Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St Patty's Day

Happy St Patty's Day! (I cannot over look that today is also Sunday, so more importantly... Happy Lord's Day!)

As a half Irish lass who attended a Catholic school in Philadelphia as a girl, I recall these yummy treats being brought into school around this time of year. Thankfully, I have found the recipe which I have now made a part of our family tradition.

I made these the proper way with cream cheese and butter. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm eating dairy free right now, so I can't actually enjoy this batch. :(

Of course, after I was done making them I found a different similar recipe which doesn't use any dairy products. Oh well, maybe next year (or next week!).

Have a sweet St Patty's Day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Copycat Chick-Fil-A (gluten and dairy free)

Since our son, Zachary was a couple of months old, I've been gluten and dairy free. He has become much less fussy, his bowel movements were more "normal" and his spit up became manageable.

I've missed Chick-Fil-A sandwiches since then. I haven't eaten them much, considering my one son is on a gluten free diet, but on occasion, I just missed them.

I do love the taste of their original chicken sandwich, but I don't like the fact that they have MSG as an ingredient. Boo!

So, I was elated when I googled "copycat Chick-Fil-A sandwich" and I found one! I put it on the menu to serve on my son's 4th birthday.

I had to adjust a few things in order for the whole family to be able to eat it. Everyone loved it.

The tricky parts:
  • Make sure the chicken is thin enough, so it can be deep fried in a short time.
  • Try to keep your oil at the right temp (I had a difficult time with this one!)
Please enjoy this recipe which is adapted from Pocket Change Gourmet.

Gluten and Dairy Free Copycat Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of pickle juice (key ingredient)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbs powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp each: paprika and salt
  • 1/2 tsp each: black pepper, garlic powder, celery seed and parsley
  • oil for frying
Slice each chicken breast into two (or more) thin slices. To do this, imagine laying the chicken flat as though it were a circle cake layer. Slice it in half as though you were making the cake into two thin cake layers (not two half circles).

Place the chicken in a 9x13" dish and cover with pickle juice. Refrigerate for 45 minutes, then let sit on countertop for 15 minutes.

Beat the eggs with soy milk in bowl. In a separate bowl combine flours, sugar and seasonings.

Blot the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Dip in egg mixture then flour mixture.

Heat enough oil to just about cover chicken in pan to 345-350 degrees F. Fry each piece for around 2 minutes on each side. Don't be afraid to cut into the chicken to check for doneness... its better than serving raw chicken! The outside can look done, while the inside is still pink.

Serves 8


Sunday, March 10, 2013

6 activities for your 6-month-old

When Zachary turned 6 months (about a month ago!), I noticed that he didn't sleep as much during the day. He gets bored if you don't do anything with him and I want to keep him occupied.

Here is a list of things that have kept him happy. Most of these need parent involvement, so, unfortunately, I haven't come up with a way for you to get stuff done. I'm still trying to figure that one out myself!

 1. Play ball Big brother, Ian likes to roll a ball to Zachary. Mostly the baby just chews on it once he's got it, but he does like this game. If your baby isn't sitting that well yet, he can still play while you hold him.

2. Shadows When the bright sun comes streaming through the windows, it leaves lots of fun shadows for the baby. He likes watching his own hand or mine. He even likes watching the reflection that my computer makes on the ceiling!

3. Small Bangs I like to give Zachary a Duplo in each hand. He has fun chewing on them and more importantly banging them together to make a fun sound. It can be two of anything safe and he's content. Such a simple joy!

4. Exersaucer I'm not really into buying things that won't be used for long and things that are technically unnecessary, but this toy center is wonderful. Zachary loves to spin himself and play with the different things all around him. Sometimes I'll put Duplos or balls around the edge for him to play with. This also helps his legs get stronger. (This is the one activity that allows mom to get a thing or two done!)

