Monday, February 27, 2012

who me?

Hey guys! Guess what?! 
I just found out I was nominated for Apartment Therapy's Homies award(best family blog category).....whoo hoo! 
(thanks to the person who nominated me:) 
So you can go HERE to vote for me. 
I promise to put recycle bins on every corner, fight for world peace, and chocolate cake for everyone!

Friday, February 24, 2012

summer dreams

all images from summer, 2011
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dear summer, 

 I had a dream about you. 
I was floating on a lake. 
sleeping, almost.
the heat of sunshine on my face, cool water on my back. 
You were there.
all around. 
in the water. 
reaching down. to me. 
and then I fell through the water. 
crashed back down into my bed,
 where the nights are long.
and cold. 
You were not near.
still far away. 
I know.

But ever since, I have been thinking of you. 
I hadn't forgotten.....
I have become very comfortable with Winter this year.
I admit.
We have had some good times together.

But you are still my favorite. 
how you light my day and kiss my skin.

Meet me soon?


Happy Weekend! 
may your dreams be of summertime!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

meat and meatless

I have to say it like that, and then I always picture meat-loving Ron Swanson for some reason.

Just one tiny word can become such a hot topic!
Lovers, haters, and all the inbetweeners.
I have posted my thoughts on meat before, but like to revisit the topic every now and then.

Before I headed off to college, I had no problem with meat, and ate it any time it was placed in front of me. (and remember how I loved fast food.....yeah.)
Besides my love for a wendy's burger, I didn't eat a lot of meat my first year at school, simply because I couldn't afford it, and even if I could, I had no idea how to cook it.
Being married just a year later, not much had changed.....oh wait, we were even more poor, which meant even less meat.
A few years passed and we both had real jobs that allowed for us to purchase something meaty every now and then, and I was slowly learning to cook, I'd try my hand at beef. chicken. pork.
and I didn't like it.
Any if it.
Going a few years without it, it just didn't taste good to me anymore.
And if you have been reading a while, you'll remember my fat phobia....I figured my diet was just better without meat.
I stuck with mostly chicken dishes, and swore off burgers for years, always opting for a turkey or veggie option (what a shame!).

Over the last few years, I've started to educate myself more and more about meat, and re-introduce it into our diets. I truly believe that there were animals placed on this earth for us to enjoy.
but enjoy sparingly. 

I also believe that these animals should be raised as animals. 
in grassy green fields with butterflies and disney birds and a catchy tune playing in the background.

Well my friends, buying happy animals to cook for my family isn't the cheapest option, so we limit our meat consumption so we can eat
well raised
well fed
no hormone
no antibiotic

We have an small extra freezer so when I see good deals (even the farmers market will put certain cuts off beef on sale!) I can get extra to keep on hand.
We only eat meat 1-2 times a week.
I love finding new meatless dishes that are tasty and filling.
Here is one of them:
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Lentil and Bean Fritter Pitas
recipe adapted from Real Simple

2 cups soaked lentils
2 cups soaked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or 2 slices of wheat bread, toasted and pulsed in the food processor)
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
juice of 1 lemon
 olive oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for serving
avocado slices (I took this photo, and then right before we ate I realized I had an ripe avocado. I fit perfectly with these.)
4 pocketless pitas, warmed (or homemade whole wheat naan)

In a food processor, puree 1 cup of the lentils with the garbanzo beans,cilantro, 1/2 cup of parsley, garlic, cumin and cayenne until nearly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the bread crumbs, the remaining  lentils, salt and pepper.  Form into sixteen ½-inch-thick patties.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, lightly mash the cabbage with a squeeze of  lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper; set aside.
 In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, a few squeezes of lemon juice 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, and crushed red pepper. 
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the patties until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding more oil to the skillet for the second batch.
Dividing evenly, top each pita with the patties, cabbage mixture, avocado (if using) yogurt sauce, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 

I can't wait for summer when tomatoes and pepper are plentiful--I think they would be a great addition to this dish.

