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Everytime you ‘like’ Boystown, an angel gets its wings…

12 signs you have an adorable parasite

Confession #329:  I’m not one of those “Pregnancy is so amazing- I could do it over and over” women.  I actually don’t understand those women.  At all.

I’m writing this with numb hands, so this is bound to be one of the longest posts I’ve ever written in terms of how long it’ll take me to get it out from start to finish.  WHY are my hands numb, you ask?  Pregnancy, my dears.  Its one of the lesser known evils of creating life from scratch.

Some of the books will talk about the side effects of pregnancy, but I think most women- like myself- always skim over those sections in lieu of the better parts- like “What vegetable does does junior resemble right now?” and “Aw!  He can blink?!”  We skim, that is, until that moment of “OMG!  Why can’t I feel my fingers?!” sets in., and then we’re suddenly scouring the internet and books we own, searching for any evidence that we aren’t abnormal.

So, I thought it was time that someone wrote down all the “joys” of pregnancy in one fell swoop, without the blinding fluff, so that fellow preggers like myself had a go-to guide for what the heck is going on with their bodies.

You’re welcome.  Or, I’m sorry. Or both.

***Just keep in mind that you might be one of the lucky ones that skates through your pregnancy with the greatest of ease.  Every pregnancy is different- take me, for instance.  I didn’t even KNOW I was preggo until I was 5 months- no sickness, no weird early cravings- nothing.  And now my hands are suddenly numb- something that never happened with any other pregnancy of mine.  These symptoms I’m posting are just my general observations of the lesser loved pregnancy details.***

1.  Morning Sickness.  The “morning” part?  Its a lie.  Some lovely ladies may very well feel like tossing their Double Stuffed Oreos at any time of the day, while some might just feel constantly queasy.  Some might be fine after the first trimester, and then there are some who -sadly- only feel better once they’ve delivered.  Of course, then there are those who never feel a lick of morning sickness- you are among the awe-inspiring.  I recently spoke with a girlfriend of mine who is also pregnant and some “well intentioned” woman said it wasn’t a good sign that my friend hadn’t been sick.  If someone -other than a doctor- ever seems concerned, ignore them.  You’ve been blessed.  Accept it and move on.  Chances are, you’ll probably come down with one of the other “joys” of pregnancy anyways.

2.  The need to pee- ALL.  THE.  TIME.  For whatever medical reason is out there, the second trimester is about the only time you aren’t constantly searching for a restroom.  The urge may or may not hit you suddenly.  I remember just recently being on vacation with the hubby.  We had a long drive ahead of us and I was sure I was fine right then.  I got in the car, and suddenly, the bathroom wasn’t close enough.  I know there’s a fantastic medical reason for why peeing constantly in the 1st trimester happens, but -just so you know- in the third trimester, its not just because your baby is taking up larger real estate.  Its also because they like to play kickball with your bladder.

3.  Peeing when you laugh.  Or cough.  Or sneeze.  And it gets worse with every succeeding pregnancy.  I used to laugh at those Depends commercials; now I not only sing along with the Tena Twist commercial, but I wonder if I should check into pricing.

4.  Constant fatigue.  Imagine you’re lying in bed, dying of thirst, and needing to pee a river.  Now, imagine your body says,”Eh- everything’s too far away.  You’re good.”  Sound ridiculous?  Yeah.  Notsomuch.  Sometimes the battle you’re waging is moving vs. not moving, and you won’t even have the energy to come up with a good reason as to why this is even a battle to be won.

5.  Cravings.  I honestly should have known I was pregnant the first time I thought that 4 pieces of cinnamon sugar toast -with more cinnamon sugar than toast- was a healthy mid afternoon snack… all eaten within a 5 minute period.  The funny thing is, I’ve always loved cinnamon and sugar, so this wasn’t a huge stretch.  Some gals might be like me and suddenly have a deeper desire for something they already love.  Of course, then there are those that suddenly find themselves dreaming of something they NEVER would have wanted.  It made me laugh when I heard about a gal who was a vegetarian, and she started salivating at the thought of a big, juicy hamburger.  Say it with me: I do not own my body.  I am merely a host to a parasite with a voracious appetite, and I must bow down to its desires… or else I’ll have dreams about those desires nightly.  Seriously- it happens. (If you start dreaming about something harmful, though, DO NOT indulge.  Tell your doctor- immediately.)

