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Monday, April 15, 2013

We're Moving!! Time to upgrade our site to a new server!

Hey all! Well it's midnight here, I should be sleeping, but I have been working hard to update this site to a new, and better Blog host! 
I am super excited (and a little nervous) we are moving to Wordpress!! So please make sure to check us out at 
This will be my last post on this site, but we will blog on! Hope to hear and see lots from all of you over there! Hope you love the new format too!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Super yummy Poppy seed Fruit with Chicken Salad --recipe for Creamy Lemon Poppy seed dressing

Well it's a Sunny Sunday here in Illinois! Finally!!! We have had a week now of rain, cold and clouds, to say I am ready to jump over spring and get right to summer is kind of an understatement! So I decided to make my favorite summery salad (based on the one I LOVE at Portillo's-a hot dog chain here in Chicago) yesterday for our Pot Luck lunch at the boys Space Derby for Cub Scouts.
I fully intended to take a nice photo for you of this lovely salad, but as things got a little crazy getting in, with kids running off and people asking questions I totally forgot!! So when I got back to my salad to take the photo (and I am sure several of the people there were wondering why I was taking a photo of the food) This is what I got...
There was nothing left, in the end so I guess it was a success!!! Making the dressing was soooo easy I am never buying the stuff from the store again! The dressing I am told can last up to three weeks in an air tight container-so if you are keeping it at home in the fridge I'd make sure to label it, not that it will probably last that long!!
The good news it the boys took 2nd and 3rd place in the space races for their dens!! Kate was bummed as they got trophies and she did not. Not an easy thing to explain to a four year old but luckily after about a half hour she was over it.
These are our lovely Space ships---

Will had his birthday and the whole pack sang to him, talk about a super special day!! We had pie later (he didn't want cake this year after all!!) and I had a piece, cheating on my gluten free diet. Can I tell you I'm not sure it was worth it!? I could totally feel it, so I guess I will have to look into trying my hand at some gluten free pie crusts in the future or find someplace that makes them.
Ok enough blathering from me! Here is the recipe for the yummy salad, trust me it's one you will be craving after you have it!!

Poppy Seed Fruit With Chicken Salad
 (or for anytime you want a taste of summer!)
1-head of lettuce (spinach works great for this too, or do a mix!)
1/2- a large cucumber sliced and halved
1/2- pt of blueberries
1/2- pt of strawberries quartered
1-cup of chopped into bite sized pineapple (Fresh is best but canned in juice-no sugar added can work too!)
1/2-of a 4oz container of Gorgonzola or Fetta or Blue Cheese
2 clementines peeled and sectioned -or- canned Mandarin oranges 
2 cups of chopped cooked chicken breast 
1 Cup of Pecans (For a pot luck I put them on the side, with the amount of people with nut allergies I would rather not take a chance.)

Toss all the items together and enjoy with the dressing below:

Creamy Lemon Poppy seed Dressing
1/3 cup of Honey
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup of mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup of Olive Oil
1 tbsp Poppy Seeds
4 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tbsp onion powder
*I also like to get a little bit of the lemon rind in it, so you can zest a tsp of your lemon it gives it a little extra flavor!
Super easy, put all of the items into your blender except for your Olive Oil (except the Poppy seeds!!) Blend to smooth and then take the little handle out of your blender lid-pour in your oil while blending-slowly! This will keep it from separating. Lastly pulse the Poppy Seeds into the dressing and you are done!
*You can just add it with the oil as well it will still work. You may have to shake between use to remix-

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Where do you buy your groceries!?

