Thursday, September 9, 2010

Easy Weekday Meal: Cajun Shrimp & Rice

This is a recipe I found on the Food Network website that was not only really delicious, but super easy to prepare and came together in just a few minutes. I made the rice the night before and bought the shrimp at the grocery store already deveined. The recipe calls for white rice but would be just as good with brown basmati. You can also sub out a can of chopped tomatoes for the plum tomatoes. I added in a yellow bell pepper as well. Make this soon and enjoy!

Cajun Shrimp & Rice
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons
Cajun seasoning
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 bunches scallions, chopped
3 cups cooked white rice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Heat the butter, olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Cajun seasoning to taste and the shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp begin to curl, about 1 minute. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and scallions to the skillet and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the rice and 1/4 cup water and continue to cook until the rice is warmed through and the shrimp are opaque, about 3 more minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve with lemon, if desired.




Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Easy Weekday Meal: Fish Tacos

I'm preparing to take a test tomorrow which required me to not eat fish for the last week. So of course, all I can think about is fish. I had a hankering for salmon the other day and today my mouth was watering for these fish tacos made with tilapia. Last time I made them my husband couldn't stop raving. I'm looking forward to making them again next week!


Marinade: 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Juice of 1 lime, plus zest
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay™
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together and set aside a couple tablespoons. Season tilapia with salt and pepper, then add to marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. When you're ready to eat, just put them on a baking sheet and pop them into the oven on broil for 6 minutes. Cut into chunks and pour over the reserved marinade.

You can serve these with whatever you like, but fish tacos are just begging for a good black bean coleslaw, slices of avocado and crema.

Black Bean Coleslaw
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons red wine vigar
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1 10 oz bag pre-made coleslaw
Put all ingredients in bowl and toss to mix


Crema:
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Put all ingredients in a small bowl and mix


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Easy Weeknight Meal: Salmon & Asparagus & Snap Peas

We probably eat more salmon than any other meat or fish in our house. Salmon is not only delicious, but very healthy. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fat, high in protein, and low calorie, salmon is a super food that everyone should be eating on a weekly basis.

Another plus to salmon is that it's easy to prepare. One of my favorite ways to serve salmon is to create a simple, but flavorful marinade and then bake the salmon in the oven for about 20 minutes. Serve with a green veggie (our favorite is asparagus) and you've got a healthy meal that the whole family can enjoy.


Salmon marinade
2 tablespoons Dijon or coarse yellow mustard
3 tablespoons good soy sauce
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon honey
Grated fresh ginger

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Season 1 pound salmon filet with salt and pepper, then soak in marinade for at least 30 minutes. Bake in 425 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Sauteed Asparagus & Snap Peas
1 lb fresh asparagus spears
1 pound sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste

While the salmon is cooking, clean the asparagus and peas. Slice the stalks off of the asparagus and snap the stems off of the peas and pull the string down the length of the peas. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the asparagus and peas and season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Better Than Ever

If you had asked me about 10 years ago where I thought I would be today, I would have answered that I was sure that I would be climbing the career ladder, traveling, hanging with my friends, and just enjoying life as a single woman. I don't think I ever pictured myself as a wife or a mother. I wasn't against finding true love and "settling down" and having kids, I just wasn't sure it was in the cards for me and that was totally OK.

Now that I have those things, I can't imagine my life any other way. In many ways, my life is better than I ever could have dreamed it could be because I feel like I have it all, or as close to it all as you can get. I have a great job, and within 5 years of finishing my graduate degree I am the boss. I have a house, a car, a partner and a great kid. 

I feel like I have evolved so much in the last few years as well. Of course some of that comes from becoming a mom and learning to be more patient, less judgmental and more laid back. I've also learned to make myself a priority again after focusing almost all of my energy on my family. I now find time to exercise at least four times a week, I go get my nails done twice a month and I cook dinner almost every night and rely a lot less on take-out. 

Dove gofresh is currently sponsoring a Facebook photo contest looking for the best pictures of how your life is "better than ever." The winner of the contest will receive a spa weekend getaway in Sedona, AZ as well as thousands of dollars worth of Dove products! If you've got some great photos of your "better than ever" life, upload them to the Facebook page for a chance to win.

Is your life different than it used to be? Did you find a job you love, a new hobby, or finally start working on that novel you've been wanting to write? How are you better than ever?






I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Dove® gofresh™ blogging program, making me eligible to get a $25 gift card and some product. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What did YOUR kid eat today?

As the mom of a toddler, I wonder all the time if my son is eating the best diet possible. Is it varied enough? Has he had enough fruits and veggies today? Does he eat too many hot dogs? Should I be concerned about his absolute refusal to even taste broccoli? When he was a baby it was a no-brainer: he was breastfed so I knew he was getting the perfect nutrition served up 24/7. Now things are a bit trickier.

I decided to look up what a kid of my son's age and weight should be eating. Thankfully the US government has created a food pyramid guide for pre-school age kids. You simply enter your kid's age, sex and activity level and you'll get a personalized look at what they should be eating. For our 2-year-old who gets more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day, he needs 3 ounces of grains, 1 cup of vegetables, 1 cup of fruit, 2 cups of milk and 2 ounces of protein and beans.

