Rainy day with the Pioneer Woman

It's raining...and I've got a clean house and a little chic that is occupying herself with dolls. What to do...what to do? Well, unfortunately for my waist line, I decided to surf around my usual food sites to see if anything looked interesting.
I shoulda known to stay off of Pioneer Woman's site. I shoulda! But noooooo, I had to go snooping around and I came across THIS recipe. How could I NOT make that? I mean look at it. Plus I have a can of Sprite left over from one of the chic's illnesses and they are just dieing to drink it. Every time I open the fridge, they ask for the Sprite. The pound cake was a perfect way to get the Sprite out of the fridge and out of their minds. I know, I know, making a pound cake so your kids won't drink a Sprite seems way ridiculous, but I'm trying to make excuses for myself, so just go with me, people!
Remember yesterday when I said that the big chic isn't a big sweets eater? Well she did NOT get that from me. I love dessert...love it! And the fact that this pound cake only had a few ingredients AND the Sprite factor...it was a done deal. I had to make it.

Mixing it up in the bowl (Notice the flour all around the bowl? I'm a messy cook!)

Ready for the oven (The hubs' grandmother's bundt pan. Only appropriate I thought since she actually WAS a pioneer woman!)

It was a long hour and ten minute wait time! It smelled divine!

Here's what it looked like hot out of the oven...

...and here it is when it's hot out of the oven...and the hubs comes home from work early...and just WON'T wait until it's dropped out of the pan (yes, it smelled THAT good!):

Fortunately, the destruction of the pound cake didn't affect the taste. It was really good. Very sweet, but very good. And super moist. Even a couple days later, it was still yummy and moist. Definitely a keeper recipe...simple AND delish! Gotta love that Pioneer Woman!

Ham and Cheese

The chic requested a "ham and cheese" lunch like her friend brings. Her friend brings a Lunchable...almost every day. You all already know how I feel about those things, but this time I had to explain it to the chic. She asked why I never buy "those lunches". We had a pretty good conversation about chemicals and preservatives and packaging and such. She told me that she was glad that I make her the "good kind".

Cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese flowers, Ham skewers, Pita bites, Blueberries, Green beans

Frozen green beans are awesome for school lunch. By the time she eats, they will be defrosted but still cold. She has always loved green beans. So much so that for her first Easter, we stuffed the eggs with green beans. True story...I've got pictures to prove it! Some of my friends thought it was so mean, but the truth was that green beans were the only thing that she loved enough to actually search for other eggs. And she did! She went crazy searching for eggs, popping them open, and shoving the green beans in her mouth. She was never a sugar baby and still isn't. She doesn't care about dessert at all. The little chic, though...that's another story!

Student council pizza day is tomorrow so I'm off of lunch making duty until Monday. Have a great weekend!

Taco Salad Tuesday

Somehow I forgot to post yesterday's lunch?? The chic took a taco salad and some dark chocolate cookies that the hubs added to the Costco cart this weekend.

This salad was made up of all the leftover chicken taco ingredients from dinner the night before - chicken, lettuce, cheese, red peppers, tomatoes, etc...The dressing was sour cream that I thinned with milk. She loves sour cream!

Pinkalicious and the Princess

Since the little chic's birthday party was this weekend, I thought the big chic would love to take a leftover cupcake in her lunch. Little chic wanted Pinkalicious cupcakes so I went with a princess theme for big chic's lunch.

Princess wand with pb roll up and cheddar cheese star, Monterey jack crowns, Grapefruit, Mini pepper and carrot rings, Pinkalicious cupcake.

