Eggplant Pizza

Today is Day 8 of my clean eating challenge. I am down 3.6lbs, I can go 30 minutes on my exercise bike at resistance number 3, I am lifting 10lb weights, and I still want to eat everything in sight.

Seriously. I am so freaking hungry like 75% of the time. Not for anything good though, so I guess its not hunger, just cravings. I want pasta, and bread, and anything with gluten and carbs and sugar. But I am standing strong as of now.

We have been pretty busy for the past few days. I took the girls shopping for summer clothes, we did a work out at the park one morning, we did the grocery shopping, etc. etc. This weekend was extra fun because Wonderful Husband got to come home and we took the girls to a spring carnival at the school they will be attending when they are older.

The school is very small, only about 10 rooms total. Their cafeteria is also their gymnasium and auditorium. It was nice to see where the girls will go and meet some of the people and teachers they will be around. We didn’t stay long but Little Darling won some tokens for prizes and got a lollipop. She was happy. Afterwards we ran a few errands and came home so the kids could nap.

Sunday was an awesome day! We went to church in the morning, and then in the afternoon- My dad and I got matching tattoos!

The tattoo parlor that we always go to was having a fundraiser for a local music program called Popshop, they were doing walk in tattoos and the proceeds went to the program. They had about 25 different designs to choose from, all music themed. We went down, there wasn’t any wait, and we got a music note with a heart. It was so fun! Afterwards, we let the girls nap at his house and then we went to the Chinese buffet where I got to try sushi. I actually liked it (despite being terrified of it for years) and ate 4 pieces!

Today we had some catching up to do since we were away most of the weekend. I still had to get the car inspected since we had transferred the registration to West Virginia, we had laundry and dishes and general tidying. Not to mention, there was a smoke alarm in the living room that has been chirping since Friday night.

Took the car in first thing, only took about 30 minutes and $15 for an inspection- score! We came home and pulled in the garage, as I was getting the girls out of the car I noticed it. The BIGGEST spider I have ever seen. Literally, the size of my palm. Perched on the wall by my car door. You can imagine the scene I caused. When I went back later to try and capture and relocate, he ran away. Another sweaty scene of me screaming like a small child. Now it’s somewhere in the garage, hiding, waiting for its revenge I’m sure. And probably breeding. Yuck.

After the spider incident, it was time for the smoke alarm. I got the ladder out, carried it upstairs, set it up, climbed 12 ft in the air (the only time I have hated our vaulted ceilings) and popped the battery out. Climbed down, folded up the ladder, and heard a chirp. What.

After an investigation, I realized it was actually the carbon monoxide detector that was chirping. You know, the one the is plugged into the wall, a foot off the ground. So I climbed back up the ladder, plugged the battery back in the smoke alarm, took the ladder down, carried it to the basement, put it away, and came back upstairs.

Chirp.

You’ve got to be kidding. Both batteries were going in both devices and I hadn’t noticed. Repeat ladder getting, battery popping, cursing. Hopefully the great room doesn’t catch on fire or fill up with poison gas, because we won’t know.

By that time I was exhausted and didn’t even want to think about dinner. Little Darling was begging for pizza all day, so I decided to indulge her. I made eggplant pizzas. They weren’t too bad, pretty similar to zucchini pizzas. Definitely not the same as gooey, delicious, bad-for-you pizza, but pretty ok. And even more than ok when you are on a calorie restricted, clean diet and are craving something cheesy and delicious.

I sliced my eggplant pretty early this morning, around 10am and let it sit, salted, on paper towels all day to try and combat the mushiness I often get when I make zucchini pizzas.

Enjoy!

Eggplant Pizza

1 Eggplant
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella
Cheddar

  1. Slice your eggplant into 1/2in slices, sprinkle with salt and set on a paper towel for at least 20 minutes. Blot with paper towels to remove excess water.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil, lay your eggplant in a single layer and spray the tops with oil.
  3. Bake 20 minutes.
  4. Spoon sauce onto the tops of the eggplant and top with Mozzarella and cheddar (we also did a few with pepperoni)
  5. Bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melty.

