Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

I know some people who cringe when you say the word casserole.  I grew up eating casseroles and absolutely love them.  Some of my favorite dishes my mom makes are casseroles.  Pizza casserole, tater tot casserole, green bean casserole.  Just because its mixed together and baked in a 13x9 pan doesn't mean it can't be delicious and full of flavor.

I like making casseroles for the kids because it's a great way to add veggies to their dinner.  Although they will eat some veggies just steamed and as a side, often times they'll tackle the meat first and the veggies are left once they're full.  

I thought I would tackle a casserole favorite, broccoli rice casserole, and change it up a little.  While I'm not completely opposed to rice, I prefer not to base an entire meal around it. I'd much rather use a whole grain pasta or quinoa.  This was my first time using quinoa in a casserole, and I think it turned out well.  My 13 year old niece and both kids downed it.  H and B even had seconds.  

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

2 cups quinoa
2 cups cooked shredded or diced chicken
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 bunch broccoli
1 can low sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 can low sodium cream of chicken soup


1. Prepare quinoa as instructed on bag. Most quinoa requires 2 cups of water per cup of quinoa.  

2. Clean, peel and cut up broccoli. Use the stems and heads. Smaller pieces are better. Steam for 5 minutes.  Do not fully cook.  

3. Once quinoa is fully cooked and broccoli is steamed, mix all ingredients in the pot the quinoa was cooked in. 

4. Spread mixture in a greased 13x9 pan.  Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes, until thoroughly warmed and lightly browned on top.    

Notes: I recommend getting pre rinsed quinoa.  Trying to rinse and drain quinoa is a pain. You can make this a vegetarian dish by leaving out the chicken and using an additional can of cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken.  I used salt and pepper when I served myself.  I think if I make it again I will add pepper to the mix and probably 1/2 cup of red onion.  While it wasn't bland by any means, I did feel it could use more flavors. 

Happy cooking!

Leftover Makeover

I had about 2/3 of a pan of this left after a couple days. I know there was no way we were going to finish it all, so I decided to whip up some mini muffins. The mini muffins are a go to food for my picky eaters. I make a batch of broccoli quinoa mini muffins every month now because they love them so much. I always have a stockpile of them in the freezer.


Leftover broccoli quinoa casserole
3 eggs
2 cups cheddar cheese.

1. Preheat oven to 400*.

2. Mix all ingredients together.

3. Spoon mixture into silicone mini muffin pan, or greased mini muffin pan. Bake at 400* for 20 minutes. Mini muffins will be lightly brown around the edges.

Notes: These freeze great and reheat easily in the microwave. If you want to make full size muffins, up the baking time to 25 or 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Our Weekend

This weekend is the first of three weekends in a row that involve plans with some of my favorite ladies.  I have an amazing group of girl friends that live in town.  H and B love them, yes Andrea even you, so we get to see them often. While the twins, and our favorite ginger boy, have changed how often and what our outings consist of, we still make sure we see each other.

Saturday was Foodstock 2013, a gathering of some of Fort Wayne's food trucks. It still amazes me that Fort Wayne can support one food truck, let alone a group of them.  The kids and I joined the girls to enjoy some food truck fare and listen to local music.  

All in all it was a good afternoon.   The wait times for food were rather ridiculous, but the food was good and the company was even better.  We enjoyed fried pickles, a bacon cheddar burger and strawberry ice cream. Harrison also ate some dirt and Brooke got down on a few of Kristie's truffle fries.

This morning we decided to let daddy sleep in and we took off for the zoo.  It was only 55* when we left the house, so the kids were dressed in long sleeves, pants and socks.  Where did summer go? The cooler weather made for active animals and not too many people at the zoo.  H and B got to walk around a bit more than usual which they were all about.  

After naps Harrison still seemed tired and extremely fussy.  I'm not sure if his allergies are bothering him or if he's getting sick.  He and I got to snuggle in bed while he napped and nursed. That's the only good thing about sick babies, snuggles.  It's been a long time since I've had one of them asleep on my shoulder. It was so nice.  It almost makes me want to cosleep again.  As great as it is, 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night wins out.    

When he woke up, thankfully in a better mood, we headed out for dinner.  I got to enjoy a pint of Flat 12 Porter and the kids got to enjoy broccoli and sweet potato fries.  It was a win win for all of us, well except Rob. They had Yuengling on the menu, which isn't distributed in Indiana. He was so excited and then the server busted his bubble.  Boo!  We still had a good time.