6.  Food aversions.  The evil brother of cravings is aversions, and sometimes its not just the taste that turns the stomach.  Sometimes the thought of the process the food had to take to get from farm to plate is all it’ll take to make you queasy.  The funny thing about aversions is that they’ll sometimes follow you even after pregnancy.  I woke up one morning to leftovers from the night before sitting in our sink.  I no longer find Hamburger Helper helpful.

7.  Mood Swings.  If you find yourself crying while watching the Folgers or Zillow commercials- well, ok, those make me weepy even NOT pregnant.  However, if you find yourself breaking down in the produce aisle because the only ripe avocado has a hole in it and then you get enraged at the insect that chose to eat THAT particular avocado, and then you get more upset because now you have to find something else for dinner, but then you get happy because you see frozen pizzas on sale- you just might be pregnant.  Shirts should be made available to all pregnant women that have a sort of apology or warning saying,”I’m hormonal- be nice.”  Of course, then we’d probably spill something on them and break down because it was our only clean shirt right then.

7.  Overheating.  Is it getting hot in here?  Nope- its just you.  Your baby and extra padding is now keeping you at a temp sometimes equal to the fires of Hades.  I’ve, personally, tried sleeping with an ice pack under my neck, slathering lotion all over while my fan blows on me, and sleeping in nothing but my knickers.  The thing is, its an all consuming kind of heat, so it really doesn’t matter what you do.  You can’t remove your skin, so you’re kind of doomed.

8.  Inability to breathe.  I’ve been told that when the baby drops, that I’ll regain use of my lungs, but seeing as how I kind of need my lungs to breathe, this information isn’t all too useful.  Sometimes, when I stretch my arms up really high and twist a little, I’m able to catch a big enough breath to keep me from passing out, but more often than not, I feel as if I have a tiny intruder slowly suffocating me from the inside.

9.  Rockin’ and rollin’.  As your baby gets bigger, its real estate gets smaller, so -just like you’re moving constantly to get comfortable- Jr. is, too.  The funny thing is, though, I don’t think my little guy is always trying to get comfortable.  I think he somehow obtained a bitty baby jackhammer and is attempting to increase his living space.  Whatever the reason for his insane movements, though, there are times that they go from being entertaining to being just plain downright painful.

10.  Heartburn and acid reflux.  Ah, yes.  There’s nothing I love more than the feeling of my digestive system being set on fire.  And its TRULY a not-so-rare treat when my stomach acids make their way up my throat and I nearly choke to death on them- and I positively LOVE when this all occurs while I’m getting a rare moment of restful sleep.  Pure bliss.

11.  Carpal Tunnel.  Also known as “I miss the use of my hands.”  This symptom is one that I’ve only recently been privy to during the course of this pregnancy, and I’ve got to say, I’m quite thankful for that.  If you’ve ever woken up and had to wait for your arm or foot to follow suit, then you might slightly know how AWESOME it feels to have that same feeling all day long in both hands.  Its been explained to me that the extra fluids I’m carrying cause pressure in nerves and such.  Its also been explained to me that the baby might just be sitting in a position that is incompatible with the circulation to my hands.  All I know is, its taking me FAR too long to write this post and its all due to my fingers feeling wonky.

12.  Restlessness at night.  Now, this is the real kicker.  We get to be exhausted ALL day long, and when night falls, sleep eludes us.  It makes sense, to a degree, when you take into account the need to pee, the overheating, the inability to breathe, the baby rockin’ and rollin’, the heartburn, the -God forbid- acid reflux, and hands that are so numb it hurts, but it just doesn’t seem fair.  Sleep should be our reprieve from the pregnancy pains, but, instead, it gets interrupted or done with altogether BECAUSE of the other pregnancy symptoms.

So, there you have it- 12 pregnancy sentences- I’m sorry, SYMPTOMS- that COULD happen to you.  If you’re just starting out, good luck and I hope you’re one of the lucky ones I’ve spoken of.  If not, console yourself that you aren’t alone and, also, that millions of us have eventually made it through to the end.

