Thursday, February 28, 2008

Slow Cooker Thursday - Sloppy Janes

It's Slow Cooker Thursday at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. This one may not be a "true" slow cooker recipe, but I made this yesterday on the stovetop and put it in a crockpot to have ready when I came home in the evening. Amazingly tasty (and healthy to boot!)


1 T olive oil
1 cup orange, yellow and red bell peppers, chopped
1 cup scallions, chopped
1 T garlic paste
1 lb ground chicken/turkey
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I used garlic flavored)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add scallions and bell peppers and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add garlic paste and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Add turkey and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, stirring until no longer pin, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices, Worcestershire and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, 3 minutes (at this point, you could probably transfer it to your slow cooker). Stir in vinegar and cilantro into the turkey mixture. Serve on your favorite roll/bread.

I served these in whole wheat pitas. They were to die for!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Save your WHAT?!!!

There is an independent GYN who opened up his new office just down the road from us. Last week, he had one of those flashy signs put up and for the last week it was just giving the time and temperature. Today though, it says "SAVE YOUR UTERUS". I'm just waiting until I drive by with Mr. Ian because we all know he's going to ask . . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Surprise Cupcakes

I made these this morning for our Tuesday morning Bible study group and they were a huge hit (which I am glad because I certainly did not need the leftovers coming back to my house!)


1 store bought chocolate cake mix (I used the DH chocolate fudge mix)
1 1/3 cup water
3 eggs
1/3 cup veg. oil
1 package Refridgerated Cookie Dough (I used Pillsbury Peanutbutter cup)
1 16 ounce container of chocolate frosting
1 package Nestle Toll House Chocolate Mini Morsels

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Paper-line 24 muffin cups.

BEAT cake mix, water, eggs and oil in large mixer bowl on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup, filling about two-thirds full.

CUT cookie dough into 24 pieces; roll each into a ball. Place one ball of dough in each muffin cup, pressing it to the bottom.

BAKE for 19 to 22 minutes or until top springs back when gently touched. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Spread with frosting and sprinkle with morsels.

*I also made some peanut butter frosting and frosted half with that. I topped with mini Reese's pieces. I'm thinking you can make lots of different combinations depending on which cake mix and cookie dough you select.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - February 25, 2008

Here's this week's edition of Menu Plan Monday. It's a busy week this week, so most of my things are quick and easy.

Monday: Grilled Boneless Pork Chops
Tuesday: dinner out with the kids
Wednesday: Sloppy Janes (new recipe)
Thursday: Scallop Stir Fry
Friday: Teriyaki Chicken & Mushrooms

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I "TRI"'d it

So this morning I participated in my first ever triathalon! (By the way, I find the picture above to be a tad "scary"). I can't even begin to describe how HUGE of an event this was for me; it's not even been a year since I decided to get up off my hind end and do something about my weight. If you asked me then if I would have been doing this today, I would have thought you were nuts.

I did very well in the swimming portion of the race and I was the first woman to finish in my heat. I didn't fully anticipate the "moving" from one event to the next so biking in a wet swimsuit was a little "odd" to say the least. Rich was my cheerleader and lap counter and was even so kind to hand me my sports bra and top as I ran by each lap.

It also helped to have a great playlist on my iPod for the race. I biked to "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi and "How Far We've Come" by Matchbox 20. During the run, I know there was "shine" by the Newsboys and "Dive" by Steven Curtis Chapman. The whole race actually went a lot quicker than even I thought it would and I am pretty sure my swim and run times were personal bests. I ended up finishing in just a shade over 40 minutes - not bad for a former couch potato.

Of course, all this would not be possible without given glory to God. As it says in Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) "Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope." My prayer for each and every one of you is that He work his power in you!

It's been a bad week for thumbs

You have heard already about my recent injury (which is actually healing quite well), so I will spare you any further details. Unfortunately, Ian "decided" that he wanted a matching thumb. Yesterday we were getting ready to run into Wal-Mart and while I was getting Kyra out of her carseat, Ian slammed his right thumb in the door of the Subaru. I have to say I was quite impressed because I think I would have been howling in pain. I think he was so in pain and shock he didn't know what to do at first. He was very brave though! We got it cleaned and bandaged. Thankfully, he didn't need stitches, but he's going to lose his thumbnail (for the second time in a year!) The only complaints we have had other than some minor pain is that it has affected his Wii playing ability!