I think it's important to educate ourselves about all of the food we eat, whether we love meat or don't eat any animal products at all--it's always good to know where our food is coming from, so we can make the best choices for ourselves and our families.
If you would like to learn more about why it's important to eat "happy" meat, I always recommend the movie Food Inc. I think it's a good place to start.

What are your favorite meatless dinners?

Monday, February 20, 2012

how to play outside: snow play

It's been mentioned before.....
I like to be outside. 
With sunshine and blue skies over the weekend, we couldn't even think of being cooped up in the house..... we headed out.
Miles and mountains of sparkly snow. 
Meadows to roam through and forests to hide in.
Finding animal tracks, and following them over, around, under and back again.
As we all ran down a hill, arms flailing and snow flying, 
I screamed, 
(note: if you are looking for peace and quiet in nature, we are probably not the family to be around")

I couldn't think of any other thing at that very moment that I would rather be doing.

When you have something that you think is really, truly, amazing, 
I think it's human nature to want to share it. 
You share your dessert you ordered with your date at a restaurant. 
You share recipes you find to your friends. 
You send hilarious videos from the www to everyone you know (you know you do)

So I want to share this with you: 
How to Play Outside. 

It is really, truly, so fantastically amazingly wonderful that I want all the world to know about it. 
Just simply being outside can do wonders for your family relationship, it's healthy for your body, it clears your head, and it get's you out of the February Funk (hey we are almost done with this month!)
It also feels so good to be disconnected from "The World", and just be out.

I find it funny that the aisles of the grocery stores are expanding with so many "green" products. Every other commercial is all about "going green" or "saving something"
"Save the Earth!!!" they all say. 
But how many people are spending their money on all these green things
to save an earth they never get out to enjoy? 
How will we teach our kids about "saving the earth or the trees or the whales or green spotted tree frog" or whatever it may be that you want to save......if your our kids have never even seen these things?

So let's get outside.
How to play in the snow:
What you'll need:
-snow. pretty crucial in this one. Sorry to my friends in the south--you are more than welcome to come and borrow our snowy mountains. Stay tuned this spring for how to play in the desert.
-layers: it's hard to judge what the temperature is going to be when you are heading up in to the mountains, so we've found it best (especially with little kids!) to wear layer after layer that you can always take off. 
Example of layers:
on our kids we had long underwear, waterproof snowpants, hoodies (which came off fast), waterproof jackets, wool socks, waterproof boots, hats, waterproof mittens.
Robby and I wear polyester/wool blend running tights and tops under our snow clothes to keep us warm and dry, and they are comfortable to move in. Plus they're something we already have for cold weather running, so it's not something extra we had to go out and buy.
Now is a GREAT time to buy snow gear for next year--everything is on clearance!
Also: the girl has never had "girly" snowboots. The kids have the same boys boots, and next year she'll get brother's (ah the joys of being the second child) She loves his old mittens, and she'll also be wearing his snowpants next year. It's a great way to save, and really, who cares?
-Snowshoes: You don't actually need snowshoes to get out and enjoy the snow! There are so many packed trails in lower areas that comfortable, waterproof boots will be just fine.
If you plan on heading out to less popular areas with fewer packed trails, or out where the snow is deeper, snowshoes are more of a necessity. 
And they're fun! They are cheap to rent if you don't own them, and most larger outdoor retailers offer daily rentals. Plus, unlike skiing or snowboarding, you don't need a pass to go play!
-Sunscreen. Chapstick.
-Water. Lots and lots of water. The kids got their own Camelbacks for Christmas. They LOVE being able to carry their own water and snacks, and when they are carrying it themselves, it ensures that they drink enough. Or most likely too much (LOTS of outdoor bathroom breaks) but better than ending up with dehydrated kiddos.
Snacks. More than you'll think you need. Hiking through the snow uses up energy so quickly, and uses every single teeny tiny muscle you never even knew you had. You'll get hungry fast. 
We make sure to eat a big breakfast before we head out, and always pack pb&j, higher calorie granola bars and trail mix.
-Backpacks. To carry snacks/unwanted layers, extra layers, etc.

