Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken, Artichoke, Oven Dried Tomato Salad with Pesto Dressing

I finally made the salad I've been wanting to make since making my first batch of oven-dried tomatoes a few weeks ago. I made a second batch of tomatoes on Saturday with tomatoes from my in-laws' garden. I didn't pack them in olive oil this time so they wouldn't be soggy for my salad. Oven-dried tomatoes is a perfect way to use up extra tomatoes from your garden.

This yummy salad is a recreation of something I had a few years ago at a little cafe. It was the first time I had oven-dried tomatoes, and I fell in love with them that day. I also adored the creamy pesto dressing.

I don't have exact amounts for anything with this salad. Just throw it in a bowl and enjoy. I also made two pesto dressings - one creamy and one not. No exact amounts with the dressings either. I just add and taste until I'm happy with the outcome.

  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Spinach
  • Grilled lemon chicken (recipe here)
  • Oven-dried tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts (I used marinated ones, rinsed & drained.)
  • Pine nuts, toasted
I like half romaine and half spinach to add some variety. I like the crunch of the romaine. Spinach by itself as a salad is a little too wimpy for me.

Pesto Dressing
  • A couple tablespoons of pesto (I used basil, pine nut, parmesan pesto.)
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon (I like lots of lemon.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Just mix everything together. If it's too thick, add a bit of olive oil.

Creamy Pesto Dressing
  • About 1/4 cup of pesto
  • A couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • A spoonful of mayo (optional)
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Mix everything together.

That's it. Easy salad to throw together. I had the pesto dressing, and Husband loved the creamy pesto. I think the salad would be equally delicious with just plain pesto as well. Hope you like it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New bikes

We've been on the hunt for a very specific bike for a very specific girl.
It's taken over a month.
Blue girl bikes with blue baskets are really hard to find.
We almost bought one just to spray paint it blue.

Then Miss M saw the Disney Cars bike.
She changed her mind.
It was easy to find.
We picked it up tonight along with a matching helmet and bell.
Also got a tricycle and helmet for Mr. T.

Husband is downstairs putting them together.
First bikes.
They are growing up so fast.

Tomorrow will be a fun-filled bike-riding day.
So excited for them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I received two pounds of carrots in my last bountiful basket. I decided to look for a new recipe that would use a bunch of the carrots. While on our cruise, I had the most delicious curried pumpkin soup. It sounded good, and it tasted better than I had expected. So when I found this Moroccan Carrot Soup recipe, I had to try it.

I made this for lunch today, and it was a hit. I loved it topped with yogurt and an extra squeeze of lemon. The kids enjoyed it, too.

Moroccan Carrot Soup
adapted from Bon Appetit via Pinterest via epicurious

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 C chopped yellow onion
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)
  • 2 1/2 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 t fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
  • 1/8 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add carrots. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and puree in blender. Return to pan and add cumin, honey, lemon juice and allspice. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, lemon wedges, and extra cumin if desired.

I think I already know what I'll be using the other pound of carrots for. Yum!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oven-dried Tomatoes

I love tomatoes. Not just any tomato. I love cooked tomatoes. I used to stand by a pot of anything that had tomatoes in it - soup, pasta sauce, whatever, so I could eat stir it. (I also love to stir things, but we'll save that for another time.)

Last summer, I had the most delicious salad. One of the amazing ingredients was oven-dried tomatoes. That is the first time I tasted them, and it was love at first bite. They were full of the yummy tomato flavor I love. I even like them better than sun-dried tomatoes. A whole lot better, and I like sun-dried tomatoes pretty well.

When I received some beautiful tomatoes in my produce basket one week, I decided to make my own oven-dried tomatoes.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to slice thin or in wedges so I did both. First, I placed the slices on paper towels to absorb some of the juice. Then I tossed them with a bit of olive oil, some chopped garlic, and salt & pepper. I put them in the oven at 200 degrees. I checked on them every 30-45 minutes and would turn them over as needed. Due to the varying thickness of my tomato slices, some were done sooner, so I just took them out along the way. The thickest ones took about 5 hours. The wedges held up better over time, but the slices looked really pretty.

I ended up with extremely flavorful little tomatoes. I could have eaten the whole pan right there. I decided to put the in a jar covered with olive oil, rosemary, and basil. They looked so pretty in the jar.

Over the next few weeks I used them in pasta dishes and on sandwiches. I will say when eating simply eating them, I liked them much better before they were drenched in olive oil. The olive oil has a nice flavor and has made a great addition to pasta sauces and salads though.

I can't wait to make them again.
This is such a great way to use up all those garden tomatoes.

I have a yummy salad recipe using these beauties to share with you soon.

What's your favorite way to eat a tomato?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Apple Hearts

When I was thinking about what to make for dinner the other night, I decided to do something quick and simple that involved Miss M. She hadn't eaten much that day or the day before since she wasn't feeling well, so I wanted to make something she'd be excited about.

I decided mini pizzas and apples would be perfect to make with a little kid-help. I pulled out a little heart cookie cutter and the ingredients. Miss M was excited to cut out little cheese hearts and put the pizzas together. While they were cooking, I sliced an apple and cut the core out with the cookie cutter. Miss M loved the apples and ate twice as many as usual. She had a great time looking through the holes and trying to wear them as bracelets.

It was such a hit! I need to find more simple ways to make her food that exciting. I definitely think food is more fun when presented differently.

Do you have any fun food ideas?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cruisin' Recap

Can't have a cruise without delightful towel animals!

Going on a cruise was a last minute decision. We heard about it a month before the ship was to set sail. It was a good decision for several reasons. 1) It was a work-cruise (bit of a contradiction, but we had meetings each day). 2) We were going without the kids. 3) We were going without the kids.

