Monday, December 31, 2012

Silver Dollar Pumpkin Pancakes

Happy New Year's Eve! Any big plans, big resolultions? I plan to eat some good food, try to  keep one eye open to see the ball drop and then rest my swollen feet all day tomorrow. This is the first year I'm not making any resolutions since I plan to be focusing all my energy on my baby girl but I'd love to hear what your resolutions are...and have you kept any from past years? I have not. I always start with the best of intentions and then about 3 days in the motivation wears off.

If you're looking for something yummy to make for breakfast tomorrow or for lunch if you plan to sleep until noon like me, these pancakes are so delicious. The size is just perfect and makes them so much easier to flip than the large pancakes I'm used to making. They even make good leftovers. I popped a few (ok six) into the microwave this morning and they heated up nicely.

The recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers. I'm sure you've heard of her- Ree at Pioneer Woman.
A couple things- I didn't have cake flour so I just used all-purpose. I also added 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed to the batter as I do with all my pancakes and waffles. Enjoy!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Trader Joe's Mexican Pizza

Somehow I have managed to avoid Taco Bell my entire pregnancy. This has been soooo hard since I love their Mexican pizza but I knew as soon as I had one, I'd be in the drive-thru everyday ordering another. I especially love my pizza smothered in extra hot sauce and extra tomatoes. Oh the deliciousness but so so unhealthy. When I saw this homemade version on Pinterest I loaded up my grocery cart with all the ingredients that day and made it for dinner. Success! It's really good and I love that I can buy organic ingredients and grass-fed beef while still satisfying a craving.
Was there anything you avoided during pregnancy because you knew you couldn't have just one?

Mexican Pizza Recipe

by Trader Joes Recipes
Yield: 2 Mexican Pizzas
Prep time: 20 min | Cook time: 25 min


  • 1/2 pound Trader Joe's Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-oz can Trader Joe's Traditional Style Fat Free Refried Beans
  • 4 9-inch flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe's Chunky Salsa, or your favorite salsa
  • 2 cups Trader Joe's Lite 3 Cheese Blend
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe's Extra Large Black Pitted Olives, sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place meat, onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until beef is evenly browned. Drain off grease. Season the meat with chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  3. Coat 2 pie plates with non-stick cooking spray. Place one tortilla in each pie plate and cover with a layer of refried beans. Spread half of the seasoned meat over each tortilla and then cover with a second tortilla. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Spread half of the salsa over the top tortillas. Top each pizza with half of the cheese, tomatoes, green onions, and olives. Return the pizzas to the oven, bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Slice each pizza into 4 pieces and serve.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Eggnog Muffins

Guess what was sold out at the store when I went in search of ingredients for this recipe...eggnog. Well, plain  eggnog at least. I improvised and picked up a carton of pumpkin spice eggnog which gave the muffins a nice flavor. These are best served the morning you bake them. I had a few leftover the next day and they got a little too dense for my taste.

Pumpkin Spice Eggnog Muffins
adapted from King Arthur Flour

1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon eggnog flavor or 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) eggnog or half and half

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon eggnog flavor, optional
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter, melted
I added 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till smooth. Add the eggs, beating for several minutes and scraping the bowl, till the mixture is smooth and light colored. Beat in the baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and eggnog flavor or vanilla.

Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the eggnog or half and half, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.

Stir together all of the topping ingredients JUST till crumbly. Stir gently, and don't overmix; you don't want to turn this crumbly topping into a solid mass. Sprinkle the topping over the muffins.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, or until they're a pale golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature.
Yield: 12 muffins.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hot Spinach Dip

Oh my goodness, Christmas is actually over. Where did the time go? It went by so fast and now I'm a little sad. I love having everyone together. The laughter, music, good food and just being with family. It's a wonderful way to live and I wish we could do it all the time. But, life has to resume to normal.
Are you working today? I am. The freeway was completely empty as is the parking lot at my building. You know what wasn't empty on my lunch break?....Target. Way too many people at Target when all I needed were a couple things but almost all checkout lanes were open so I didn't wait too long. Are you braving Target today for all the 50% off Christmas decorations?