Hiking with Kids
-expect nothing. we have learned for us it's best not to ever have a set distance in mind. We never know how far our kids will make it. Last summer the furthest we did with our kids was a 5 mile hike (post here), with about 1000ft elevation gain in the 2.5 mile trip up. We set out on the climb having no idea how far we'd get. We talked to a group at the trailhead who said we wouldn't be able to make it up to the top with our when we DID make, it....yeah, we celebrated a little bit. 
But we usually just hike out until we can tell that they are getting tired, but they're not complaining yet....and then we turn around while they are still happy.
-Oh yes they will complain. But that's what kids are best at! That's why we always have snacks and breaks, and by the time we are on the car ride home, they forget they hard parts and are asking when we can go again.
-take lots of breaks. We take snack breaks, lunch breaks, throw snowballs at the dog breaks, bathroom breaks, slide down the hill breaks. When we are out hiking with no destination in mind, we are just out to enjoy it, so there is never any rush to get anywhere.
-take pictures. of course I would tell you to do this. I made it my goal this year to have family pictures of all of our adventures. I strap my tripod to my back wherever we go so we can get at least one picture of all of us.
-know where you're going: you can find all kinds of recommended trails and trail maps online before you head out. Lots of the forests and trails have trail maps available at the ranger station, and well marked trail heads. If you are heading into serious backcountry, make sure you are aware of avalanche dangers and have the proper equipment for that (but yeah, let's not take our kids into areas with avalanche danger, that sounds better.)

Just have fun. Take time to stop. Listen. 
Enjoy being out.
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all photos taken near the north fork trail in the uinta mountains, utah

Coming up this year:
how to camp with kids
camp food
day hiking
and more! 
I sound like an infomercial.

How do YOU play in the snow?
Any questions you have? I'll try to answer them in the comments, or a future post. 
Get outside!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

whole wheat banana muffins with homemade coconut butter

Coconut Butter. 
I had never heard of such a thing until I stumbled upon this easy how-to.
And that, my friends, is why I sometimes really love the internet.
I always think about housewives back in "the day" and wonder what they did without new recipes at their finger tips every day.

I love trying new things, I love coconut, and who DOESN'T love anything with "butter" in the title, so I just had to whip this up.
All you need....

That's it.

Unsweetened shredded coconut, which you can find in the bulk section of health food stores.
You can use any amount you like--for this I used 2 cups.

Dump it into your food processor
and go and go and go. 
Every few minutes you'll want to stop and scrape down the sides. 
After about 10 minutes you'll have silky smooth coconut butter!
Coconut butter sets up quickly and is solid at room temperature.
It can be flaked off easily, or microwaved for just a few seconds for the perfect drizzle.

And what better to drizzle it on, than muffins.

I don't make a lot of muffins.....
you see, when I think about muffins, they remind me of cupcakes, and I would much rather make cupcakes than muffins--wouldn't you? So I usually get distracted while thinking about cupcakes and forget I ever wanted to make muffins.
That was a long explanation, but it is all very true.

