Monday, September 30, 2013

Crock Pot Kid-Friendly Turkey Chili

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Mine was great!  We spent a lot of time outdoors - the weather couldn't have been any more perfect.

I'm not sure if this is a toddler thing or a personal preference thing, but John is a relatively picky eater, especially when it comes to textures.  Take mashed potatoes for example.    For the longest time, each time he would try them, he would gag.  Now he eats them with no problem.  Another thing he has a hard time with?  Chili.  He would pick out only the ingredients he liked and leave the rest.  

When I saw a recipe for kid-friendly chili, I knew it was something I had to try.  Bonus?  It's a crock pot recipe!

Crock Pot Kid-Friendly Turkey Chili
Servings: 5  • Size: 1 cup  • Old Points: 6 pts • Weight Watcher Points+: 6 pt
Calories: 226 • Fat: 3 g • Carb: 21 g • Fiber: 3.5 g • Protein: 31 g • Sugar: 5 g
Sodium: 688 mg • Cholest: 59 mg

1.3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
1 teaspoon oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced fine
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
10 oz can Rotel Mild Tomatoes
8 oz small can plain tomato sauce
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Optional Toppings:
diced avocado
reduced fat sour cream
reduced fat shredded cheese
baked tortilla chips

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the turkey, season with salt and cook, breaking up with a spoon until turkey browns and is no longer pink; place into the slow cooker. Add the oil to the skillet and sauté the onion, garlic and bell pepper over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes. Spoon over turkey into the slow cooker and stir in corn and tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, paprika and salt, mix until well blended. Pour chicken broth into the crock pot and add the bay leaf.
Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours or LOW 6 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

I wasn't sure how John would react, but when he saw my serving with the cheese on top, he decided he would try some too.

The verdict?  Complete success!  See how he's using his spoon?  That, my friends, means he's eating the chili, not just the things he liked.

The only issue he had was with the diced tomatoes.  He told me he didn't like them and asked me to pick them out.  I took the spoon from him and scooped out the chili.  I told him there were no tomatoes in that scoop (even though there were) and he told me he liked it.  When I told him he had eaten diced tomatoes he looked at me and said "oh, I guess I do like them."    Go figure.

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Wed-Tastic Weekend!

Happy Monday Tuesday!

I was all set to give you a recap of the awesome weekend, but frankly, I was exhausted!  Why, you may ask?  My cousin got married over the weekend and sleep was minimal.

When I stop to think about it, I still can't believe my cousin Pete is married.  Even though he's an adult, I can still picture him as this 12 year old kid and in some respects, there are times when I look at him that way.  It's hard to realize he's all grown up.

My Uncle Pete, Aunt Lisa, Pete and Lauren
My nephew Aiden was in the wedding, and John couldn't wait to get to the church to see him.
John and Aiden before the ceremony
I didn't think I'd get to see Pete before the wedding ceremony, but my aunt pointed out that he and the best man were off to the side waiting for Mass to begin.  I quickly ran over, gave him a hug and told him to enjoy every second of the wedding.  Think these two look alike? Well, they do - Pete's best man was his twin brother, Andrew.

Andrew and Pete waiting for Lauren
I've known Pete and his fiancee Lauren for quite some time, and I'm telling you, I've never seen either of them smile as much as they did that day.  It was beautiful.

First kiss as husband and wife!
As for my nephew?  He did awesome up there all by himself.  And really, he looks so darn cute in that tux, don't ya think?

After Mass was over, we snapped a few pictures and headed back to my uncle's house until it was time to go to the reception.

At this point, John's lack of a long nap started kicking in (i.e., he became a grumpy pants) so shortly after this photo was taken, the hubby and I drove around until he fell asleep.

John had to be woken up and the grumpiness got worse.  I don't blame him - I'd be annoyed if I didn't get my nap in either.  The only thing that made him feel better was seeing his cousin Aiden.  Aiden gave him a hug and his mood shifted 100%.

I brought along a spare shirt so that the little guy could be more comfortable at the reception.  Who doesn't like a faux tuxedo shirt?

P.S.  I love Aiden's face in the picture above.  What a ham!

Question of the Day:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Hope you are all having a fabulous week!

