Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back to School We Go!!




School is back in session!!! Cooper headed off to four year old preschool last Tuesday and Chloe started two year old preschool on Wednesday! My babies are no longer babies! This is Cooper's third year of preschool and will be Chloe's first. Cooper is going five days a week and Chloe is going three days a week. This gives baby Charlotte and I some one on one time and also gives Cooper and Chloe the extra days to play and learn with their friends.

I love hearing their stories about what they learned at school that day! I love the school they are at dearly. The teachers and staff are all so kind! Cooper pointed out a little boy today, at pick up, and said, "Mommy, that's my best friend!" Up until now his best friend has been has Teddy. I have never heard him refer to someone else as his BEST friend. Sure, he has friends and loves to play with them but has never titled them his BEST friend. He also told me, "Aw, that's so sweet of you to buy milk. Good job mommy!" so he could have just been in a very loving mood at the moment.

Chloe's stories of school crack me up. Her vocabulary is pretty extensive, for a two year old, but she tells it in little bits and pieces. First I get to hear about the bubbles. The bubbles. The bubbles. Then more bubbles. An hour later she will tell me about the fun time she had playing outside. Oh wait...and then there are the bubbles again! I ask her everyday if she has made any friends and she just says, "I played with my friends!" so I can only hope that she is making friends. Up until now she has only played with her big brother's friends or siblings of her big brother's friends and hasn't actually made any friends of her own. My only hope for this year is that she establishes some relationships of her own and loves to learn as much as her big brother does!

Cooper is so stinking smart is scares me sometimes. The things that come out of his mouth never stop amazing me. He loves to learn. LOVES to learn! I think I get asked 238942 questions a day by him, and I am sure his teacher does too. "Why is that sign blinking?" "How do you make that?" and the list goes on and on.... I love going through his folder after school and seeing what he worked on. To non-parents it would just look like a pile of scribbled papers and cut outs, but to parents we see the effort that they put in trying desperately to carefully write their names, attempt to stay in the lines, and there may be glue all over it but gosh darn it's the most beautiful thing ever!

I'm so excited about what is to come of this year! I can't wait to see what will come next!

Calzones Made Easy


Calzones
Yield: Serves 4



Ingredients:
1 ball of fresh pizza dough (I recommend Whole Food's dough!!)
1 15oz container of Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan 
1 egg
1 jar of your favorite Tomato Sauce  
Pizza Stone
Flour for dusting

Directions:
1. Place your pizza stone in your oven, set to 400 F, for 20 minutes.
2. Divide up your pizza dough into two or four balls. You can either make two very large calzones or four individual calzones. Dust your counter with flour and very gently flatten the dough with your hands. Work the dough as little as possible so it doesn't become tough or gummy. If you are making four than each circle should be about 8" in diamater and if you are making two each circle should be about 16" in diameter.
3. In a bowl mix together all three of your cheeses. Portion the cheese mixture onto each half of your circles and then fold the dough over top. 
4. Pull your pizza stone out of the oven and dust with flour. Place your calzones carefully on it.
5.  Beat your egg and brush with a pastry brush across each calzone top. 
6. Bake at 400 F for 12-15 minutes depending on how many and how big you made them. Should be a light golden brown when finished and firm to the touch. 
7. Heat your tomato sauce in a microwave safe bowl, in the microwave, for two minutes and serve. 

These calzones are addicting and so easy to make! I highly recommend the fresh pizza dough from the Whole Foods Pizza Counter! Just go up to the counter and ask for fresh dough. It costs $4 and is well worth it for both the taste and ease! 
My children have been turning their noses up at pizza as of late (crazy heads), so I decided to change it up a little and whipped these bad boys up. Yummy! I almost like them better than pizza too. Almost!



Friday, September 5, 2014

Nautical Birthday Party

Cooper, my son, recently turned four. His favorite place on earth is beach. He has been talking about "his party at the beach" for months and months and it finally happened!! It was so fun hanging with friends at the beach and playing in the sand to celebrate Cooper's birthday. It was my first first party away from the house and that was the hardest part of the whole party. Packing up the minivan, trekking everything out on the beach, keeping things from blowing away, keeping sand out of the food, and then loading everything back up... It was EXHAUSTING but Cooper had a blast and that is all that matters! Who cares if the pesto pasta had a bit of an extra crunch of sand and the doughnuts kept wanting to fly away... :)  



Happy Birthday Banner!


Beach pail thank you's for guests


Doughnut tower of "life rafts" 


Pesto Pasta 


Chips


Watermelon stars


Ocean Water (blue dyed soda)


Drink bucket


Hot dogs and corn


Happy soon-to-be family of five! Blast of a birthday and Cooper had an awesome time playing with his friends!
(Baby Charlotte was still in my belly - 37 weeks pregnant)


Chloe covered in sand :)


Cooper at his favorite place on earth after an awesome party!