Eventually.

Its ok, though.  It’ll all be worth it when you’re holding your new little parasite in your arms.

 

The “Ultra Super Secret” Secret to Parenting

Confession #305: Sometimes I want to prove to those that “know it all”, that they actually know NOTHING by giving them my kids for a week.

I’ve figured it out!

I have figured out the secret to parenting!

Do you want to hear it?

Ok, I’ll tell you.

Listen VERY carefully because if this secret gets around then grammas will lose all power to give “advice” and mothers in law will never again be able to torment their daughters in law with the “correct” way of doing things.

Now, seriously, pay attention because I have 3 kids and I grow weary of repeating myself:

The secret is to stop. 

Stop thinking there’s a secret that every other mom out there got and you were left out.  I’ve got news for you- there’s no secret club, no secret handshake, and the closest thing to a secret password is “Good night”.  Your mom and mother in law DO NOT know more than you.  Sure, they’ve had their kids- and one of them must have been amazing enough to either have grown up to be you or to marry you, but seriously, that’s where their insight stops.  Every child is different, and although they might have gotten their newborn to sleep through the night right after coming home from the hospital, breastfed effortlessly, had all of their children potty trained before they could put two words together, and were able to train all of their children to say “please” and “thank you” by the time they were 2- months, that is- it doesn’t mean squat.  #1, memories fade, and just like fishermen describing the fish that got away, mom stories tend to take on a life of their own the older their children get.  (Need more evidence about that?  Read HERE.)

Ya know, when my boys were born, they latched on the moment they popped out.  Practically jumped on the boob!

Ya know, when you were a child, I had you potty trained by the time you could walk- in fact, you took your first steps on the way to the potty!

You’re going to run into trouble if you don’t get that child to start sleeping through the night.  All my boys slept through the night from the first night they were born- 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.!

Seriously?  Lets stop the madness, shall we?  The secret to parenting- like I said, I’ve cracked the code, people- is to stop denying that its hard and to just deal.  I’m not going to continue to listen to all the advice- if you can call it such- of those that have gone on before me, for a multitude of reasons (not the least of which being that I think most of my forebearers are currently on crack).  Its usually not advice at all, but degrading comments wrapped up in a pretty packaging that shines brightly on their own parenting history.

#2-I’m my kiddos’ mom, and I know my kids and what they are and are not capable of- although someday I’ll probably come up with my own wacked out stories… oh, I’m sorry, “Mommytales”.  I know that no matter how much fun I make his bed seem, the Mini Master will still see it as a punishment and will fight with every fiber of his being to keep out of it. I know that Bug is, well, Bug, and he’s bright and funny, but he also fails to understand that his brothers are his BROTHERS, not his maids.  I know that Camo is a boy- not a patient with ADHD- and no amount of drugs is going to change that.

Well, maybe an amount, but nothing that would be good or legal.

In fact, if I was to pinpoint the ONE thing they ALL have in common?  Its that NONE of them are cookie cutter versions of either of their brothers, and I’ve had to change up my parenting style to fit each one.  Well, that, and I think the exhaustion level has increased.

These are the things that I know.

I think the main issue with parenting is when you have “those that have been there” coming to tell you everything you’re doing wrong.  It begins to make you question your own parenting skills and you start to wonder if there’s something wrong with your kids-or yourself- which actually CAN cause major problems.

I’m just all fired up because, apparently, I know nothing as a mom.  I’m doing it all wrong because my 2 1/2 year old still insists on sleeping with us and the other two are boys- active, forgetful, and rough.

And, to my amazement, not allowing any of them to die thus far doesn’t win me a mommy award.  Heck, it doesn’t even put me into the running for one!

Oh, btw, sorry if you only started to read this because you thought I knew it all.  I don’t.

However, if you’re still searching for the secret, I’m sure there are a multitude of moms, mother in laws, and Grammas out there just DYING to tell you their “secret”…

The Devil Wears Pull-Ups

Confession #304: I’m convinced that Napolean had nothing on the Mini Master.

I remember once after I had the oldest Disaster, that my mom (or some other adult looking at the past through rose-colored glasses) clucked their tongue at me when I said that Camo was going through the “Terrible Twos”. “Noooo- they aren’t terrible!  They’re TERRIFIC!”  I compromised rather than arguing against their logic by saying,”Fine- the TRYING twos.”