But these muffins are a great little snack, and one hundred times better for you
than a cupcake at snack time.
They are lightly sweetened with maple syrup, and nice and filling with whole wheat flour and oats.
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Whole Wheat Banana and Oat Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2c pure maple syrup
2 eggs
4 very ripe bananas
3/4c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2c whole wheat flour
1c whole oats (not instant)
1/4 c ground flax seed
1/4 almond meal (you can make your own after you make your almond milk)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

in separate bowl mix together flour, oats, flax, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.

mix coconut oil and maple syrup on high speed for a few minutes.
add eggs, one at a time until mixed in.
add vanilla, bananas, and buttermilk until well mixed.
slowly add in flour mixture, mix just until blended.
don't overmix.

spoon batter into muffin tins lined with wrappers or greased.
place on bottom rack in oven and bake at 350° for 22-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
remove from pan and cool on cooling rack.
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top with your homemade coconut butter
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Monday, February 13, 2012

nerd love

newly engaged us. san francisco, april 2002
us sf hearts
Look at us. 
Love in bloom. Twitterpation
The world (or at least the Golden Gate Bridge) at our finger tips. 
We were married three months later, and quickly settled into newly wedded bliss. 
Eating every meal together. Grocery shopping together. Signing up for classes at school......together, and skipping merrily across campus hand in hand, cartoon birds all-a-flutter.

We were set.....right? 
I mean, after you get married, you're good to go--Happily Ever After is what they call it, I think. have to WORK at marriage, right? 
yes you do.

We have been married for almost 10 years. 
(TEN YEARS. I cannot tell you enough how much this boggles my mind daily!! where does time go?) 

Ten years later, life is wonderful, and life is busy. 
But with the busyness, we just can't do everything together anymore (gasp!)  

If you have ever read any literature on happy marriages, they will all give the same piece of advice. 
Get out! Spend time together! 
One on one. 
Invite those cartoon birds to sit upon your shoulder and whistle a tune!
But not just often.


Let me tell you a story: 
Where we live right now is, a, let's just say it's funny. 
Yes, funny is a good word, for now, and fits best since this is a non-swearing blog. 

So yeah, it's funny. 
If people aren't old, they are super old. And if by some slim chance they are not old or super old, they are mostly likely just weird, living in an old persons basement. 
Can you visualize where I live now? 
(be sure to visualize really nice lawns though, note the old people)

And since we have no family around for exactly one bazillion miles.........we don't go out. 
ever. (hangs head)
sad, but true. 
We joke that we get dates quarterly, when we visit family.  We joke, but that my friends is a fact. 
We are lucky that a few times a year grandmas LOVE to take the Littles for days at a time, 
so we can go on super dates, and spend extra time together. 
So we DO have that going for us, and we very much look forward to our quarterly visits with each other.

But we have a few tricks up our sleeve, yes, we do. 
It would be really easy (seriously, sooo easy) to throw our hands up in the air and give up. 

"See you in a few years!" I would say,
"Maybe I'll bump into you sometime!" he would mostly likely say back.

That would be our easiest option.

But, if you know anything about marriage, or if you read the first few lines of this very blog post, 
then you know,
marriage takes work. 

And so, we are working, together--very hard, at finding time here and time there for each other.
And we will take it any way we can get it.

We have weekend nights where we get the kids to bed early, with a movie on the laptop in their "fort", and they just think it's the BEST (poor things have no idea we are shooing them away!) We make sure to tell them that it's OUR date night, because we like them to know how important it is for us to spend time together. We tuck them in, and then share a treat on the couch while we watch some kind of nerdy documentary.

We play Scrabble. 
We actually kind of play alot of Scrabble, and that paired with the documentary thing pretty much confirms the fact that we are indeed, nerds. 
oh, nerd love.

We go to the gym. 
"BORING!" you yell at me. But wait, let me finish. 
We are not side by side on the Stairstepper in our matching sweatbands. 
We are not that nerdy, please believe me. 
Our gym has a rock wall that up until last month we had never used. Never. In five years. Why? It had never even crossed my mind! 
But then we realized......wait.....the kids are playing happily in their part of the gym.....why don't we play too? So we've been climbing. And we LOVE it. It's something active, which is kind of our thing, and it's time alone, together, helping each other up this big color-coded wall. 
(insert metaphor for life)

We play as a family.....lots. 
Within the first week Robby and I had met, we went snowboarding together. 
We played together from there on out.
We had FUN. 
We love getting out and having adventures with the kids--even though it's not exactly one on one time, 
it still reminds us of what brought us together in the first place. lots of playing. lots of fun. 