And now on to the recipe...
I made hot spinach dip that I had Pinterested (is that a word now?) for last night's Christmas festivities. It was delicious and I would know since as the pregnant lady I devoured half the dish on my own. I served it with Triscuits and really good artichoke/garlic spiced tortilla chips that I found at Fresh & Easy. Also, I used frozen spinach that was prechopped- definite time saver.

Hot Spinach Dip (Martha Stewart)


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, cleaned, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Baguette slices, breadsticks, or crackers, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add spinach in two additions, letting the first batch wilt before adding the next; cook until completely wilted, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander; drain, pressing to release all excess liquid.
  3. In the same pot, warm milk over high heat. Whisk in cream cheese until melted, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/4 cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly oiled 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  4. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot with accompaniments, as desired.

Cook's Note

The recipe can be assembled through step two up to three days ahead, then covered and refrigerated; it can also be served as a side dish. Two 10-ounce packages of frozen spinach can be substituted for the fresh. Thaw according to box instructions, drain well, and chop.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Breakfast Tips

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals and I can't go more than 30 minutes of being awake in the morning without eating. This usually means I'm chugging down a bowl of cereal while getting dressed in the mornings but if I keep myself organized and I don't hit the snooze too many times I can pull off a decent yummy breakfast.

If you like a nice frothy latte in the morning but are too rushed to stop by Starbucks, I have a solution. You will need a couple of handy tools though. First one being an espresso maker. I have a stove-top one that works great and you can get it on amazon for about $20. Next you'll need an immersion blender. I use this for all kinds of things but mostly for frothing milk. You could certainly buy a milk frother but I prefer tools that do more than one thing.
The night before, setup your espresso, a pot for your milk, and the immersion blender. The less you have to do in the morning, the better. After you've stumbled out of bed, make your espresso, heat milk (I find skim milk makes the most foam) to just before boiling and if you like sugar you'll want to add it to the milk once it's heated to dissolve well. Once your milk is heated, use your immersion blender and blend until you have as much foam as you like. Pour milk into your mug, add espresso, then top with foam. Delicious! I promise it only take about 10 minutes.

Quick breads are a life saver in the morning. I make a loaf once a week. There are tons of amazing recipes on the web. The one above is blueberry lemon which I fail to remember where I found the recipe for. Sorry.

Corner Bakery Style Swiss Morning Oatmeal. This is cold oatmeal which you can prepare the night before (except for the banana, please don't add that until the morning). My own version above is rolled oats, vanilla yogurt, silvered almonds, strawberries, dried blueberries, banana, a little raw sugar and some skim milk to thin it out. So good!

One of my favorite tips, pack your hot oatmeal in travel mugs. It will keep it hot while you're on your way to work. This way you can make proper oatmeal in the morning without relying on those sugared packets of instant oatmeal. My favorite hot oatmeal- I cook the oats in skim milk, then add chopped apples, a little vanilla extract,  chopped walnuts and top with maple syrup. Yum!

Do you have any breakfast tips to share? 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Earl Grey Tea Latte

Wow, only a few more days left until Christmas. Are you ready? I'm enjoying every moment of my last child-free Christmas but also so excited that next year there will be presents under the tree for my baby girl.

Since the start of this wintery season, I've been making myself an Earl Grey tea latte almost every morning. I originally saw Bobby Flay make one on his show Brunch at Bobby's and I've been hooked ever since. It's a great less caffeine alternative to coffee for any pregnant mommies out there or if you're looking for a change from your usual espresso latte.

How easy is this?...
1 cup water
1/2 cup skim milk (or whole if you're feeling indulgent)
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 Earl Grey tea bag
Heat water and milk to just before boiling, stir in sugar, steep tea bag for approx 2 minutes and enjoy!

I submitted this to Foodie Friends Friday. You can find lots of other yummy recipes and vote for mine

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Bars

I had my glucose tolerance test yesterday and am waiting for the results. It wasn't nearly as awful as some of the stories I had read. The drink tasted like super sugary Hi-C and I had a good book with me so the hour flew bye. I'm really hoping I pass because my life will be over if I have to give up sweets, especially during the holidays.
Like these Pumpkin Pie will I survive without them?