But the facts are- the twos?  They’re genuinely TERRIBLE most days.  There’s a reason why that label has stuck around.  Oh, sure- its probably tough being at an age where you know what you want but lack the skills to communicate it.  But coming from someone who needs to translate “Toddler-ese” daily, sometimes the only “terrific” part is when they’re asleep… finally.

Let’s face it- being a parent is hard.  But what makes it just THAT much worse is when you want to cry, rip out your hair, and hide, and someone -attempting to be helpful- tries to convince you that things aren’t so bad; that the glass is half full; to see the silver lining; yada yada yada.  What we need to do as brothers and sisters in this war called ‘Parent-hood’ is call it like it is- hard.  Difficult.  Strenuous.  Downright Hellish at times.  And its ok to want a break or dream of Happy Hour or want to sell your kid on EBay (not that you should- or could… I checked).  And if anyone tries to tell us otherwise, we should be well within our rights to tell them very gently what they can do with their Pollyanna advice.

Just sayin’.

Now that I’ve stepped off my soapbox, I’m gonna go back to hiding, crying, and searching for loopholes in the whole EBay thing.  You’re welcome to join me- although, I’m preggo again, so you’ll have to bring your own drink.

You’re here for a reason

Confession #303: I’m convinced God likes to take my plans for being lazy and turn them into teaching moments.

I hadn’t really planned on writing today.  I’ve been busy beyond belief, always with somewhere to go or something to do, so I even unintentionally ignored my alarm this morning -that was beckoning me to get ready for church- all just so I could be lazy, watch mindless TV (which usually translates into a Harry Potter marathon- don’t judge me), and allow the Disasters to have a day of video games.

This was the plan- and it was a good plan.

But, since I’ve already gone over how I make plans and God just chuckles at my attempts, I should’ve seen this one coming.  I didn’t, however, so here I am.  And this is ok, because -in the end- I get to have a warm fuzzy moment, and those are always nice-

especially compared to the “gritting my teeth at the sound of a day of video games turned into full contact debating” feeling I could also be feeling.

So, I woke up after hitting the snooze button on my phone FAR more times than I should have, did the ritual check of Facebook stuff, double checked that I really DIDN’T have anything else planned for the day in Cozi, checked my email, and then checked on the boys- who had already been up a lot longer than I- to ensure than nothing was broken, bleeding, or burning.  As I walked back into my room- with the full intention of zoning out while Harry battled the evil forces of Lord Voldemort- I saw my Sacred Pregnancy book and journal sitting on my dresser, and I felt a mental nudge.  I knew that I should have been journaling more than I had been, and I felt bad because -hello!- I love to write!  So, why hadn’t I been writing?  This should be a piece of cake for me.  The thing is, its not.  Writing seriously about my feelings without trying to be humorous or laugh off certain things isn’t something I can do easily. But I knew I needed to write, so the question was- what?

That’s when I remembered that I had seen a ‘Purpose Filled Life’ devotional in my email box that I had wanted to take a closer look at.  Why?  Because it hit home with this pregnancy.  So, I wrote to this baby as my journaling effort for the day.

And that’s when I realized that it doesn’t just hit home with this pregnancy- it can hit home with SO many more people out there that feel that they’re worthless or that their lives don’t have a point or that -God forbid- they were told they were an “accident”.

So, I’m taking a leap and sharing -truly- my heart with all of you… however many actually will ever read this.  Hopefully, if nothing else, you’ll walk away with warm fuzzies ,too.

Dear Joseph,

Today I read something that I’ve heard a million times before, but today I just knew I needed to address it with you.

“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb…  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13, 16

You will probably grow up hearing the amazing story of how you came to be- how you were the surprise we never knew we wanted.  However, even if you had been a surprise in the more traditional sense- a broken condom, a forgotten birth control pill, a carefree moment- you would never- COULD NEVER- be considered an “accident”.  God doesn’t make accidents.  God never stands around saying,”Well, what am I gonna do now?  THAT wasn’t supposed to happen.”  EVERY life has a purpose.  God has each person’s life and potential written out before they’re even conceived.

