Wednesday, February 29, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest-Day 14: Irish Cream Brownies

There's nothing healthy/vegan/otherwise off the wall about these, but they are DELISH! Seriously, you need to go make them right now.

Here's the recipe link.

I messed up the glaze, so mine were glazeless.

Here's Lucy cleaning the whisk.

Yes, there's a little Bailey's in there. Just a tiny bit. Don't call CPS please.


I sent these to work with Rich to avoid eating the entire pan myself.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest-Day 13: Broccoli Linguini in a Spicy Peanut Sauce

Yum, this turned out great!  Here's the blog I repinned this from.  Lucy loves noodles, and I'm trying to expose her to a variety of flavors so I thought this would be a good recipe to try.

Peanut Sauce with Linguini and Broccoli
(Sauce recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest)

For the pasta:

1/2 lb. linguini (use what you like, I chose whole-wheat)
2 large heads of broccoli, cut into florets
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP canola or peanut oil
2 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp. ginger powder (or 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger)

Optional: Tofu or other protein

For the sauce:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4-1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
2 TBSP molasses
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)

Optional: chopped peanuts and scallions, for garnish


In a large pot bring water to a boil and salt heavily. Cook noodles until al-dente, drain, and set aside.
In a wok or pan over medium-high heat, add 1 TBSP oil and let heat until glistening. Add broccoli florets and give the pan a shake or a stir. Let cook 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, then pour in tamari and stir until mostly evaporated. Remove broccoli from pan while still bright green and slightly crisp. Set aside.
(If adding tofu or the like, begin cooking the protein over medium-high heat before the broccoli, then add the broccoli and cook as directed.)

For the sauce:
In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, add the peanut butter and 1/4 cup of the hot water, stirring to combine.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients, then add the remaining 1/4 cup water to thin the sauce to desired consistency.

Toss noodles and broccoli in the sauce, and garnish with chopped peanuts and scallions.


Changes I would make next time: The sauce turned out a bit thick, so I would add more water at the end.  It could have used more broccoli.  

A very tasty and healthy meal!

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Lucy promptly put her broccoli on my plate, but she did like the noodles.

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30 Days of Pinterest-Day 12: Cajun Bulgur Salad

I had a bag of bulgur and no idea what to do with it.  I found this recipe for Cajun Bulgur Salad and thought it sounded like a great mix of flavors.

Are you wondering what in the world bulgur us? It is a quick cooking form of whole wheat. It is very nutritious, high in fiber, B vitamins, iron, phosphorous and manganese.

Here's the brand I used,

Here's the recipe:

Cajun Bulgur Salad Serves 3 to 4 as a main
Notes: The amount of spice to add depends on the Cajun spice blend you purchase, and your tolerance for heat. Make sure to start conservatively, and taste until you find the desired spice level! (Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it out!) 
There are several methods for cooking bulgur; some methods use a 2:1 ratio of water to bulgur and let the bulgur sit for 30 minutes, but we found the 1:1 ratio and 15 minutes worked just as well. The cooking time also depends on the size of the grain; finer bulgur cooks faster. If you buy it in a package, follow the cooking directions; otherwise, follow the instructions below and make adjustments as necessary; the bulgur should be soft but chewy when done.
What You Need 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat
1 can kidney beans
3 ears corn
1 green pepper
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (any type; we mixed cherry tomatoes and roma tomatoes)
1 shallot 
Handful fresh oregano (or a few dashes dried)
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
~1 tablespoon or more Cajun spice blend (depending on the spice level of your blend) 
Fresh ground pepper
Kosher salt (optional) 
1  Heat 1 1/2 cups water in a teapot (I used a saucepan). Place 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat in a bowl or sealable container. When the water boils (it will only take a minute), pour the water over the bulgur and seal the container (or place plastic wrap over the top of the bowl). Let the bulgur sit for about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed, then fluff with a fork.
2  Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: cut the tomatoes into bite sized chunks (cut cherry tomatoes in half). Slice the corn off the cob. Chop the green pepper. Finely dice the shallot. Chop the oregano. Drain the kidney beans and rinse them.
3  When the bulgur is done, place it in a large bowl with the tomatoes, corn, green pepper, shallot, and beans. Then add about 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, about 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, fresh oregano, and fresh ground pepper. Mix and taste; add more seasonings as desired (add kosher salt if necessary, depending on the salt content of the spice blend).

Lucy liked to pick out and eat the beans.

You could get creative with this and change up the veggies, depending on what you had on hand.

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30 Days of Pinterest-Day 11: More Fun Toddler Ideas

I pinned this site because it has a huge list of creative activities to do with your 1-4 year olds.  Many of them are sensory activities.  Since I needed to keep Lucy entertained while I cooked, and I had a couple eggshells from baking brownies, I chose the eggshell sensory activity.  Basically you just let them play with clean and dry eggshells.  I only had two, but it would be great to save them up until you had a good sized bowl full.  You could take them outside with a spatula and let them smash, stir and play.