A Friend of mine posted this on Facebook, it has to be my favorite quote. 
Shortly after I read this I read an article about where different states rank as far as eating local. My state-Illinois-is currently 39 out of 50 states. Which makes me wonder, where does everyone shop? For me it's all depending on time, and how badly I need something. My top three choices lately have been: Woodmans (across the boarder in Wisconsin- If you have never been to a Woodmans, you have no idea what you are missing!) Mariano's a newer chain in Illinois but is owned by Roundys in Wisconsin. Lastly would be the Grayslake Farmer's Market. Right now in last place of the three only because the produce is limited, and while I do try to eat in season as much as I can, I do need some fruit and veggies that they don't have for the kids. I am super excited to get local meat again from Farmer Nick's at the Farmers market, his prices are pretty competitive and match or are better than most of the store bought organic meat. 
That said if I find a good sale, such as grass feed ground beef at Marianos (on sale for $4.99 a lb till April 17th!!) I am not going to pass that up. The article is right here if you are wanting to know where your state ranks. Once summer gets here I am looking forward to a lot more eating local!! 
It's not easy to eat local in Illinois year round, but I know there are at least two things next year I need to try to do better. 
1- Join a Winter meat CSA
2- Try and freeze a lot of my own veggies this summer for dinners
What other ideas do you have!? What do you do to eat local!? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!!

Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup in the crock pot (the the best gluten free noodles I have found to date!)

So I am in a little over a week and a half now into going Gluten free. I can't lie I have had two cheats, over all though I think that's pretty good!! I can feel a difference for sure in how my body over all feels. I am down a total of 5 lbs too!! I did find a noodle that I have to saw is awesome! My husband had no clue, and I have tried Gluten free noodles before and we all could tell they from normal wheat noodles. There for sure have more of a "Normal" not whole wheat noodle. 
So when I make spaghetti I make the whole package and save about 1/4 of it to put into my soup. Before you put it in the soup you just chop the cooked noodle up into small bite sized pieces. How easy is that :)

I love this chicken soup, you can add pasta, you could add rice or just up the veggies in it! It's my winter/spring weather staple for cold gloomy days! This is always made after doing a crock pot roast chicken. Make your chicken stock the night before or a few days and you won't need to get stock from the store. It's a great way to stretch your whole chicken to at least two or three meals. So enjoy this soup with some freshly made crusty bread if your not going gluten free or all on it's own. Canned soup can't touch this! 
Enjoy, and Happy Eating!! :)

Crock pot Chicken Noodle Soup
1/2 tbsp of butter
1-2 cups of cooked chicken chopped into bite sized pieces
4 cups of chicken broth 
1/2 tsp of garlic minced
1/2 yellow onion chopped
2 cups of baby carrots or chopped carrot coins
3 stalks of celery chopped
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
3 bay leaves
salt (I think I used maybe a tbsp-I would start out at a tsp and go up from there on your preferred taste) and pepper to taste 
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 cup of chopped up cooked noodles or rice

1-Warm up your butter on high and once melted add your onion and let it warm up for about 5 min. Make sure to stir so it doesn't burn to the bottom of the pot.
2-Now dump all the remainder ingredients (not the noodles or rice thought)-See easy!!
3- Leave it for 3-5 hours on high or 8-10 on low- before your last 20 min add your pasta or rice. If you add it too soon it will become much and you don't want to have mushy noodle soup-ick. So Make sure you follow this step!

This recipe freezes great as well!! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tostizzas--my kids new favorite meal!

So if you ask my kids what do you want for dinner, you'll get probably one of two answers: Pizza or Tacos. In my browsing of the blog "Semi Homemade Mom" (I LOVE her grilled cheeseburger wraps-one of my favorite recipe finds) she had a recipe for Beef and Black Bean Tostizzas. It's a good recipe but she uses Pillsbury Grands, and that is not on my whole food radar. To me the recipe is a combo of a Pizza and a Taco, so we can totally use tortillas! I always try to have Ezekiel brand tortillas (they are great for wraps, lunch time pizzas for the kids etc.) The ones I got this week were from Trader Joe's.

 Super easy and fast to make, and the kids can help!! Anytime the kids can help make dinner in our house they are happy. Let them pick a green veggie side and it's a dinner that they (mostly) made themselves! 