But you!  You, my amazing little hurdle jumper, you not only weren’t an accident, you’re a gift.  A miracle.  You’re the best surprise we never could have hoped for ourselves.  There were so many reasons why you shouldn’t be here, and despite them all, you are.

God has amazing things planned for you, sweet boy.  You’re life has a meaning and a purpose.  Don’t ever forget that.

~Mom

 

Thanks for reading my sentimental mush, and if any of it hit home with you, I’m glad.  God doesn’t do mistakes (though I question his thought process on flies and cockroaches).  ‘Oops’ is not in his vocabulary.  Everyone has a purpose and a reason for being- its up to us to see what purpose God has for us.  Our potential was written in our DNA before our DNA was even formed- we weren’t an afterthought.  God had your blueprints sketched out before your Family Tree was a sapling.  While your ancestors were still deciding whether or not to start a family, God had already written down YOUR life story.  The only thing God won’t do is make your decision on what to do with your talents and gifts that He gave you.

So, what are you gonna do with your potential today?

Control… and other illusions

Confession #302: I have NO idea what is going on.

 

Have you ever been under the illusion that you have SOME sort of control over your life?

If you were still under that illusion, I’m sorry for shattering it, but the fact is, its really just that- an illusion. Like a fancy magic trick.

I was under the impression for a very long time that I had a little control over my life, but lately I’ve come to the conclusion that I really knew nothing. As in, zilch.

How so, you ask?

I had always been under the impression that my family situation was perfect for us. Some people tried to claim that having 3 kids was putting us at an uneven advantage with the whole 3 against 2 thing, but I disagreed. 3 kids was my ideal number. I KNEW in my head and heart that 3 kids was what we were meant for- so much so, that I got an IUD to close Boystown’s boy factory.

Or so I thought.

In April, I found out otherwise. In April, I found out that IUDs can give you the illusion of control without actually giving you any. In April, I found out that I was actually 5 months pregnant with our 4th addition to Boystown.

Yup. Another boy. And yes- 5 months.

So, basically, we’ve secured our spot here. We’re single-handedly keeping my husband’s family name alive.

So many times I thought that I knew where my life was headed. Life is funny that way. Just when you think you’ve got it all under control, life kicks you to jog your memory- sometimes very literally.

Its times like this that I’m reminded of a quote:

We make plans, and God laughs.

Well played, God. Well played.

(Not so) Wordless Wednesday

April Showers brings May flowers.

Tasty Tuesday: Such a DIP!

We like to entertain here at Boystown.  Even if we’re only having a couple of friends over for dinner, its still an occasion to whip up something awesome- not just order a pizza.

Not that there’s anything WRONG with pizza.  I’m a big pizza fan- huge!  And -if we’re being honest here- there are times when pizza just sounds DANG good and nothing else will do.

But when I’m having friends over, I aim to impress them with my culinary skills- not my INSANE ability to order out.

Sometimes, though, it can be a pain and OH-so-expensive to go all out with homemade goodies, and, the more the people, the more expensive.

Like New Year’s.

It was SUPPOSED to just be a small thing- just a couple of friends.  Nothing big.  It was practically an after thought, anyways.  Why go through all the trouble of making a lot of food for a couple of people?

But the problem is, we don’t just HAVE a couple of close friends.  We have what we like to call “our crowd”.  They’re the people that we invite to everything, and you can’t invite just a couple of them without inviting the rest.  What makes it better (or worse?) is “our crowd” keeps growing every year.

So, what do you do for a huge crowd, that isn’t pizza, that doesn’t break the bank, but that stills calls out “Made from scratch!”?

I didn’t know either so I went on -that’s right- Pinterest.

After scouring the boards, I came up with the conclusion that everyone likes dips.  Its one of the favorites to order at restaurants, they’re usually the first things that disappear at get togethers, and *BONUS* they’re usually cheaper than buying tons of meat appetizers and other food items.  Plus, they aren’t hard to put together.

The dips I chose were all pretty easy to do and, just like I figured, they were a hit.  Hopefully they’ll be a hit for you, too.

