Tuesday, January 27, 2015

{recetas} Beef Lo Mein

I've been experimenting more in the kitchen, and I have to say it has been really successful!

We had soup two nights in a row, and the hubs gave them both high marks. That Pioneer Woman is amazing. I, of course, followed her recipes for the two soups (this one and this one). They were wonderfully delightful.

But tonight, we went for a super simple dinner - lo mein. It was so easy to put together. From fridge to table in 30 minutes. It always takes me a little longer, though, because I can be rather disorganized in the kitchen. And there's that little toddler person always at my feet.

That little toddler person was really helpful tonight. Kid climbed up into his learning tower and stirred some Cheerios. He then added in some applesauce, and helped to "chop" the mushrooms. And by chop the mushrooms, I mean whack them with a wooden spoon. He was occupied and happy, which made dinner making so much easier!

Anyway...Beef Lo Mein.

What you need:
  • 1 flank steak
  • 1 cup of carrots, julienned
  • 16 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces of snow peas
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 package lo mein noodles (or thin spaghetti noodles)
  • 6 tablespoons tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
  • olive oil
What you do:
  • Cook the noodles according the the package directions.
  • Slice the flank steak into thin, bite-sized strips. Cook it through. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, and carrots. Stir frequently; cook until tender. This part only takes about 5 minutes. Probably less. Add the snow peas.
  • While the veggies are cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients (tamari sauce through ground ginger) in a bowl.
  • Add your noodles to the skillet with the veggies and meat. Pour the sauce over the top and stir to coat everything.
  • Eat it up and smile because your husband says, "this is another top 5 meal!" I know, I know. I've said that a few different times. I think he says it far too frequently. But I don't care.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

{recetas} Trail Mix

The first week back to school was a tough one. As a teacher, I know I am incredibly blessed with the schedule that I have. Summer. Winter Break. Spring Break. I am lucky, and I know it. But, that doesn't make the rest of the year any easier. The hours are long, and the demands are high. And it's easy to forget what it is like to wake up at 5 when you get a two week break from work!

But we made it through, and we're on to week 3 of being back at school. Thankfully, our sleep schedule has gotten back on track (thanks, Kid!) We are back into the routine of school and daycare and life is good. The yawns are plentiful, but life is good.

One of my goals this year is to be quite prepared in the food department. I'll be really good at meal and snack planning for a couple of weeks, and then we will fall off the wagon. Hubs will stop for lunch at McDonald's or Chipotle. I'll run to the gas station before work for some midday snacks. In hopes to eliminate my many gas station stops, I decided to make a huge (and I mean HUGE!) batch of trail mix.

We have a favorite mix from Target that includes peanut butter chips, and it's quite expensive for a small jar. I went to the local Mills' Fleet Farm to grab the supplies for cheap. If you don't know what Fleet Farm is, let me just tell you that it is an amazing store. You can find just about everything you need at Fleet Farm--shoes, clothes, office supplies, camping gear, farm supplies, the list goes on. It's one of the best places to get nuts and baking supplies, too.

What you need:
  • 1 lb raisins
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips (I got milk chocolate)
  • 12 oz. peanut butter chips
  • 1 lb peanuts
  • 1 lb M&Ms (they're called Choco-Buttons at Fleet Farm)
What you do:
  • Pour all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Use a spatula to stir. To be extra-fancy, pour the ingredients in a little at a time: half a bag of raisins, some chocolate chips, some M&Ms, etc. I just went for it. Dumped each bag in one at a time.
  • Anyway. Stir. Again, to be fancy, use a funnel to pour your trail mix into your storage container. I got extra-large glass jars at Target a year ago that had been sitting empty. They were the perfect size.
  • If you aren't fancy (like me) make a "funnel" out of a gallon freezer bag by cutting off one of the corners. Use that to pour the mix into the jars. Or, just store it in the freezer bag. Lots of options. It's up to you.
  • Finally, enjoy the trail mix by the handful. It really is delicious.
  • Oh! Another thing I did. Kid loves to eat whatever we eat, but I am a little nervous about him eating peanuts and M&Ms (choking hazards). I took a half cup of raisins, a quarter cup of peanut butter chips, and a quarter cup of chocolate chips and made him his own jar of "trail mix." He LOVES it, and he thinks he's pretty cool eating trail mix with mom and dad.

Monday, January 5, 2015

{recetas} Shrimp & Rice Noodle Soup

It's winter here in Minnesota. We finally have the snow to prove it. My crock pot and Dutch oven have been used enough to claim that winter is here in full force as well. They've been most frequented by soups, a true sign of fall and winter.

Today's soup is inspired by one of my favorite dishes. Pad Thai. I absolutely adore pad Thai. I found two local restaurants that serve a mean pad Thai. Sadly, they don't deliver. But the Shrimp & Rice Noodle soup is a good stand in.

I know I mentioned this exact thing in my last recipe, but the Hubs loves my Shrimp & Noodle Soup. He even said, "Not to say that your other stuff is bad, but the last three new recipes you've made have been amazing." Score one more for me! And, I had this delightful helper in the kitchen. Quite frankly, he is always in the kitchen with me.