At first, she just kept tossing them in the sink. I guess she knows that's where they are usually supposed to go.  She finally got the hang of it and had a good time crushing them between her fingers.

I would encourage you to take a look at the list and see what appeals to you and your little ones. We'll be doing a lot more of these as it warms up and we can play outside for the messy activities.

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30 Days of Pinterest-Day 10: Citrus infused vinegar for cleaning

Prepare to be bombarded with 30 DOP entries today.  I have some catching up to do since we were out of town all weekend and I worked yesterday.

Here's the link to the original page I repinned.  I definitely need a bigger jar because by  the time I filled it with peels, there wasn't much room left for the vinegar.  We already use a spray bottled filled with a 1:1 vinegar and water mixture for general cleaning, but I like the idea of giving it a citrus scent. These will sit for about another week, then I'll add the vinegar and equal parts water to my spray bottle.

You could use any variety of citrus you had on hand. I used all clementines because that's what I had last week when I started this.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest-Day 9: 101 Things to do with your Toddler

I love finding ideas for things to do with Lucy.  This list is fun, and basic. In fact, we already do a lot of them but it did have a few new ideas and served as a reminder to play more.

Here are pics from a few of the things on the list:

Give a piggyback ride (Lu looks thrilled with having her picture taken).

Play with Play-Doh.


Finger Paint. She did not like having it on her hands.

Ugh, what is this stuff?

Had to go wash it off.

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Happy Playing!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest-Day 8: Pesto Vegetarian Lasagna

This skinny version from Bethenny Frankel was what I pinned.  I made this yesterday and it turned out good.

pesto lasagna

 I don't have a picture of mine because Fiona (the boxer) decided to eat it while Lucy and I were out running.  I did snag a piece for lunch first, and I have to say it's pretty good.  My version wasn't quite as skinny because I used whole milk ricotta instead of part skim, and a little extra cheese on top.  I would also recommend using about twice as much pesto, and bake in a smaller than 9x13 pan.

Here's my version:

8 ounces whole wheat lasagna noodles
1.5 15oz containers of ricotta (part skim or whole depending on if you're trying to keep it light)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1 cup packaged (or homemade if you're feeling industrious) pesto
6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 8x11 (approximate, a 9x13 would work but it would be really thin) casserole dish with cooking spray.  Cook noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Stir together ricotta, pine nuts and basil.

Spread about 1/3 of pesto into bottom of dish, layer half the noodles on top of pesto, top with half the ricotta mixture. Repeat. Top off with another layer of pesto and sprinkle on the mozzarella.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest-Day 7: National Margarita Day

I had no idea today was National Margarita Day.  Well honestly I had no idea there WAS such a fantastic holiday.  Imagine my joy at logging on to Pinterest this morning and finding several pins dedicated to NMD.  Any excuse for a margarita is fine by me!

We don't currently have a blender, so frozen was out and I didn't feel like actually juicing limes so I needed easy.  I went to and found this recipe for Beer Margaritas.  It didn't require a blender and got great reviews so we decided to give it a shot.  Per some reviews, I subbed 7-UP in place of the water.

And what better way to honor a holiday about booze than by using Redneck wine glasses.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- day 6: Oven-Dried Strawberries

These are great, and super easy.  Lucy loves fruit snacks, and while we do try to buy the organic healthiest version, they're still not the same as actually eating fruit.  I pinned this site and used the recipe exactly as listed there, except for 2 hours instead of 3. I wasn't sure how the salt and pepper would be, but they were fine. They didn't taste salty or peppery at all once dried.

Here's what you do:
Take fresh strawberries, the riper the better, and cut them into halves or quarters.  The thinner pieces you see here turned into crispy strawberry chips, while the thicker pieces kept a chewy center.  Lucy much preferred the chips, while I liked the chewier pieces.  You'll just have to play around with it to figure out what size pieces you prefer. Place on baking sheet.  Add a little salt and pepper.  Bake at 210 for 2 hours.  Note: recipe calls for 3 hours, but after 2, my thinner pieces were brown and crispy.

They're totally gone now, but I managed to get a pic before we ate them all. They don't look very appetizing, but they're great plain and would be excellent on salads or chopped and baked into breads or muffins. They look burned here, but even though they turned dark they didn't taste burned at all.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest-Day 5: Frozen Mudslides

Or in my case...not so frozen mudslides.  Here's the recipe I pinned and the look I was going for:


Frozen Mudslide recipeOne serving: 2 oz vodka2 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur2 oz Bailey’s® Irish cream6 oz vanilla ice creamBlend alcohol with ice-cream. Serve in a frosted hurricane glass and watch the world pass by.
 See it looks so nice and frozen, like a Wendy's Frosty consistency.  

