Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bird Nest Breakfast Cups [PCL]

PCL = Pinterest Come to Life

I made Bird Nest Breakfast Cups this morning - inspired by this. They were super easy, pretty good and Bella was able to help (always a plus). Mine don't look as good as the picture from Pinterest, but they still tasted good! Hubby approved, too. The only thing I would try to change next time is cooking the hashbrowns a little longer to see if the bottom gets crisper.

They turned out to be 200 cal each. A little high for me - so next time I'll omit the sausage in mine or use ham.
Bird Nests with Sausage
If you want to make them, you could follow the recipe from the blog I found it in. Or here's what I did and I ended up with 9 cups.

  • shred 2 large potatoes 
  • shred 4 oz reduced fat cheese
  • cook 1/2 lb of breakfast sausage 
  • spray a muffin tin with Pam
  • place some potato and cheese in each tin. save a handful of cheese for later.  
  • bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees
  • remove from oven, turn heat down to 350
  • crack an egg on top of each cup. Break the yolk a little.
  • Sprinkle some sausage on each cup. Top with a little more cheese.
  • Bake for another 15 minutes (or until egg is cooked).
  • use a knife around the edges of the cups to remove.
  • enjoy!

Pan Pic

Monday, January 23, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Not long ago, JT made some awesome lettuce wraps with ground beef. I was in charge of stopping at Cub to get lettuce on my way home from work. For some reason, I thought two huge bunches of bibb lettuce is what we needed. We used about 1/4 of what I bought. 

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe

I decided that tonight was the night to use it up and found an awesome looking Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wrap recipe. My verdict? Super easy to make, but cut back on the lime juice. I love lime, but it was too much even for me. My husband, however, loved it and even ate the last of it up during dinner - unheard of for a guy who loves leftovers more than stuffing himself at dinner. So I guess overall it was a winner and will be made again (with about 1/2 the lime juice).

I didn't think to take a picture of our final product (the one above is from Taste of Home), but I served it with white rice. I mixed in carrots and celery with the chicken but served the shredded cucumber on the side since I don't like it. We had crumbled blue cheese so I made the sauce in the recipe, but regular blue cheese dressing would be fine as well.

The Psychology of Pinterest

It's no secret that I am one of many who are addicted to Pinterest. Since I've posted a few original pins, I now realize the pure satisfaction that comes out of other people finding your items pin-worthy. It is validation that what you like or did was awesome/interesting enough for someone to want to save it and share it with their friends.

It feels good even if something you 're-pin' gets 're-pinned', but when it is something that originated with you it's even more gratifying. I modified a chocolate jello shot recipe and posted about it recently and have to admit that I love all the repins! 13 and counting. Go, ego, go!

What to blog about?

My blog is one of those things that I wish I invested more time on. I have lots of things in my head that I often wish I could just write down. Not anything revolutionary or even all that interesting, but I think it is human nature to want an outlet. Someplace to try to sort out all the nonsense. A place to share your story. A way to document memories.

I do my best thinking in two places: the shower and laying in bed at 3am after getting up with Addy. Unfortunately, neither are conducive to hopping on my laptop and pounding out a thought-provoking or entertaining post. Instead, I'll think myself through it in the middle of the night - swearing I'll remember word-for-word and write it out the next day. I never follow through. I never even really remember what I was thinking about.

I'm going to try to be better at writing more. Again, not because I necessarily have life-changing things to share. But because I think it will help me let go of some of the things that clog up my brain and will help alleviate some guilt that I won't remember EVERY SINGE MINUTE of my girls' growing up.

To help with the latter - here's a short recap of our weekend:

  • All day Fri and Sat, Bella talked about going out to eat for tacos. Sounded good to me, so Sat night we went to El Toro (one of my favorites!). After looking at the pictures on the kid menu, what did Bella decide to order? A hamburger, of course!! She did get rice with it, though. 
  • Going out with the two girls can be hit or miss. We used to take Bella out to eat with us at least once a week. And when Addy was small enough we'd continue to go. But we've been limiting eating in public because Addy is in that middle stage where she wants to be able to run around and be loud. She did really good at El Toro, other than a phase of SCREAMING (with joy) at EVERYONE who walked by. And since we were in a booth by the door, that was a lot of people. Granted, she got a lot of smiles but it still stressed us out as we didn't want other diners to be annoyed.
  • Sunday we bundled up and played out in the snow. Addy's first time! We tested out Bella's new sled. The sad thing is that one around the yard and more grass was showing than snow. I'm not much for hanging outside in the winter, but if we have to be outside there might as well be snow to play in! 
  • Visited my Grandpa Sunday and had a good time looking through old pictures. Even took one home of my Grandma and Grandpa on their honeymoon and one of before they were married. They look so happy, I just wanted to have it. My Grandpa passed away several years ago, but my Grandpa is 89 and still energetic and sharper than a lot of people half his age. Even though there are the stories he tells over and over, I realized that I don't spend enough time just sitting and listening. He has more stories to tell - he just needs pictures to remind him sometimes. And it's so awesome to hear him talk so fondly of my Grandma and still be so proud of things like her being the lead in her school play or saying things like "I bet you can find Grandma in these pictures. Just look for the prettiest girl". Love it. 
  • Our bathroom is painted! Three years later, there is color on the walls. It's been functional for a while, but in usual Trafton fashion it not only took us a while to decide on a color - but the paint can sat around for a while before it got on the walls. I'll post pictures soon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Piglet and Bella Met...

Bella: "Mom! Do you remember before Addy was born?"
Me: "I sure do. Do you remember before Addy was born?"
B: "Oh yes... before Addy was born I met Piglet"
Me: "Oh? How did you and Piglet meet?"
B: "Well, Piglet lived far, far, far, far away. But she had a motorcycle. A motorcycle with big breaks that she could press really hard."

I was kind of disappointed when Addy interrupted our conversation by trying to put a "pretty" (hair clip) in Bella's hair. Which is completly unacceptable becuase Bella doesn't need clips anymore ...becuase according to her "my bangs grew out while I was taking a nap!". But I digress - maybe I can get Bella to continue the story of how her and Piglet met tonight. I know you are all waiting on the edge of your seats.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Mocha Jello Shots [PCL]

PCL = Pinterest Come to Life

Every year our group of "married friends" has a belated holiday party in January. This year's  I made some fancy Jello shots inspired by a blog I found on Pinterest, That's So Michelle. She has a lot of fab jello shot recipes, but I thought a modified version of her Peppermint Mocha Holiday Jello Shots would be perfect for the party.

I. Loved. Them.

I did make some modifications and doubled the recipe:
  • brewed 2 cups of Keurig coffee - I had Green Mountain Breakfast Blend on hand.
  • let it sit until warm, but not hot. Then pour into a sauce pan. 
  • sprinkled 2 packages of Knorr gelatin on top and let it sit for 2 min
  • added 1/2 cup of sugar and stir
  • slowly stired in 2 cups of Pinnacle Whipped Chocolate vodka. They were pretty strong, so you can add less if you want...or the original recipe calls for Godiva Liquor, but vodka is cheaper! 
  • poured into small cups. I found mine at Walgreens. 
  • let sit overnight. Once ready to serve, topped with Redi Whip and added a chocolate wafer straw (something like this) as a garnish. The original used a mini-candy can, but since it wasn't really Christmas anymore I thought a cookie was more appropriate. 
They are best eaten with a spoon and cold. Once they sat out for a while they started to get runny, so put them back in the fridge if you don't eat them all. The above made about 18 shots. And like I said,they were  pretty strong... but that's how I like them :) They do have a strong coffee flavor, so if you want to cut that down maybe only brew 1 cup. In the end, I enjoyed them and will make them again!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Broccoli Salad [PCL]

PCL = Pinterest Come to Life

I made Broccoli Salad this weekend for a party. It sounded and looked SO GOOD....but it didn't turn out as good as I expected. Everyone else claimed to like it, even my husband who I know would tell me the truth. But I thought it was kind of "blah". I expected it to taste like the broccoli salad in the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays but it didn't.

I don't know what it was missing, or if my memory of the salad I was comparing it to was off...maybe it was the dressing. It just wasn't flavorful. I wouldn't make it again but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. I might just be too high maintenance when it comes to broccoli salad!

Pinned Image(no pictures taken, but mine looked pretty much like this picture from That's So Michelle ...minus the fancy bamboo bowl and serving spoons)

My Girls!