I don't know why I insist on making the chics' birthday cakes. I get so frustrated when I'm making them because I never think they look good enough. I will keep messing with them and messing with them until eventually, I totally mess them up. I made the hubs help out with this batch of cupcakes though and he made me stop perfecting them before I was at the point of no return. I didn't love them when I put them in the fridge last night, maybe because my brain was pinked out! Fifty six hot pink cupcakes covered the counter tops on one side of the kitchen and the other side was covered with a huge bowl of pink frosting and piping bags filled with MORE pink frosting. It was definitely Pinkalicious in my kitchen last night!
Oh and did I mention that this was the day that I finally decided to make Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon (which was freakin fantastic, btw!)? Ya...my kitchen was a mess. I'm lucky that I didn't accidentally put pearl onions on the cupcakes instead of cherries! But this morning, with rested eyes, and after placing the cherries on top, I think they turned out super cute. The little chic absolutely loved them, so I think they were a hit.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

When a recipe is on the cover of Bon Apetit magazine, I expect it to be good...no...I expect it to be GREAT! We've made several of the cover recipes over the years and most have been outstanding. When I got the latest issue, I knew immediately that I was going to have to make the cover recipe...Spaghetti and Meatballs All'amatriciana. It looked fantastic! The hubs doesn't normally like many pasta or Italian dishes (crazy, I know) but I knew that he would be willing to give it a go if it was the COVER recipe.

Finally we had a day, a few weeks ago, where I had a chance to make it. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the recipe overall, but the chics devoured it. The recipe made a ton so I froze the leftovers with my lovely Foodsaver. I'm so glad I did cause the big chic asked me to make it for her lunch for tomorrow!

Spaghetti and meatballs on whole wheat pasta, Breadsticks, Cucumber slices, Clementine, Pecorino Romano cheese

The Do It Yourselfer

I don't know about your kids, but mine love to make their own food. When the oldest chic learned to make her own pb&j, she would sneak into the kitchen before anyone woke up so that she could make herself a sandwich before I could tell her "no". She loves to eat things that she creates herself (hmmm...wonder where she gets that from?) Tomorrow's lunch will be whatever she makes of it. I included some things that she can spread peanut butter or honey onto and eat however she wishes...muffin and cheese, peanut butter and celery, celery and cheese...whatever. She can make it as she wishes. She'll love it!

Whole wheat English muffin half, Natural peanut butter, Cheddar cheese, Strawberry fruit strip, Graham crackers, Honey, Celery sticks

Just a bit of leftovers...

We just got home from an all day shopping extravaganza. (Seriously...since 7:30 am, people!) Although I am exhausted, I still had to throw something together for lunch tomorrow. We had sushi and teriyaki chicken at dinner and this bit of teriyaki chicken is all that was left. I added some edamame to make it more filling.

Teriyaki chicken, Cinnamon pita chips, Valencia orange

Everyone have a great weekend!

Stacked Enchiladas

Tomorrow's lunch isn't the healthiest I've ever made, but at least it's all fresh, homemade, and mostly organic. (Which is more than I can say for the school's hot lunch!)

Stacked Enchiladas, White queso and tortilla chips, Red peppers, Fruit bite skewer

Love the stacked enchilada! Rolling enchiladas always seems like such a pointless waste of time. I don't mind tedious little cooking steps if it affects the taste of the dish. But, enchiladas taste the same weather you painstakingly roll them or quickly layer them in a pan. We discovered stacked enchiladas on a trip to Santa Fe a long time ago. They call them New Mexico Enchiladas and serve them with soft fried eggs on top. It sounds weird, I know, but trust me...they are DELISH! I've converted many a doubter to the "soft egg on the enchiladas fan club"! Anyway, I don't think I've rolled enchiladas since then. Normally stacked enchiladas have white onion, but the chic has been in a no white onion phase, so I used green onions instead.

"That Sandwich I Like"

For some reason, when the family wants something "light", this is what we go with. This sandwich always impresses me because of it's simplicity...just a few ingredients for such an amazing flavor. The hubs and I call them "Tomato Mozzarella Sandwiches" but the oldest chic can never seem to remember that so she started calling them "That Sandwich I Like". She has called them that so many times that now I know exactly what she's talking about.
Because there are only a few ingredients, it is REALLY important to use the best ingredients. This is the time to bust out the special olive oil and the aged balsamic. They make a huge difference in flavor!

Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich, Chocolate fudge cupcake from The Cakery, Cheez-Its, Red pepper strips, Clementine.