5. Turned off Kindle  This is probably Zachary's favorite activity. He loves to look at himself and me from my Kindle when its turned off. Of course a mirror would be just as fun, but we don't have a handheld one (I don't see it as a necessity, so I don't ever buy one!).

6. Thomas When all else fails bring out Thomas. I bought this that from GoodWill that same fateful day I bought the eye popping toy. It was $3.71 and in perfect condition. How could I pass that up?! (I know he is sitting by himself in this picture, but whenever he's on it I am always holding him.) He likes to hit the buttons, which make sounds. He also likes to have me hold him while he stands and holds the back. Or he'll sit next to it and play with the wheels. So, even if you don't have a Thomas, I'm sure there are things you can find that your baby can bang buttons on, or hold on to while standing up or spin wheels on!

What kind of activities does your 6 month old enjoy? I could also add music, chewing Pappa's watches and eating to this list. :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Seeded Playdough

We've been taking things super easy around here since over half of us have been recovering from the flu.

Ian has not been sick, so I wanted to have something fun for him to play with. I came across an easy no cook playdough from Teach Preschool. I halved the recipe and left it uncolored.... I kind of like the looks of it.

For "add-ins" I provided mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel, white rice and cloves. These are all things that we keep in our house. (They do indeed have an Indian father!)

 "Mommy, what's this?"
"A clove."

I didn't expect this to turn into a learning activity, but he did learn a few things.

I taught him how to knead dough.

I must say that the seeds don't really stick into the dough all that well, but we still had fun playing.

It didn't take long for the cookie cutters to come out and the rolling pin and some plastic knives and even his sisters came out of hiding and played. :)

The recipe:
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbs cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbs oil
Mix together and knead until dough forms.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Breastfeeding and Medicine

Does that look like the face of a happy, healthy boy to you? Poor guy has a fever... and so does mommy!

In our house, when fevers strike, the first reaction is to treat it with tylenol or motrin. Easy enough, right?

In order to make the correct decision I had to call the doctor. Can I give motrin to Zachary and take motrin myself? Would the baby get too much medicine from his dose, plus what he gets from my milk?

Her answer: Its fine for both of us to take the same medicine, just don't give him more than he should have.

Hopefully this will be useful to you one day or even more hopefully, you'll never be in this situation.

I'm sure you'll want to double check with your doctor if you ever find yourself in this scenario. :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

February update

I'm not sure why life doesn't stop for a while on occasion, in order for me to catch up with everything, but it doesn't. Here is a peek into the last few weeks of our lives.

 Seth and his friend with their boat.

One of the big highlights of 2nd grade at our kids' school is the boat regatta! They learn about boats. Then, using fake money, they buy supplies to build their own. Parents come in for the race to see which team build the fastest boat.

Seth and his friend did great with their boat "Skylander".

(don't mind Seth's hair, that day also happened to be crazy hair/hat day!)

 Patricia turned six! We went to a restaurant to celebrate, then came home for cake.

I will not show you a close up picture of my cookie monster cupcakes, because it is already an established fact that I cannot decorate food. But here is the original picture if you want to give it a go.

 We took a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium in order to study coral.

Science projects are quickly coming up and coral is the topic that Tabitha picked.

Multicultural day is also coming up at school. The kids had to decorate paper dolls showing one of their nationalities.

Patricia and Tabitha chose India and Seth, Ireland.

The school Valentine's parties came and went. I had big plans of the kids making homemade Valentines, but that never happened. So, they went in with store bought cards... they also received a lot of store bought cards and candy!

This is Tabitha's monster. This was also an idea from Pinterest, but alas, it falls far short of its model.

For Valentine's supper, I made heart shaped hamburgers. Sorry I don't have an after cooked picture, but you'll have to trust me that they still looked like hearts. :)

I also made heart shaped carrots like from this Pinterest idea, but would you believe they didn't come out as pretty as the picture??!! Yeah, I don't believe it either. :)

Patricia had her 100th day of school! Yippee! The teacher gave each child a visor to decorate with 100 items. I picked up some spiral confetti for Patricia. I liked one of her classmate's, which had 100 random things attached including part of a broken necklace, a key and a used stamp.

