perfect, like bursting buds of white flowers swimming in a bath of cream holding hands with porcini mushrooms and tender grilled asparagus!!!  After eagerly serving myself a large scoop and slowly savoring the quality of the dish, I was in love with Elliott, I mean Elliott's Risotto!!! I licked my plate and after dinner ran immediately back to Elliott's room and without any grace desperately asked for the recipe.  I just needed a starting point for this kind of perfection.  Stunned by my need, Elliott ever so coolly, hand wrote me a copy of his recipe. 

I know Elliott would be proud of my sharing this recipe with you today!  Risotto really is that good!  If you already know, You Know!  If you aren't sure about or haven't had it yet, seek it out at good restaurants, and then you will know!!! But, don't be fooled!  Risotto is not for the weak of spoon!  This dish will take you a few attempts before you have the swagger of a pro.  Risotto can slip from underdone to overdone in a glance.  It takes a lot of heart to make it well.  So give yourself some room for growth and adaption.  But, this recipe is the perfect starting point to you're very own Risotto obsession!!!  I also threw in my all time favorite risotto leftovers recipeArancini di Riso (Stuffed Risotto Balls) which are equally decadent!!! I know you will, but in the words of Elliott, Enjoy!!!

Elliott's Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto:
1 bunch fresh young asparagus, cleaned w/ ends broken off
3 cups Arborio Rice (MUST be arborio)
1 package of dried porcini mushrooms or a porcini mushroom mill
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 medium shallot, diced
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
1 cup white wine, a good quality Riesling
1 quart good quality mushroom stock or chicken stock (1/2 of each is awesome!)
3-4 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fine dried herbs: oregano, thyme, and/or sage
1 1/2 tbsp savory (if can't find the dish is still fantastic!)
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup+ of really good quality Parm Reggiano cheese grated and extra shaved for garnish
Good quality olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Good quality balsamic vinaigrette

 In a heavy bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven, drizzle with olive oil and sauté chopped onions for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and shallots for about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

 Once sweated, add rice and stir until coated and cooked with oil about 5 more minutes. Add porcini’s and wine.

 After about 5 more minutes, add stock, 2 tbsp salt, whipping cream, and butter. Simmer about 25 minutes. Stirring occasionally with wooden spoon until thick. The longer this simmers the thicker this rice dish gets (and in my opinion the better!).

 For asparagus, clean, break ends, and toss in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill or bake until soft yet crunchy about 15 minutes, flipping about half way through.  Once done, chop into bite size pieces.  Add to thickened risotto. 

Add cheese to risotto. Be heavy handed.  Let sit 10-20 minutes until thickened.  Let cool slightly. Top with grated cheese or shaved Reggiano, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

For Leftovers: Arancini di Riso (Stuffed Risotto Balls)
2 eggs, beaten
2 c leftover risotto
½ c grated Parmesan
½ c breadcrumbs
1 c breadcrumbs to roll in
Grated parmesan for garnish
Fresh chilled mozzarella or havarti cubed
1-cup good quality marinara sauce slightly warmed or room temperature
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Mix first four ingredients into a shallow dish. Roll into small bite size balls like a meatball. Then stuff one cube of mozzarella into the middle of each risotto ball. Finish rolling so cheese is hidden. Fry in hot (350 degrees) vegetable oil deep enough to cover about half the height of the risotto ball. Cook a few at a time. Gently spin the balls so all sides are golden and cheese doesn’t pop out.  Cook till golden brown and drain on paper towel. Lightly garnish with salt and Parmesan cheese. Serve warm with marinara for dipping! Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My INsecurity Blanket!

Everyone has one. They come in different shapes, sizes, and conditions.  Some people  can't leave home without 'em, while others successfully shove them in a closet.  Even as grown ups, they are oh so much apart of our fabric and can pop up uninvited at any moment.  They are really the only thing keeping us from loving ALL of ourselves.  

