July 29, 2010

Ozzie's 2nd Birthday

Today my sweet baby boy turns two. It is hard to believe that Ozzie has been in my life for two years. He has been such a blessing and has taught me so much about myself.

Having a two year old is not easy but it is truly the most rewarding experience. Even in those pull my hair out tantrum moments I love my life and know being a wife and a mother is exactly what I was born to be.

Ozzie is all boy AND equal parts dare devil, comedian, musician, snuggley lover, impatient and demanding (like mom) and happy go with the flow (like dad). He is perfect in every way.

Today we celebrated his 2nd birthday just the three of us with a small carrot cake. Here is a picture of Ozzie eating his cake. I'll post more pictures and a video soon. I have to go finish prepping for a 2nd birthday party!

Happy birthday to my sunshine!

July 26, 2010

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo

Another delicious recipe Oscar made for the family was Chicken with Sundried Tomato Orzo. Yes we eat A LOT of chicken in this house! My favorite part of this recipe was the marjoram fresh from my garden.

8 ounces orzo, preferably whole-wheat
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, (not oil-packed), divided
1 plum tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram, divided
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar (we substituted balsamic vinegar because it was all we had)
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (1-1 1/4 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (we used Trader Joe's canned hearts)
1/2 cup finely shredded Romano cheese, divided

1.Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

2.Meanwhile, place 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, plum tomato, garlic, 2 teaspoons marjoram, vinegar and 2 teaspoons oil in a blender. Blend until just a few chunks remain.

3.Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until golden outside and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

4.Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Measure out 1/2 cup sauce to a small bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes to the pan along with the orzo, artichoke hearts and 6 tablespoons cheese. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among 4 plates.

5.Slice the chicken. Top each portion of pasta with sliced chicken, 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and marjoram.

I'm still trying to convince Oscar to be the family cook!

July 25, 2010

Best husband EVER!

So I've mentioned before that it has been a rough couple of months for the house of O. On top of our colds and Ozzie's surgery I threw my back out and basically couldn't move for about five days.

Oscar jumped in and helped out with dinners since it hurt me to stand too long in front of the oven too cook *wink*. Just kidding, I really was out of commission so Oscar did all the cooking in between taking care of me and Ozzie. As usual he was great! How did I end up with the best husband ever?And on top of all that, his dishes were deeeeelicious!

One of my favorites was Chicken & Asparagus with Melted Gruyere. YUM!

8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (1-1 1/4 pounds), trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1.Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and steam for 3 minutes. Uncover, remove from the heat and set aside.

2.Whisk broth and 2 teaspoons flour in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

3.Place the remaining 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour, shaking off any excess.

4.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adjusting heat as needed to prevent scorching. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

5.Add shallot, wine and the reserved broth mixture to the pan; cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in sour cream, tarragon, lemon juice and the reserved asparagus until combined. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top of each piece of chicken, cover and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.
We served it over brown rice and it was good!
Per serving: 306 calories; 15 g fat (6 g sat, 6 g mono); 91 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrates; 31 g protein; 1 g fiber; 298 mg sodium; 343 mg potassium.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

I finally tried this recipe after reading about it 1001 times on the blogs. Honestly the best and easiest homemade tomato sauce I've had. It's my new favorite meatless night meal.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter via Smitten Kitchen.

*photo courtesy smittenkitchen

July 15, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

Dr. Oz says a bowl of steel cut oats is a breakfast for champions but waiting 30 minutes for them to cook in the morning just isn't feasible in my house. I want that extra 30 minutes of sleep!

Luckily I stumbled on to a method of cooking steel cut oats the night before and so far it has worked out perfectly.

Easy Steel Cut Oats
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat and go to bed!
*you can use any amount of oats to feed your family, just remember the ratio is 1 to 3

The next morning the oats are perfect and you can reheat them on the stove again or in the microwave- whichever is your preferred reheating method.