Tostizzas with Ground Beef and Black Beans
1 lb of ground beef
15 oz of re-fried beans (canned or make your own) 
15 oz of Black Beans (either canned-make sure to rinse--or dried re-hydrated)
1 cup of salsa
Enough Tortillas for 1-2 for each person eating
Shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

1-Brown your ground beef, then add in your taco seasoning (follow whatever directions you have with using the seasoning-most you will need to add water and cook down)
2- When done add in your black beans and salsa and remove from heat-mix well.
3- Pre-heat your oven to 450
5- Now is the part the kids can help on! Get out a cookie sheet and put your tortillas (I can fit two) on it. Have the kids spread a thin layer of re-fried beans (you can make without but it give a nice layer and makes it more filling.) Then spread a layer of the meat mixture, lastly sprinkle on your cheese. 
6-Bake for about 10 mins or until the cheese is bubbly and the edges crisp up.
You can top it with some sour cream, or avocado--yum!!
We like to use the pizza cutter and cut it in half and the boys fold it in half kind of taco like. So good they each had two!! Enjoy, and happy eating!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Make your own lunchables!! I promise it's easy!

Happy Tuesday!
So yesterday I was in my daughters pre-school lunch group, and the number of kids eating lunchables kind of made me cringe. Sure I know they are easy, I mean all you have to do is pick it up a bunch of them from the store and throw them in the kids lunch. Done. However, have you ever read the ingredient list on the back of it!? 
This is a list from a Ham and Swiss Lunchable. The number of Preservatives, Enriched Flour, Food Dyes, and sugars are crazy!!
I know it takes a little planning, but in five minutes you can make your own! 
This is my boys favorite  (Mom made) Pizza Lunch!! All you need is a tortilla (which I cut in fourth's-this is a large one made by Ezekiel bread-it's the sprouted grain tortilla) Half goes into one boys lunch half in the other. 6 slices of pepperoni-I use Hormel brand Natural Pepperoni as there are no nitrates or artificial preservative. Lastly of course you need shredded mozzarella  I do suggest getting a block and shredding your own in the food processor-for one it's cheaper, secondly pre-shredded cheese has potato starch and cellulose added to it, and neither of those things need to be in cheese.
I always add a side of fruit, you could easily put veggies to put on the pizza if your child will eat them (my boys aren't big on it for pizza, so they again get a side of veggies).
That's just one easy idea, really your imagination is the limit!!
Meat cheese and crackers! Made a cute little bento box type thing with muffin liners!
or even...
Yep I did that! (Once-lol) It was I think for the first day of school I think. The Angry bird was salami on a whole wheat tortilla I made leftover from dinner held on with cream cheese. Mozerella stick cut for the whites of the eyes, with black bean eye balls and black olive eyebrows, oh yeah and a cheese beak. The pig was made from kiwi and raisins, fig cookies looked like the blocks!
Seriously I did this like once, because it did take a little time. The point is making food fun (with a lunch like this I doubt they would choose a lunchable over this!) There are some GREAT ideas at Bento-ware (click on their name it will take you there!
These lovely ziplock container I got at Target or there are tons of ideas out there to make your own boxes. Sometime I will use a sandwich keeper with the cupcake liners and that works well too! If time is an issue, you could make them all up on Sunday and then just pull one out each day!
Do you have a great lunch box idea!? Please feel free to share them in the comments!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Menu Planning Monday 4/8/13

Good morning! It's another week of meal plans, we have a lot going on this week with William's Birthday on Saturday, and a bunch of Cub Scout stuff-Den meeting, Space Derby, Candy bar sales, and a Wildlife conservation project! I made this cake for Will from scratch last year..
This year he wants..shocking I know..a Minecraft cake. I will be spending some time of Pinterest this week I guess trying to figure this out. If you want more ideas, make sure to check out Organizing Junkie!! She has all kinds of Menu Planning ideas!
Without further ado here is this weeks meal plan:
*If you want the link to the recipe (and if I have it) just click on the menu item and it will take you to the recipe link!!
Wed: Chicken Soup in the crock pot--gluten free!! 
Thurs: Buca Di Beppo Chicken Marsala Knock off (Another of our favs I will have to get up this week!)
Sat: Will's birthday-we are eating at Space Derby- so for Pot Luck I am making my favorite salad-Poppy Seed Fruit with Chicken Salad. It's a knock off from Portillos here in the Chicago area, but I make it from scratch (going to try to do the dressing from scratch as well!) the calorie count goes way down when you don't use candied pecans like they do!
Sunday-Leftover night!!
Have a great week!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Minecraft ate my children