Hot Spinach Dip (check out the original HERE)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • about 1-1 1/2 lbs of spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Baguette slices, breadsticks, or crackers, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add spinach in two additions, letting the first batch wilt before adding the next; cook until completely wilted, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander; drain, pressing to release all excess liquid.
  3. In the same pot, warm milk over high heat. Whisk in cream cheese until melted, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/4 cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly oiled 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  4. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot with accompaniments, as desired.  I made some herbed foccacia bread, but only because I have a bread maker and it did all the work for me for the most part.
Hot Corn Dip (check out the original HERE)
This was a FAVORITE among everyone, and it tasted great reheated the next day, too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded chedder cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Montery Jack
  • 2 tbs chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced small
  • 1 small can (4oz) diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 cup Mayo
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 11oz can of corn, drained
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs green onions, sliced thin

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the cheeses, chiptole and green peppers, mayo, garlic powder and corn together. Pour into an oven safe dish.
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
  4. Top with diced tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately with tortilla chips

Spicy Chorizo Dip (check out the idea for this HERE)

Ok, so this dip was SUPPOSED to be a Taco Dip, but a funny thing happened on the way to my pantry- I realized I’d forgotten to buy the ingredients I needed.  No worry, though- I switched it up a little and made a HUGE hit.  I had one of our friends gushing… repeatedly… over and over… how I needed to give his wife the recipe.  And I could have written off his compliments as due to the vast quantities of alcohol he was consuming, but everyone else seemed to love it, too.  Its a bit on the spicy side, so if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, you might want to steer clear.

Ingredients:

  • About a pound of chorizo (I used 2 links that had 9 oz. each)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup light ranch dressing
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups of refried beans (if you have pinto beans on hand, you can always follow this recipe HERE, without adding all the spices it calls for.)
  • Tortilla chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.

In a skillet, cook the chorizo until completely done.  I just followed the directions on the links which said to cook the meat for about 10 minutes, but see what your package says.  Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing, chili powder, and ground cumin.  Add the chorizo and half of the shredded cheese.  Stir to combine.  Add 1 1/2 cups of refried beans and taste to see if you want to add more.  The beans just cut through some of the spice.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate, and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips.

White Pizza Dip

This was -by FAR- the favorite of almost everyone.  Its gooey and cheesy and completely drool worthy.  Just make sure you have a mini-crock pot or something that you can put this in to help keep it warm, because its MUCH better when its warm and gooey and… I might have to make some more tonight.

Ingredients

1 pint grape tomatoes, tomatoes cut in half (if you don’t have grape tomatoes, I’m pretty sure you could just diced a couple of tomatoes into 3/4 inch chunks (enough to make a pint) and roast that.)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 (12 ounces) blocks cream cheese, softened

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, freshly grated

8 ounces provolone cheese, freshly grated

1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish

4 (or more) garlic cloves, roasted and minced

1/4 cup freshly chopped basil leaves

2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves

1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano leaves

crackers, bread or chips for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then place tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, then roast for 20-25 minutes, until bursting. Set aside.

While tomatoes are roasting, mix softened cream cheese with about 7 ounces each of provolone and mozzarella, then and parmesan. Stir in fresh herbs, garlic and roasted tomatoes, mixing well to combine. Transfer mixture to an oven-safe baking dish (mine was 6 x 4 round). Sprinkle with remaining provolone and mozzarella. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbly. Serve immediately with crackers, chips or toasted bread.  I actually served this with the same foccacia I used for the Spinach Dip.

There now!  4 dips that you can break out at YOUR next get together- or anytime!  Let’s celebrate Tuesday with a mini party and some dips!

Happy Tuesday!  I’m off to eat- let me know what you think!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

I’m someone who will try almost anything- seriously.  While I’m not as extreme as Andrew Zimmern or even Anthony Bourdain (and yes, Andrew is MUCH more extreme), I’m willing to give something a shot even if it seems weird.  I’m not sure why I’m so open to trying new things- my parents didn’t ever impress upon us that we needed to try everything or give all foods a fair shot; if anything, my mom would often recall her horror at having to eat liver and onions when she was younger, and I remember one particular wedding we attended where they were serving caviar and escargo (for the laymen- fish eggs and snails), and I was warned by my cousins to steer clear of the table.