I am hoping H will be feeling better tomorrow morning. Having Robbie home to hang with Brooke today was a godsend. If little man isn't feeling better tomorrow,there may be heavy drinking for mommy once the kids go to bed. Hopefully that won't be the case.

I hope you all had a great weekend and are enjoying the last little bit before getting back to the daily grind tomorrow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dressing the BeeGees

Dressing boy/girl twins, or the beegees as we call them, can sometimes be quite the task.  Not only do I have to contemplate what they'll wear on a day to day basis, but I have to put together outfits months in advance when I'm shopping the online sales at Baby Gap.  Maybe I over think it a little bit, but I like them to be coordinated.  

When they were little it was easy.  He wears the blue onesie and she wears the pink one.  She wears the elephant and he wears the alligator.  When it comes to baby clothes, we found no shortage of coordinating onesies.  Pink stripes, blue stripes.  Purple polka dots, green stars.  Thank you to clothing manufactures for making it something I didn't have to think about when they were little. 

Now that they are getting a little older and we are shopping both the baby and toddler sections, it has become more time consuming to plan their outfits.  It isn't difficult, but it's no longer as easy as, pink for her and blue for him. 

Brooke wears dresses, a lot. She likes to fluff the skirts and twirl around.  She is a girly girl already. Harrison likes to play with his clothes and get dressed, but he could care less if he's wearing plaid shorts, jeans or sweats. Mommy cares though.  I don't want Harrison to look like he just came from the gym while his sister is wearing a dress and a flower in her hair.  Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with basketball shorts and a t-shirt, unless your twin sister wears a dress 75% of the time. 

There are a few outfits the kids have that are very matchy matchy, but for the most part we coordinate colors, prints or styles.  Harrison might wear a bright color block romper while Brooke wears a bright colored dress. They both wear green striped rompers. They both wear neon or pastels.  A onesie with whales for him and ladybugs for her.

A few of their recent outfits.

Even though I'm not ready for fall to be here yet, I am excited to start some shopping for the littles. Here are a few fun ideas for coordinating outfits for beegees or even for boy/girl siblings.  

As a side note when it comes to dressing toddlers, why are there not more funny girl onesies? Everything is princess this or angel that.  Boys get mustaches, which I love, and cute jokes/slogans.  Boys do get the short end of the stick when it comes to rompers though.  I wish more manufacturers made boy rompers up to size 24 months.  Why stop at 9 months? Circo, I'm looking at you.

I know there will come a day, probably a day very soon, where they both want to dress themselves.  Until then I fully plan to coordinate their attire on a daily basis.  And if I can coordinate mine too, even better.

Gap and Old Navy, my two favorite places to shop for the kids, have been running online sales every day for the past week.  I think Old Navy has 25% off today and Gap is up to 40% off.  Not only is it a great time to buy clothes for fall, it's also a great time to get hella good deals on clothes for next year.  There's lots of stuff on sale, plus the percentage of your entire purchase.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Family Photos

A couple weeks ago we had a photo session with the wonderful Gill of Gillian Dyan Photography.  We were a hot mess during pictures.  The humidity kicked up to 100% as soon as it was time for our photo session, so I was a sweaty mess.  Harrison was crying the majority of the time and wouldn't put down my key fob. I had almost zero hope for decent pictures, but we wound up with some great shots of the kids and even a good one of the four of us..

This last one is probably my favorite, because it sums up how the whole session went.

A huge thank you to Gill for bearing with us through this disaster of a session and providing us with some great pictures. We will treasure them for years to come.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Roll Ups

I was introduced to the delicious roll ups last week in dessert form.  After enjoying Penne Pomo and  a glass of wine with a few girlfriends, one of them offered to make Nutella Roll Ups.  Of course we said yes. Paired with a cup of coffee and great conversation, these were the perfect end to the evening.

After talking about other possible ways to prepare these for dessert, I got to thinking about making them for the kids for breakfast, or dinner as was the case tonight.  They can be filled with peanut butter, cream cheese, jams, veggies, even meats.  The possibilities are endless.

I decided to try a few different variations tonight.  Peanut butter, bananas and honey, cream cheese and blueberries and cream cheese and strawberries.  All three were a huge hit! There wasn't a single bite left.

I'm going to write out a kid friendly and a dessert version.  The only difference is what you put in them and that you don't roll the kid friendly one in sugar. 

Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Roll Ups

High quality sandwich bread
Peanut butter
1/3 banana sliced thin

1. Cut crust off bread.  Roll bread with a rolling pin until it is thin and approximately 1 1/2 times original size.

2. Spread on peanut butter and top with banana slices.  Drizzle with honey. Roll up bread.

3. Melt butter, enough to coat bottom of pan, in a saute pan or skillet on medium heat. Lightly brown roll up on both sides.

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve warm.

Nutella Roll Up

High quality sandwich bread

1. Cut crust off bread.  Roll bread with a rolling pin until it is thin and approximately 1 1/2 times original size.

2. Spread on Nutella. Roll up bread.

3. Melt butter, enough to coat bottom of pan, in a saute pan or skillet on medium heat. Lightly brown roll up on both sides.

4. Make a cinnamon and sugar mixture and roll cooked roll up in mixture.  Serve warm. 

Notes:  When using fruit, cut into into small pieces.  I tried mashing the strawberries and it created too much juice and a soggy roll up.  It still tasted good and the kids ate it up.  I used Aunt Millie's Oatmeal & Honey Nut bread which added a nice textural aspect. 

If anyone makes a variation that turns out really well, please share.  I can always use more ideas when it comes to feeding the kids, or me for that matter. Happy cooking!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summertime Essentials

About this time in July lots of people start wishing for fall.  It's hot and muggy outside so we're all stuck indoors with our AC on Power Ranger. As much as I hate breaking out into a sweat the moment you step outside, I'm not quite ready to give up summer yet. I still have quite a few things I want to do before I'm ready for pumpkin spice lattes and apple picking.
  1. BrewHaven - The best thing to ever come to New Haven, IN.  I can't wait to sample beer all day with friends and not have to worry about the littles.
  2. Outdoor Concerts - We saw America last night at Foellinger, and it was great.  There's something wonderful about being outdoors and listening to a rock concert.  Johnny M. is in 3 weeks at Deer Park and to say I'm excited would be an understatement.
  3. Turn 29, again.  Maybe the fact that I was born in August is why I love summer so much. 
  4. Go berry picking with the kids.  I know of two farms in the area that offer berry picking.  Even though I doubt they'll be too into it this year, I'm still excited to take them.  
  5. Go to Cedar Point.  I don't know If I'll be able to make this one happen, but I really want to.  It's been over 2 years since my last visit and I'm dying to get there before the season is over.

Starbucks Venti Cold Cup - I drink iced coffee like it's going out of style.  The Venti size it 24oz, slightly larger than most store brand cups.  I use it for my iced coffee at home and when I am out.  You get a $.10 discount if you use it at Starbucks and then you have a drink that doesn't sweat.  Rob has taken to using a cold cup to mix his evening cocktail. I like it for just ice water too.

Goody Spin Pins - I love having long hair.  It's kind of more of a pain in the butt than it's worth sometimes, but I love it. I hate having my hair on my neck when it's hot out. Now that my hair is really long, my trusty pony tail holder isn't the best at keeping it all contained and I wind up readjusting my hair every 30 minutes. Enter the spin pin.  These are so easy to use and hold long hair in a cute bun way better than a pony tail holder.  I lost a set of them and just bought two more to replace them.  If your hair is medium to long in length, you should definitely give these a try.

Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship - This provides so much entertainment for the kiddos when it's hot and we're stuck at home. I looked at probably 10 different ones before deciding on this one.  It has a squirt gun, pirates, and a shark.  How can you go wrong?

Swimways Baby Spring Float - This is seriously the best baby float.  We were able to float them on it last year and this year they can actually sit in it.  It has a removable canopy to shade them from the sun. We just bought a second one so they can both float at the same time.  Target has them on sale this week. Score!

Tovolo Ice Pop Molds - Homemade popsicles are where it's at.  We have three sets of these, one star and two regular. H and B have a popsicle just about every night right before bath time.  I love that these have a built in handle that's easy for them to grasp, although they don't always use it.  Our latest batch consisted of kale, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, bananas,  and vanilla yogurt.  No measuring, just throwing together all of the fruit I had with some steamed kale.  The kids love them and I love knowing they're getting an extra helping of fruits and veggies.

Battery Operated Mist Fan - I purchased one of these last year when it was 100* for like three weeks straight.  We were taking the kids to the zoo with their cousin, and this was perfect for keeping us all a little cooler.  I think I paid $10 for mine at Wal-Mart.