Enjoy! If I did my calorie counting correctly, you get 4 slices for about 250 calories. I am hoping I can stay strong this week and keep on track with my diet. The work outs are getting much easier, and I don’t dread them as much. The cravings are intense at times, but mostly manageable. Wish me luck!

Maple Mustard

Yes.

This recipe tastes as exactly as amazing as you would think it does.

As I am sitting here, scooping it down by the pretzel-full, I got to thinking that I should probably share this with the world. No need to be greedy (more like I want you to make your own because I ain’t sharin’).

It definitely could use some tweaks and improvements, so I am totally open to tips and tricks.

A few weeks ago, MIL and I took the girls on the Maple Taste and Tour. You drive around to all the local Sugar Camps (places where people tap maple trees and make maple syrup), to learn the different processes everyone uses and taste their specialties. It is really fun, and education. Not to mention, free food. Some camps had maple sugar cookies, maple fudge, kielbasa, beer, popcorn, etc. Only one camp had maple mustard.

It was AMAZING. We bought a jar and had it almost gone within just a few days. Now sugar season is over, and I am in a different state with no hope of buying more. But, I NEED IT. So I had to try and make my own. They made theirs with vinegar, egg yolks, dry mustard, and maple syrup (it was on the label) . I didn’t have access to dry mustard and FIL is constantly preaching about the dangers of raw eggs in food so I decided to play with it and this is what I came up with.

It does not disappoint.

Maple Mustard

2tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
2tbsp Yellow Mustard
4tbsp Maple syrup
1/4 cup Sour Cream

Whisk together.

Devour like a starving African orphan.

It’s still pretty runny, so I need to find a way to thicken it up without detracting from the flavor which is on point. You can obviously add or subtract any amounts you want. Sometimes the spicy mustard gets a little overpowering and I have to add in a little extra syrup, most of the time I just dump the ingredients in without measuring and taste test until I get it how I like it.

Not only do I dip my pretzels in it, but I also recently used it as a marinade for chicken breasts and they were delicious! I added some garlic and salt/pepper to that recipe. It is so versatile and yummy! Not to mention super easy and keeps in the fridge for quite a while (not that I would know because I eat it all immediately)

I am already thinking that this will probably be in my Christmas baskets this year if I can figure out how to preserve it so it doesn’t need refrigerated.

So, go whip yourself up a batch, grab your closest dippable object, and enjoy!

Well, that didn’t go as planned..

Today has been EXHAUSTING.

Like for real.

Lets take a walk through my day…

We got up, we had breakfast, we got dressed in clothing that doesn’t contain the words “pjs”, “sweat”, or “yoga” (ok, confession, I was wearing leggings. But they were LulaRoe and a fun springy blue flower pattern, so they are basically real pants OK!?). We put a movie on TV and played on the floor. It was a soggy, grey morning, but who cares, we were having fun. It was gonna be a good day.

My phone had been dead when I woke up, which was weird, because it had like 25% when I went to bed, so it should have been fine. Maybe I had a billion notifications on Facebook (or a certain blog that had been recently updated) and it had killed my phone. I plugged it in and went about my day.

Yea. My phone was dead because Wonderful Husband had been trying to get a hold of me for about three hours regarding the DMV, transferring our registrations to WV, and Uhaul receipts we needed to turn in to his employer to get reimbursement.

Whoops.

Soooo, by the time my phone turned on and one of his 6,000 phone calls came through, you can imagine what I heard on the other end of that line.

What ensued, can only be described as complete an utter chaos, or also commonly referred to as a normal day in a house with two under 3.

As I was trying to simultaneously call the bank with our car loan, make a bottle for Little Littles, and explain to Little Darling that I was, in fact, NOT on the phone with daddy, some random old guy shows up at my front door.