This was a nice easy activity for the kids. When Tabitha was in kindergarten she was able to do anything she wanted. So for that she tried on 100 outfits... you can read about it here.

So, that's what's been going on in our household. How about you?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Mother's Love

You know that strong feeling of love that you experience when you first have a baby? Sometimes its hard to remember that feeling, especially when that baby grows older and always seems to get in trouble.

Sometimes you go to bed feeling guilty that you weren't able to express your love as much as you would've liked to.

Sometimes you wonder if maybe you don't love your child(ren) enough. Well, at least that's how I feel on occasion.

The other night I was asleep when I woke up to these words, "Mommy can you turn that off?" I heard every single word Ian said, even though he was still lying in his bed.

What struck me as so odd, was the alarm clock. He was asking me to turn it off and I realized it had been buzzing for over a half an hour.

Why didn't I wake up to the sound of the alarm? Why did Ian's voice rouse me from my sleep so easily?

It immediately made me think of that bond I experienced with my newborns. The sense that I knew I would be willing to die for this child.

The feelings aren't always as strong, but the love is.

Its the close of Valentine's day right now. A day when everyone celebrates their love for each other. A day of sharing feelings. Loving feelings are nice, but I'm so thankful that they are not what love consists of.

Love is an action word. It is a daily giving of yourself for another.

Thinking of it in this light helps me appreciate the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for me. He loved me unto death. And He did that for me despite all my sin!

These thoughts encourage me on in giving and receiving of love.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snack Time - Banana treats

For an afternoon snack one day I served this to the kids:

It was based on this pin I saw on Pinterest. Of course, mine doesn't look as good as the original, but the kids still enjoyed it (and so did I!).

I didn't have mandarin oranges for the sand, so instead I used more slices of bananas. Then, a yummy idea hit me. I sprinkled the bottom bananas with graham cracker crumbs!

Bananas will never be the same again! Its now a sweet indulgence at our house. Just this morning I brought bananas and graham cracker crumbs to a Bible study. (I totally forgot I was supposed to bring fruit, so I'm glad I had this on hand).

A few last thoughts:

  • This treat does not travel well. Its better to cut the banana on premises and sprinkle the crumbs afterwards.
  • I have lots of post ideas running through my head, I simply haven't had the time to type them up.
  • Don't forget to tell your loved ones that you love them!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Snack Time - Halved eggs with mayo

I love this simple and delicious snack.  I hear egg yolks have some vitamin D in them. Since I've been lacking that vitamin, I have been trying to get it in any way I can (besides the sun, which has been hiding!).

Here's the "recipe" if you will... Cut a hard boiled egg in half lengthwise. Slather that baby with mayo. Top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and some optional dill. (The tomatoes are also optional if you're kiddos don't care for them.)

It looks elegant and tastes fantastic. A hearty little snack or a nice addition to a main meal.

Bon apetit.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Italian Dinner

Today we had a family over for lunch/dinner. Its been a long time since we've hosted a family. It really was nice to have the chance to do so again.

One thing that made me nervous was the dietary needs of everyone. Seth and I are gluten free, I'm also dairy/lactose free and one of our guests is a vegetarian

I really didn't want a rice dish, but I couldn't think of anything else. Then while I was reading, "Back to School with Healthy Food", the author spoke about all the courses in an Italian meal. I started researching and picking recipes. Here's what I served...

Antipasto Platter

We started off with lots of choices for everyone.
  • Olives
  • Pickled peppers - so yummy (those are the orange/red cherry tomato looking things to the right of the cheese)
  • 2 salami tube thingies
  • provolone and mozzarella chunks
  • mini bella mushrooms
  • black grapes
  • pickles
  • artichoke hearts
  • avocado slices topped with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper

First Course (Primo)

Next up was an Escarole and Bean soup.