So there you have it. It's a short list, but for now, it's working for us. 
And we are working hard at it. 
Our last "real" date with the usual dinner/movie/lip-gloss-wearing, was in early December, but for now we are filling our weeks with smaller activities, 
and we honestly feel like we are better AND closer because of it. 

I'm curious, what makes your marriage work? 
Do you go on weekly dates? Do you get creative and lock your kids in their rooms too? I'd love to hear it--we are always looking for new ideas to try, especially if they are extra nerdy.

Happy Valentines Day!

if you are looking for an extra special treat to make your extra special someone, here are some valentiney ideas:
our personal family valentine favorite, a giant pizookie

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

almond joy

No we are not making candy today (although have you SEEN some of the almond joy recipes floating around the internet these days....mmmmm....).
 Anyway, today we're going to talk about almonds, and how I really, really like them.
Thus = "almond joy".

Almonds amaze me! 
I love that such a tiny little bite sized something is such a powerhouse of healthy nutrients, vitamins, minerals, they taste good, and help fill you up. To me they are the perfect snack.

Where to start?
They have protein! Vitamin E!(the highest food source of vitamin E) Magnesium! (more than spinach) Calcium! NO cholesterol--they can actually help lower your cholesterol, and almonds are good for your heart.

My favorite way to eat them (and the most practical), is just plain.
 A handful for a snack.
I usually keep a little bag in my purse for when I find myself starving in the car/at the school/post workout and can't wait until I get home to eat something.

-We like to mix them with dried fruit(any kind) and sometimes throw in chocolate chips for a easy trail mix--whether at home or when we head for the hills.
-I toast them and chop them up to add to oatmeal, granola, or yogurt.
-I add them to smoothies. 
-Added them to this cauliflower and chicken bake.
-I made almond butter (here), which was an instant favorite.

But today I wanted to try a whole new way of eating them......almond milk.

I have bought vanilla almond milk on occasion as a treat.
It is goooooood.
We like it mostly for our oatmeal or cereal.

But even though I was buying organic almond milk, there are still a few things on the label I'm not quite sure what they are, so figured, why not try making it?

I got the idea from Jen.
Her cute family is dairy free, and they drink it daily. If this is the case for you, for sure go follow her instructions (here), for a little bit different version.

I made my almond milk a little bit thicker and creamier, since we aren't using that much at a time.

Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk
What you need:
raw almonds (I always get my almonds at Costco or in the bulk bins at Sunflower Market or Whole Foods when they are on sale)
vanilla extract (optional)
honey or pure maple syrup (optional)
blender/food processor

Your almond:water ratio is 1:2 for this recipe.
You can add more or less water to your liking.

For this batch I used 1 cup of almonds, 2 cups of water.

Place almonds in bowl/jar and cover with water. Soak overnight.
Drain and rinse almonds after soaked.
Place almonds in blender/food processor with water
(1cup almonds, 2 cups water)
blend until smooth.
Place cheesecloth over large bowl and pour almond milk through cheese cloth into bowl.
You'll want to pick up the cheesecloth full of almond pulp and sqeeeeeeeeeze all of the milk out.
oh yes, this is very hands on. 
When you've got all your liquid out, add a few drops of vanilla and a glob or two (professional term) of honey as a sweetener (this is optoinal. almond milk is good unsweetened too, you can add as much or as little as you like).
Pour into a container and refrigerate.
Make sure to give it a good shake before you use it.
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You just made almond milk!
As for the leftover pulp,
don't get rid of it--it's full of all the same health benefits as almonds.
Spread it out on a cookie sheet and bake at 300° for about an hour--until it's nice and toasty.
Put it in your food processor and pulse until it's fine.