Here's mine:  Much more frothy than frosty.

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Honestly, with that much booze added to ice cream, I don't know how it could be anything but liquid.  The recipe calls for 2 oz each of Bailey's Irish Cream, Kahlua, and vodka blended with 6 oz vanilla ice cream. I used an immersion blender.  I think you're going to have to add ice to get this frozen because the alcohol content combined with blending quickly melts the ice cream.

Here's another version from that I have not tried. It calls for ice instead of ice cream. I think this has excellent potential, and I think a combo of ice and ice cream would be best.

At any rate, the flavor is excellent and I should be asleep in no time tonight if I drink much of this is strong.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest-Day 4: Homemade Deodorant

Here's the original site I pinned in the search for deodorant recipes.  I admit, I am skeptical of this and will update once I've used it for a few days.  I tweaked the recipe a bit based on reading several other online versions.

Here's my version:

1/4 cup arrowroot flour/starch (Bob's Red Mill brand from Whole Foods)
1/4 cup baking soda
4 Tbs coconut oil (Nutiva brand)
10 shakes grapefruit essential oil (from Whole Foods)

Mix the arrowroot powder and baking soda, stir in oils.  Warm in microwave enough to liquefy the coconut oil and stir again.  Pour into container, then put in fridge to solidify.

I put it in a container from The Container Store, but I've read that it works great poured into an empty deodorant package as well.

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30 Days of Pinterest- Day 3: Avocado Spinach Egg Salad

If you are an egg salad and avocado fan, you need to give this version a try.  Here's a link to the original recipe I pinned.

  • 7 eggs, hardboiled
  • 4 oz. plain greek yogurt
  • 2 ripe avocados 
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes or other seasonings to taste
  • bread for sandwiches
Peel eggs, and once cooled, mash them together with the yogurt.  Remove pits and skins from avocados (here's a quick how-to for getting to the flesh of an avocado if your a newbie to them).  Mash avocados, then mix in with the egg/yogurt mixture.  Add salt/pepper and other seasoning to taste (I added some cajun seasoning).  Stir in chopped celery and spinach.  Serve on toasted whole grain bread with slices of fresh tomato.  

I am (obviously) no food photographer, but here ya go. 

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest: Day 2- Valentine's Brownie Cake

This is an adorable recipe for a Valentine's Day dessert.  The original recipe called for it to be made with white cake mix and peanut butter icing, but I changed it to strawberry cake mix and vanilla icing.  It could be made as cupcakes (48 according to the original recipe) but I chose to use my heart-shaped pan.  I like to bake from scratch, but you can't beat this for convenience because it uses boxed mixes and prepared frosting.  I do think it would be even more delicious with homemade buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

  • 1 (19.5 ounce) package brownie mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package strawberry cake mix
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 egg whites
  • Vanilla Frosting


  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F  Line 48 muffin cups with paper liners or grease and flour cake pan.
  2. Stir together the brownie mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup canola oil, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Stir just until fully incorporated, about 50 strokes; set aside.
  3. Mix the cake mix, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 1 1/3 cup water, and 3 egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Spoon the brownie batter into prepared pan (filling only about 1/3 full). Spoon the cake batter over the brownie batter until pan, or muffin tins, are about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes for cupcakes, 40 minutes for heart shaped cake.

Fresh from the oven (the middle fell in)

Turned out pretty...and tasty.

Full disclosure: I accidentally reversed the water and put the 1 1/3 cup in the brownie part and the 1/4 cup in the cake part.  I then added another 1/2 cup or so to the cake part.  The brownie was a bit watery, and spongy, and just not quite right. However, I think this recipe is great and it would have been perfect had I not messed it up. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest: Day 1 - homemade laundry detergent

I am officially in the ranks of the Pinterest-obsessed.  I pin and pin and pin, but wasn't actually doing much with it. So here comes 30 Days of Pinterest, where I will attempt to cook/make/do something from it each day.

Today is homemade laundry detergent.  There are recipes out there for a liquid version but it is a bit more complicated, so I decided to try the powder first.

I got all the ingredients at Walmart. You need 1 bar of soap (not perfumed or moisturizing) like Fels-Naptha or plain Ivory, 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing (NOT baking) soda.  All 3 were together in the laundry isle at my Walmart.

Step 1: grate the soap. I used a cheese crater then put it in the food processor to get it as fine as possible.
Step 2: add the Borax and Soda, mix
Step 3: There is no step 3.

Use 2 Tbs per full load.  This should be fine for both front and top loaders and both conventional and HE washers.

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