Friday, February 22, 2008

How much do I love thee, Jon Bon Jovi?

After two months of anticipation, I finally got to go to the Bon Jovi concert last night. I do not believe words can adequately describe the concert - so many good songs, so many memories and then there was JBJ on top of all that! Here are a few of my observations of the evening though:

1. When did I get so old? When did people start using their cell phones instead of lighters to "light up" for the encore?

2. Richie Sambora has a really great voice even though I missed Jon on "I'll be there for you."

3. Am I being to "frugal" to refuse to pay outrageous prices for concert apparel? $45 for a TANKTOP!!! Rich thinks I am still stuck in "80s" concert pricing.

4. It saves time and expense when you run a tad late for the show. We were the next car to go in to the parking garage when they put up "the cone". Instead we drove a few blocks away, found a free spot on the street and were on our way home on the interstate probably before we would have even left the first level of the parking structure after the concert.

5. There are men who still believe in mullets.

I just want to thank Rich so much for indulging me with these tickets. I had a most excellent time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Ok, this might not be for those who are a tad squeamish as myself, but here's my latest . . .

Last night, I came home from coaching Ian's DI practice with 2 hungry boys (Ian and his friend, A) as well as a somewhat clingy Kyra. BUT - I had the foresight to know that Tuesdays are hectic and had already planned in advance and had 40 Clove Garlic Chicken ready for dinner in the crock-pot. I decided to make Rich's and mine into wraps with some roasted peppers, spinach and lettuce. So, Rich comes in as I am in the course of chopping up the chicken and of course, I managed to dice my left thumb courtesy of my new Pampered Chef utility knife. Despite my best efforts to get it bandaged up, I decided it might be best to take a trip to the walk-in clinic since we wre going trhough the bandages at a rapid pace. So now, I have two stitches and a heavily bandaged thumb. The doctor said it was a doozy of a cut, but he was impressed with the clean cut of the Pampered Chef knife. Maybe I should go see him the next time I have a catalog show.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - February 18, 2008

Here's this week's edition of Menu Plan Monday. Last week we were battling all sorts of illness, so there's a repeat here and there.

Monday: Baked Tilapia with Pesto
Tuesday: 40 Clove Garlic Chicken
Wednesday: Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps
Thursday: BON JOVI CONCERT - dinner out TBD
Friday: work party for Rich's office

Some day I will treasure these memories

In a scene oddly reminiscent of last year, Ian wandered into our room at 6:30 this morning to inform us that he has the brain of Leonardo DaVinci. Clearly, Leonardo DaVinci thought it was a wise move to inform his parents of odd factoids on a Sunday morning while they are trying to sleep in!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Entertaining for both a mom and a two-year old

Yes, Kyra has been struck by the ick bug yet again this week so we have been under house arrest for the past two days. She's finally starting to feel better and in general has been a trooper though she really wants to go outside and romp in the snow.

Anyhow, this morning the boxes arrived from my Pampered Chef catalog show. Kyra views any box that arrives via mailman, FedEx or UPS as a present for her. I was super excited to get these boxes because they contained my new cookware. I decided that it was time (after almost 12 years since my bridal shower) to get new pots and pans.

Kyra was all too eager to help me unpack the boxes and clean out my cabinets. With every lid or pot I pulled out, she would say "hey look! a pot!" As a bonus, she also got the Teflon "sticker" from the inside of each pan. She looks like a walking billboard for Dupont right now. So, I have my new cookware, Kyra has her stickers and all is right with the world.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Today is Valentine's Day and it's always difficult to find something for Rich given that he is not an easy person to shop for by any means. So, about a month ago, I saw a blurb in the local paper about a local a cappella group doing a fundraiser for Valentine's Day. For what was, in my opinion a very reasonable price, a barbershop quartet would show up at the appointed place and timeframe to sing a love song and give the recipient a card and a rose. For a jokester such as Rich, it could not have been a more perfect plan! Even better - I didn't even give a hint as to what was in store for him today. Luckily, one of his co-workers had her camera and snapped a few pictures. He called me at 9:20 to let me know I had officially embarrassed him (but we all know he LOVED every minute of it!).