Regardless of what your insecurity blankie looks like there is no mistaking how they feel.  For me it's those weird first day of school jitters you get when you know you should hold your head up high and be proud of who you are but everyone else seems more confident, secure, beautiful, happy, perky, pulled together, and effortless than you do.  No matter what you tell yourself you can't seem to put one foot in front of the other without doubting every shred of your being and of course with each step those feelings tend to multiply.  

Perfect example, I recently ventured out on my first trip away from husband and kids since morphing into motherhood (3 1/2 years to be exact) to visit an old college and beyond girlfriend who was about to be married.  I was so excited to see this person who knew me for who I was and who I wanted to be before the fleece, pony-tails, exhaustion, and dare I say-minivan took over.  But, I vowed not to be that mom!  I had a renewed bounce in my step with anticipation to do something hip, go somewhere trendy, and most of all talk about anything other than kids. 

That was until my insecurity blankie whispered in my ear a translation of what was really happening.  Blankie titled my trip...

Frumpy, No longer cool, "Hot for a Mom", Boring, PTA Freak, Who wears Faded Cotton and Flats... Visits ... Hot, Bikini wearing, Uber stylish, Always cool, Jet setting, Living life and Sleeping well, Kid-less, Awesome sex having Diva

OMG blankie was right!!! This trip was a mistake! Once you're in momma mode how do you fake it around people who aren't there yet? Sweaty, sleepless, panic set in.  

My heart knew this was just my stupid insecurity blanket trying to bring me down because NOTHING is more awesome than the fundamentals of motherhood, well maybe pizza.   But still, my head needed to feel satisfied and in love with my whole life in front of this friend.  I needed to pull off this air of  contentment mostly for my own beat down self worth.  There was just something about being around a cool, kid-less friend that unfortunately made me doubt who I had become.  I had been so busy getting through this phase of my life, I forgot and maybe conceded who I was and definitely where I was going.  Don't get me wrong I love my life as a momma but I also loved who I was before I had kids. There was something stressful about remembering and desperately attempting to reignite the best parts of my former self.  Somehow being around a person who knew that version made me want to prove that I hadn't changed  that much or at least only for the better.  I was forced to look at current state vs status quo.  Let's just say that swallowing a less shiny, stretch marked, grey haired, parent mode vision of ones self was hard.  

So, like a crack addict I grabbed my insecurity blankie and went shopping!!! New makeup. Check.  Awesome blue suede, peep-toe heels. Check.  Trendy boyfriend jeans. Check. Other unnecessary accessories. Check.  Bikini wax-just in case. Check. Haircut. Check. Mani/Pedi. Check. Cool/Hip wedding gift. Check. 

As I boarded the plane in my overly thought out outfit, reality sunk in.  No new hairdo or already passe trendy jean was going to make my friend like me more or else. If it did maybe it was time to reconsider the friendship because this really is who I am now. Desperately, I didn't want that outcome, but as I sat down in between two super funny, insecurity blanket toting guys, I decided I would make the most of this trip, frumpy momma or not!!!  As I poured myself a plastic cup of wine from Delta's high end house red, I ever so subtly dropped my blankie on the ground.  No one seemed to notice.

Instantly feeling lighter, I was able to enjoy the entire visit with Awesome Denver Diva and with my past.  All my insecurities were squandered by the reality that my friendship was based on something deeper than my looks or current successes.  It was built on a bond of laughter, listening, loving, and supporting each other through whatever phase we may be in at that time!! Throughout my stay, I was able to really rediscover a side of myself I was so afraid I had lost forever.  It was an amazing feeling of relief and warmth knowing that part of me was still there and it helped me let go of any doubts I had built up over the last few selfless years.  In fact it helped me fall in love with this new me, stretch marks and all because I earned them. I worked my ass off becoming this new person!!!   And finally I realized what I forgot to remind myself of all along.