This can be added to your baked goods, pancakes, waffles, you name it. I'll be adding it to our smoothies.
I will post a recipe next time I use almond meal in baking.
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What is YOUR favorite way to eat almonds?

When I first started this whole "how to eat food series" I had planned on only featuring produce. But I've decided it's fun to explore different ways to eat all kinds of food. I have LOVED all the comments on each post and have loved trying out many of your suggestions--thank you!


Monday, February 6, 2012

small and simple things

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a tiny little bite of happiness.
ok, maybe a few bites, unless you are being really piggy.
but you can't eat a cupcake and not be momentarily really, very, happy....
...even if it's just for those few bites.

A couple weeks ago I got a snarky-ish comment (delete!) on my post about having a simple year.
something along the lines of "this is really nice way of thinking, but you obviously don't have any real problems in your life"


You are right, my life is 100% problem free. yipee!
way to go ME. chest bump.

Well, actually, it's not. (gasp!)
But, I try the hardest I can every single day to look for,
search for,
DIG for if I have to,
little things that are happy.

We have the same stresser-outers that every young family has.
school. bills. let's move. let's find a new job. let's move NOW. this broke. that is breaking.
why do we live so far from family?
wow this house is really old.
 that thing broke again. We need a new ______.
Oh and let's not forget this nasty little bug I've been battling for 3 1/2 years. that's fun.
oh--and more bills! HOO-RAH!

But who cares about that junk?
I sure don't.
The reason I blog here is to try my hardest to share happiness--
and have you share your happiness back.
all the fun things in life, all the rainbows and glitter and kittens and unicorns. (melissa that is for you;)
oh, and talk about food of course.

If I lived my life without looking for little things, those big things would get really, really heavy.

So yes, I have become really good in making small things, big. 

Saturday I ran. 
On a trail. Covered in mud and snow.
Running has been hard--I relapsed last fall and I am very,
very, sloooowwwwly building my endurance back up.
But I was out RUNNING! In the sunshine! I had mud flying up my back and into my hair and I LOVED it. I was so full of happiness I was about to burst.

I love cooking for my family . 
Oh yes, there are those nights at 5 o'clock I still have no idea what I'm making (nights like that it's usually grilled cheese, or eggs, or both). But I love the days--like this weekend--where I have everything planned out start to finish--appetizer to dessert, and I get hugs and kisses and thank-yous for dinner. 

I think being able to find happiness, 
comes from knowing what YOU like.
close your eyes, and think about it.....what makes YOU just-about-to-burst-happy?

Make a list.

I like mountains. looking at them. climbing them. running them. being on top of them.
I like canvas shoes. vans. keds. cons.
I like arm balances in yoga.
I like warm chocolate chip cookies. ala mode.
I like a really good burger.
I like old books.
I like bananas when they are a little bit green.
I like road trips. Driving or riding.
I like campfires.
I like stripes.
I like smart comedy.
I like the ice at Cafe Rio.
I like summer.
I like skirts in the summer.
I like The Weepies.
I like sleeping in.
I like board games.
I like home-grown lettuce.
I like running in the mud.
I like digging in the mud.
I like goat cheese.
I like the smell of tomato plants. yes, the plant part.

I'm constantly adding to my list, and always trying to figure out how to get more of those things in to my life. (more goat cheese, yes please!)
They are all small things.....I mean yes, I would REALLY like a trip to Switzerland, or a giant farmhouse on a few acres. 
But the smaller things are a bit more realistic.
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Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Mascarpone Frosting
makes 16-20 cupcakes, and can easily be halved

1 cup boiling water
1/2c unsweetened baking cocoa
1 1/3 c brown sugar
1c + 3TBS cake flour
1t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c butter, melted
1/2c buttermilk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2t pure vanilla extract

Preheat to 350°
Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside.

Combine the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl and whisk together.
 In a stand mixer, mix the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and hot water until well combined.

Add dry mixture to wet, and mix until just combined--careful not to over mix.