Today, I'm thankful for the cooler temperatures.  It's been ranging from the 40s-50s in the morning and then goes up to the low to mid 70s by the afternoon.  This is the kind of weather I could live with year round.  I'm telling ya, hoodies are one of my favorite things about Fall.

I think I'm passing my love of hoodies on to John.  He seems to enjoy them just as much as I do.

He looks so old in this picture, doesn't he?

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nice Sausage

Happy Monday!

I tried thinking of a better blog title for today's post, but the kid in me couldn't resist.

How was your weekend?  Mine was pretty good.  The weather was beautiful! We had the windows open the entire weekend and it was glorious.  The only downside to open-all-of-the-time windows is the little guy's allergies.  This morning he woke up with a stuff nose and yucky cough.  Lovely.

I'm in the middle of a food rut, so to break out of it, I bought and cooked some sausage and peppers.  This is one of the easiest meals to make.  I literally cut the sausages in half, cut up some peppers I had on hand and baked them in a 350 degree oven for about an half hour.

Because I can't leave well enough alone, and because everything tastes better with pasta sauce (a/k/a gravy), I put these guys in homemade gravy until I was ready to eat them.  It was a big hit all around and even the little guy enjoyed them.

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

The "school year" started in John's daycare after Labor Day, which meant that his teacher (Miss Lisa) switched her hours.  She used to be there from 6:30 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. and leave in the middle of the day for two hours to take care of her home care client.  (Yup-she has two jobs).  Once the school year started, her boss told her her hours were changing - from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.  It makes sense - having the teacher there consistently during the day - but John?  He wasn't happy about it. At all.  John is the kind of kid who needs to know what's going on, so the hubby and I tried our best to prep him about the new teacher that would be with him until Miss Lisa came in.  That first day, though, was rough.  For the first time ever, John cried when we dropped him off.  It was awful.

Day by day he's getting better.  Now he's into playing shy when when he walks into his classroom, but there are no more tears.  He tells me at least once in the morning he doesn't want to go to school but when I tell him that Miss Lisa will be there at 9:00, he's excited.

Today, I'm thankful he's adjusting well.  When I came home from work the other day, he was practicing a song for me - Shiny, Shiny Apple Red.  My favorite part of the video is how he's trying to point to the words and read.

In case you can't make out what he's singing, here are the lyrics:

Shiny, shiny apple red
Hanging high above my head
On my tiptoes reaching high
One last stretch, it's worth the try
Shiny, shiny apple red
Grabbed it, ate it, now I'm fed!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eggplant Pizza

Happy Wednesday!

I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to acknowledge September 11, 2001.  It stuns me that it took place 12 years ago.  I remember being in college when the attack happened.  I couldn't believe what was going on and honestly, I didn't fully grasp what was happening until I went into the student lounge and watched the second plane hit.  There really are no words for what happened that day.

There's been a lot of pizza eatin' in my household lately, and today's post is no exception.  I saw a recipe from Kaylin's Kitchen for Julia Child's Eggplant Pizza and I couldn't wait to try it out.

Julia Child's Eggplant Pizzas (Tranches d'aubergine á  l'italienne)
(Makes 3-4 servings or 6-8 appetizer servings, recipe adapted from one found in From Julia Child's Kitchen.)

1 globe eggplant, about 8 ounces and 9-10 inches long
about 1 T salt, for drawing water out of eggplant
about 2 T olive oil, for brushing eggplant before roasting
about 2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, for sprinkling on eggplant before roasting
10 large basil leaves, cut in chiffonade strips (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup finely grated low-fat mozzarella blend
hot red pepper flakes for sprinkling finished pizza (optional)

Sauce Ingredients:
2-3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 can good quality petite diced tomatoes with liquid (or use 3 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes)
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend
1/4 tsp. dried oregano (use Greek or Turkish oregano)

Cut off both ends of the eggplant; then cut it into 3/4 inch thick slices (trying to make them the same thickness!)  Put the eggplant pieces on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt.  Let the eggplant sit with the salt on it for about 30 minutes to draw out the liquid.  (After the eggplant sits for 15 minutes, turn on the oven to 375F/190C.)

