Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Carving

Part of our Halloween tradition is to carve pumpkins every year, usually while we watch scary movies. Since we have a little helper there were no scary movies this year. Sophia loved helping with scooping the guts and smiling for pictures. As soon as the top was taken off of a pumpkin she said 'yum' and that led to some sampling of seeds and pulp.
Save the seeds when you scoop them out...roasted pumpkin seeds are the best!
We don't have a recipe, but here is what we do:
Rinse off the seeds (some pulp will add flavor, but remove any big chunks).
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, coat the seeds with melted butter or olive oil.
Season as you like. We did one batch with just butter and salt.
Our other batch was seasoned with old bay, cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and salt.
Put seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven.
Roast until lightly browned and dried out, stirring occasionally.
Cooking time approximately 30 minutes.
We ended the night with cupcakes at a princess table to celebrate my birthday (on Sunday).
Did you carve a pumpkin this year?

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creamy Tomato Soup // Crock Pot Style

I'm sure that this soup is easy enough to make on the stove, but with a very active toddler, I have not had much success recently when I try to use the stove top or oven. I love that the crock pot just does it all for me once I fill it up.
This recipe involves a bit more work than most traditional slow cooker recipes, but it is well worth it.

Creamy Tomato Soup
adapted from Skinny Taste
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup carrots, finely diced
1 cup onions, finely diced
28 oz can whole plum tomatoes (with juice)
1 tsp thyme
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, reduced sodium
Parmesan or Romano cheese rind
2 TBL unsalted butter
2 TBL flour
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1 3/4 cups milk, warmed
salt & pepper to taste
Heat a large pan and add oil, celery, carrots, and onions. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden. Add to slow cooker.
Add the entire can of tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes.
Then add the thyme, basil, chicken stock, and cheese rinds.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Remove the cheese rind and blend with an immersion blender.

Melt the butter over low heat in a large pan, then add the flour. Wisk constantly for 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly wisk in about a cup of the hot soup, then add the warmed milk and stir until smooth. Pour the contents of the pan back into the crock pot and stir. Add the cheese along with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.
The only thing I will do differently next time is add in more fresh herbs towards the end for a flavor boost.

I'm linking up with Ashley and Jessica for Taste of Tuesday.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Twenty Months

You are twenty months old today (October 28, 2013).
I love that you have red hair with curls. I just wish you would wear a bow so that your hair would not be in your eyes all of the time, although you do tolerate a ponytail on occasion. Your eyes seem to get darker each day and have turned more brown than hazel.
You are wearing size three diapers. We tried size four diapers for bedtime but they are still a little big on you. This month you started asking (through gestures) to have your diaper changed more frequently. Other times I have to bribe you with a treat to be still long enough to get changed. You continue to have interest in sitting on the toilet, but no formal potty training has started yet.
You are wearing 18 month clothes and a few 24 month and 2T pieces.
Four new teeth - your incisors - finally made their appearance, putting you at 16 teeth. You constantly have a finger in your mouth, making me think more are on their way.
I am thrilled that you are again eating avocado and apples. Condiments are still your favorite part of any meal. You try everything you are offered, although vegetables are still a struggle. We eat all of our meals together and I am working on eating a little slower. Whenever you see that my plate is empty you shake your hands and say "ah-dah" (all done) and stop eating your food. Your meals continue to be mostly gluten free and you snack on 'regular' foods.
You are still a great sleeper, averaging thirteen hours at night and a two hour nap in the afternoon.
You have become much more verbal this month and are repeating so many words. Your favorite word is "MINE!", which you say a little too frequently. Your animal noises are my favorite! Your favorites to mimic are dog, cat, sheep, and tiger.
You still sign several words. Now that you are talking more you add the words while you sign them. 'Ball' is the one you do that with most frequently.
You get angry when you do not get your way. Your 'temper tantrums' mainly involve you crying and sometimes hitting. You will lay down on the floor, but that mostly happens when you do not want to be picked up.
You are making the funniest facial expressions now, although your 'serious' face is the one we see most often.
You truly are a little sponge. You take in everything. I love watching you observe bigger kids and then seeing you copying what they were doing.
Your imagination surprises me sometimes. You will often bring me invisible 'food' to eat and say "yum yum". A current favorite game is to say "bye-bye" and blow me kisses. You go out of sight, then come back for kisses and repeat the process over again. You love to lay your babies and animals down and tell me "shhh" to let me know they are sleeping. Your current favorite his to hide things behind something and put your hands up as if to say "Where is it?" and then laugh when one of us 'finds' the hidden item.
You have ridden the train at the zoo a few times. Now every time you ride in any vehicle, hear a horn, or play with cars, you say "choo choo".
Your Daddy and I love you to the moon and back!
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Tractors, Photo-ops, and a Hayride

Dave and I ended up getting our pumpkins at Walmart this year. We went for two and came home with five since they were such a great price.
I wanted to take Sophia to a traditional pumpkin patch, but we do not need another pumpkin. We headed to Shaw Farms with hopes of a hayride and some fun pictures.
First we visited the playground area. Someone is very creative to come up with all of the cut-outs and themes. Sophia still does not get the whole concept of look and smile, but I was able to capture a few cute pictures.
We bought our tickets to the hayride and I tried to take a few pictures on the hay bales, but once Sophia saw the tractor she did not want anything to do with hay.
When it was time for the hayride, Sophia wanted to drive the tractor...when that was not an option, she wanted off of the wagon. Considering she was more interested in my camera than the ride, she did pretty well.
We visited with the animals. The chickens and roosters were very vocal and Sophia was quite interested in what they had to say.
Sophia snuck a ride on a few more tractors before we left.
We had fun, but Sophia was disappointed that they only run the bucket train on the weekend. I wasn't thrilled about the mud and lack of a hand-washing station. We used hand sanitizer and then scrubbed when we got home.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Pajamas

We are a little obsessed with Halloween in our house. It is by far my husbands favorite holiday.
I went a little overboard on Halloween-themed pajamas this year. Here is my Little Bean modeling some of her pajamas this season. Since we don't normally stay in our pajamas all day, taking these pictures (before bed or in the morning) was a little bit of a challenge.

Her favorite thing about this pair is pointing to all of the kitties and saying "meow".
I love that the eyes glow in the dark.
Just One You by Carter's
 Another 'meow' pair - came as a set with the one above.
Just One You by Carter's
The pink skeleton glows in the dark. They are my favorite at bedtime.
Old Navy
Love that this set came with a tutu.
And, just for fun, a few of the hilarious outtakes from my attempts to photograph a toddler. I might have taken over 200 pictures - yikes!
Want to join the pajama party?
Visit Darci and Meredith to join the link up.

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Fall Breakfast Quinoa

I love quinoa as a savory dish and I have finally found a way to enjoy it on the sweeter side. It has just the right amount of sweet and spice and the perfect crunch. I think this will be my new warm breakfast treat.
Fall Breakfast Quinoa
1/2 cup almond milk (or any other milk)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa (rinsed)
1/4 cup & 2 tbl pureed pumpkin
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped apples
chopped pecans
Combine almond milk, water, and quinoa and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff with fork, then stir in pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
Once combined, fold in pecans and apples.
*if you are like me and don't have pumpkin pie spice just combine:
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp of ground ginger
1/8 tsp of nutmeg
1/8 tsp of allspice or cloves
I'm linking up with Jessica and Ashley for Taste of Tuesday.

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