I've been meaning to write a post about my girls for a while now, but I have so much in my head I'd love to share about them that it always overwhelmed me. So I put it off. Isn't that silly? I should write it all out now so I can keep updating and capturing these memories/thoughts in writing! So here goes. I'll try to keep it somewhat limited but be warned that I have a lot to gush about :)

Bella is now 3.5 yrs old and makes me laugh every day. She also can make me extremely frustrated...but honestly, I believe it is because she is too smart for her own good.

Not to brag…but it’s my blog, so I’m going to brag away: About a month ago her preschool did a bi-annual assessment of each of the students. Bella exceeded expectations, of course ;) She not only knew all the colors, letters, shapes, numbers…but could count higher than anyone in the class, identify both capital and lower case letters, tell the teacher what sounds each letter made, read a few small words, tell the teachers WHY each shape was the way it was (squares have 4 sides the same size, rectangles have 2 big and 2 small, etc) and write her name pretty darn well. I am so so proud of her and know that this is because of a lot of one-on-one attention and work from everyone – my mom, my sister-in-law, the teachers at school, etc. She adores rhyming and comes up with the silliest things. She can read a handful of words and knows how to spell words out. The other day we had a bottle of Taco Bell taco sauce on the table and she spelled out “Taco” by herself and already knows “Bell” (because of her name). I never thought I’d be so proud of a kid saying “Hey, this says Ta-ta-c-c-co Bell!”

Bella is also insanely silly. Of course, all toddlers are but Bella’ imagination is just so entertaining. She has a few imaginary friends, but the most prominent is Piglet. Yes, like from Pooh. Which is interesting because she’s not really into watching/reading Pooh stories. But Piglet is always around and “very naughty”. At first, we’d hear about Piglet and her family daily (It’s Piglet’s birthday today! Piglet’s Mommy had a baby brother! Piglet’s Mommy works at Target! Piglet’s family is staying over night with us!). And now I hear how naughty Piglet is – more than once we’ve been called into her room after she’s gone to bed because “Piglet is kicking Roo” and we have to escort Piglet out. Piglet also doesn’t listen and goes on a lot of time outs. The only downside is that she has started using Piglet as an excuse – if she did something wrong she’ll say “but Piglet ….”. We’ve tried to nip that in the butt right away. She has to be reminded that Piglet can still get HER into trouble.

We are working on her being more independent, the one thing that came out of her preschool assessment – putting on coat and shoes by herself, going potty all by herself, getting dressed, etc. She’s getting much better at it and many days wants to do these things by herself, but still has moments where she wants Mommy to do everything. I’m really working on the dressing and potty thing though as that is super helpful for her to do alone with Addy around!

Soon I’ll do an “interview” with Bella (an idea I found on Pinterest)  because every day she seems to learn, say, do, experience something new. I want to do a better job at capturing all this because I think she’ll enjoy reading it someday too!


Oh my sweet, Addy! If Bella is by best friend, Adalyn is my little cutie cuddle bug. I can’t get enough of her. Granted, she is starting to get into the independent/”no” phase (just this weekend she started shaking her head for no and pulling things away she didn’t want you to have) but for the most part she is a happy, giggly, snuggly baby-almost-toddler. She’s starting to talk more and more but mostly communicates what she wants by grunting and pointing. She can get her point across quite well this way. I love it when she actually grabs my hand and moves it to what she wants me to pick up/feel.

The past 2 weeks or so she’s started to get all the animal noises down. So she’s in the adorable phase where she sees a monkey and goes “ah ah ah!” or blows raspberries for an Elephant or tweets like a bird. Words she says includes: Mama, Dada, “Bella/Lala” , kitty, milk, knock, book [she loves the hard ‘k’ words], bye bye, nigh night… and will try to mimic just about anything now.

We’re down to no bottles during the day and the past 5 days she hasn’t had a bottle in the middle of the night. Up until this point she was still waking up between 2-3am and we fed her a bottle to get her back to sleep. She still gets a bottle right before bed which will probably have to be cut out soon – but I just love the snuggle time.

Addy adores books. I remember Bella liking books…but not like this. Addy can sit by herself for quite a while just flipping through books. Jeremy and her often spend a good chunk of the evening reading. Addy also loves dolls and anything that plays music. She loves to dance!