The recipe was something I had pinned on Pinterest a few weeks ago and decided to use my homemade pumpkin puree in. Delicious! I have a little sliver every night after dinner and possibly one morning for breakfast.

If you took the glucose tolerance test, did you pass the first time of fail? I'm not looking forward to the 3 hour one if I failed this time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

MWF Seeking BFF

I just finished reading MWF Seeking BFF. Have you read it? I picked it up because the title was intriguing and maybe the author would have some good advice on making friends as an adult. Since high school most of my friends have moved away and making friends outside of work is difficult at best. There are so many people, myself included that are suspicious of even a friendly "hello" from a stranger. My first thought is- what do you want to sell me? Isn't that awful? I've been assured that once my daughter is born, I'll naturally develop other mommy friends that I meet through activities and such but what about making friends on my own?
So, did the author have good advice? Overall- yes. Although, I would never try Improv classes or speed dating, I do find myself being friendlier. Smiling and chatting more often rather than being hurried and distracted. Who knows, my next best friend could be in line at Trader Joes.

The author Rachel Bertsche also has a blog

Do you have trouble making friends?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is one of those ingredients I'd been meaning to make every year with my leftover pumpkins and this year I finally did it. I had a sugar pumpkin leftover that hadn't been carved for Halloween and a quiet house Saturday morning to do whatever I wanted.

First apologize to the pumpkin for leaving it out of the Halloween carving festivites but promise it will be just as loved in pumpkin pie. Then remove the stem/seeds and cut into 4 equal parts. Place in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 325 deg until the pumpkin is tender. This took about 45 minutes for me.

 It will look similar to this when done. Allow to cool.
Then you get to use one of my favorite kitchen tools.....
FOOD MILL- oh how I love you.

Scoop the pumpkin from the skin and plop into the food mill. You'll want to use the smallest holes attachment that you have.

Then mill the heck out of your pumpkin and maybe sing a little folk song while you do. I always feel like I'm living on a prairie and churning butter or something when I use it.

And there you have it- perfect pumpkin puree. All the stringy bits stay behind in the food mill unlike a food processor which just doesn't do the job properly.

So, what did I use my pumpkin puree in? Pumpkin pie bars! A delicious recipe I found on Pinterest. I'll share that later.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake

What do you get when you throw everything but the kitchen sink into a batter? Carrot Cake. And a super delicious one at that.
Since I'm pregnant, I resisted the urge to lick the spatula, bowl and my fingers but oh it was tough not to sneak a taste.
Then I had to stare at it all day and wait for after dinner with the family to dig in. Although I may have tried a little piece before I frosted it....shhhhhh don't tell anyone.

Yum, I may have to make another one just for myself.

Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake
by Joy The Baker


3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 3/4 cups vegetable oil

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10- or 12-cup Bundt pan or two 9-inch round pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, yolk, and sugars. Blend with a whisk until well incorporated and slightly thickened. Add the oil and carefully incorporate. This part could get a little splashy. Add the crushed pineapple and vanilla, and stir until incorporated.

Add the pineapple mixture, all at once, to the flour mixture. Fold together with a spatula. When almost incorporated, fold in the carrots, coconut, and (if desired) raisins or cranberries and nuts. Fold until evenly blended. Pour cake batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting with Cream Cheese Frosting. Bake cake layers for 28 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake Bundt for 45 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Makes enough to frost one 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake or 24 cupcakes

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Pinch of salt

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1 vanilla bean

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread

1 tablespoon lemon juice plus 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese for about 1 minute, ensuring that it is soft and pliable. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the butter to the bowl. Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute, until thoroughly combined.

Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and powdered sugar followed by the vanilla extract. Beat until almost incorporated.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Beat on medium speed until all of the powdered sugar has disappeared and mixture is velvety soft.

Use immediately by spreading on a layer cake or cupcakes. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before spreading on cakes. Frosting will last, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

From JOY THE BAKER by Joy Wilson. Copyright (c) 2012 Joy Wilson.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dressed up Mandarin Orange Chicken

Mandarin Orange Chicken from Trader Joes is a weeknight favorite in our house. Toss it in the oven, cook some rice and dinner is ready within the hour. I'm always looking for ways to change it up though since it can be a little plain. Last week when I made it I added reduced salt roasted cashews, canned mandarin oranges that had been rinsed and some sliced scallions. OMG was it so delicious with just those few additions. I would say it could even be company worthy. You must try it. All the extra ingredients can be found at Trader Joes.