Slow Cooker Thursday - Pork Goulash

It's Slow Cooker Thursday at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. I got this from Woman's Day a while back and modified for what I had "on hand" when I made it.

Pork Goulash

1.25 boneless pork butt cut in 1" chunks
1 can (14 oz. crushed tomatoes in puree
1 packet beefy-onion soup mix
2 T sweet paprika
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp caraway seeds
3/4 c reduced fat sour cream
3 T snipped fresh dill

Mix all ingrediets except sour cream and dill in a 3 quart or larger slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 7-9 hours until pork is tender. Stir in sour cream and dill. Serve over noodles.

*NOTES* I used pork tenderloin, threw diced tomatoes in a blender to turn them into a puree, used regular paprika instead of sweet paprika and omitted the caraway seeds and dill. My guess is you could use beef in this recipe as well. I think the next time I make it, I will stir in the sour cream on a portion-by-portion basis. The leftovers, while delicious, are not exactly appealing to the eye.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Will it ever stop snowing?

Yes, I know I live in Wisconsin.
Yes, I know it is cold here.
Yes, I know it is supposed to snow here.


Thank you for reading my whine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another reminder that I am getting old

Yesterday at Ian's birthday party, it was time for the cake and singing of happy birthday. Apparently, the number of candles you leave lit when you make your wish is the number of girlfriends you have (Ian has 2 if this is to be believed). Has anyone else ever heard of this? Either I am (a) living under a rock, (b) reaching a new age of pre-teen motherhood or (c)getting old!

Menu Plan Monday - February 11, 2008

Here's this week's edition of Menu Plan Monday. I didn't have time to make the crab meat quiche last week, so we are going to try again with that this week.

Monday: Baked Tilapia with Pesto
Tuesday: Pork Goulash
Wednesday: Hungry Girl Crab Meat Quiche
Thursday: Chicken Quesadillas
Friday: Big Batch Vegetable Soup

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Now that was a throwback!

Today we had Ian's birthday party at the local roller rink. YES! They still do exist in some parts of the country complete with those gaudy tan rental skates with orange wheels! Of course, there's a lot of in-line skaters too, but for the most part, everyone was wearing traditional roller skates. The music has changed a bit too. I mean, there's something missing when they play Crazy Frog's version of "We Are the Champions" rather than Queen's. I should have requested "Another One Bites the Dust" for old time's sake.

Everyone in our family donned a pair of skates - including Kyra! I was amazed at how well she took to the skates. Her favorite part was actually "falling" while one of us held her hand. By the end of the session though, she was able to move around the rink without hanging on to either of us (though we did follow closely behind her to make sure no one ran her over).

Ian loved the party even though he had a couple of hard crashes. He thought it was his best birthday party EVER!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Slow Cooker Thursday - Thai Chicken

It's Slow Cooker Thursday at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. I was at M's last week and jotted this one down out of one of her crock pot cookbooks (don't remember which one). Anyhow, I tried it this week and it was very tasty.


2.5 lbs chicken pieces***
1 c. hot salsa
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 T lime juice (approximately 1 lime)
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp minced fresh ginger

Place chicken in crock pot. Combine salsa, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and ginger. Pour over chicken. Cover, cook on low 8-9 hours or on high 3-4 hours. Serve chicken over rice; sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.

***I actually used boneless chicken thigh fillets and cooked on low 3-4 hours.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow, snow go away!

When we moved to Wisconsin in 2003, we were actually kind of sad that we didn't get more snow. We always pictured it as a Currier and Ives winter wonderland. Even when we moved to NE Wisconsin last year, I was surprised we didn't get more "lake effect" snow. Well, I am hereby placing everyone on notice that I AM SICK OF SNOW!!!!