Bake in lined cupcake pans for 18-20 minutes

Cool completely before frosting.

Cherry Mascarpone Frosting
disclaimer: for the most part, when I make frosting.....I don't measure. I just add a little of this and a little more of that until I like it. So if you like to do that, then here are approximate measurements for you:
This frosting has a light cherry flavor. I am not a fan of artificial cherry flavor, and it's winter so fresh cherries were out of the question. I found a yummy jar of cherry preserves w/out artificial flavors or colors, that I thought went really nicely with the mascarpone and chocolate. This frosting is soft and light--not as set up as a buttercream (too soft for piping), but not as light as whipped cream.

8oz mascarpone cheese
(about) 1/2 cup cherry preserves
(somewhere near) 1 1/2 cup powder sugar
(around, oh....) 1/4 cup whipping cream
shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

With a handheld mixer, beat mascarpone, cherry preserves, and powdered sugar until combined. Taste it! want more cherry? Add more. Too tart? add more sugar. This is how I make things.
When you have a flavor you like, beat in whipping cream until you have a nice, light consistency.

Right before I frosted them, I folded an extra spoonful of preserves in for color.
Sprinkle with chocolate!
Keep this refrigerated.....unless you will be eating them right we might have.
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I hope you can enjoy something small and simple today.
.....or at least just makes some cupcakes.

What is on your "I like" list?
(if you blog your likes, feel free to link back here so others can see!)

edited to add:
the cupcake liners are Wilton. I found them at Michaels.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

let's talk breakfast.

the most important meal of the day, right?
In our house, it is usually the craziest, most "hurry-up-and-eat-faster-let's-go" meal of the day. 

Most school days my children are handed a bowl of oatmeal.
Splashed with milk, maple syrup, and some kind of fruit and/or nut.
Rolled oats cook quickly, and they are healthy and filling in my babes bellies as they are hurried off to start their day.

I, on the other hand, usually turn my nose up at their breakfast.
I'm not an oatmeal fan (unless it's raw--like here).
Something about a hot bowl of mush......I just don't get it.
I hear non stop about "steel cut oats", and how "everyone" just "loves" "them".

But these magically delicious oats also take something like 40 minutes to cook.....and on cold dark winter mornings, there is NO way I'm getting up 40 minutes early to start breakfast.....sorry kids.

And then I saw it.
Make them ahead of time........DUH.
(did I just write out "duh"? I sure did)
I don't know why this simple thought hadn't crossed my mind.

So I made them ahead.
A whole weeks worth, and we have been LOVING them.
Just like they said we would.
These oats.......they have a bite to them.
They actually have an "oatty" flavor, which I love.
No more bowls of morning mush for me!

Make Ahead Steel Cut Oats
(this makes ALOT. I got about 12 cups of cooked oats. I didn't put them in individual servings in my fridge, because I don't have the space, and who has that many jars?
But portioning out into a few smaller jars would be a good on-the-go breakfast, lunch, or snack.
oh, and if you're only feeding one or two, this recipe can be easily halved)

2 TBS coconut oil (optional)
3 1/3 cups steel cut oats (a lot of regular grocery stores carry them, but the packages are small. It's much cheaper to go to a store that sells bulk items)
8 cups of water
pinch of salt.

Melt coconut oil in large saucepan. (you can skip this all together if you want, but I love coconut oil)
Add oats, and stir to coat.
Turn up heat and cook for a few minutes.
Add water and salt and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 5 minutes, and remove from heat.
Ladle oats and water (there is still quite a bit of water left over) into containers (I recommend glass jars over plastic containers since this is so hot).
Cover with lids and let sit on your counter overnight (or about 8 hours)

In the morning I add enough for four servings to a saucepan with a little bit of almond milk,
and heat it through.
It takes just a few minutes and breakfast is ready! 
(if you did single serving sizes you could just stick it in the microwave)
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The best part about this is that you can have oats for breakfast every morning....yet have it be different because of what you put on it. 

