Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday

Turkey and White Bean Chili
This is a South Beach Diet recipe that is delicious and very quick and easy to make. I prepared and cooked the entire meal in about 30 minutes tonight after work.

1T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. turkey cutlets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (can substitute chicken)
1T. chili powder (can use chipotle chili powder for a smokier taste)
1t. ground cumin
1 (15oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (can substitute black, navy or pinto beans)
1 (14.5oz.) can Mexican diced tomatoes
1c. lower-sodium chicken broth

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. About 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add turkey, chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring often, until turkey is no longer pink inside, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes with juice and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Yield: 3-4 servings.

Monday, October 27, 2008

He follows instructions ...

Our very own Tennessee Titans are the only remaining undefeated football team in the NFL. Tonight was their big Monday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts (and former UT Vol Peyton Manning). I mean, I had to leave work early today so I wouldn't get stuck in game day traffic. Despite all of the hoopla surrounding the game, my bookclub group decided to go ahead and meet tonight (the 4th Monday of the month) much to the chagrin of our husbands, who were left at home to watch the kids while the game was on. Will was NOT happy with me! Nonetheless, he took pictures of Claire wearing my Jevon Kearse jersey. He normally rolls his eyes at me when I leave him with a camera and instructions to take pictures. So ... I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived home to find these on the camera.

Adventures in Eating

Adventure 1: Teething foods
We have now been given the go-ahead by our pediatrician to introduce biter biscuits and other teething foods. Claire didn't really care for the biter biscuits and they were a big fat mess so I was not exactly looking forward to giving them to David. David, on the other hand, loves the biter biscuits, and he knew exactly what to do with it when I gave it to him -- put it in his mouth like everything else he touches these days. Unfortunately, he loved it so much, he apparently forgot to swallow because about one minute later, he make a choking noise, started turning red in the face, and then threw up. After doing this two nights in a row, we are going on a biter biscuit fast for a few days. I must say, the cleaning up of the throw-up was a breeze with the Baby Bjorn bibs. (We had not yet discovered these bibs when Claire was this age and we have lots of food stained outfits as a result.)

Adventure #2: Naptime or mealtime?
Tonight, David actually feel asleep while he was eating his sweet potatoes and oatmeal. Apparently, I was not a very entertaining dinner date! I love how he has his sweet little hand resting in his bib. I let him sleep there for about 30 minutes. Note-to-self if this ever happens again: clean the baby food off of his face before leaving him to sleep for 30 minutes. It is much harder to clean when it has dried and the sweet potatoes left a nice orange-ish tint around his mouth.

Crafty Pumpkins

Claire painted this pumpkin at school last week. Isn't it pretty? Too bad that red paint is now flaked all over my kitchen.

I bought a craft pumpkin for Claire to make her princess potato head pumpkin. I think right here she is trying to put the ear on the back of its head. I showed here where the ears were supposed to go and we got the princess pumpkin finished up below.

Last but not least were the pumpkins I decorated. They will eventually make it out to our porch just in time for Halloween. I got this idea from my friend Lindsey. I love little d's pumpkin.

Look for more fall decorations to come. I got mums this weekend in Alabama for $4. What a steal! Definitely worth the funeral home smell in our car all the way home on Sunday. I hope to get them out tomorrow, just in time to bring them back inside tomorrow night for our first hard freeze.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday

I did not mean for this to be a weekly post, but I have just happened to cook up something for dinner the past 2 Wednesdays and wanted to share these easy and yummy recipes with you. Will and I have been doing South Beach Diet for the past 5 weeks (to lose our pregnancy weight) and both of these recipes are good for Phase 2 of the diet. Okay, maybe not so much the second one, but if you use whole wheat noodles, skim milk and low-fat cheese, it is probably not that bad for you!

Vegetable Medley (from the South Beach Diet cookbook)
1 medium squash
1 medium zucchini
1 red onion
1-lb. asparagus spears
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
3 T. olive oil
1t. salt
1/2t. black pepper
Cut veggies into bite-sized pieces, except asparagus. I cut my peppers into strips. Break off tough ends of asparagus. Combine veggies in large casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Serves 5-6.

Golden Macaroni & Cheese (This recipe is from Southern Living-2004-but my neighbor Beth actually introduced it to me.)
1 (8oz.) pkg. elbow macaroni
2c. milk
1/4c. all-purpose flour
1t. onion salt
4-1/2c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I use pre-shredded)
1c. soft breadcrumbs (I use pre-made breadcrumbs and 1/2 to 1/3 the amount)
1/4c. butter or margarine, melted
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well. Place milk, flour and onion salt in a quart jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Stir together macaroni, flour mixture and 3-1/2c. cheese. Pour into greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and remaining 1c. cheese. Drizzle evenly with melted butter. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 8.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is Alabama Football: Weekend Update

The VanDykes had another very weekend ... in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This is God's country according to my husband. I'm not sure I agree, but Tuscaloosa was our first home as a married couple and it will always hold a special place in my heart. We also get to visit with our dear friends-David and Nikki-each time we visit.