His party was a blast! We all had fun eating, drinking, and having a sandy 'ol time! I tried to keep the food and decorations as simple as I possibly could so I wouldn't stress myself out. I used my Cricut to make the decorations and I just did some simple foods to satisfy guests. Also, I decided not to make cupcakes for Cooper's party and instead bought two dozen Krispy Kremes (yum!!) because I knew the cupcakes would melt in the 100 degree heat would just be piles of hot messes. The doughnuts held up for the whole 10 minutes they were on the tower before they got gobbled up. :)


Roasted Tomato Basil Soup


Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Yield: Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

2 cups of fresh basil
1 100oz can of Roma tomatoes
15 large tomatoes (fresh and roasted)
2 onions, diced
1 head of garlic, minced
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick of butter
salt and pepper
olive oil



Directions:

1. Slice up all of your tomatoes. Throw 1/3 of your tomatoes right into your Crockpot. For the remaining 2/3 of your tomatoes spread out on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes.
2. In your Crockpot, add your can of Roma tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions, and sugar. Turn on LOW for 8 hours and 30 minutes. 
3. When your tomatoes have finished roasting, in the oven, add the entire contents (oil drippings and all) to your Crockpot along with your stick of butter. 
4. When the 8 hours and 30 minutes are up use your immersion blender to smooth out the lovely lumps and make it nice and creamy. 



This is a great soup to make if you have a bunch of tomatoes and basil growing in your garden...which is exactly why I made this! I made the huge batch in the Crockpot and froze the remainder in containers to save for cooler weather. My husband is the only one in the house that likes soup, so he gets this all to his self! Lucky guy! :)


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tomato Basil Chicken



Tomato Basil Chicken
Yield: Serves 4-6


Ingredients:

3-4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
salt
pepper
pasta of your choice


Directions:

1. Salt and pepper your raw chicken breasts and set aside.
2. Mince and chop all your veggies. 


3. Add your oil to your saute pan along with your chicken breasts and veggies. Cook for 8-10 minutes on each side (16-20 minutes total depending on the size of the breast).  
4. Boil your pasta to pair with your chicken. I think a penne or bow tie pasta works well with this dish.



5. Remove from heat and serve immediately. 

This is such an easy dish to make for your family in under thirty minutes! The chicken is moist and flavorful and the pasta helps fill you up. I add pesto to the pasta to add another basil dimension to the meal. Yum yum!



Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome the newest member of the Cooper and Chloe Family!



Welcome to the world, baby Charlotte Rose! She was born three weeks ago at 8 pounds 8 ounces! We are overjoyed and she is such a snuggly baby! It was such a fast and easy labor and delivery! I had my first contraction at around 11:30 pm and delivered her at 4:15 am (almost) drug-free. The (almost) drug-free part was not my choice, but I was already 9cm dilated by the time the epidural was put in and immediately turned off. What a waste of a giant needle going in my back! Haha! Regardless, she was well worth it...even though I felt the ring of fire for the very first time! Ouch!!! 
Recovery was easy as well. I think with each child my recovery time has decreased, which is fabulous especially when you have two older ones to take care of also! Charlotte is a fabulous eater and loves to use my boobs as her personal pillows all.day.long! I bought the Maya Wrap Sling so that she can do just that, but so I can be hands free! 
Cooper goes back to preschool in two weeks and Chloe starts for the first time so Charlotte and I will have some extra bonding time! I am worried that they aren't getting the full attention that they were so used to receiving, but I know in the long run it will just develop their relationship and independence. I love them dearly and I make sure to tell them that every day, even if it is when my boob is leaking, I have no make up on, and Charlotte is grunting and nuzzling her face into my other boob. The joys of motherhood! :)
My heart is full of joy and happiness and even though I feel like I haven't slept since I was about six months pregnant I feel like I am grinning from ear to ear all day long! Maybe it is the delirium setting in, but I am genuinely so happy! :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Virgin Mojitos



Virgin Mojito Recipe
Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 liter Club Soda
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
6 limes
50-60 mint leaves



Directions:

1. In a pot, heated to low-medium, add your 2 cups of water, 2 cups sugar, and 20-30 mint leaves. Zest two of your limes into the pot, half the limes, and squeeze the juice in the pot. Let it all simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let mixture cool for at least 3-4 hours. This also can be made the day before and refrigerated. 
2. Slice up the remainder of your limes in quarters.
3. In your pitcher, muddle the remainder of your mint leaves.  Pour in the mixture you made in the pot. Gently squeeze your lime slices as you drop them in the pitcher. Top with the liter of Club Soda. Serve immediately and enjoy!

This is a delicious and has a nice light fizz that helps you forget you can't (or just aren't) drinking an alcoholic beverage. Yum Yum!!