I couldn't find escarole, so I used collard greens. Also instead of the bullion cubes I used vegetable broth.

This is the one thing that everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

Second Course (Secondo)

For the main dish I went with a pasta primavera and a caesar salad.

By now the kids were all getting full, so they had a hard time getting this down the chute. I'm pretty sure they don't like squash or zucchini, so that didn't help either.

I loved the taste of the roasted veggies in this dish.

Dessert Round (Dolce)

Is there any choice when doing an Italian dessert? My kids love Tiramisu, so tiramisu it was.

I used gluten free lady fingers. As a liquid I used coffee only (no rum).

I really wish I could've had some, but I can't imagine this tasting good if it was dairy free. 

Thankfully, I was still able to eat....
the football strawberries! I am NOT good at food presentation, but I did want to have something there to represent the Superbowl.

I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips, just so that I could enjoy life. :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Snowman Letters

Last year Patricia was having some trouble with her letters. After doing some research I found some cute snowmen that I could print off and create a matching game.

The only problem is, we don't have a printer (yet we still survive!). So, instead, I made snowman and hat templates... not the best ones, but sufficient. Then I set to cutting and writing and drawing cute faces. :)

This game isn't used very often any more, but every once in a while it gives someone something to do.

The body of the snowman has CAPITAL letters and the hats have lowercase.  For the hats, I put the letters on both sides of the hat to make things a little easier during the searching phase.

Patricia loved that I made this just for her. I had her say the letters she was matching up to make sure she remembered them. A few times of playing and they get really good at them.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Funny Faces

Yesterday the kids and I were playing with the Mac camera. We couldn't stop laughing, which was good for me! I've been working on laughing more and this was super helpful. Maybe these pictures will bring a smile to your face. :)
 Ian as Frankenstein

 Seth Megamind

 Patricia as Leno???

 Tunneled Tabitha

The kids got the biggest kick out of my pictures.

And, lest you go away thinking this is how we really look, here is a "normal" picture:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Roe Vs Wade/Abortion

Forty years.

That's how long its been since the famous court case of Roe vs Wade.

Since then over 50 million babies have been killed. That's more than one million a year. (It takes 12 days to have one million seconds.... that's a large number).

I have a little message for varying groups of people out there:

Those who think abortion is wrong:

When they were deciding whether to make abortion legal, the argument that was used, was women's health. Not their rights, but their health. What if the mother's life was in jeopardy?

That is a legitimate argument. However, we know that health issues are not the reason for most abortions. So, as enticing as some moral arguments are, don't fall for them. Think it through and make the right choice about future decisions.

Those who have had an abortion: 

The guilt you feel (or the guilt you have denied) is normal. You cannot bring your baby back, but you can receive peace and forgiveness.

God formed you when you were in your mother's womb and He loves you.

He loves you so much that He was willing to take the punishment for your sins (you're not the only sinner, everyone has sinned). The Lord Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for you. So that you may live eternally.

All you have to do is believe in faith that God did this for you. Receive His free gift of eternal life.

Those who are thinking about having an abortion:

Don't do it.

Maybe you're scared or lonely. Maybe you've been raped. Maybe you're afraid of being abused.

If you really cannot take care of the baby, give her up for adoption. There are plenty of people who would love to care for your child.

If you are in an abusive relationship and fear your safety due to pregnancy, please get help. Here's a phone number: 1-800-799-7233. There is no need to lose a child because of an abuser.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Eye trauma and Goodwill

What do you think of Ian's eye injury?

I'll tell you he wasn't smiling when it happened... neither was I nor my mom nor Enoch. No, we were all holding our hearts in the pits of our stomachs.

"How many fingers am I holding up?" Thankfully he got the answer right!

So, what happened?


I've been visiting the second hand store since my pregnancy with Zachary. I couldn't bear to buy new clothes that would only be used for a couple of months. It took 5 kids for me to break down and start going there!