NEW FRIENDS: This is Claire's friend, Hartley. He is David and Nikki's little boy and is almost exactly one month older than Claire. They instantly hit it off and had a fun time playing together all weekend long.

First date? I love this photo. The kids were eating dinner on Friday night before the babysitter came to keep them while the grown-ups went to a Halloween party. Notice that Hartley is sitting on his potty. He is still potty training and sometimes has to pop-a-squat for a little while before he will go. Fortunately, he had the TV to entertain him. If these two every get married, this photo will definitely be on the rehearsal dinner video!

GHOSTS AND GHOULS: We went to a costume party with David and Nikki on Friday night. While we were there, we ran into Sarah Palin and John McCain (aka David and Nikki). Actually, we ran into 3 Sarah Palins, 2 John McCains, 1 Richard Nixon and 1 Joe the Plumber (of the recent presidential debate fame). Will and I were Spartan cheerleaders. It was very thankful for my comfy costume and shoes after I saw all those 3-inch+ heels that all the Sarah Palins were wearing.

Saturday: Game On!
Will and David (our friend, not our 6-month old) left early Saturday morning to get the tailgate site set up and pick up our BBQ lunch. So, that left Nikki and I with 2 2-1/2 year olds, a 6 month old and a 7 week old. We had to get everyone fed, ready and packed up in the car all by ourselves! We finally made it out to the tailgate site after walking about 2 miles (toting 4 kids) from the car. I was ready to call it a day after that! The kids had a great time and Claire got to see a bunch of inflatable Big Al's out on the quad. She told us about 100 times on the way to Tuscaloosa that she wanted to see "Roll Tide" (this is what she calls Big Al). We told her that he was asleep because it was night time, which prompted her to ask about 100 times: "Roll Tide asleep? I wake him up?" Will and I felt really bad about not bringing her into the game when there were open seats on either side of us and Big Al was standing at the bottom of our section for about half the game. Of course, she probably wouldn't have gotten near him with a 10-foot pole once she saw him in person. I have vision of lost of crying and screaming "no bother me" in my head.

Saturday was a beautiful fall day and we loved being outside on campus and listening to Denny Chimes ring in the background. Will ever rounded up the kids for a game of "tackle". At game time, Steve and Jane (David's parents), loaded up the kids and took them back to the house to meet the babysitters while we went to the game.

It was another first-half victory for Alabama over Ole Miss that became quite the nail-biter in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Bama squeaked out a 24-20 win, despite the fact that they did not score one point in the second half. Hopefully, they will get their act together before heading up to Big Orange County on Saturday.

P.S. Cute Tailgate Food! It seems like a lot of blogs that I read like to post photos of food? Not real sure about that one, but these were too cute. I loved the Alabama petite fours and the Ghost nutter butters. I think I will make the ghost cookies for a Halloween party we are going to this weekend.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

David: 6 months old

My sweet baby boy was 6 months old last week. I cannot believe it. He is such a big boy and such a sweet baby. He almost always has a smile on his face. He is going to be a heartbreaker when he is older. That is for sure. Here is what has happened with David over the past month:

He has gotten 2 teeth.

He has learned how to move around by rolling.
He has finally figured out how to use the jumper. He is contantly moving those legs.

He still has chubby cheeks. Don't you just want to pinch those cute things!

He LOVES oatmeal, and will eat almost any baby food mixed with it ... except prunes. He doesn't really like baby food by itself (except sweet potatoes), so we typically mix some baby food into his oatmeal.

He doesn't HATE tummy time anymore. He still won't stay on his tummy for long periods of time.
He is sleeping 12 hours at night.

He can almost hold his own bottle. (He definitely at least gets an "A" for effort.) And he gets SO EXCITED when he sees it.

He LOVES Claire. Anytime he sees her, he gets this big grin on his face. He is really starting to interact with her more and more. (BTW, Claire has an Alabama tattoo on her face from the football game the day before in case you were wondering.)

He is starting to sit up a little on his own, but he is not very focused and typically falls over quickly. He is usually more focused on something else (e.g., a toy, the television, Claire) than trying to remain upright.

He is now wearing 6-9 month clothing and size 3 diapers.

He weighs 16 lbs., 12-1/2 oz. He measures 27-inches long.

He loves to grab stuff and puts everything in his mouth. I think we may have another tooth soon.

He can bear weight on his legs for a short period of time.

Here is a link to some photos that my friend Jadie took last weekend for David's 6-month birthday: They will be posted for a couple more weeks. She also got a few family shots for our Christmas cards. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday

I love to cook, but I rarely find the time to do anything creative in the kitchen. I typically make a few standards that Will probably gets tired of eating, but we eat nonetheless. You know, those recipes that you can make without the recipe and you have the ingredients memorized so you can swing by the store on the way home.