Thankfully, old dude was looking for a different house. Easy peasy. Nope, wrong house, k bye.

The bank is drolling on and on about how if the DMV has faxed the paperwork and they haven’t received it there is nothing they can do. Perhaps I could personally fax a request on DMV letterhead, and then wait 2 hours and call back with the date, time, number of pages, and fax number from which the fax had come from and perhaps they could track it down. Then they could fax the title to me, and I could hand deliver it to the DMV.

I can smell poop.

I look over and Little Littles, while still wailing for a bottle, is on all fours and poop is leaking out the top of her diaper, centimeters from her shirt, and mere inches from my brand. New. Rug.

So now I get to argue with The Bank about how I am not doing any of the nonsense they are suggesting, they and the DMV need to handle it or my car will just stay registered in PA forever, while I wrestle a screaming baby to floor and try to change a poopy diaper with one hand. All while Little Darling is still circling me saying “I TALK DADDY??”

I finally completely lost my shit, told The Bank to go to Hell, and hung up. Click. I got the bottle warmed up and ready for Little Littles, we are only about 15 minutes behind schedule for LL’s first nap,  and Little Darling announces she has to go potty.

This is my life.

So we run to the potty and spend 3 minutes fiddling around until I, again, lose my cool and shout GET OFF THE POTTY!

Now Little Darling is laying on the floor pouting, Little Littles has her bottle and is happily eating, and Wonderful Husband is blowing up my phone for the Uhaul receipts that I have, yet again, forgotten to send. I can’t imagine how it slipped my mind.

Little Littles drinks her bottle and goes to sleep. I send the Uhaul receipts. I get a load of laundry going, Little Darling gets a snack, and we head to the basement to clean.

Little Darling is playing in the guest room, getting in and out of the bed and fluffing the covers. I am cleaning the litter box, organizing some items in the pantry, and realizing it was much, much too quiet.

I head over to the guest room and Little Darling is sitting dead silent and still in the bed.

She looks at me and says “potty”

I became a raging lunatic. I ripped her out of the bed and saw the huge wet spot where she had indeed peed on our guest bed.

I spanked her. And then for good measure, I spanked her again. I couldn’t even form a sentence I was so angry. I was screaming words like BED and BATHROOM and JESUS CHRIST over and over again.

I grabbed her hand and half dragged her up the stairs to her bathroom. I forced her into the shower, which was too cold and she started crying. I rinsed her off, gave her a towel, slammed her into bed and told her not to move until I came back.

I could hear the wails echoing as I was stripping the bed, starting a new load of laundry, and cursing whoever thought up potty training. I cleaned up pee prints up the steps and down the hallway. I scrubbed the mattress with vinegar and set up a fan to help it dry.

Wonderful Husband calls to tell me I have sent the wrong part of the receipt (with much more colorful language) and requests I take new pictures and send the correct part.

I have had about as much of this day as I can possibly handle.

I finally went to face my child, who was still half sobbing in her bed. I explained that she is definitely old enough to know better than to pee anywhere but the potty and it was totally unacceptable to pee on the bed. However, I know I was a bit harsh in my reaction and I should have handled it better. We hugged it out and I told her that while I was sorry, she still couldn’t watch tv for the rest of the day, and if she pees on another piece of furniture I will beat her until she can’t see straight. She agreed and asked if we could color at the new table. Yea, really scarred for life. Not.

We spent some time coloring and building with blocks. Little Littles woke up and we had a nice lunch. We re-entered the basement and the girls played happily together while I dragged all the gym equipment into the house from the garage and set up the home gym in one of our spare rooms.

Then it was nap time. Glorious afternoon nap time. When both girls nap at the same time and I get two hours of child-free, mommy time. Today, I collapsed in bed and decided I would take a nap and not even feel guilty.

Little Littles had other plans, of course, and only slept for about 40 minutes.