While the eggplant sits, make the sauce.  Heat 2-3 tsp. olive oil (depending on your pan) and saute the finely chopped garlic just until it becomes fragrant.  (Don't let it brown.)  Add the petite diced tomatoes, dried Italian seasoning, and dried oregano and let the sauce cook at a low simmer until it's thickened, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork as it cooks.  (Add water as needed, a few tablespoons at a time as the sauce cooks, keeping it hot by simmering at very low heat until it's needed for the eggplant slices.)

After 30 minutes, wipe the eggplant dry with paper towels (this also removes most of the salt.)  Spray a roasting sheet with olive oil or non-stick spray, lay eggplant slices on, brush the tops of the eggplant with olive oil, and sprinkle with dried Italian seasoning.  Roast the eggplant about 25 minutes (but "not so long that the slices become mushy and lose their shape" as Julia says.)

While the eggplant roasts, thinly slice the fresh basil leaves (if using) and combined freshly grated Parmesan and low-fat mozzarella blend.  After 25 minutes or when eggplant pieces are done, remove eggplant from the oven and turn oven setting to broil.  Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the top of each eggplant slice, sprinkle with thin basil slices (if using) and top with a generous amount of cheese.  Put pizzas under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.  (This took 6-7 minutes for me, but I was using a toaster oven and in a more powerful broiler it would probably only take a few minutes.)  Serve hot, with red pepper flakes to sprinkle on pizza if desired.

I've found that the secret to any good recipe with eggplant is to salt and roast the eggplant ahead of time. The salt takes away some of the eggplant's bitterness and the roasting makes it nice and tender. 

After roasting

After brushing the eggplant with olive oil and roasting, it was time to add the tomato sauce and cheese and pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes.

I couldn't stop eating these things!  And really, it's eggplant, so calorie wise, it's not so bad.  I calculated the nutritional information per slice of eggplant and came up with this:  Calories: 70, Carbs: 7, Fat: 5, Protein: 3, Fiber: 2.  Not too bad in my book!

Question of the Day:
Are you an eggplant fan?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, September 9, 2013

5 Years

Last Thursday the hubby and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  In some ways it feels like we just got married but in others it seems like we've been married for much, much longer.

We took the day off of work, kept the little guy home from daycare and headed off to the zoo.  We are members of the Philadelphia zoo, but we ended up going to Elmwood Park zoo.  It's smaller, less crowded and much easier to get to.

John took off like a bolt of lightning and wanted to explore everything.  It was pretty hilarious how things he wouldn't have done a few months ago he has no problem doing sticking his head through this hole and smiling.

Despite all of the benefits of being at Elmwood Park zoo, there was one reason, and one reason only why the hubby and I decided to visit - you can feed the giraffes.  John loves giraffes as much as I love chocolate. He sleeps with a stuffed giraffe and if he's asked what his favorite animal is, giraffe will always be the answer. 

For $5.00, you get two pieces of romaine lettuce and a stamp on your forehead that says "sucker" and you can have an up close and personal experience with the giraffes.

John was in his glory.  He was so excited!

After that experience, John asked if he could ride a pony.  Really, kid?  A pony?  He assured me he wanted to ride all by himself, so while I held my breath and hoped not to pass out, John happily rode around on the pony.  He's growing up too fast!

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pizza Makin' Time

Happy Wednesday!

The hubby and I had a nice long Labor Day weekend.  We took off on Friday because John's daycare center was closed.  Even though we had off an extra day, the weekend still flew by!

On Friday, John and I decided to make a personal sized pizza.  He has a pizza making kit and Friday was a good day to use it.  The kit came with measuring spoons, cups, a rolling pin and a personal-sized pizza pan. Oh yeah, it also came with a chef hat.

John loved making his own pizza complete with mini pepperoni and cheese.  I try to cook with him as much as possible because I think it's important.  Plus, if he is involved in the process, he's more likely to try whatever we're eating.

I think he did a great job, don't you?

The big test was when the pizza came out of the freezer.  I would say oven, but let's be real, he can't eat anything right out of the oven.  He insists on it being room temperature or colder.

He liked the pizza, but he told me that the likes the pizza better at "big boy school."  Of course he likes the pizza better at big boy school - it's probably much greasier.

On Sunday, my brothers and I got together for a Labor Day picnic.  It was awesome, as always, to see the kids.  I love how they are old enough to smile for pictures.

I love my niece's expression in this picture.  She cracks me up!

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend? (Even though we are halfway through the week already!)

Until next time!
~Anne Marie