I quickly called my mom to see if she would be willing to watch my little monsters. (Oh yes, monsters they were for her. Sorry, Mom!) Luckily, she agreed and bought a plane ticket to come.

We said goodbye to the kids and drove to Los Angeles two Sundays ago. We got stuck in nasty traffic. It took 3 1/2 hours to travel a distance that normally takes 1 hour. Luckily, we didn't have any tantrum throwers in the backseat. Although, Husband and I both came fairly close multiple times. We met up with a dear friend for dinner and spent the evening catching up with him.

On Monday, we met up with a very sweet friend for lunch. We danced together in college, and she moved away several years ago. It was wonderful to see her. After lunch, we went to the port and boarded the ship.

We had good food, wonderful company, and the best time just the two of us. We relaxed, socialized, and sang many hours of karaoke with some great singers. Our favorite being a really drunk lady in a tumuu - Husband's creation for tube top muumuu.

After the cruise ended Friday morning, we got back in the car and drove to Arizona. Husband's brother was blessing his baby Sunday, and almost the whole family was going to be there. Quite a feat with 6 siblings and 5 spouses. Husband's parents had picked up our kids and drove them to Arizona so we could meet up there. It was fun to meet our new nephew. We had a fabulous weekend spending time with family and visiting friends, mixed with some work time.

It's nice to be home again. Just the four of us. Planning out our next several months. Enjoying our time together.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We arrived home last night. The drive took a bit longer than expected because we had to keep stopping for . . . a sick kid! This time it was Miss M who was sick. Poor thing! Before we left that morning, she had been feeling a little sick and frequented the bathroom. We made a potty stop because she said needed to go, and we didn't want to take any chances. We were about 20 minutes from the next town and suggested if she had to go that bad, she could go outside. (Yuck, I know. Not as bad as a nasty carseat though.) She got really upset and said, "I just don't go poo-poos in the grass! I am not a doggy!" We found a gas station 10 minutes away, and she ended up tossing her breakfast in the bathroom. Gross place. I'm very happy that it wasn't a mess in the car though. It was pretty pitiful. She started to cry, "I think I must be sick!"

We had to make a few more stops. Luckily, we had some ginger essential oil with us which seemed to do the trick at calming her tummy the rest of the way.

On top of that, Miss M and Mr. T both had stuffy noses as well and seemed to be feeling pretty blah. The drive took two hours longer than normal.

After this trip and the trip we took at the end of June where Mr. T was very sick in the car, I'm dreading all upcoming car trips.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Driving home

We are hitting the road early this morning. It's finally time to go back home. The last ten days have been fantastic. The cruise was wonderful, and the family time in Arizona has been fun.

Wish us luck. The last road trip with the kids didn't go so well. Hoping the ten hour drive isn't too bad with Mr. T since he's not much of a car traveler.

Excited to share so so much about what we've been up to once we get home and back in the swing of things. Also can't wait to get back to normal eating and exercise. It gets tricky on vacation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fresh, Homemade Dill Pickles

I had been wanting to try a food co-op for a while, and a few weeks ago I finally decided to give it a shot. I joined Bountiful Baskets and have loved it. One week I had three cucumbers in my basket. I'm not a big cucumber lover. I like it in tzatziki. I can tolerate it alright in a salad if I have to, but that's about it. However, I do like dill pickles. I remembered my sister-in-law had let me try some fresh pickles she made a few months ago. She sent me the recipe, and I ended up with some very delicious homemade dill pickles.

I made an oops and added too much garlic. I do love garlic, but these little pickles are pretty strong. They are amazingly delicious chopped up in tuna or chicken salad.

If you have too many cucumbers or are a pickle lover, give these a try. They are crunchy and yummy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Still Rocking

We are off the boat, but I still feel like I'm rocking. Has that happened to you?

We had an incredible time.

Can't wait to see Miss M and Mr. T tonight!

We are about to hop in the car and drive to Arizona.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Setting Sail - Off to Mexico

Wish I could have packed these two cute dresses from Shabby Apple.

Today we are setting sail on a cruise ship. We are going to Mexico for the week. Just Husband and I. We are in need of a little break before our lives get even more ridiculously crazy for the next four months. Although, it's also a "work cruise". There will be plenty of business and play. I can't wait to spend some time with Husband sans kiddos. Huge thanks to my mom who will be watching them this week. Also, a big thanks to my in-laws who will be taking the kids to Arizona at the end of the week. We'll meet up there and stay for a few days.

I surely don't want to be disappointed by the things I didn't do.
This week will also be a big planning week for the next few months for us.
We are certainly leaving the safe harbor.
But we are really excited about it.

I'll catch up after we get off the boat.

Lovely Weekend: Just about everything

This past week was amazing. Husband and I started working on our next big adventure. We spent so much time together as a family, and it was wonderful. We had dinner together four of the five week days. It was fun to have my little family together so much.

I spent the majority of Saturday trying to reclaim my house from the last few crazy weeks of job finishing and changing. Cleaning everything, doing dishes, laundry, and packing for our trips. Husband left early in the morning to drive to Idaho with his brother who is moving there with his family in a week. They unloaded a big moving truck and then drove back. Quick little trip.

My mom flew in from California Saturday afternoon. She will be watching the kids while Husband and I take off for the week. We had a dinner get together with some family friends Saturday evening. Two of them head off to law school in California, so we wanted to wish them well.

On Sunday, Husband and I drove to Los Angeles. We had dinner with a good friend, one of Husband's friends from high school. It was great to see him and get caught up.

Later this afternoon, we are catching a ship and sailing away. I can't wait!
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