I am still me! I am still all those things I have loved about myself! I am still beautiful, still cool, still hip, still fun, still worth other people's time!  I am still AWESOME!!! My friends see me for whoever they want to see me as.  Hopefully in a warm light. But, through this process I realized that what's most important is how I see myself!  And after all those sleepless, selfless, sacrificing years I have officially, in my eyes, turned into an even better version of my former self in endless, countless ways.  I am sure one day I will have a smaller waist but until then I am proud of the momma that looks back at me in the mirror!  I am a damn good mother, a decent wife, and fairly cool enough person.  I just need to throw my damn blankie in the back of my closet and forgive myself for this unnecessary pain.  

So learn from my mistakes and STOP beating yourself up and LOVE yourself already!!! As long as you love yourself, insecurities and all, updated versions or not, frumpy or trendy, life is going to be okay.  Just because you are a momma doesn't mean you are lost! You are still that awesome version of you but now with more layers to love!!! And don't feel bad when you feel insecure either. It's only natural.  Just get over it quickly. Because let's face it everyone has a blankie! 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beauty Buzz: My First GIVEAWAY!!!!



I am sure by now you know I love trying out new beauty products. I am constantly seeking out something that will help me look and feel my best with the least amount of effort, cost, or care.  Really, what I want is that crazy tube machine in the Jetson's that you just walk into half asleep and magically come out looking perfect and caffeinated! If that came in a jar I would be a lifetime supply!!! 

With that said, I am probably only wowed by 1 out of 6 products I try. It's exhausting! I have such high hopes for all those semi-finalists that actually make it onto my face, hair, body.  So many of the times these start off as superstars and then after a few days/weeks they have some weird side effect that bumps them off my shelf.  So sad! But, I don't loose hope. I know there are awesome products just waiting for me to run into them that will transform my life!!! When I find them, I will let you know!!!  

With that said, I think I found one!!! Excited? I bumped into something new for my hair to love! I am kinda a loyalist when it comes to hair products. But, when the planets aligned for theBottom of the Bottle Breakout, I knew it was time to explore! Where better to look than my hair inspiration Kate Hudson.   She recently started a new line of hair products with her stylistDavid Babaii of which 10% of all profits are donated to WildAid, a global wildlife conservation group.  Plus, these products aren't tested on animals, free of sulfates, parabens, and petrochemicals, and have won tons of beauty awards already.  You can even find them in beauty stores like Sally's and online at Folica.com. If all that wasn't awesome enough to get you up right now, the price point is just right at $10 for shampoo/conditioner and they are good sized bottles at 13.5oz. 

I have been using the Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner for a couple weeks now and love, love, love, the feel and texture of my hair.  I have wavy, thick hair and this product seems to smooth out the frizz. I feel like I don't really need a leave in conditioner anymore.  My hair feels plump, smooth, healthy, and surprisingly light. With all the cupuacu butter in there I thought for sure it would leave my hair heavy or weighed down.  But what I love the most is the aroma! When I opened the package they shipped in I was flooded by the familiar scent of Hawaiian Tropic sun tan lotion and Lord do I LOVE that smell! (Sometimes I put it on as lotion in the summer!!!) It's the hydrating conditioner!!! So every time I take a shower it's like I am washing my hair under a waterfall in Hawaii!  Yet, after washed out, the aroma is a slight lingering memory on your hair. It makes me smile! 

Given all this new product love, I can't help but share it with you!! You just have to try this shampoo and conditioner; so, I am giving a set away!!!  I know I am so excited too!!!! Here's how to earn a chance at winning:

1. Become a follower of wholemomma.blogspot.com (make sure to leave contact info) and/or
2. Comment about this giveaway on your blog (send me a link so I can check out your blog too!)

Giveaway enrollment ends October 30Th 2:00 pm Pacific Time and will be announced Nov 1st 2009.  One winner will be chosen at random to win one bottle of David Babaii Hydrating Shampoo and Hydrating Conditioner. Check in to see who the lucky winner will be, maybe YOU!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kitchen Facials by Request!!!

That's right this is my first request from a gaggle of Momma's in Mountain Home, AK who have now been nicknamed my Bifocal Beauties! One of these ladies suggested I give some advice towards creating a spa facial for yourself with easy to find ingredients right in the comfort of your home.  NO PROBLEM!!!  Like anything worth while, a little prep work and some dedicated time, will take this DIY mini spa treatment up a notch!  