Since she was up, I decided I would start on some dinner plans. Which is how I came up with this delicious Chicken Spinach One Pot Meal. Easy, full of veggies and protein, and just enough pasta to be a comfort food on a crappy day.

Chicken Spinach One Pot Pasta

3 chicken breasts, cut into pieces
Olive Oil
1 Tomato
1 small Zucchini
4 Garlic Cloves
2 Cups pasta- I used Penne
3.5 Cups water
Salt
Pepper
Basil seasoning-  I used Pampered Chef Sweet Basil
3 Cups chopped Spinach
3oz Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Milk
Parmesan Cheese

1.In a big pot, heat up some olive oil and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is about done, no visible pink on the outside

2. Add tomatoes, and garlic. Cook until tomatoes start to get tender.

3. Add water, salt, pepper, and seasonings. Bring to a boil.

4. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is tender, most of your water should be about gone.

5. Add milk, cream cheese and zucchini. Stir and bring to a simmer.

6. Add the spinach and stir well. Keep it simmering and add some Parmesan cheese to taste.

There you go. Easy to make, easy to clean up, and super delicious. Little Darling cleaned her plate, and had seconds. Little Littles ate almost a whole portion by herself.

So. Today was a shitty day. I fought with my husband. I flipped out on my kid. But tomorrow is another day, and I intend to make it great!

 

 

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn

Sometimes you just need to eat an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting. Sometimes you drizzle that popcorn with fattening goodness before eating it. And sometimes, you lay all the blame on the baby by telling yourself she wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy her movie unless there was popcorn involved.

Ok, you caught me. The above statement is totally something I did last week. Twice.

Little Darling is cutting a molar. Yippee! So she isn’t sleeping very well, isn’t eating very well, and in general is being a total grouch on most topics (lets not even talk about the bottle vs sippy cup issue). So I have been trying to make her happy and we have been having some treats this week.

One of those treats was a movie night, we netflixed a movie, ate popcorn, drank a huge bottle of milk (ok she did, I had long islands, don’t judge me), and stayed up way past our bedtime. She had a fabulous time.

We got the movie Home, it was recommended by my aunt who has a little one and she said it was totally kid friendly and really cute.

I know Little Darling loves popcorn, but I wasn’t feeling just a big bowl of puffed air that I normally get with my Aldi fit&active popcorn that has a whopping 20 calories per cup. I needed something more satisfying, with more flavor and deliciousness. Enter a fond childhood memory of my parents making us kids popcorn.

We had a hot air popcorn maker. Do those even still exist? It was old when we had it but it was AMAZING. My brother and I would always fight over who got to dump the kernels in and then we would hover over the yellow plastic top to watch them pop into popcorn and slowly rise up to fall out into the bowl.

Now my family was hard core about popcorn. We didn’t make a measly serving, we didn’t even make a couple servings. We had this metal bowl that, I kid you not, probably held a good 3 gallons of popcorn. The thing was huge. And we filled it to the brim with hot air popped goodness. Then my dad would melt butter in the glass measuring cup in the microwave and he would proceed with the magic process of buttering the popcorn.

He could spin that metal bowl like dradle, and then ever so slowly he would pour the melted butter into the spinning bowl. He would stop a few times to flip the popcorn, the popcorn artist that he was, with no spoon, no nothing, he would just flip the bowl up and the popcorn would fly into the air and then gracefully back into the bowl. Then we would salt it. Then we would all watch a movie and eat our way into diabetes. I am kidding, none of us have diabetes. I am really not sure how.. but we all have pretty good eating habits now.. must have gotten it all out of our systems. Until now.

I decided that now was as good a time as ever to introduce Little Darling to Diabetes this buttery goodness. Since we do not own a hot air popper, I made a bag of regular popcorn and then poured it into a bowl. I melted the butter in the microwave and poured it onto the bowl. Sadly, My bowl does not spin like my parents giant one, and I have yet to master the art of popcorn mixing with no hands. I had to use a wooden spoon to toss my popcorn. Then at the last minute I got creative and sprinkled in some rosemary and parmesan cheese. Ok, I added A LOT of parmesan cheese.

