Thursday, January 30, 2014

Welcome Home and Happy Snow Day Dinner

The girls just got back last night from a week-long trip to Michigan with their Nana and Papa where there was at least a couple feet of snow on the ground and temps as low as -4 degrees (not including windchill!). They played outside in the snow just about every day and had fashion shows, played lots of Monopoly and did a puzzle when they stayed inside. Outside, they made a big snow man, went sledding down Nana and Papa's awesome driveway for hours on end and even went skiing!


To welcome my darlings back, I was excited to put one of my new purchases from our last-hurrah trip to NYC to use. I knew the girls would love it as well. I know it's kinda silly, but I've been soooooooooo wanting one of these and literally gasped when I saw it. Thus, it had to be mine. :) 


The girls were pretty excited about it and some little boxes they spied right next to it, also acquired on the same trip.Oh the Places You'll Go #3: NYC - The Last Hurrah


Got them these to commemorate Little Sis' first time skiing and Big Sis' second. Nana reported that it was a success! Whew.... :)


The table was set with some JoJo's Circus napkins I happened across during my bonus room closet clean up. Reminds me of when Big Sis just a little ol' three completely obsessed over JoJo. I miss those days. Now that JoJo's Circus is back on Disney Jr (yay!) Little Sis is completely absorbed by them at the ripe old age of 7. I just love that. And shhhh! but, I've even found that Big Sis still gets drawn into it on occasion. ;)


Here's what was for dinner: Spinach Lasagna, made a couple months ago and taken out from the freezer, which made for a super easy meal. 


Anyway, with all that hardcore winter fun in Michigan, I wasn't so sure if they'd be up for going out to play today in sunny NC where it was a balmy high 30's with barely 2 inches of snow in grass (and zero on the sidewalks and streets). But kids will be kids, especially with snow in their own neck of the woods, so out they went and enjoyed it just the same. I'm sure it was enjoyable of a different sort w/ the temps being so much warmer.

Plus, their American Girls just HAD to try out their new skis! :)


And a quick video of the little slope we found at the end of our driveway. Not big enough for big kid sledding, but perfect for American Girl skiing. :)


Ouch! Can you say face plant? Ok, I need to figure out how to actually add the whole video because you can't see the face plants! oh well.

These snowmen were just a leeeetle bit smaller than the one in MI, but the got to make a bunch of them, PLUS, we got to use our handy dandy bento picks from Allthingsforsale. Sweet! The perfect size!


This of course, inspired me for tonight's dinner, which was accompanied by some good ol' fashioned alphabet chicken soup (not pictured)!


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In this dinner:
  1. Grilled Applegate ham and Applegate American cheese on Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat bread.
  2. Steamed organic broccoli from Trader Joe's
  3. Organic baby cut carrots from Trader Joe's
  4. Homemade chocolate chip cookie from last's night's dinner using Ghiradelli's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Last but not least, I just have to say thank you so much to Nana, a beautiful, incredible, tireless wonder who puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. Her endless giving always leaves us in awe and makes us feel like the luckiest people on earth. Thank you to Papa, who is equally giving of his time and energy but is a little more apt to be found occasionally dozing off on his favorite chair. haha! We love you guys so much!

Shout-outs:
EasyLunchBoxes - love my ELB's!!


My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Food Decorating Pick Long Pix Stix Assorted Japanese Bento Accessories Silicone Colorful Food Cup 6P   

Applegate for providing natural (and organic varieties, too) nitrate-free yet oh-so-convenient pre-packaged deli meats. Check out my FB post professing my love for them: FB post professing my love for Applegate :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Disclosure: Some affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Thai Curry Chicken - Easy and Delicious

I've been making Real Simple's Chicken Curry In a Hurry for years and even wrote up a quick post about it not too long ago. It's comfort food in my book, but each time I made it, it left the hubby (mostly) and me longing for a bit more flavor.