Well, to force myself to spend a little more time in the kitchen and to use one of my gifts to serve others, I joined our church's food ministry about a year ago. I am on a cooking team and we cook meals for 5-10 families every five weeks. The GOOD thing about this is that I typically cook for a different family with each rotation and I can use the same recipes over and over again. The GREAT thing about this is that I can bring a little joy and happiness into the life of someone who is sick, hurting or homebound. I have really been blessed by being a part of this ministry, despite the fact that sometimes, I just don't have the time and energy to do it.

I have to take a meal to an elderly home-bound couple tomorrow and here are a couple of my favorite recipes that I wanted to share. Both came from girls in my bible study group. They are quick, easy and YUMMY.

Crockpot Beef and Noodles (from Jadie)
1-1/2 lbs. beef stew
1 can french onion soup
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can golden mushroom soup
8 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms
Combine ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Serve over hot, buttered noodles.

Orange Juice Cake (This cake is yummy and since it has orange juice, you can eat it for breakfast, right? This cake is even better when your neighbor makes it and leaves you some on your front porch. Thanks Beth!)
1 box regular vanilla pudding
1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/2c. vegetable oil
1c. orange juice
Spray bundt or 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Heat on stove until boiling: 1 stick butter, 1c. sugar and 1/4c. orange juice. Boil for 2 minutes. Pour over cake while still in pan and let soak for at least 45 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Fall Y'all: Weekend Update

Well, it seems that we always tend to schedule our lives around Alabama's football schedule in the fall and this weekend was no exception. Alabama was OFF this weekend so we had tons of non-football related activities planned. There was a little bit of football watching too.

Friday: I took the kids to the park with my friend Colleen and her two sweet girls, Delaney and Cami. We had such a fun time that we forgot to take any pictures! Seriously, if you have figured out how to get pictures when there are 2 adults and 4 kids (2 under age 6 months), let me know. Then, we invited ourselves over to our next-door-neighbors' house for dinner. Actually, we invited them to go out to dinner with us, but they didn't want to go out and we threw together a pot-luck meal instead. We enjoyed our evening of food, wine, good conversation and a toasty fire on their back porch.

Saturday: Saturday morning, we headed to the pumpkin patch with three other couples. We had such a blast. See all of the cute photos below. (On a side note, it is way too hot to be visiting pumpkin patches and truly getting into the fall spirit. However, I will say, it was much cooler at the pumpkin patch this year than when we went last year-the first weekend in October-with temps in the high 80's.) I highly recommend Walden Farm. I am hoping to take the kids back there again before the pumpkin season is over. Maybe it won't be so crowded during the week. I don't know how we ended up with no pictures of the Winfrees. Hopefully, I can add some when Jessica gets her pics sent out.
Look at that pumpkin selection. We brought a few home that we hope to decorate soon.

Claire and Me.

A group photos (minus one)

My two sweet little pumpkins (above and below).

Buckley pushed Claire on the tire swing. Claire in the corn maze.
Here comes Will and David out of the corn maze. Will looks like he is praising the Lord that he made it out.

A family photo on the wagon.
Carter, Claire and Dean. Dean got a bat painted on his face. He was probably the only kid of the group who would sit still long enough for any face painting.

Claire loved watching me feed the goats. This is about as close as she got. She refused to pet them or feed them herself.

Another family photo on the big pumpkin. You could make a lot of pumpkin pies with this thing!

After the pumpkin patch, we headed to lunch at Martin's BBQ in Nolensville. What a treat! This place is too cute. Hopefully, we didn't scare the other people in the restaurant when we arrived. We were a little rowdy.
On Saturday night, my sister and her family came over to watch the Florida/LSU game. Go Gators! Florida is our second favorite SEC team thanks to Uncle Jon. We made a big pot of chili and settled down for the game with the 4 kiddos. The girls played a made a huge mess! Their favorite game was jumping off the stairs and the treadmill. We tried to get them to lay down on pillows in the floor when it was time to go to sleep, but they weren't buying that game.
Claire and Evie jumping off the stairs. They were WILD. Aunt Ashley reading a book to the girls.

Bedtime! Maybe not. We're not quite ready for a sleepover yet.
Some sweet photos taken outside Saturday afternoon. I love the photo of David and me on the right. David and Ian are on the left.

Sunday: We went to church Sunday morning, then headed to Costco for a quick shopping trip. I got gasoline for $3.17/gallon. It was a beautiful site when we pulled into the parking lot and saw the gas price. Sunday afternoon, we met my friend and photographer, Jadie, at a local park for David's 6-month photos and a few family shots. Here are a couple of pictures that we took ourselves while we were there. Jadie's photos were much better!

We promised Claire a trip to the playground afterwards, where we had a quick swinging session. After we ate dinner and put the kids to bed, Will and I were actually able to watch a movie. Our criteria was (1) short and (2) funny. We ended up watching "What Happens in Vegas" which is a cute and funny romantic comedy. I highly recommend it.

That concludes another busy weekend at our house.