Bring it on, spring!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cheaters never win

Wow! I am so glad Kyra is a sound sleeper because there was some serious hootin' and hollerin' going on at this house last night! I can't say that I was excited at the prospect of this year's Superbowl. I think it's the least excited I've been in recent memory. Still, I held out hope that the Giants would at least make it as competitive as the final game of the season because I just flat-out don't like the Patriots and all the "undefeated season" talk was wearing on me shortly after the Colts lost to the Patriots. I think what gets to me the most is that the league turned their head to serious allegations of cheating by the Patriots. I really take issue with an organization that allows their head coach to conduct himself in such an arrogant manner. So, the Giants get the last laugh and all is right in my football universe.

Menu Plan Monday - February 4, 2008

Here's this week's edition of Menu Plan Monday

Monday: BBQ Chipotle Pork Loin (Market Day)
Tuesday: Thai Chicken
Wednesday: BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza
Thursday: Hungry Girl Crab Meat Quiche
Friday: Fajitas

Sunday, February 3, 2008

But she still doesn't want to miss church!

Well, we had a fun morning - NOT! We drove to church this morning and right as we pulled into the parking lot and I turned off the car, Kyra threw up! YUCK!!!! At least she wasn't in the nursery yet! So, we turned the car around to head home yet the whole time Kyra is screaming "I WANT TO GO TO CHURCH!" While I admire her willingness to go, momsense prevailed and she came home to take a bath and get a dose of Tylenol. (Of course, I did bring her back a new VeggieTales from the church library when I went back for second service).

And lest we forget the other "player" in this drama, Ian gets a hi-5 for his commentary on the way home: "I think I'm going to breathe through my mouth now." I love that little guy!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I hope I can do that one day!

Monday through Friday, I wake up at an obscene hour (5:00 a.m.) to haul myself to the Y for some exercise. There are many days where it's just all too appealing to stay beneath the warm covers and sleep in, but I know that if I don't go, I'll end up sleeping in more than I end up working out so I press on.

Anyhow, every morning there is a group of "senior" women who arrive at the Y before I get there and are swimming laps. They then take their coffee in the women's lounge afterward and swap stories about days gone by. It's really fascinating to hear them talk.

Yesterday as I was leaving, one of these ladies was getting ready to go out to her car but it was slick so I offered to help her to her car. She was very appreciative and in the short walk to the car she told me how she had also shoveled her walks that morning. I only hope that one day when I am her age I have the wearwithall and ambition to not only get up and shovel 4 inches of snow BEFORE coming to the gym and exercising at 5:00 a.m.! Truly inspiring!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Finally! The Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe!!!

I am the type of baker that if you put a sugar cookie recipe in front of me, I will try it because I have yet to find one that meets my picky standards. I think I've been spoiled by receiving one too many Cookies By Design bouquets in my lifetime. How are their cookies so moist and thick anyway?

Ok, back to my original point (I do actually have one). Any sugar cookie recipes I have tried just seem to end up too crispy or the dough doesn't roll out smoothly. So, I stay on my quest.

Now, prior to Ian's birthday, he asked me to make frosted sugar cookies for his classroom treat. It just so happened that sugar cookie "lollipops" were featured on the cover of this month's issue of Woman's Day magazine. So, I gave their recipe a whirl - and by golly! IT WORKS!!!

So, without further adieu:

SUPER AWESOME SUGAR COOKIES (my name, not theirs)

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-3/4 c flour

Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg until blended; add vanilla, baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour and beat until just smooth. Shape dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. Heat oven to 350. Roll out dough to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to non-stick baking sheets (I used Pampered Chef Rectangle Stone). Bake 12-14 minutes until cookies are golden brown at edges. Cool on sheet about 5 minutes; transfer to cooing rack and cool completely. Roll, cut and bake remaining cookies.

MY NOTES: I really think beating the butter and sugar for 3 minutes makes a huge difference. Also, I used really big cookie cutters so I only got about 8-12 cookies per batch so you may want to double the recipe if you need more. I used a buttercream frosting recipe that I am not totally "sold" on yet so the quest for the perfect sugar cookie icing still continues on!