Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Zucchini and Turkey with Rice

Not a very creative name, but it is what it is.
This is basically what I lived on back when Alex was a wee babe and I was trying to figure out what he was allergic to. The first time I made it, I thought "this won't be very tasty" but boy was I wrong!!

Ground Turkey

This is sinfully easy :)

Wash your zukes and slice them up. I made this yesterday and used about 6 small ones. Once our garden starts producing, I'll probably use just a couple medium sized zukes. Heat a skillet to medium, maybe just a smidge hotter than medium (mine was on level 6). Toss in your zukes, one layer at a time, and salt and pepper them. Once one side is cooked to your liking, flip them and cook the other side. (Sometimes I"ll put a little drop of oil in, or maybe spray a bit of cooking spray. Other times, I'll just let them cook in their natural "juices") As each batch cooks, transfer them into a serving bowl. Tent w/ aluminum foil if you like, to keep warm. Be sure to make plenty so you can sample (and sample and sample).

While your zucchini is cooking, cook up your ground turkey (I made up 2.5lbs of Jennie O turkey). Add salt and pepper to your preference.

While both of these dishes are cooking, cook your rice. (However much you think your family would eat.) (We do love our rice maker!)

Once everything is cooked, mix it together. (If you like, you can keep the rice separate and just put the zucchini/turkey over the rice.)

Oh so simple, oh so yummy. (Can be time consuming if you're cooking a lot of zucchini, so be prepared.)

Of course you can put any number of seasonings in this if you like. Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite flavors are. I've poured Apple Cider Vinegar in my bowl in the past and found it to be quite tasty.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Sesame Noodles with Grilled Chicken

I wish I could remember where I got this recipe so I could give proper acknowledgment. I came across it years ago and I l.o.v.e it.

Sesame Noodles with Grilled Chicken


...used for chicken:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sesame oil

...used for noodles:
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup sugar
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup or more sesame seeds (optional, but a nice touch)


Mix marinade ingredients and toss with chicken. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken in batches. Sauté 10 mins or so until done, add in more oil as needed. Remove from pan and cool slightly. Slice on the diagonal into thin strips. Keep warm. Serve chicken over sesame noodles.
(I usually cut the chicken into bite sized pieces before I mix it with the marinade.)

Prepare spaghetti according to package directions; drain. In a jar, shake together the soy sauce, oil & sugar. Pour over pasta & toss with remaining ingredients.

If you have leftovers (great leftovers!) make sure it all gets a good stir to coat evenly.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stop the presses!!

I cannot believe what has happened today!
Alex has pee'd in the toilet. Three times!!
Before today, he would climb onto the toilet and sit for a half a minute or more then declare he was done. Many times, he would go pee on a carpet somewhere before I had the chance to get him back into a diaper.
This morning, however, he took his own diaper off and tried to pee on his brother. Thats right. He wasn't able to make himself go on the toilet, but he could make himself go on his brother. Lovely. So I quickly grabbed him up and set his little bum on the toilet - and he went! I made a huge deal so he would know that was exactly what was supposed to happen. Ajay heard the commotion and came in to give Alex high praises, too. I told him he could get a sticker for such great work. He was excited about that!
He hopped off the toilet and went to play in Ajay's room - where he started peeing on the carpet. So, again, I grabbed him and put him back on the throne, and he was able to go again. Our prince could now get TWO stickers - plus a call to Daddy at work to brag about his successes.
Flash forward to this afternoon. After nap, the boys were pretending to camp. Alex came out of his bedroom clad only in a shirt. I marched him back into his room to get a diaper on and asked if he wanted to earn another sticker. He told me no. So I asked if he just wanted to use the toilet without the sticker, and he said he did (I guess he's got a two sticker limit).
So up he climbed and went (I could tell he was forcing it out, not relaxing and letting it all go). Again, I did the clap-happy-pee-dance and Ajay came running in to clap along with me. Three times in one sit, he went. Now we just need to get him to figure out how to relax instead of forcing.
He's in underwear (the thick kind that is a bit more absorbent than his Wiggles underwear). I've got the timer set to 30 minutes so we can go back and try again. This is a completely different technique than I used for Ajay - but hey, whatever works!!
Wish us luck!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Grandpa's Potato Salad

I don't know what this potato salad is really called, but at our family get togethers we usually differentiate between the potato salads by calling this one "Grandpa's" since he won't eat any other potato salad. This is a very simple dish and easy to put together.

Writing down the recipe is hard because, as with most things, I just sorta eyeball everything. Some batches turn out better than others, but you know how that goes, right?

Boil about 4 potatoes (we usually use Russets for this). Once boiled, put into the fridge to cool. After they cool you can easily peel them. Cube the (peeled) potatoes and put them into a bowl. Start off with pouring in about 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar (ACV) and about 2 Tbs Canola Oil. Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Stir. Taste. See if you need to add more of anything. You can serve this right away, but I like to put it back into the fridge to let the potatoes soak up the flavor. (Sometimes my mom makes up a second bowl and puts onions in it. (Grandpa can't eat onions) Once she even put crumbled bits of bacon in. Fiddle around and see what you like!)