-A splash of milk (cow/almond/soy)
-a handful of fresh or dried fruit
-if you're looking for something sweeter try pure maple syrup or honey
anything goes!

Here is one of my current favorites
Steel cut oats topped with:
-vanilla almond milk (for sweetness)
-banana (for flavor and potassium)
-ground flax seed (for fiber and omega-3s)
-almonds (for crunch and healthy fats)
-unsweetened coconut flakes (just because I like it)
Add all that to a bowl of fiber and protein packed oats and you are set for your morning.

breakfast.....or dessert?
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How do you like your oats?

Want more make ahead oats?
Try Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats HERE

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

dear february

boy this is going to be tough.

You see February,
I don't like you. Nope. Not really. At all.
Because I just can't seem to figure out what you are good for. What is it that you do, February? Please, enlighten me. And don't say Valentines Day.....because that is one sorry excuse for a holiday, if you ask me. February, you make me realize, that I do in fact, miss summer. You make me long for days of sitting in the grass eating ice cream. 
You can't do that for me, can you February?
july 2011
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I didn't think so. I am ready to break up with you, and we have only just begun.

Dear Valentines Day,
Yep, you heard me. (stop booing and throwing rotten vegetables at me!) I LOVE love. I just don't need a cheesy holiday full of cheap candy and the worst color combination ever, to celebrate it.

Dear February,
No, I'm not done. I mean REALLY. You are the shortest month--they only gave you 28 days.....NO ONE wants you to stick around.

Dear Leap Day,
I think you are the coolest part about this month. You were smart enough to tell them you were only going to show up every four years. I applaud you.

Dear The Super Bowl,
let's keep it real. I have no idea who is playing, but I do like treats, so you should be fun. 

Dear Snowboarding,
remember me?
We used to see each other on a weekly basis back in my younger years.
There is a rumor flying around that we may be meeting up again soon. ha!!
I am so excited, and I know I am going to break something.
In front of my children! fun.

Dear TV,
speaking of breaking up, and rumors flying around......
I think we are kicking you out.
We don't use you that often, and our handful of shows we love (parks and rec!), we can watch online.
Who doesn't have cable? How do you like it?

Dear trail races,
hurry up and get here!! The weather has been so nice, and I have decided I need to start training for something. The soonest I can find anything on the trail is in April.
Do you have races planned for this spring/summer yet? Which ones?

Dear Mountains,
I vow right now, to spend as many days of this tiny boring month as I can, exploring you.
via foot/showshoe/snowboard/sled.

Dear future kitten,
my family talks and talks and talks about you.
I'm still not sure if I am ready to take the plunge.
a cat?
But who knows what February will drive me to do.....

Dear Attitude,
You obviously need to be adjusted.

Dear Curry, 
you are the BEST on a cold winter night.
Or, any night.
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Chicken and Coconut Curry
I saw this recipe on Cooking for Seven and knew I wanted to try it. I made a few additions, and skipped the broth since it is originally a soup recipe. 

coconut oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 TBS grated fresh ginger*
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1 TBS red curry paste
pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish

*did you know you can freeze fresh ginger! yes! keep it in the freezer if you can't use it all up fast enough, and you can just grate it frozen when you need it.


1) Heat a few TBS of coconut oil in a medium sized soup pot over medium heat. Add the chicken to the oil, season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked through and golden. Remove chicken and set aside. Sauté the onion, pepper, and jalapeno, adding more oil if necessary, until tender.

2) Return the chicken to the pot with the onions. Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and curry paste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cilantro, a pinch of salt, and simmer an additional few minutes. Stir in lime juice. 

Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice. 99% of the time do brown rice, but this time splurged with jasmine rice and boooooooooooy was this good.

Sincerely yours/Let's get this over with,

ps. Please tell me your favorite things about February.....
....I obviously need help.