"Mom! Mom! Did you know in the nether you can get zombie pigs.and they can get you ten pieces of stuff and...blah...blah...stuff.... fun" This is the conversation I get from my nine year old, EVERY... FLIPPING....Day.......Gahhhhh!
What is it about Minecraft that gets them as addicted as crack to a game that is as much graphics level on par with Mario Bro's of the 80's!? When they started playing this game I was all "Ok, it takes imagination, they have to build things and find things and it's not just running and jumping." I like things that encourage their creativity.
Now they would spend all day if I let them playing, or even crazier to me watching YouTube videos of someone else playing!! And after talking to other parents I know my kids are not the only ones doing this.
The day has come, I need to free my sons from the video game zombie land!!

Today when I cut the cord (all I did was tell the boys they have had enough time and when i get out of the shower they need to be off) Of course when I got out, they were still on, looking guilty and knowing what they did. Me going down and pulling the plug resulted in faces looking like the above pic. Eeeekkk!

They of course told me "We barely had any time!!" Hahahaha! As I have been battling a pinched nerve in my neck, they got way more time than normally allowed so I could rest. (I seriously hate auto parenting days, but sometimes you don't have a choice.) 
They had two hours this morning! This of course was met with the "Your a mean mom" from my six year old, and a "It's so unfair" from my nine year old. 
I of course said "Yes I was a mean mom, and go to your room."  It's sooooo fun being a mom some days. 

After a cool down period, we had our sit down, come back to reality moment. Fifteen minutes (the time they are each allowed during the week-if homework is done, rooms are cleaned, and if the weather is good they have played outside for a half an hour) goes by in a blink.Will with the ADHD should really not be on at all during the week, but sometimes you need a bargining chip with kids and so fifteen miniutes seems a comprimise I can live with. 
I told them "There is a reason I set those time limits, today you lost two hours of time boys without even noticing it!" They get it, sort of. So we are off of video games for the weekend, yup I'm a mean, mean mamma, SIGH. I can not tell you how glad I am winter is almost over and I can kick them outside. As my mom used to say--Why can't they be like we were, what's the matter with kids today-lol

Friday, April 5, 2013

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Day 5 of my No Wheat Diet...I think I am going to gnaw someone's arm off!

So I have made it do day 5 of changing to gluten free life. My body feels great, well other than the pinched nerve I have in my neck--ooooowwww! My mental well being....... maybe not as much. I have reached the breaking point that I think lots of us hit when we make a big change, the point where we either plow forward or quit. It's this guy here that is getting to me-
I have not given in, but there is a box of saltine crackers currently haunting me from my pantry. 
It's calling "EEEEAAAT MEEEE!" Gahhhh! This is also what was going on in my head as I tried to fall asleep last night, I'm surprise I wasn't dreaming about it. 
To make matters worse today when I was baby sitting the little girl kept trying to get me to eat her veggie straws her mom brought. Talk about a test of will power! I mean, it would have been sooooo easy to say the kid made me do it right!? 
That's the thing about when you quit something I guess, you have to get over the mental hump. Carbs are like crack for me and once I get past the detox stage it will be easier.... I hope.
Yesterday I took Kate and the dog for a walk when I felt my mind needed to get away from the food. Even Facebook seemed to have pictures of forbidden food all over it! Gahhh!! Stop sharing these pictures people!! 
Glad I did because as you can see it was a glorious day for a walk! Sun, a little warm, and a light breeze with  the birds signing too! Side note- if you ever want to feel like a kid again, take a walk with a 4/5 year old and walk at their pace (not yours--it's harder to do than you think!) Run down the hills, stop at each bench for a quick rest and let the sun warm your face, touch as many branches as you can and poke at the mud with a stick. 
Sometimes I need to just be in her world, it's so much less complicated than mine is. Well, until she asks me for some crackers. :)