So, Tuesday night I was wandering around, after finding a few outfits for Zachary, when I spotted these toys brand new in packaging:

This is a popping up toy. The "great" thing about it is the hard center which helps it pop up really high. What a deal and all for $.71! Not only one, but TWO comes in the package!

You live and learn.

I brought this fantastic toy home. We couldn't really get them to work (imagine that!). By the end of 20 minutes, Ian successfully inverted the toy himself. He dropped it on the floor and WHAM, it popped up and smacked his eye!

He screamed, I panicked, but held it together enough to assess the situation.

He took a trip to the ER and a follow-up today with an opthamologist. Thankfully his eye is still good and life can carry on as normal.

Lesson learned: there may be a good reason that packaged toys are in GoodWill... think safety.

I love the card Tabitha made for Ian, though Ian barely looked at it. (Party pooper)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Goal Update

This year I made a list of goals that I am working on. Tabitha, not wanting to be left out of the action, followed suit.

Her list basically consists of 3 things per month. Something with knitting (this month she learned to cast on), a specific book and cook one meal for the family.

Considering she has a whole month to complete 3 things, its totally do-able. Yet, its a large enough task that she actually feels like she's accomplished something.

She's already completed her January list!

Last week, she made us spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs were tasty! She was so very proud of herself and I was proud of her, too!

I should add, that cooking is a new endeavor for her.

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (We used gluten free)
  • one egg
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
Mix all ingredients together. Form into uniform balls. Bake at 350° F (175° C) for 20-25 minutes. Serve with favorite pasta sauce.

Friday, January 18, 2013

This Week in Snacks

About a year ago I read Pamela Druckerman's book, "Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting". One of the many things I learned in that book, was the general pattern of eating that most French people tend to follow, which is:

Breakfast, Lunch, 4 o'clock snack, supper

That's it. Not 10 snacks a day.

Since reading, I've tried to implement this in our home. The hardest time for me to keep up with this was when I had a newborn. Not so much during pregnancy, but after! (I blame it on nursing.)

Anyway, what it boils down to, is one after school snack. 

The kids' favorite snack this week is pictured above. Its not as beautiful as the original by My San Franciso Kitchen which I pinned, but it was just as yummy.

Apple and Banana slices layered with peanut butter, melted chocolate and crushed peanuts.

I wanted to get the kids' reaction, when they found out what treat it was. Tabitha was too over the top and Seth wanted to pretend he didn't care. :) (Do you see Zachary in the background?) 

Here is a list of the other snacks we had this week:

  • Mint chocolate chip yogurt (the kids' fave- plain yogurt with sugar, chocolate chips and less than a drop of peppermint extract)
  • Popcorn (not microwave! Light snack due to an early supper)
  • Roasted Garbanzo Beans with Cajun Spice (this went over so-so, my husband really liked them, though)
  • Pepper jack cheese sliced and leftover wings from my lunch date with Enoch

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brocolli Salad

Don't you love recipes that don't have instructions? My broccoli salad recipe just has a list of ingredients. That means its easy.

You know what else? Its good! And its even dairy and gluten free. But there's bacon in it, so its not for vegetarians, although you can omit it. :)

This recipe makes a nice big bowl, but that doesn't deter our family from devouring it within 2 days. If you don't have  8 people living under your roof, you can easily half the recipe.

This is perfect for potlucks. Give it a try, have it as a side for dinner sometime.

Broccoli Salad
Makes 16 side servings

  • 2 heads of broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped and browned
  • 3/4 cup raisins (or craisins or golden raisins)
  • 3/4 cup nuts (I use peanuts due to daughter's tree nut allergy)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
In large bowl mix broccoli, red onion, bacon, raisins and nuts.

In separate medium bowl, whisk together mayo, sugar and red wine vinegar. Pour over top of broccoli mixture. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Not sure how long this would last, maybe 3-5 days.

Thanks Laura C. for sharing this recipe with me!