Tomato Mozzarella Sandwiches

1 Vine Ripe Tomato (sliced thick)

2 thick slices buffalo mozzarella

2 slices Ciabatta

A few fresh basil leaves

Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (La Espanola is our fave)

Salt and Pepper
Drizzle both slices of ciabatta with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and chiffonade the basil. Layer the sandwich...Mozzarella on bottom, then basil, tomatoes and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with second slice of ciabatta.

I think the sandwich is best when it's had a bit to sit and let all the flavors meld together. By the time the chic eats this for lunch tomorrow, it should be perfect!

Goldilocks and The Three Bears

I can't believe I only made three lunches last week! Between a "Bad Weather Day" and Chinese food in the dining hall, I ended up with a pretty short week of lunches. Talk about easing myself back from Winter Break!

The chic is getting back into the swing of things at school, though. Her class is learning about fairy tales and she has become particularly fond of "Goldilocks and The Three Bears". She has told us this story at the dinner table almost every night this week. And it's not the short version...it's the long, detailed, every last event retold in excrutiating...ahem...I mean, glorious detail. I have to admit, though, that she's a pretty darn good story teller...even the fifth retelling! Anyway, her lunch for tomorrow is based on this story.

Three Bears on ham and cheese flowers, Cucumber and cheese Goldilocks with Cucumber slices, Fruit Bites topped with Gummy Bears.

The bears were whole wheat bread, Carrot ears, Mozzarella and Nori eyes, Red pepper mouths (I guess you can call them mouths??) and Raisin noses. Momma bear has a Red pepper bow.
Goldilocks was made with cucumber, Red pepper smile, Nori eyes, Gouda cheese hair, and a Carrot bow. (I wish I would've had some yellow pepper for the hair!)

I must admit that this took me an hour and made a huge mess. I ain't gonna lie! I had this vision in my head when I started, but it didn't all come together exactly like I imagined it (or as quickly) but once I started it, there was no turning back!

Tortilla Soup

There are tons of recipes for tortilla soup. We've tried lots of them in search of the perfect one. I'm a bit picky about the tortilla soup. For example, if it doesn't actually have tortillas IN it (and you only add them as a garnish), it's NOT tortilla soup. Good tortilla soup also always has little droplets of orange colored oil across the top. Not sure why, but it's always there. So, after trying many many recipes, my family finally decided that The Mansion at Turtle Creek's recipe is our favorite. (I mean, come on...Dean Fearing? Of course it's our fave!) We've been making this same recipe for several years now and it ALWAYS awesome. It also happens to be my oldest chic's all time favorite soup.

My other favorite tortilla soup is from Central Market's cafe. It's more of a broth/veggie tortilla soup. I was lucky enough to go to opening night when they opened a Central Market close to our house (the fourth greatest day of my life next to marriage and the birth of my children!). One of the grand opening tchotchkes was the Central Market cookbook and in this cookbook is a recipe for tortilla soup. So, yesterday I decided to veer from the Mansion's recipe and try the Central Market version. Let me tell you...the recipe in the book is NOT the same as the soup in the cafe. I ended up with a huge pot full of cumin flavored chicken stock. Not only did I waste two red bell peppers, a pound of chicken, two poblano chilies, four tomatoes, etc...etc...but I also wasted two quarts of homemade chicken stock! Grrrrr! I should have turned back when I realized there were no tortillas IN the soup! I guess that'll teach me to vary from our tried and true recipe!

Anyway, the oldest chic was really disappointed that the soup didn't turn out and we had to eat something else for dinner. I figured the only way I could make it up to her was to make a batch of the "good" tortilla soup for dinner tonight and of course she wanted to take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Blackberries, Tortilla chips, Cilantro, Shredded cheese, Lime wedge, Tortilla soup, Red bell pepper strips, Cucumber slices, Carrot sticks

It's supposed to be super cold tomorrow, so this should be a great lunch to warm her up. Oh! And we've added sushi to our "most awesome lunch ever" list. She had no problems eating it in the dining hall and said that no one even commented on it. She ate all the rolls in her lunch then came home and ate all the rolls that were left in the fridge. That's my girl!