Are there any store bought meals that you dress up?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkins & Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

Can you believe it's almost Halloween? Trader Joes is selling pumpkins and I couldn't resist picking up a few while I was there. Of course I had to get one to represent our baby girl even though she's not here yet. I already feel like we're a family of three even though she still has four months of growing left. I can't wait for next year when she can wear a costume. There's just so many cute ones to choose from.
Do you have any Halloween plans? Do you decorate and bake for the occasion?

Here's a great dinner recipe that's quick and easy; especially for the night you'll be carving pumpkins.

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina
by Giada De Laurentiis


  • 1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes) (I used chicken sausage from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Strollergate and Blueberry Lemon Bread

It seems the item we're having the hardest time on choosing is the stroller and I've determined we're in Strollergate. Anytime we see a stroller passing by while we're out, we're immediately distracted and whispering to each other about it...I'm to the point where I want to stop complete strangers and ask them how they like their stoller. I thought we had decided on one but then I read thru over a 100 reviews and now I'm not sure. I'm ready to play eeny meeny miney moe. So, any suggestions on choosing just the right one?

What could be better a soothing my stroller shopping nerves than a slice of blueberry lemon bread and tea? Possibly a pint of ice cream but my doctor has warned me about gaining weight too fast so the bread was a better alternative.

I found the recipe at Sweet Pea's Kitchen. I left off the glaze since I don't like my bread too sweet.

Happy Monday Everyone, I hope you have a great week.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Corner Bakery Style Swiss Oatmeal

Lately I've been trying lots of recipes that can be prepared ahead since I have a feeling with a baby I won't have much time for cooking whenever I feel like it. One of my favorite things at Corner Bakery is the Swiss Oatmeal but sadly it's too far for me to drive just to satisfy the craving. Thankfully google has all the answers and I was able to adapt a recipe that works perfectly and I can make it the night before.

Corner Bakery Style Swiss Oatmeal

Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
Plain Lowfat Yogurt or I like the Vanilla flavor from Trader Joes
Skim Milk
Toasted Silvered Almonds
Banana (do not add this until just before serving)
Dried or fresh Blueberries

I'm not good at measuring so start with 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup yogurt and thin with milk until it's a consistency you like. If you make this ahead, you'll probably need to add a little milk just before serving. You'll only need about 2 Tablespoons of sugar unless you like it really sweet. Add the almonds and fruit, stir and enjoy. You can add any fruits you like. I have it with chopped apples and raisins sometimes- so yummy.

Do you have any favorite make-ahead breakfast ideas? Please share.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eating All Day Long

Food takes on a whole new meaning when you're pregnant. For the first 3 1/2 months I couldn't stand being in the kitchen plus I was hungry and nauseauted at the same time. The queasy, hungover feeling still creeps up occasionally but not nearly as often. Now, I like being in the kitchen again but I have to eat while I'm cooking...I feel as though I'm eating all day long. My husband laughs at me because my food for the day doesn't fit into my old lunch bag anymore and I have to pack a grocery bag instead. I'm on target for weight gain though so I'm not too concerned except that some of my cravings are really calorie packed. I'm talking milkshakes, muffins from Starbucks, birthday cake, and crispy tacos. Oh tacos, I could have one every hour. Thankfully my hubby likes Mexican food and doesn't mind going out A LOT.

I recently joined The Dish and they sent me a sample of Bakery Shop pudding. So delicious and perfect right now since I crave sweets after every meal (and sometimes in between meals). You don't have to refrigerate these but I recommend it. I like pudding super cold.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Apple, Swiss, Dijon Panini

I've been eating apples and cheese together since I was little. Usually apple slices topped with a hunk of cheddar and sometimes with peanut butter slathered on. I love the sweet and salty combination. Melty brie with apples and pecans is one of my favorite things during the holidays. The other night I had no idea what to make so I started pulling random ingredients out of the fridge and I came up with my new favorite panini- apples, swiss cheese and a little dijon mustard on french bread. So delicious.