Since the Bifocal Beauties are rounding second base and turning fifty, which of course is the new twenty-five, I thought I would focus this first kitchen facial on dryness.  Let's exfoliate, soothe, and hydrate that skin.  Before you know it you'll be doing weekly facials and kicking yourself for not doing them sooner!  

This might be a great girlfriend project so you don't destroy your computer leaning over it trying to read what to do next with a wet face! So grab a gal-pal, share the costs of the ingredients and don't forget that magazine so that while one momma relaxes the other catches up on the latest chick gossip!  Go Girl Power!!

Okay let's get excited and get our gear! 
headband
gentle eye makeup remover and cotton pads if needed
3 washcloths rolled in a microwavable bowl half full of water and covered with a kitchen towel 
a creamy, plain cleanser (no foaming, refining, exfoliating, or gritty cleansers)*
1/4 cup of regular refined sugar in a small dish
1 washcloth soaked and swimming in bowl of whole milk or buttermilk at room temp
2 large bath towels or 1 towel and 1 blanket
1-2 pillows as needed
relaxing music (optional)
1 cup of good quality Aloe Vera gel in a small dish
1 fresh super ripe, awesome smelling orange or tangerine, peeled and peels set aside in a dish
kitchen timer (optional)
a gentle alcohol free toner, rose water, or 1 bag of steeped green tea left at room temp applied with cotton pads
1 box of tissue
a good quality moisturizer or night cream*
eye cream, lip moisturizer (optional)
16 oz glass of filtered water
   * If you don't use or know what to use, go to a drugstore and get Aveeno Ultra-Calming products or Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser/Moisturizing Lotion as a start. Don't forget a good chick magazine while you're there!  

Step 1: Prep
Decide where you are going to be doing your main face washing: bathroom, kitchen sink. 
From there find a cozy place not too far away and lay a bath towel or blanket on the ground and a pillow for under your knees, add more as needed. This will be where you relax while you're masking. Remember half the yumminess of the spa is the relaxation. This also benefits the skin, so don't skip this step!!!

Once that is set up, take the rest of your gear to your main hub. Place the sugar next to your cleanser. Place the milk dish behind that. Twist a little orange zest into the aloe and place the aloe next to the milk. Set your toner (seep your green tea bag now), cotton pads, tissue, moisturizer, eye cream and lip moisturizer next to the aloe. Set your large bath towel next to the sink. Place your bowl of wet washcloths in the microwave for 2-3 minutes keep covered with dry cloth and when done carefully set on other side of sink.  

Step 2:  Cleanse
Tie back your hair. Wash your hands. Gently remove eye makeup and lipstick with remover and cotton pads if needed.  Turn the water to a nice warm temperature NOT HOT and splash your face 2-3 times to moisten skin. Take a half dollar's amount of cleanser into your palm and add and lightly mix in a Tbsp or so of sugar. Then cleanse your entire face in upward, circular motions using your three middle fingers.  Once you've applied your cleanser take a minute to cleanse deeper by gently rubbing little circles into the face, neck and decollete if you feel like it.  Start under the neck, go up to the chin, around the the mouth and those laugh lines, circle out from those lines to the cheeks, then back the nose and get into the creases, on top of the nose, gently around the eyes making sweeping figure eights, eyebrows, and finally the forehead. Make sure to get into the hairline!  Quickly grab one warm washcloth from the bowl and gently remove cleanser in outward sweeping motions.  If needed, splash face with lukewarm water to remove excess cleanser. Then, Pat Pat Pat dry with your bath towel.  Feel your skin. Does it feel smooth and clean like it can breathe a little bit more?  If so go on to the next step. If it still feels dull and heavy, repeat this step before moving on.  