A Cereal Surprise

The people at MyBlogSpark sent me some coupons from General Mills to try some of their breakfast cereals. They are trying to reduce the amount of sugar and improve the overall health of their breakfast cereals. (You can read about the importance of a healthy breakfast here.) Normally, we steer clear of the kids' cereal section. Mainly because I have a serious addiction to kids' breakfast cereals. Ya know how the girls in romantic comedies always reach for the pint of ice cream when they are stressed or sad or whatever?? Well, for me it's breakfast cereal. If I buy a box of cereal, I will think about it, contemplate it, imagine eating it, etc...until I finally give in and eat a big ol' mixing bowl sized serving of cereal. I'm a weak weak person. So, we try to buy only healthy cereal that mommy won't eat in one sitting. My usual favorite is an organic pumpkin raisin flax cereal. It's good. It's healthy. But it's no kids' cereal.

Soooooo, because General Mills sent me some coupons, I thought I'd give in and get myself, I mean the chics, a few boxes of cereal. Well, I'm shocked to report that the General Mills cereals we chose (Lucky Charms and Honey Nut Cheerios) have more vitamins and less sugar than the cereal I usually buy. I'm a crazy label reader but never really considered comparing Lucky Charms to our "grown up" cereal. Interesting, huh? We don't eat lots of cereal around here (the chics prefer cheese omlettes for breakfast), but General Mills says that they are going to reduce their sugar to single digits in the near future. THAT will definitely make me consider buying cereal more often.

California Rolls

I love the variety of foods at the stores around where we live! Not that long ago, if I wanted sushi, I had to make it or search for a Japanese restaurant to get it. I can remember when there was ONE sushi place in our area. Now it seems like there's a sushi spot on every corner and you can even get it at the grocery store. I love that convenience! Especially since we are a family of sushi eaters! While doing some shopping today, these California rolls were calling my name. I thought they'd be perfect for the chic's lunch tomorrow.

Cucumber with rice vinegar and sesame seeds, Strawberries, Sesame brittle and Gouda cheese, California rolls with soy sauce

I have to admit that although she normally LOVES sushi, I'm not sure how she'll feel eating it in front of her friends in the dining hall tomorrow. She says that she's gonna eat it and a lot of her classmates have eaten sushi or been with their parents eating it so I'm thinking that it won't be any big deal. After all, they should be used to her lunches by now, right? I packed her some cheese for an extra protein, just in case!

Winter Break is OVER!

We are halfway through Kindergarten! I can't believe that in such a short time, dropping my precious child off at school every day has become the norm. Winter Break really DID feel like a break. And it really DID feel odd the first couple days when we slept in instead of jumping up to get ready for school. The first couple of days were blissful...the chics enjoyed playing together like they did before school started, I enjoyed having the big chic around all day, and we got to do things on our schedule and not the school's. BUT, after two weeks, the chics are arguing about everything, the oldest is whining about being bored, and I'm ready to get back to our "normal" lives. It's time to get the Spring semester started! With this "back to school" day in mind, the chic's lunch is a school theme.

Clementine with shape punches, Blackberry skewer, Red pepper shapes, School girl rice mold, PB&J chalkboard with cheese letters and chalk.

If you notice something different with our Laptop Lunchbox, you are correct! My friend Amanda at Lunchbox Limbo had some drama with her son's lunchbox and ended up with more lunchboxes than kids. She knew that I wanted the 2.0 and the large inner container and she offered her extra pieces to me! (Thanks Amanda!!!)

I've always wondered about the difference in height from the original and the 2.0. Amanda and I have tried to compare them, but inevitably, the day we think about comparing, one of the kids has their lunchboxes at school. We've never really been able to do a comparison. So, for those of you that wonder about the same thing, here is a photo of the difference in the original and the 2.0.

The 2.0 containers are just a tad too tall to fit in the original container, but the 2.0 container WILL fit in the original lunchbag. I'm excited about the possibilities that the bigger container gives me. I was worried that the big chic wouldn't want to take the blue container to school, but she actually asked me if she could use her "new blue lunch" for Monday.