Are you surprised at easily attainable that seems? I was. I figured he'd need much more protein than that (how many times have I begged him to have one more bite of his burger?) and a lot more vegetables. In fact, I think he gets much more fruit and veg than this every day.

What if your kid is a picky eater? First of all, it's perfectly normal for toddlers to be picky eaters. A food they love on Monday will be refused on Tuesday (or vice versa...my kid wouldn't even look at eggs until yesterday when he hate most of mine off my plate. Today he asked for eggs again. Go figure!) I think the best thing you can do is to continue to offer them a wide variety of foods instead of just sticking to things that are "kid friendly" like macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. Your kid might surprise you with just how sophisticated his palate is. I can remember being shocked when I made a baked brie and my son couldn't get enough of it and he was only 1.

When you need some inspiration, you can check out the many food blogs dedicated to toddlers. One I especially love is Weelicious. I love that she offers her kids a diet of whole foods and includes many recipes that are vegeterian and vegan. And none of this hiding vegetables in the brownies crap on this site. Her recipes highlight the good stuff and she doesn't assume that kids won't like vegetables if you serve them in healthy, tasty ways.

How do you keep your kids eating healthy? What are their favorite meals and snacks? I'm always looking for new ideas to keep our meals interesting AND healthy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five Fun Family Vacation Activities Your Kids Will Love

I love taking my family on vacations. Since we live in Florida, we're able to take a lot of one-tank road trips and end up somewhere with great food, scenic views and beautiful beaches. Here are my Top 5 Family Vacation Activities Your Kids Will Love!

1. Going to the beach! Who doesn't love frolicking in the ocean on a hot day? Bring along a cooler of cold drinks and snacks and don't forget the shovels and pails for building sandcastles and finding sea shells!

2. Theme parks! We've got access to a ton of theme parks here in Florida and they're all a ton of fun for the whole family. Most theme parks include activities that are also educational. Don't forget the souvenirs to remember your vacation by!

3. Museums! Whenever I go on vacation, I try to hit up at least one museum in whatever town I am visiting. Every town is famous for something and you'll be surprised at how many places have museums that are either downright kooky or huge and teeming with cool artifacts.


4. Restaurants! Vacations often give you the opportunity to experience new and exciting types of cuisine and ingredients that are local. Plus kids always love eating out in restaurants, getting to indulge in their faves like pizza or macaroni and cheese.

5. Camping! Although I personally hate camping, kids love being amongst nature and the great outdoors! Your kids will love helping you cook hot dogs on the grill, investigating the various bugs and animals and sleeping outside in their own tent!


I wrote this blog post while participating in the Williamsburg Tourism and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

How to be fashionable on a budget

Although I earn a decent living, like most moms, I don't like to spend a lot of money on myself. I feel guilty for buying pricey clothes and shoes when I can use that money to buy clothes and toys for my son, or sock some away for her college fund. Fortunately you can still be fashionable and look great on a budget! Here are my Top 10 Tips for Fashionistas on a Budget!

1. Ross/T.J. Maxx/Marshalls
I love shopping for clothes at the big discount chains. Every time you visit, they've restocked and you can pick up everything from shoes and clothes to purses, jewelry and bedding. These are also great places to shop for lingerie, which can get pricey quickly.

2. DIY
If you like to sew, know how to do beadwork or are otherwise crafty, you can DIY...do it yourself! Making your own clothing and jewelry not only saves a ton of money, but can provide fun things for you to do with your kids after school and on the weekends.

3. eBay
I love scouring eBay for discounted designer dresses and shoes. Watch out for scams, but overall, eBay has some of the best deals on designer duds.

4. Amazon
You may think Amazon is only for books and DVDs, but they also have a wide variety of clothing, shoe and beauty product options. I have gotten ridiculous steals on shoes at Amazon.com.

5. Retailmenot.com
Although there are tons of coupon and deal sites on the web, I have found that Retailmenot.com has the best collection of coupons for the top online shopping destinations. I do not buy anything online without looking for a coupon code on Retailmenot first!

6. Outlet shopping
I am lucky to live near one of the largest outlet shopping malls in the country and I try to take advantage of the  bargains to be found there a few times a year. Outlet shopping is not for the faint of heart, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes, arrive early and plan to stay late. If you can, get a sitter for the kids so you can literally shop to you drop!

7. Stick to the basics
Invest in pieces that will take you through season to season, year to year. That way, even if you have to spend a little more, you know you're getting the most bang for your buck. Every woman should have a sexy black dress, a classic white button down shirt, a great pair of dressy jeans and a blazer. Build your wardrobe around these few key pieces.

8. Costume jewelery
You can dress up any look with some funky chunky jewelry! I love costume jewelry because you can experiment with lots of different looks and it won't break the bank.

9. Sales
Of course it goes without saying that you should hold off on shopping for clothing until your favorite store is having a sale. Most department stores put a lot of their inventory on sale every weekend, so if you find something you love on Thursday, ask to put it on hold and come back on Saturday. It may be 20% off!

10.Thrift stores
Yes you have to put in work to find great pieces at a thrift store, but it can be oh so worth it! I found a pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes at a thrift store for $5 once. You will have to rummage but you never know what you might find!

What are your tips for being fashionable on a budget?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Gap Outlet blogging program to be eligible to win a $20 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.