Another version would be Mashed Vinegar Potatoes. Sometimes I'll take one of the hot boiled potatoes before I put the rest into the fridge to cool. I do the "hot potato" juggle and somehow get the skin taken off. I mash that up and put a bit of salt, pepper and ACV on it and mash it up some more. A pretty healthy little side!

Friday, June 11, 2010

More Water Fun

Well it IS Summer, after all! (Oh wait, I guess it isn't technically Summer yet, according to the calendar. But close enough.)
Aunt Shelly and her crew gave Ajay an awesome sprinkler to play in. On Sunday, we set it up. We just so happened to set it up close to the garden so some of that extra water running through the hose would serve dual purpose.
Ajay has been begging (since the middle of Winter) to play with his water balloons. Honestly, I cannot wait until they are all gone - and then we are never buying them again. These little boogers are so tiny and difficult to fill/tie. It took me 15 minutes to get SIX ready for him and Alex to play with. Of course you know how long it took to pop, right? All of 6 seconds.

Ajay was ready to get in there. Alex, on the other hand, didn't really trust it.

Ajay thought he'd help the water get over to the garden.

For a second, Alex thought he'd try it out. Then changed his mind again.

We love our boys!!

Ajay turns FIVE!!

Last Saturday was a big day at our house. It was Ajay's Golden Birthday. He turned 5 on the 5th.
A couple of months back a neighbor knocked at our door and when I answered she excitedly came in carrying a big treasure chest. She said she had gotten it from work and was wondering if the boys would like it. It was a chest full of pirate party fixins. Would the boys like it?? Abso-flippin'-lutely!
We've read Peter Pan probably 4 or 5 times since Christmas (the chapter book, not the quick little Disney version). Both boys run around the house claiming to be either Peter or Captain Hook. This little treasure chest was right up our alley.
I put it away and saved it for Ajay's party. It was full of pennants and flags and it even came with two games to play. We asked the children invited to come dressed as pirates to heighten the fun-factor.
As Mother Nature would have it, Saturday was probably the hottest day of the year so far. Everything was planned for an outside party. We ended up trying to split the activities between the heat of the day and the cool of the air conditioned house.
Now I don't know why, but for the second time in the history of Ajay's birthday cakes, I made a cake with a cool-whip based frosting. (Remind me in the future never to do this again) I had ended up working on the cake as the final party item. Ajay wanted lemon cake with pirate decorations. I made the cake and was going to ice it but was running out of time. Luckily, my mom came to my rescue (again). She worked on the cake as I started getting ready for our guests. She iced the bottom layer, then together we plunked the (bigger) second layer on top. We put it into the fridge to help cool it the last little bit so the icing wouldn't melt off. About 5 minutes later I heard my mom let out a loud "Ack! Kalinda!!" I came in and saw this look of laughable horror on her face. I followed her gaze into the fridge and saw the cake - the whole top layer had split into three pieces and slid down - but not off! I quickly said - "Okay. Alright. This is fine. Ajay's pirate ship is just shipwrecked. This will work." to which my mother started laughing - the way we put it in our family, she got "tickled." We worked to piece it back together and even used some toothpicks to keep it from falling completely apart. Mom and my sister, Shelly, worked to get the pirate ship constructed while I greeted guests. I think it turned out quite well for what they had to work with!!
Before the cake incident, Biju and I took some time getting the exterior of the house into ship-shape. I never did get the chance to walk around and take photos, but Mom snapped some (before I put her to work in the kitchen!).

Here is Cap'n Ajay and a few of his motley crew - left to right, Skyler from Pre-k, Zander (Skyler's brother), Alex from First Things First (the 3yo pre-k a couple years ago) and the birthday boy.

Second-Mate Alex in the Crow's Nest:

The first game was pin the flag on the map.

The second game was ring toss on an inflatable pirate ship. (Inside, to cool off!)

Then it was back outside for a dinner of grilled hot dogs, chips and fruit (with plenty to drink). Ajay opened gifts while the kiddos either watched or played around in the yard some more. The sand table was a popular site. And with the sweaty, sticky kids, you can guess it made quite the mess!

Ajay loves his guitar (and the rest of his gifts) - we just wish the guitar would stay in tune a bit better!!

Since a few of the kids were covered in sand my brother, Jeff, hosed them off. Logan, Jeff's 22 month old son, was stripped entirely of his clothes before the hose was turned on. He thought that was fun. Isn't he adorable??

Some of our guests had to leave before we served cake, so we snatched a quick picture of all the kids present. Out of all the photos I took, this was the best. (Hey, you try getting 10 children aged 7 and under to pose for a photo!)

So who do we have? In the front row, we have Little Alex, Cousin Logan, and Big Alex holding his younger brother, Rylan (who just turned one on Monday!!). In the second row, left to right, there is Skyler, Zander, Ajay, Cousin Lenley and Cousin Kyeligh. In the back, we have Cousin Paige. What a bunch of goofballs!