What you need:

  • 1 pound shrimp, raw
  • 64 ounces chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons Tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1.25 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 0.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 0.5 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 cup julienne carrots
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • salt
  • ground ginger

What you do:
  • Melt one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Crack the two eggs into the pan and scramble them. When they're done, set them aside in a small dish.
  • Heat the olive oil in your soup pot and cook the minced garlic for a minute or two. Add the chicken broth, fish sauce, sriracha, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil.
  • While waiting for the broth to boil, prepare your shrimp by taking all of the tails off and placing the shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of salt, along with the ground ginger. Heat the last tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and cook the shrimp over medium heat.
  • When the broth is boiling, add the rice noodles and carrots to the pot and cook according to package directions. The rice noodles I buy need to be stirred frequently and boiled for 4 to 6 minutes. I taste them around the 5 minute mark to make sure they're done to my liking.
  • When the noodles are done, you can add the egg and shrimp to the pot and serve right away. Or, you can have a "build your own" soup bar, which is how it happens at my house. We use a salad tongs to place noodles in each bowl, then allow each person to add their own egg, shrimp, and crushed peanuts. Then, we use a ladle to add broth to the bowl.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Toddler Sensory Bins

Winter Break has been a delight for the Hubs and I, both of us being off work. Kid has gone to daycare a couple of times so we could finish up some cleaning and Christmas shopping. Other than that, we have enjoyed our time together.

For the most part.

Kid will be 2 in April, and I think we have reached the terrible twos a few months early. He can be downright nasty.

Like 99.9% of moms, I love my son to the moon and back a thousand times. He has my heart.

And like all moms, sometimes, I need a break. The tantrums, the whining. Sometimes, I just need a break.

I've noticed in the last few weeks that Kid has needed task-oriented activities. Playing with a truck on the floor doesn't keep him occupied for more than 2 minutes. Building a puzzle train will hold his attention for 10.

Cue sensory bins.

We had plenty of sensory bottles at the preschool where I used to work. We have a water table and sand table where I currently work. But I didn't want a bajillion little bottles floating around my house filled with noodles and pompoms. Plus, Kid isn't so interested in those. I also didn't want a sand table inside my house. There is a sandbox outside for that! And a water table?! Well, you might as well just take a bath!

I wasn't planning on picking up the materials for sensory bins any time soon. It had just been on my mind. But, then. I walked into Target and saw that their organization stuff was on sale! Woo hoo! I picked up the necessary materials and headed home. Sensory bins were ready to go!

To make the same sensory bins I made (noodles and rice) you will need:
  • 2 medium sized storage bins with lids. Trust me. You need lids.
  • 1 large bag of rice
  • 1 bag of garbanzo beans
  • 3 to 4 boxes of elbow or rotini (or both!) noodles
  • various small objects (I picked up a package of magnetic letters)
  • scoops or measuring cups
The how-to (this is tough, pay close attention):
  • Place your storage bins on the counter and take the lids off.
  • Open the bag of rice. Dump the rice into the first bin and add the letters. I added two scoops, because I knew we would have friends over to play.
  • Open the noodles and dump those, along with the garbanzo beans, into the second bin. Add two more scoops.
  • Done!
If your kiddos are anything like Kid, find a place to store these out of sight. Bring them out when you're ready for some messy fun! And believe me when I say it's a mess. We had rice everywhere!

But! He was occupied. I got to unload the dishwasher by myself! I made lunch without a hungry toddler sitting on my feet. And that, my friends, is a blessing in and of itself.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

Goodness, 2014 flew by! It's hard to believe that 2015 begins tomorrow!

Highlights from 2014:

Kid turned one! It's hard to believe that he will be two in just a couple of months. He has grown so much over the course of the year. I can't believe his little sister will be joining us so soon!

Big Fat Positive! Click here and here to read all about our newest addition. And to see the cute pregnancy announcement! Naturally, we are beyond thrilled to have our little miss join the family, and finding out about the pregnancy while on a family vacation was the best.

Looking ahead to 2015:

We are most excited about our daughter. She's set to arrive in April (just a few days after Kid's birthday). I do have a history of preterm delivery, though, so it could be earlier. Kid was six weeks early, and if this one follows suit she will be here in no time! We are sending up all of the positive thoughts and prayers for a full-term baby though. If you have any extra positive vibes, send 'em up for us, too!

We are also looking forward to a trip to New Mexico. I have never been, but my husband lived there for a few years as a youngster. We both have some family there that we hope to visit (and hopefully an old coworker, if they're still there). Silly enough, we may have 2 New Mexico trips this summer. The first would be in June, to Santa Fe, for my cousin's wedding. The second would be in August with my husband's family to ABQ (Jane, I'm not even going to try to spell it!).

And of course, the ever-popular New Year's Resolutions.

First things first, let's talk about life.

1. To stay on top of laundry. Oh, man. If I had the money to hire out my laundry, I would. My goal is to keep our laundry piles (both clean and dirty!) to a minimum!

2. To be thankful. I need to remember to be thankful for all that we have. I strive to be thankful often, but I can always improve.

And, now, the blog.

1. To network. This blog has been around for awhile, but I still feel a little lost. I'd like to work on my network and networking skills to improve the life of this blog.

2. To keep up with social media. It's all so fast! I'd like to do a better job of interacting with others via social media, while keeping a balance between blog and life.

I'm keeping myself to two resolutions in each category because I am awful at resolutions (sadly). I'm thinking that 4 is a good number to start with.

Here's to 2015!