BabyGanics Spray Sunscreen - I think this is the third time I've raved about BabyGanics, but I just can say enough about it.  I LOVE this sunscreen.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer and surviving the heat.  If you follow me on Pinterest, justjm03, you know I'm already starting to think about the upcoming holidays. As excited as I am for fall, and even winter, I'm glad we're only half way through summer.  It gives me plenty of time to plan adorable matching Halloween costumes.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  I think there's pizza, beer, and The Walking Dead planned for the rest of mine, once the kids go to bed of course.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

14 Months

The kiddos hit the 14 month mark on Tuesday.  Crazy, right? They are learning new things everyday and it's amazing to watch. They are still at about 5 or 6 words a piece that they use, but the things they comprehend blows my mind.  They really seem to understand what we're saying.  They know to go to the front door when I say we're going to go to the car. They run to the kitchen and smack their high chairs when I tell them it's time to eat.  If I ask them if they're ready for milkies they will run into our room and wait at the side of the bed for me.  The list goes on.  I know every parent thinks it's amazing to watch their child grow and learn, but I can't talk enough about it. It really is amazing.

Brooke just had her first molar break through the skin.  I can tell it's bothering her, but she's taking it like a champ.  I was expecting tears and fussiness, but a small loss of appetite the day before it came through and the constant presence of her fingers in her mouth were the only signs it was coming.

They are both still eating well and willing to try new things.  They both like love hummus.  It is so messy when they eat it, and I'm sure if it were up to them they would just stick their hands right into the container.  Who needs a pretzel or pita chip? They love to sample different cheeses while we are walking through Kroger. Dried starfruit is another new try this month that they're really in to. They also tried sushi, fully cooked of course, and edamame. B loved the sushi and H was all about the edamame.  

Since they did really well at the fish fry, I'd like to get them in to either Paula's or Catablu and let them try some salmon.  I've never cooked fish at home before, so I don't want their first experience with it to be a bad one. Any advice on what time of day is the best time to take kids into a nice restaurant? Lunch? Before the dinner rush?

A few Brooke pics that haven't been posted yet.

We spend a lot of our days doing the same things.  We have definitely been taking advantage of our zoo membership.  They are starting to show interest in a lot of the smaller animals as well as the larger ones. Going first thing in the morning seems to be the best time.  The animals are more active and it isn't so darn hot. Although this week it's too hot by 9am, so no zoo for us.

I seriously love our zoo.

The splash pad, pool and park are some of our other regular places.  We finally made it to the downtown library today, and they had a blast. The kids activity area is a perfect place to go on a hot day. Target and Meijer trips are another go to activity for a hot day.  Their new stroller makes outings so easy, as long as we're going somewhere with wide enough aisles for a side by side stroller. 

The majority of our evenings end with a little outdoor play time and a homemade popsicle. I am so glad I decided to get a water table for them.  It provides at least a half hour of entertainment each night. 

A few Harrison pics hitting the blog for the first time.

With all of the time we've been spending inside this week, the kids have discovered how to properly get down off of the furniture.  Now they want on the Lovesac and couch non stop. Tyson and Layla tolerate the invasion of "their" space, but they're not happy about it.  I however am happy that the sac is now being used as more than a dog bed. It's the perfect baby landing pad for small tosses in the air.  Let the smiles and laughter commence.

We are starting to see even more developing personality from each of them.  Brooke is definitely a little boss. She wants what she wants and she wants it now.  It's been fun interesting to try and decipher what she wants.  She'll point at the counter and if you give her something she doesn't want, she pushes it away or takes it an throws it on the floor.  She has learned that she cane give Harrison a hug and then push him down and steal his toy.  She does have her softer side too and will give hugs, kisses or high fives if you ask for them.

Harrison is such a sweet little man.  He loves to cuddle.  Human contact is what this boy is all about.  He wants to be touched or be touching you all the time. He does do his own thing, but he always comes back to make sure you're there and get some love. He really loves his dogs too. He is becoming more gentle in his interactions with them. More petting, less pulling and smacking.  He also gives hugs, kisses and high fives if you ask for them.  

One really interesting thing that we've noticed with them is their choice of toys.  They are both able to play with any toys they want. Brooke has a tendency to want to play with the more feminine toys and Harrison often opts for the trucks and cars. I remember reading a story a few years ago about how we condition our kids to act within their gender.  I am not trying to start a discussion on gender stereotypes, I just thought it was something worth noting. 

Happy 14 months Harrison and Brooke! I can't wait to see what month 15 has in store for us.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Delicious Bites

This week's recipe is another muffin cup recipe.  Delicious Bites were known as Broccoli Bites until I offered them to a 3 year old.  Say the word broccoli and it's game over.  She was willing they try them and took a couple bites.  Them she realized that there was, gasp!, veggies in them.  I consider a couple bites a win.