After we said good-bye to Skyler and his family, we went back inside to cool off and do the cake thing.

I think Ajay and his friends enjoyed themselves. I know my guys were exhausted at the end of the day!!

Oh, and of course it wouldn't be a family gathering without getting a shot of Alex and Logan standing back to back. There are 6.5 months between these two.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Granola Bars

Many of you have seen Angie's helpful weekly menu site and might already be familiar with this recipe. For those of you who have not seen the "Gobble Up Granola" recipe from here, I thought I'd post the version I make. It is super easy and very versatile. (I don't think I've made these the same twice!)

-- Mix together in a large bowl:
2.5 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, etc)
Dash of Cinnamon and/or
Dash of Nutmeg (these spices are optional and may be substituted with whatever you prefer or feel would go best with your choice of dried fruit)
(Sometimes I replace 1/2 c. of the cereal w/ 1/2 c. of coconut flakes.)

--In a med. saucepan, heat just until boiling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey

Once it hits boil, remove from heat and add in:
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pour hot mixture over dry mix and combine thoroughly. If it starts to cool before it is fully blended, stick the bowl into the microwave for about 20 seconds. Once combined, put into a prepared 9x13 pan (I put a layer of aluminum foil in the pan then give that a coat of oil spray). I use another piece of aluminum foil to firmly pack the granola into the pan.
Once cooled, cut into servings. I think the original recipe says it serves 18, but I like to cut these into 15 bars.

Very yummy, easy, and you have a better idea of what is going into these bars. Biju likes nuts, so next time I make them, I'll probably use some peanuts. Like I said - the recipe is very versatile!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Kozhi Curry (Chicken Curry)

(Kozhi sounds more like "Kohr-ree." Kozhi is "chicken" in Malayalam.)

Every time we make chicken curry, it turns out a bit different. The last time we made it, I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to be sure we could duplicate the same taste, so I picked Biju's brain and got this recipe written out.
I hope you've all made a run to the Asian or Indian stores to get some cooking staples!! I am adding a new spice today that you likely won't have, so I took a picture so you would know what to look for at the store.
This recipe does take a bit of work and time (prepping the chicken, cutting the onions), but it really is worth it! (Also, as you can see by the amount of ingredients, this makes quite a bit, so you'll have a couple meals on hand. You might even be able to freeze half and have a quick meal when you need it.)

Ready? Here we go....

What you'll need:
2-4 Tbs Canola Oil
8-10 Whole Cloves
1 Tbs Mustard Seeds
1 Head of Garlic, chopped (yes, Biju says he put the whole head in!)
6 Small Bay Leaves
3 Small Yellow Onions
1 Big Red Onion
1.5 Tbs Ginger Garlic Paste
1 28-oz. can Diced Tomatoes
2 14-oz. cans Coconut Milk
1/2 Tbs Turmeric
1/2 Tbs Coriander Powder
1-2 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 Tbs Cumin
2-3 shakes of Cinnamon
1-2 Tbs from a Shan Kheema Curry Packet
5 lbs Boneless/Skinless Chicken Thighs - cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch Cilantro, torn into pieces
2-4 Tbs Lemon Juice

How to do it:
In a dutch oven, heat your oil. Add in your cloves and mustard seed at the same time. Once the seeds pop, add in all of your onions and cook until tender. Add in the ginger-garlic paste and mix well. Pour in the can of diced tomatoes, stir and cook for 3-5 minutes. (Now would probably be a good time to put in your bay leaves). Pour in the coconut milk and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add in the spices (corriander, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, cinnamon and Kheema Curry powder - I estimated how much spices to use since Biju really has no idea how much he used. You can fiddle around with these measurements if you like). Once spices have been added and stirred in, cook about 5 minutes. Add in the chicken pieces and cook about 15 minutes. Salt to your preference, and add in the lemon juice and cilantro. Cook another 15 minutes or so until the chicken is done.
Eat with naan (a flat bread) or over rice. You could also serve with a dollop of plain yogurt.

Here is the coconut milk and Shan (brand name) Kheema Curry packet:
(Biju called it Kheema Curry, but the box says Haleem Masala)

If you try this recipe (or any of the others I've posted), I'd LOVE to hear how it turned out!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Water Fun

Last week we got the boys all ready to go to the pool. After we had them buckled into their car seats, I decided to go ahead and call the indoor pool just to be sure they would be open.
Biju and I had completely forgotten about all the signs that had been posted saying the pool would be closed for Lifeguard Training.
So after a quick think, we decided to get out their plastic pool for them. The water from the hose was c.o.l.d! I made several trips from our kitchen to the pool with hot water to try to warm the pool up a bit. It didn't really work, but the boys didn't mind too much.

After they came in and got cleaned up, Alex wanted to pretend he was Santa Claus. Here is a pic of him saying "ho ho hoooooo!"