I add milk, frozen raspberries, unsweetened coconut flakes, honey (or agave nectar) and cinnamon and pop it in the microwave for 1 - 2 minutes. Even Ozzie gobbles it up!

For those interested here are some benefits of steel cut oats:
  • Steel-cut oats are essential grains which are full of nutritional value, rich in B-vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber while low in sodium and unsaturated fat.
  • One cup of steel-cut oats contains 8g of fiber.
  • Steel-cut oats are whole grain oats, the inner portion of the oat kernel, which have been cut into two or three pieces rather than flattened. Because of this it takes longer to digest, making us feel fuller for a longer period of time.

July 13, 2010

Day out with Thomas

Ozzie inherited my cousins son's (is that his 2nd cousin?) Thomas The Tank Engine toys a few months ago. Ever since then he has been a huge Thomas fan. So when Thomas came to town last weekend we had to take him.

He was beside himself. I have never seen him so excited yet so calm and cooperative at the same time. He wasn't your typical two year old, running around in circles excited. He was in awe and yet I'm positive he understood everything that was going on.

Just to give you a little back ground, Ozzie is a daredevil who is always raring to go. When we go on walks around the neighborhood, he makes every attempt to brake the rules to see how much he can get away with. He walks on the street while looking back at me with a "I dare you to come chase me" look. He walks on the neighbors lawns even though I tell him every time that we don't walk on other people's yards. He picks up every little disgusting thing he's not supposed to touch. He wants me to bring his push buggy car but refuses to ride in. You get the picture, right?

So you can imagine my surprise when this little rule breaker followed every rule and was an absolute angel the entire day. He waited patiently in line after line, waiting to ride on Thomas, waiting to take a picture with Thomas, waiting to meet Sir Topham Hat. Never once did he stray. He smiled and cooperated when it was his turn for a picture. He didn't even go crazy in the gift shop. I never had to chase him off the rails when trains were passing; which happened twice an hour. And he actually sat on the entire train ride, enjoying the scenery we pointed out to him. I fully expected to chase him up and down the aisles.

I can't tell you how proud we were of our little boy. It was so fun for all of us to have a good afternoon as a family without any tears or tantrums. I fully believe he understood what he needed to do in order to enjoy Thomas and I am in awe at his development.

Or it was pure luck and the next event will be h.e.double hockey sticks. Either way here are some pictures from our day out with Thomas.

Waiting in line to ride on Thomas. He wouldn't let go of his Gordon train all day, you'll notice Gordon in every picture.

On the train waiting to depart

Looking out the train window

Showing me the choos choos outside

On the train with Daddy

Showing Daddy the sites

He "choo chooed" the entire train ride

My favorite picture from the day

Posing with Thomas

Close up

Posing with Gordon who is his favorite train

Watching Thomas puff by

Waving bye bye to Thomas

Sad that Thomas is gone

Mommy asked him to pose on the tracks for a picture and he actually volunteered a smile. Poor Gordon was replaced with a fancy new Spencer.

Pesto Pasta with Peas

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I enjoy Gweneth Paltrow's newsletter, Goop. Although I try to steer clear of celebrity news and gossip, her newsletter is more mom focused. In fact, I think she really does a great job of highlighting topics that most moms I know find interesting.

I have tried a few recipes and this simple pesto pasta with peas seems to be a hit in our house. Though Ozzie and I both leave too many peas on our plates after eating all the pasta. I've told you we both hate our vegetables- like mother like son!

The best part about cooking this in the summer is it only requires boiling the pasta so your house doesn't get hot from the oven on a hot summer evening. Also, I love the taste of fresh basil from my garden. It's so rewarding to use your own herbs and vegetables in your dishes.

Pesto Pasta with Peas from Goop
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cooked peas (frozen ones are more than okay)
3 cups cooked brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta

Pulse the pine nuts in a blender or food processor until minced. Add the garlic, basil and olive oil and pulse until the mixture is nicely pureed. Remove to a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix as much of the pesto as you like with the peas and pasta.