Nope.  My ability to look past the odd and dive headlong into new waters is purely a ‘me’ thing, I think.  Like liver- I’ve never tried it, but I DO believe that -if its cooked well- perhaps it might not be so bad.  Usually what turns people off to something is texture, anyways, so maybe I’d like it.  If I ever try it, I’ll let you know.

Anyways, I say all this because I DO insist that my kids give all foods a fair shot and not to shoot something down just because it sounds weird or looks odd or has ingredients that won’t seem to work together- and even once they’ve tried something and written it off as “Do not ever eat again”, I STILL will make them try it again in the future.  Why?  Because tastes change.

Case in point- this dish.  I found it off Pinterest and Bug declared before ever taking a bite that he hated it.  Why?  Because it combined chicken and mangoes- a “no-no” in his book.  He fought me for a long time until I finally won the battle with “well, I’m not a short order cook, so you can try it and possibly like it, or you can go to bed hungry.”  In the end, he tasted it and loved it- even going back for seconds… and thirds. (Although, his pride kept him from ever REALLY saying he had been wrong in making a quick judgment.)  This is now one of our family’s favs.  Yeah, its a tad labor intensive, but every once in a while you should throw your clock out the window and just make something that will taste amazing.  This does- trust me.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade (for 4 chicken breasts)
-3/4 c vegetable oil
-Juice and zest of 2 limes
-2 cloves garlic -2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt -1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 C finely chopped cilantro
*I put everything in blender and have it mix and chop it.

Cilantro Lime Rice
-1 cup uncooked rice
-1 can chicken broth
-1 cup water
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbls freshly squeezed lime juice
-2 tsp sugar
-3 Tbls finely chopped cilantro
* Throw the rice, broth, water, garlic & some lime juice into a pot and let it cook. I also usually add a tbsp or two of butter to the pot to keep the grains of rice from clumping.  While it’s cooking I mix the sugar, lime juice & cilantro in a bowl. When rice is finished fluff the rice while mixing the sugar mixture into the rice.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
-1 batch prepared Ranch Buttermilk Dressing
-3-5 tomatillos (quartered)
-1 handful of cilantro
-1 jalepeno (optional)
-juice of 1 lime
-salt & pepper to taste
*Blend all ingredients in blender and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
*This ranch is for drizzling on top of each slice of casserole after it’s been cooked right before serving.  And for salads.  And veggies.  And for licking off the spoon…

-You’ll also be using a small container of sour cream, Pepper Jack cheese and prepared Mango salsa. (Or you can make your own.)

Before you do anything, you need to prep the chicken with the marinade.  This makes it so it isn’t a “last minute meal” that you can just whip up, but -once again- its worth it.  And if you do this the night before, it’ll make your life easier the next day- and the flavors will be a LOT more intense.

Next on the list- and you can do this after you’ve prepped the chicken the night before, too- is making the dressing.  Its OH-so-tasty and it makes a LOT, so save it in an old jar in the fridge.  We loved it on salads the next day and with veggies as a snack.

The day of, make the rice and layer it on the bottom of your dish.  Grill your chicken (or cook it in a pan if you don’t have a grill) and shred it.  Put it all on top of the rice (with the exception of those few bites you probably stole while you were shredding).  Slather it all with the sour cream.

Next, cover the sour cream with the mango salsa.  How much you use is your choice, but I suggest making sure the whole dish is COVERED.  Its yummy and you won’t regret it.

Finally, cover the whole thing with a TON of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until heated through (about 20 min). Then turn on broil until the cheese crisps a little.

When serving, drizzle tomatillo dressing on top and ENJOY!

Let me know how you like it!

Tasty Tuesday: Grinch Cookies

I’m a bit of a traditional gal.  I love traditions.  Traditions are the things that -long after you’re gone- your kids will remember because you did them every single year.  Maybe they’ll hem and haw about doing them (like the “traditional” Christmas photo) or maybe they’ll be giddy with excitement (like with a “traditional” movie night), but, in the end, they’ll look back someday and say,”Hey- remember when…?”

THAT’S what I want.  I want my kids to have these traditions so they’ll be able to look back on all the memories we’ve made, rather than focus on the hustle and bustle of Christmas seasons past.