There, now I feel somewhat caught up...even though I could write for days about those two. Now I feel like I can add more 'real time' stories, pictures and memories.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ground Beef Shepherd's Pie [PCL]

PCL = Pinterest Come to Life

Tonight for dinner I made ground beef shepherd's pie. The beauty of Pinterest is all I had to do was search for 'ground beef' and I pinned about half a dozen recipes to try next time I have a pound of meat without any ideas of what to make.

The shepherd's pie was pretty good and easy to make. I used Idahoan Loaded Baked Flavored Mashed Potatoes for the topping - one of my favorites and so so good. I also used those for the meatloaf cupcakes I made a few weeks back. Actually, the shepherd's pie was pretty similar to the cupcakes except I mixed carrots, peas, celery and onion in with the meat.

Two pluses were that I got to use my new pie pan I got from Santa, and Bella was super excited to eat pie for supper. I should have let it sit a little longer before "slicing" into it, or maybe use less beef broth. So the presentation wasn't great, but it tasted good - which is what really matters!

Overall I rate this as a dish good enough and easy enough to add into our normal rotation!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Frozen Slow Cooker Meals [PCL]

PCL = Pinterest Come to Life

Quite a while back, I completed my very first Pinterest inspired task - creating several Frozen Slow Cooker Meals. I didn't take a picture of my own, so I stole this one from the original blog.

I tried five different recipes. It was a lot of work to create so many at once, so next time I'd narrow it down to two or three. I went to the grocery store only for the supplies I needed and spent about $175 to make 9 meals. At $20 a meal, I'd say the task was more for saving time rather than money.

You can find the recipes here and here. This is what I made and what I thought of them:

  • Stephanie's Goulash - good, would make this again
  • Chicken Curry - would add more curry next time, but overall good and would make again
  • Chicken N' Cherries - SKIP IT. Flavor is 'off' and the chicken felt sticky.
  • French Beef Dip - very good, even better the next day!
  • Orange-Beef Stew - alright...flank steak is more expensive than I'd like to spend for a freezer meal so I probably won't make again.

There are still a few in the freezer, but once they are used up I'll make more. It is really nice to have a back-up plan to throw in the crock pot in the morning. Just leave enough time for it to thaw enough to fit in the pot - take it out right when you get up and put it in the crockpot as you are heading out the door.

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese and Baked Parmesan Tomatoes [PCL]

PCL = Pinterest Come to Life

Yum and Yum!

Tonight's dinner was totally Pinterest inspired. Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese was amazing and Baked Parmesan Tomatoes was an easy, delicious twist on a vegetable I normally don't like.

The Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese took a little prep work - chopping and measuring everything - but was totally worth it. So, so good. Not good for me...but next time I may try to make a lighter version. I used canned chicken and made a batch sans hot sauce for the girls.

I'm normally not a huge tomato fan, but the Baked Parmesan Tomatoes were really good. I think I cooked them a little too long, so make sure to watch the time, but just 1/2 tbls of Parmesan cheese on each slice added great flavor. I'd do it again, but I guess Jeremy isn't a fan of cooked tomatoes...the things you learn after 11 years together!

My First "Original" Pin [PCL]

PCL = Pinterest Come to Life

I put "original" in quotes because I'm sure I saw this somewhere and it inspired me today. I doubt I'm the first to think of this but I didn't have a Pin to repin, so I took a picture and uploaded my work directly. Someone already repinned it!

I was inspired today as I continued to clean up Christmas aftermath. I cut up an empty wrapping paper tube and used it for all of Bella's hair binders, clips and bows.

It's not pretty, but it'll do the job. We'll see how long it lasts. My work already paid of, however, when Jeremy gave me compliments for organizing. He's usually the one coming up with 'solutions' for he was impressed with me. It's the little things in life. <3

Magic Milk Paint [PCL]

[PCL = Pinterest Come to Life]

Bella and I tried Magic Milk Paint this past weekend. The end result? Eh. It LOOKS cool, but other than that wasn't very exciting. 

The "magic" part is when you touch the food coloring with your toothpick dipped in dish soap - the food coloring "runs away" from it. That IS cool. But lasts about a second and then the thrill is gone. After that, Bella had fun stirring the colors around in milk but it ended up being too messy and wasteful for what it was worth.

My advice would be to skip this project. Save the milk for dinner and the food coloring for cookies.