 Ingredients you will need. I also use canola oil spray on the bread before grilling and then I add a little unsalted butter to the pan.

 Spread a little mustard (just a little as dijon is really strong) add a slice of cheese, top with thinly sliced apples, add another layer of cheese then top with another piece of bread and cook in a little butter on medium-high heat until desired doneness. I like mine really toasty. If you're making a lot of them, place the already cooked paninis in a warm oven until you're ready to serve.

 Mmmmm....I wish I had one right now. I served a mixed greens salad with cucumbers and radishes on the side drizzled with balsamic vinagrette.

How do you like to eat your apples?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baby Girl!

We're having a girl! I was completely shocked. We were both so sure our baby was going to be a boy that I was dumb-founded when the doctor said "100% girl." I even asked, to nobody in particular, "what am I going to do with a girl?"
The shock has worn off and now I'm so excited. We registered for a good mix of pinks and other colors. I don't want it to look like a princess fairy threw up in her room and since my husband is determined she'll be a sports fan we might have a few "boy" toys in there too. We spent over 2 hours at Babies R Us only to have them lose our registry. I'm still hoping they find it because I really don't want to do it all over again. I'm think I'll just fill it out online if I have to. I've been picking up a few things along the way and we're getting our crib this week. Having a baby has opened up a whole new world of shopping for me LOL
Here's our baby girl sucking her thumb. She was so active during the ultrasound. I couldn't believe I couldn't feel her kicking and squirming. I'm supposed to feel the flutters any day now. I can't wait.

For all you mommies out there, is there any product you can't live without? All the bottle choices and stroller brands... way too many choices and my head is already spinning from reading so many reviews.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Beach House Tacos, Ventura

I've had a subscription to Sunset Magazine ever since I've married thanks to my husband's aunt. She renews it for us every year and throughout the years I've made some delicious recipes and found some new places to visit in the area. Recently, Sunset featured Beach House Tacos in Ventura and since I hadn't been in too long and my hubby had never been, we made a trip for yummy tacos last weekend.

Beach House Tacos is located on the Ventura Pier and all seating it outdoors (although there is a covered patio). I saw lots of people getting to-go orders but I like to sit and enjoy the beach view.

These are what taco cravings are made for. The ground beef crispy tacos are beyond delicious. The ground beef mixture has sweet plump raisins in it which you wouldn't think would taste good but it soooo does. I don't like lettuce on my tacos but they normally come with it. I ordered a side pico de gallo to go with them since I love tomatoes. As you can see, the picture had to wait before I took the first bite. For $3 a taco, you can't beat the price.

Since, I can't have beer even though I desperately wanted one, I had horchata. Sweet, cinnamon rice milky goodness. It's homemade and delicious. I recommend you try it unless of course you're not pregnant like me and beer is calling your name.

I couldn't find an actual website for Beach House Tacos, so here's a link to their yelp page
Let me know what you think if you visit.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reese's Pieces Cookies

Target is starting to stock Halloween stuff. I can't believe it's almost the holidays and this time next year I'll have a little munchkin to dress up. I loved dressing up when I was little. Of course my favorite was a princess costume. Did you dress-up when you were little?
In sticking with the Fall theme, I picked up a bag of Reese's Pieces on a pregnancy whim and decided when I got home they would be yummier as a cookie. I used the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip recipe (omit the chocolate chips and nuts), added 1/4 C of unsweetened cocoa and about 3/4 of the bag of Reese's Pieces. Yummy and festive. I'll be baking them again for Halloween treats.

In other news, I'm just now fitting into maternity clothes. I had no idea how comfortable pregnancy jeans could be. I don't see why women don't wear these all the time. No buttons or zippers...heavenly comfort. I also bought some cute yoga pants which I immediately change into when I get home from work.
I have an ultrasound next week to find out if the baby is a boy or girl, cross your fingers that the position is right and the tech will be able to tell us. So exciting!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lala's Argentine Grill

Recently I was invited to watch a friend compete in a Roller Derby Tournament down in LA. Wow, are those girls tough! It was really fun to watch but there is no way I could ever participate. I'm just not aggressive enough and I'm sure after my first fall I'd be crying in the corner. Congratulations to Laura's team for the win.
Before the tournament we had dinner at Lala's Argentine Grill. It's one of my favorite restaurants in LA. There's a couple locations to choose from. I prefer the one in West Hollywood but Studio City was closer this time.