In a day or so, I’ll post all the neato speedo things we’ve done thus far, but since its Tuesday, I thought I would post a recipe we recently used for our “Grinchy movie night”- the newest tradition I came up with after perusing Pinterest… again.

Oh, how I wish I could take credit for these.  Truly.  But I can’t.  I found the recipe HERE.

I mean, when it comes right down to it, the recipe is so simple that it makes me feel foolish that I never thought of it.  Although, now that I’ve made them, I’m already entertaining ideas for different versions for every other holiday.

Maybe a St. Patty’s Day cookie with Irish cream… ;-)

Grinchy Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint extract (I used 1/4 and it was perfect)
  • 6 to 8 drops green food color
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package Andes Mints
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chip

Heat oven to 350°F.

In large bowl, mix together the cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in chopped Andes Mints and chocolate chips.

Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set (I’d check them a little before your timer goes off just to make sure they don’t burn).  Let them cool for about 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

To make our Merry Grinchmas Movie Night a complete success, we paired these with Grinch Floats (Lime sherbet and Sprite).  They didn’t go together like milk does, but the Disasters were stoked that I was letting them stay up later than usual anyways AND giving them the cavity combo of soda, ice cream and cookies well after bedtime, so they didn’t complain.

And me?  I was just happy as a clam, snapping photos of my punks, eating cookies, drinking sugar, and soaking in all the memories that were being made.

Heavenly Spaghetti

This has a longer name- one that points out all the great reasons to eat it- but when you break it down, this name just kind of sums up.  I mean, really now, who wouldn’t love something with garlic, chicken, roasted tomatoes…

I’m making myself hungry.

Anyways, since you all know I’m a Pinterest junkie, I found the idea for this off there.  The problem I encountered, though (which, I’m sure you’ve all been in this situation), was I saw the picture, started to drool, and when I clicked on the link, it led to that person’s front page of their blog.  I looked for the ACTUAL recipe everywhere, but all I saw was the picture.  Not cool.

So, I started to mess around and came up with something that made me happy, and -BONUS- it made all the rest of Boystown happy, too.

Heavenly Spaghetti

Ingredients:

~12 oz spaghetti pasta (cooked al dente)

~1 pound chicken breast fillets (sliced into 1 inch chunks) (or 2 large b/s breasts)

For the chicken marinade:

~2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

~2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped (if using dried, use half of the amount)

~Zest of 1 lemon

~Juice of ½ a lemon

~2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

~1 teaspoon coarse salt (not table salt)

~½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

~1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

~2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to sauté the marinated chicken)

Add all the marinade ingredients into the chicken and marinade for 20 minutes (if you need this dish right away) or over night (if making this dish the next day… much better).

Saute the marinated chicken in extra virgin olive oil until cooked (about 4-5 minutes) then set aside

For the garlic gravy: (Preheat over to 400 degrees)

~½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

~4 large cloves garlic, finely minced

~2-3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

~2 ½ cups chicken stock

~1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

~salt and pepper to taste

~¼ cup parsley, chopped (to sprinkle/finish the pasta)

~½ cup grated parmesean cheese

~3 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved, or 3 cups of tomatoes, cut into 1 in. diced pieces

Toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper on a sheet pan. Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and slightly carmelized.

Place sauté pan (you used for the chicken) over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to make up 2 tbsp of oil in the pan (if there wasn’t enough left over from cooking the chicken) and add butter.

Saute garlic until fragrant. (About a minute. You don’t want it to burn.)

Add the flour and cook for a minute. You want a 1-1 ratio of oil to flour, so if you think you need to add a little more flour than 2 tbsp to keep that ratio, then do so.

Add chicken stock and simmer gravy until thickened then add the chopped basil.

Season with salt and pepper (if needed).

Add the sauteed chicken and tomatoes in the gravy then toss the cooked spaghetti into this  sauce.

Finish the dish with the chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese (serve extra on the side).

Now, I’m not one to pat myself on the back, but…

Oh, wait.  Yes I am.  Try this, though, and you’ll be sending me a virtual pat on the back, too.

And, hey- if you like it, let me know and PLEASE pin me.  Tell the world that this recipe rocks!  Yummy goodness like this shouldn’t be hidden.

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