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!!!!

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:;;;;; )

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!!!