Step 3: Exfoliate
Grab your milk bowl. Lightly ring out the washcloth and gently pat the milk into your skin, over the sink. Do this for a few minutes so that all of the face and neck receives a good coating of milk. Be gentle around the eyes but feel free to pat them too.  Use this cloth to rub your mouth to help remove any chapping.  If there is any extra milk in the bowl, splash it onto your face. It's okay if you get it in your eyes. This is a gentle exfoliation. Think of Cleopatra when you do this.  She used to bath in milk!  Do not rinse the milk.  Just pat dry under the chin if drips.

Step 4: Steam
Pull out your large bath towel.  Turn your sink water on to HOT. Place your towel over your head and make a tent with your towel over your sink to steam your face.  Try to manipulate your towel so that the hot steam gets trapped inside and doesn't leak out. Be careful not to burn your face on the faucet or lean in too close that hot water will splash your face.  When leaning over the sink, try to stick out your butt and make a L shape with your legs and back. Now with your arms stretched out over the towel continuing the L shape, feel a long stretch in your spine.  Take deep breathes of this warm steam sauna-like air and feel it healing your skin and soul. Take a few minutes to meditate on all you have to be thankful for, including this opportunity to take care of yourself.  These thoughts are cleansing to the soul, mind, and body!  Stay here as long as you can enjoy the steam but not exceeding 15 minutes.  When done, take one last breath, bend the knees, and grab a warm moist towel from the bowl and very gently remove any milk that may be left on the face.  Then, pat pat the skin with the bath towel but keep the skin damp.  

Step 5: Hydrate and Relax
Grab your aloe bowl. If you haven't already twisted some orange peel zest into your aloe do so now.  Take some extra peel and twist it onto your decollete for an uplifting aroma.  Now gently apply the aloe mask in a thick, even coat to the neck and face.  Get close to the eye but don't get into the eye. Feel free to coat the lips of the mouth as well.  Once mask is well applied, find your resting place.  Turn on music if you'd like and a timer for 20 minutes if you think you might fall asleep.  Otherwise, lay down slowly, place the pillow under your knees.  Try to broaden your chest pulling your shoulder blades back towards each other and down the spine creating more space for deeper breath and a more comfortable neutral spine position.  Take a deep breath into your back and enjoy the uplifting aromas of oranges.  Try to let every muscle in your body relax and grow limp from your forehead, eyes, cheeks, and jaw all the way down to your knees, ankles, feet, and toes. Once your body is relaxed, let your mind relax.  Take another moment of thankfulness and then let your mind fall silent. This masking meditation should last at a minimum of 5 minutes and at a maximum of 20 minutes.  Enjoy!!! (This step should not burn or feel "spicy" to the skin.  If so, remove promptly with cool water. It  may be too much moisture for extremely dry skin. Continue with the relaxation with a nice cool washcloth on the face.)

Step 6: Finish
I know! Drag yourself back up to standing. Shake the body out slowly.  Grab your bowl of wet towels.  If they are ice cold place in microwave for another minute.  If they are warm go ahead and gently start removing the aloe mask from the face.  You may need to run the wash cloth under warm water if the mask if really dry on the face.  Remember to sweep upward and outward.  Take your time and remove all the product.  

Next grab your toner or room temp tea and with a cotton pad wipe the toner into the skin.  Lightly coat the entire face.  Your face should just be moist not wet.  If it's wet, use a tissue to blot the moisture.  

Apply a DAB of eye cream around the bone of the eye NOT any closer!!! Too much eye cream can lead to puffy eyes and teary ducts!!!! Apply a lip moisturizer if wanted.  

Now, take a deep breath, and apply the face cream. Rub it into the hands and pat it into the face with the whole palm of your hand, starting from the neck up to the cheeks and outside of the face, to the interior of the face and up to the forehead.  Pat in until the entire face is well coated with a refreshing moisturizer. This should feel like a good coat of moisture but not super heavy or greasy.  Make sure it is soaked into the skin and not sitting on top.  You should feel like your skin is bit plumper, lighter, hydrated, and at least breathing!  Feel free to do this every 3-4 weeks or when feeling dry, tight skin.  Aaahhh! How do you feel?