It was delicious. I mean it was DAMN DELICIOUS.

Little Darling, who normally watches movies by wandering around and playing and not paying a bit of attention to the tv, plopped her butt on the couch and watched the entire movie without moving. The only movement she made was to stick her skinny little arm out at me and motion for more popcorn like some tiny PJ clad mobster. I picked around and made sure she didn’t get any super buttery, salty, or cheesy pieces, those I, obviously, saved for myself.

The movie was super adorable!! It is all about this little alien who isn’t very well liked and ends up with a human girl who is searching for her mom. It was super super kid friendly. Other than a Busta Rhymes reference, I didn’t notice anything that could even remotely be inappropriate and even the Busta reference wasn’t bad, but most kids are not going to know who he is (most adults won’t either, I mean he was popular for, what, like 10 minutes?). My aunt said the music was annoying, but its a bubblegum pop instrumental version of How Low by Ludacris. Little Darling loved it and I am sure if she hadn’t had fistfuls of popcorn she would have been dancing along by the end.

We had so much fun that the next night we did the same thing with popcorn and a movie, except this time I let her watch a Hallmark Christmas movie with me. She wasn’t as interested in the movie and spent most of it playing but she would still come over and demand popcorn off me, sadly, there was no popcorn left either night because we ate it all.

Definitely not a habit to get into and do constantly, but it was so nice to watch some movies together and to have some junk food as a treat during a rough week. Besides, its the holidays, there are no rules at the Christmas time!

Christmas Bark

Christmas recipes galore!

First it was apples, then pumpkin, and now Christmas. Just think of how many ideas you will have for your own gifts to give to friends and family this year or next!

Before I realized I would be baking cookies until my eyeballs fell out, I was lacking on one last thing to fill up the Christmas baskets I am giving out. They had a good amount of nice things in them, but I felt like I needed one more treat to really fill up the tray and make it look extra fancy.

Little did I know that soon the Pampered Chef order would be coming in that I completely forgot about, that I would be struck with the motivation to bake 12 dozen cookies, or that the liquor store would have a sale on nip bottles. No one could have seen these events coming.

So I decided to make Christmas bark.

This is seriously one of the simplest things you can do and it has a phenomenal presentation, looking like you took a lot of time and effort to make it. Bag it up pretty and folks will think you slaved over this gift.

Are you ready?

Christmas Bark

Ingredients:

  • Red creme Oreos
  • Pretzels
  • Red and green M&Ms
  • Edible glitter
  • Melting chocolate (you need way more than you think you do)

All you do is crunch up some Oreos and pretzels and lay them on a baking tray, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth, pour it over the pretzels and Oreos. Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle on M&Ms and glitter. After the chocolate sets, break into pieces and serve.

Bam. It is gorgeous, festive, and so easy. It is nowhere near healthy, and you can almost feel yourself getting fatter as you eat it, but its PRETTY!

This can also, obviously, be customized to whatever holiday is (or isn’t) happening. I had grand plans of making this for Little Darlings party with gold glitter, yellow chocolate etc and calling it Pixie Dust Bark to go along with her Jake and The Neverland Pirates theme, but then I remember the chocolate drizzled popcorn we made for her baby shower and Pixie Dust Popcorn sounds so much cooler..But more on that after the party when I have pictures!

So there you have it, the next time you are stuck for an idea on what to gift or bring or anything just whip up some holiday bark and take it. People will rave and you will feel fancy.

Turkey Crescent Roll Ups

Back, a few weeks ago, right after Thanksgiving, I had a friend over to visit. We sat and talked and drank wine and watched sappy Hallmark Christmas movies. It was a fabulous girls night.