H and B on the other hand eat these up. They eat them for lunch a couple times every week.  They're easy to pull out of the freezer, heat up and take with us to the zoo or grocery store.

Delicious Bites aka Broccoli Bites

1 bunch, 3 heads with stems, broccoli
1 1/2 cups diced or shredded precooked chicken
3 cups shredded cheddar
3 slices sandwich bread
6 eggs

All of the ingredients before mixing.  


1. Peel broccoli stems.  Cut up broccoli stems and heads.  Steam until soft.  Mash cooked broccoli in a large bowl until it is coarsely mashed. 

2. Place cut up sandwich bread in food processor. Pulse until the bread reaches breadcrumb consistency.  

3. Add the breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, and chicken to the bowl of broccoli.  Mix thoroughly. 

4. Spoon mixture in greased, ungreased if using silicone trays, muffin tins. 

5.  Bake at 400* for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are browned.  

Notes: I've made this recipe without the chicken and it turns out just as well.  As you can see in the picture, I baked shapes using Wilton Star Molds.  Baking times may vary depending on the size and shape of baking trays used.  I usually leave some larger broccoli chunks in the mix. If I were trying to hide the broccoli from my kids, I would mash the broccoli very finely.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another Long Weekend

Even though I stay home with the kids, somehow the weekends seem different than weekdays. Maybe it's the fact that I know we get a full day with Rob or maybe it's my internal clock. This weekend felt like another long holiday weekend, mainly because we got to spend some time at the lake. We loaded the van, even for one night we require a ton of stuff, and headed up Thursday morning.

Since we went up during the week, less chance of the neighbor dogs being there, the pups got to come with. As you can see, Layla was thrilled to be able to go for a pontoon ride. If we're on the boat and she's not molesting an innocent human, she's sitting in this spot.

The kids were less thrilled about their time on the boat. They are not fans of life jackets. I think we are going to get a couple puddle jumpers and try them out.  In Indiana kids legally have to wear a coast guard approved flotation device until they're 13.  13?! Who came up with that law? There is no way I would have worn a life jacket in the boat when I was 8, let alone 13. I know we've already broken the law and from looking at other boats passing by, I'm pretty sure no one follows that law.

After a swim in the cove, we headed back to the cottage to settle in for the night.  My best friend was in town from Baltimore with her sweet little girl.  H and B absolutely loved her.  They all shared toys, took a bath together and had a grand old time.  Once the kids were in bed, the bestie and I went for a night swim and had a few too many Leine's. 

The best thing about being at the lake during the week? Great skiing water in the am.  I am a bit of a water snob when it come to skiing.  I want glass.  The water should be smooth enough that I can see my reflection. Too much chop, and it's game over for me.  I like my ski to consist of cutting back and forth across the wake until I'm too tired to keep going.  Waves ruin that. The water cooperate Friday morning, and I still have the sore muscles to prove it.

The kids didn't sleep well, surprise, and we're up by 6:50. They apparently weren't too fond of the fact that I planned to let them sleep while we skied. Since they we're up, we grabbed a pint of blueberries and hopped in the boat. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and so did we. 

We were sad to go home, but glad to be back to our own beds. The kids slept 14 hours Friday night.  They definitely made up for what they missed out on the night before.

Saturday we just hung out around the house. We played outside in the evening and took full advantage of the water table, sprinkler and kiddie pool.  The next week is supposed to be super hot and humid, so I have a feeling many of our afternoons will be spent this way.

Finally Sunday, daddy day, is here. We took the kids to Three Rivers Festival for a few rides and some food. Of course we rode the carousel. They went on the up and down horses and were full of smiles. The spinning bears were fun, but it was like a damn sauna in there.  Plus the ride attendant was an idiot, and forgot to let us out.  We almost had to ride it twice.  The kids and I weren't down for that.

The kids got to have their first meat on a stick.  They were all about it, but they weren't very good at getting any meat off the stick. I had a fried candy bar on a stick and was much better about getting it off the stick.


As per usual, our evening ended with homemade fruit popsicles and some back yard playtime. Now Rob and I are watching The Walking Dead, I finally got around to starting it, and enjoying a few adult beverages. 

Both kiddos slept through the night for the first time last night, and I'm hoping for a repeat tonight. After weeks of speculating that they might be ready to drop the night time nursing session, I think we're almost there. 

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Now I'm off to bed to hopefully get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.