 Be prepared, like most places in LA, it's valet parking only.

Bread dipped in chimichurri is so delicious. I used the chimichurri on my sandwich as well.

Don't miss out on the sangria. It's so good that I had to have a little sip of my hubby's. I'm sure if I were leaving in Europe I would have ordered my own but American doctors frown on that when you're pregnant.

If you like garlic, you'll love the mashed potatoes.

And if you really really like garlic...have the steak smothered in garlic and parsley. YUM!

Have you ever been to a Roller Derby? What did you think?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Feeling Autumn

Do you say Autumn or Fall? I say both but I think Autumn sounds prettier. Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Mostly because I love wearing big wooly sweaters, eating lots of soups and stews, plus the scents of cinnamon, apple and pumpkin...yum! Also, I squealed with delight when I saw Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin is back at Bath & Body Works. I love this stuff and have been waiting for it to come back in season. Do you have a favorite lotion?

In other news, I'm just into my 2nd trimester and feeling well enough to be in the kitchen for a little while. Long enough to make banana bread at least. I hope I continue to feel better cause I really miss cooking.

And for a little humor. What is up with this?!? Does anybody else have a spouse that does this? Is it clean? Is it dirty? And if the clothes are dirty, is it really that hard to lift the lid and insert clothes?!?

Happy Friday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cupcakes and Cravings

I must say, I had no idea how challenging pregnancy. Before I was pregnant, I used to think "oh it'll be a breeze." What was I thinking? I'm tired all the time. I'm nauseated almost all the time and when I'm not nauseated, I'm eating. I never thought I'd ever say it but I'm tired of eating. How is that possible? This doesn't mean I'm cooking though. Oh no, being in the kitchen for about 15-20 minutes is about all I can stand. It's the running joke now when my husband asks what's for dinner that I'm going to say frozen pizza. The the end of this we'll have a baby. I'm told it's worth it LOL
So let's talk cravings. Any mommies out there with any craving stories? My cravings come on super strong but usually only lasts a few minutes and then I'm over it. I was at Trader Joes and desperately wanted a cupcake. No way I was making them from scratch so I picked up a box of mix but by the time I got home I was too tired to bake. The next day the cupcake craving was back and I found enough energy to make a batch. The mix is actually really good. Not as good as homemade but close. I proceeded to eat 2 and then just looking at them made me nauseated. What is up with that? How can I want something so badly and then it turns my stomach? Just posting the photos for this blog makes me a little queasy.

The one constant craving- pizza. I could eat pizza all day. In fact, I think it's time to order delivery.

I heard an old wives tale the other day that if the mother denies herself something she's craving the baby will have a birthmark that looks like that food. Hilarious!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zucchini Bread- Sunset Magazine

My first blog post in too long. Mostly because I haven't been able to cook or tolerate being in the kitchen for extended periods of time. Morning sickness doesn't just plague me in the "morning" it's an ALL DAY EVENT, but I'm in my 11th week and it seems to be getting a little better. The mood swings are a whole other experience. I've read on other blogs that the crying, nervousness, and worry is normal but I'd really like it to go away now. I'm ready to be happy and excited to be a mom. Any pregnancy advice?

Last night I got a little kick of motivation to use some zucchini we had in the fridge and Sunset magazine had the perfect recipe. If you just got this month's issue, it's on page 90. It turned out really well- not at all dry which I was concerned about since there's only 1/2 cup of oil. I added some walnuts because for me it's not zucchini bread without walnuts. Yum!

Classic Zucchini
Sunset Magazine- August 2012

Serves 8-10

About 2 cups of flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. each salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
About 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups packed shredded zucchini

1. Preheat over to 350 deg. Oil and flour a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan. Whisk 2 cups flour with other dry ingredients (except sugars) in a bowl.
2.Beat sugars, eggs and 1/2 cup oil until blended. Slowly mix in zucchini. (Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts *optional) Gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined.
3. Scoop batter into pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack.  Turn over; let cool completely.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

I'm so far behind on my blogging and participation in Foodie Pen Pal. I had the best of intentions when I signed up but life got in the way so I'm finally posting now. Life meaning "morning sickness" that plagues me all day long....but more about that later.