Around 6pm, my stomach started growling and I realized I had been so caught up in talking and visiting that I hadn’t even considered dinner. Damn.

I quickly trolled through Pinterest and my fridge and came up with these left over Thanksgiving turkey crescent roll ups. They were super easy, ready in about half an hour, and so delicious I am debating buying another turkey so I can make more..

Turkey Crescent Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 1 package refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • approx 2 cups turkey (I didn’t measure this, I had a huge container of leftovers and just pulled some out)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • about 1 soup can of milk

unroll the crescent rolls and separate the pieces of dough. Mix the soup, milk, and cheese together. In a greased 9×13 pan, spread a couple spoonfuls of soup mixture. On each piece of dough, place some turkey and a spoonful of soup mixture. Roll it up and put it in the dish. When all the dough is rolled up, pour the remaining soup mix on top. Bake until golden brown.

I covered mine, thinking it would keep the rolls from burning on top but it mostly just made them take forever to bake, next time I wouldn’t cover it and just keep a close eye on it.

This was super easy and delicious and a great way to use up some leftover turkey. I wish I would have thought ahead enough and added a small spoonful of leftover cranberry sauce to each roll up. Yummmmm!

Stepford and the Kitchenaid Mixer

I didn’t grow up with a Kitchenaid mixer. Or any kind of mixer that wasn’t our hands, a fork, and rarely a hand mixer. When I would go to peoples houses and see a stand mixer two thoughts would enter my head:

  1. They must be SUPER rich, and
  2. They must be lazy as all hell

I mean what kind of person can’t be bothered to use a fork to mash their cookie dough together? Who doesn’t hand knead their bread dough? What a cop out!

I apologize for every silent judgement I ever had about these wonderful devices. I take back every bad thing I ever thought about stand mixers and anyone who uses them. They are obviously sent from heaven and people who use them are demi gods.

When MIL and I did cookies last weekend, she came bearing gifts (of course she did!! You know they never enter the city limits without having something for us or Little Darling) of everything we needed to make cookies, and their beloved, bayberry colored Kitchenaid mixer.

IMG_2140

At first, I was like I-cannot-believe-she-carted-this-thing-down-here, but within about 10 seconds of using it, I was like please-dont-ever-take-this-thing-away.

Let me just say. Holy God this thing is AMAZING.

Number one, it cuts the time of almost any recipe in half because instead of spending 15 minutes with a fork digging into the palm of your hand while you curse under your breath at the butter that wasn’t soft enough, you toss the butter into the mixing bowl and the mixer is like WHAM, BAM- butter is smeary and ready.

Number two, it keeps your fingers and hands clean, for the most part. There was an unfortunate incident where we thought we could fit a triple batch into the mixing bowl (for future reference, don’t do that) and we got pretty messy. But as long as you are just dropping ingredients in, it is pretty mess free.

Number three, it mixes everything perfectly. When you are normally biting into hunks of unmixed brown sugar and wondering why your cookies spread so funny or aren’t very chewy or any of those weird problems you encounter even though you followed the recipe exactly, that doesn’t happen with the stand mixer. Your cookies are perfectly mixed, and come out pretty beautifully.

This was my first time using a stand mixer and I was pretty much instantly in love. I am already looking for counter space I could open up so I can fit one permanently. I have made quite a few cookies in my life time, and I can say the cookies coming out of this stand mixer are by far the best cookies I have ever had and the chocolate chip cookies are bordering are best chocolate chip cookies I have ever tested ever, included the store bought ones and the bakery cookies. I mean it.

So. Grab yourself a stand mixer, and whip up a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies for you and your loved ones. Or maybe just for you since you will probably eat the whole batch before any one else eats one..

Chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Mix the butter, sugars, and vanilla in the stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well in between each one. Slowly mix in flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake 8-11 minutes until the edges are golden brown but the middle is still pale. Let cool for a few minutes before moving to wire racks to cool completely. Eat every cookie in one sitting  Enjoy.