Congratulations! You just gave yourself a spa worthy mini facial!!  Thank yourself for the time, your girlfriend if you teamed up for being such an awesome chicka, and those lovely Bifocal Beauties who suggested this little luxury!!!  Now sit down and chat with your girlfriend or if solo read that magazine while you drink your water and snack on some yummy ripe oranges!  Remember to take good care of yourself mind, body, and soul and have a great rest of your day!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gotta Eat This! Yummy Yellow Vegetable Soup

I stumbled across this recipe last fall and it became an instant hit!  People in my family are already asking if it's cool enough outside for some of that yummy yellow vegetable soup!  Yellow because I have a huge jar of turmeric and if I can find a recipe that will gladly welcome the flavor I add it!  Plus, the benefits of turmeric far outweigh the "different" yellow color it adds to the dish. I think of it as a true fall soup.  For a list of the twenty awesome benefits of turmeric check this link: http://www.healthdiaries.com.  But, my favorites are that it has potent anti-inflammatory properties, natural painkiller, and help boost depression. No wonder this has been used for hundreds of centuries in India and Asia.  All that makes me feel even better about serving this dish knowing everyone will feel so satisfied with a full belly of body boosting yellow vegetable soup! This recipe needs to jump right into your cookbook! Secret tip: make a little extra and keep it in a freezer proof jar/bag.  Then, thaw and mix this with some chicken, cheddar, and cream as your base for an awesome chicken pot pie!!! 

Yummy Yellow Vegetable Soup:
4 tbsp good olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (about 3-4)
4-5 cloves finely minced garlic 
kosher salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (about 2-3 large)
2 cups fresh celery, cleaned and diced
2 cups golden potatoes, cleaned and diced (don't bother pealing or use peeled russets)
2 cups fresh garden peas OR 1 16 oz bag of frozen organic peas, thawed and drained
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth, good quality or homemade!
4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes OR 1 32 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, crush with hand (good quality)
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed OR 1 16 oz bag of frozen organic sweet corn, thawed and drained
1 16 oz can navy beans, good quality, rinsed and drained
ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh Italian parsley (make sure it smells good and save some for garnish)
1 to 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 tbsp ground turmeric, make sure it's fresh
2-3 tsp of each dried thyme, basil, and oregano 
1 good quality hard cheese rind optional (I save my parm reggiano and Gouda cheese rinds and drop into soups and sauces just make sure you peel all wax off before dropping in or make sure you pull out before serving!!!!) 
shaved good quality Parmesan Reggiano for garnish 
optional: add swiss chard, quinoa, other beans

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, celery, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the carrots, potatoes and cook 4 to 5 more minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add the stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, turmeric, pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, and cheese rind (don't add more salt at this point it will make the beans tough!).  Stir and reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from heat add fresh parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  When serving garnish with fresh parsley, shaved cheese, drizzle with olive oil, pepper, and serve with fresh crusty bread or day old bread rubbed with a garlic clove, drizzled with olive oil and baked till crispy. YUM YUM!! Freeze the leftovers in a doubled freezer bag or freeze proof jar. And the love doesn't stop there...

Leftover Easy but Yummy Chicken Pot Pie:
Thaw frozen bag of Yellow Vegetable Soup all day
1 large or 2 medium grilled/sauteed chicken breasts, diced
1/2 c medium cheddar, cubed
1/4 c heavy whipping cream, warmed in pan with 1 tsp butter
homemade pie crust OR 1 package of pie crusts
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease pie dish and line with pie crust, prick and cook for 10 minutes. While cooking, saute chicken breasts. Let pie crust cool for a 5 minutes. Cube chicken when done.  Warm cream and butter in pan.  Add soup to cream mixture to warm.  Add cheese cubes and chicken to soup till blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into pie shell and top with pie crust.  Make sure to add slits or a design on top. Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes on a cookie sheet for dripping.  Serve with crusty bread or rolls.  Ummm boy!