The Lean Green Bean

Beth from It's Good to be the Cook sent be a box of yummy goodies from Trader Joes (my favorite place).

Thank you Beth!

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals. In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trail Mix Cookies

Cookies are definitely my favorite thing to bake. The possibilites are endless, the process is fairly simple and I've yet to have a recipe be inedible. I've been baking my way thru Joy the Baker's cookbook and her Trail Mix Cookies are so yummy. This is one of those recipes that you can add or subtract the ingredients based on your preferences. For example, I didn't have any M&Ms so I used chocolate chips. I also really like coconut in my trail mix so I added a cup of shredded coconut to the mix. The results were delicious.

Trail Mix Cookies

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook


2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks/8oz) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated cane sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (6oz) peanut butter chips

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup peanuts

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup golden raisins


1. Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric hand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a good amount of elbow grease and a wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed for 1 minute between each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated.

4. Stop the mixer and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat on low speed until just incorporated. Then add the peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, peanuts, coconut and raisins. Turn on mixer again and beat the additions at low speed until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and finish incorporating (get those loose batter pieces at the bottom of the bowl), the cookie batter with a spatula.

5. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out dough and place on prepared cookie sheet (if you don’t have a cookie scoop use a tablespoon, scoop out dough, and roll it between palms to make dough balls).

6. Bake for about 13 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

I recently discovered Pinterest and have since been pinning my little heart out every night before bed and one of my pins was this smoothie from Bo's Bowl. During my morning rush, you can see my lunch bag that I'm packing in the background, I threw all the ingredients in the blender and like magic-breakfast in less than a minute. It's delicious and filling. You won't be hungry until lunch, I promise.

I'm linking up for the Crazy Cooking Challenge this month.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
by Bo's Bowl

2 frozen bananas

1 cup skim milk

1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup oats

4 tbs peanut butter

honey, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Makes 2 smoothies.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic and Feta

It's voting day here in California, I hope you've already gone to the polls or plan to. Are you organized and prepared with your sample ballot? Or are you like me- realized it was voting day by a Facebook post and will be spending my lunch hour reading up on ballot measures.
If you're like me today, than you probably have no idea what you're making for dinner tonight. Well, this post is an easy recipe that requires just a little time and effort to avoid the fastfood line on the way home. Although, I do happen to have an Applebees gift card burning a hole in my purse so maybe I'll convince my hubby we need to go out instead.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic and Feta
by Food & Wine Magazine

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes (about 3), seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup Kalamata or other black olives, pitted (I used green olives)

1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons drained capers

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

3/4 pound spaghetti

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1.In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, feta, capers, parsley, salt, and pepper.

2.In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain.

3.Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cooked pasta and the garlic oil to the tomato mixture and toss.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Black Olives, Garlic, and Mozzarella Use 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, in place of the feta.
Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic, Feta, and Fresh Herbs Use 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 3 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon and chives, in place of the parsley.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meatless Monday- Tostadas

It's Monday already. We spent the weekend in San Diego with family and the time went by so fast. Did you do anything fun over weekend?
Today's post was a meal I actually made last Monday and in case you don't have anything planned for dinner tonight, I'm sharing it with you today. Mexican food is one of my favorites and since this dish is packed full of flavors, you won't miss the meat.

How good does this bite or several bites look? I had to force myself to stop stuffing my face before I picked up my camera.

Here's how I made them-

Preheat oven to 350 deg. Spray both sides of 4 corn tortillas (or as many as you're making) with cooking spray and bake until crispy.

Prepare and add toppings:
1 can of vegetarian refried beans, heated
2 chopped tomatoes
1 large onion carmelized in a little olive oil
1 large avocado chopped
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Sliced black olives
Dollop of sour cream. 
Your favorite salsa
Obviously, you can use whatever toppings you like. What do you like? I've been know to dump hot sauce all over my tostadas as well. So So Spicy and Gooooood!