So tonight, I decided to add my own little twists to it I have to say it just turned out fabulously! I know, because the hubby said about 10 times as he was eating it, "wow, this is really good" as he gobbled it up and went in for seconds. Well, that's enough to make me want to share my version with you. Basically, I added a little more kick by using Red Curry Paste and cayenne pepper. But it's not too spicy that I couldn't enjoy it, too. (yes, my Caucasian hubby likes food hotter than his Asian wife - haha). I also paired it with some jasmine coconut rice and that was all she wrote. Hope you like it as well! :)


Printable Recipe

Thai Curry Chicken - Easy and Delicious
Adapted from Real Simple's Chicken Curry In a Hurry
by happyvballgirl of My Epicurean Adventures
http://www.myepicureanadventures.com/2014/01/thai-curry-chicken-easy-and-delicious.html

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
1 vidalia onion, diced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced then cut in half (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 green for more color)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup light cream or half and half
1 tsp red curry paste
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 cups jasmine rice
2 14 ounce cans of light coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh cilanto, roughly chopped

Directions:
Sauce:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 7 minutes. *This would be a good time to start get that rice going (recipe below). :) Sprinkle with the curry powder and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the yogurt and cream and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Remove from heat and add chicken and stir together.

Rice:
Add coconut milk and rice to medium sauce pan and bring to boil over medium-high heat then simmer over medium heat for about 5 mins, stirring often so rice won't stick. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Place rice on a plate, top with chicken curry and top with a generous helping of cilantro and enjoy every bite!

Serves 6

Chicken Tip:
What makes making this dish extra fast is having cut up rotisserie chicken on-hand. I often buy them when they are on sale, shred it up and stick it in the freezer for future use. That future use was tonight! Took it out of the freezer about 30 mins before I needed it and it was goodly (Little Sis-ism) thawed enough. :)


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Also served with this meal are some pakoras I made many many months back and stored in the freezer. I'd share the recipe for these delicious things that complemented this meal so nicely, but I can't for the life of me find it, but I promise to keep looking. :)

The hubby and I just got back from a fun weekend in NYC to an empty house since the girls are still with Nana, so I really enjoyed cooking this meal, nice and leisurely. :) And while the girls are away, the Daddy and Mommy will eat dinner in front of the TV while enjoying a beer. Cheers! :)


Update 5/2/2017: I just made this again last night and it was as good as ever. This Bok Choy Salad with Spicy Asian Vinaigrette I made for the first time was the perfect accompaniment!



Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)



Disclosure: Some affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Simply Glazed Blueberry Scones

The BEST wholesome blueberry scones ever. SO delicious and SO easy to make!

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Holy cow. Quite possibly the best scones I've ever had - which isn't saying a whole lot since I've never been a fan of them until recent years - but maybe that DOES mean a lot! Even my friend, who IS a lover of them said they were delicious - even better than her favorite ones from a local French bakery. Now THAT definitely means a lot!


The recipe I used is Tyler Florence's Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze. Followed exactly, the scones are just perfectly delicious. I've made them several times. No need to change a thing! Except that the girls weren't crazy about the lemon glaze. AND I didn't have heavy cream on-hand nor the fresh blueberries PLUS I added 2 Tbsp wheat germ and 2 Tbsp ground flax seed and substituted 1 cup of white flour with whole wheat. lol.

SO, instead, I used light cream (turned out fine), frozen blueberries (turned out fine but as Tyler Florence points out, frozen blueberries can 'stain' your scone while fresh ones don't discolor the dough) AND a simple glaze. (updated 6/3/15 to add my version of this recipe) Here's my slightly more wholesome version:

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Simply Glazed Wholesome Blueberry Scones
by happyvballgirl @ My Epicurean Adventures
adapted from Tyler Florence's Blueberry Scones and Lemon Glaze

INGREDIENTS:

Blueberry Scones
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream

Simple Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp light cream

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Sift (or just mix if you're lazy like me, lol) together the dry ingredients: the flours, wheat germ, flax seed, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastery blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with flour mixture. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.
  3. Fold the blueberries into the dough. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.
  5. Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. *Sometimes I make them bigger, some times I like them small. Just depends on my mood. ;)
  6. Place the scones on an ungreased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.
  7. Simple Glaze: Combine both ingredients (powdered sugar and heavy cream) in small bowl. Mix well with a spoon until smooth and lump-free. Drizzle over scones and let set for a few minutes or just gobble them up right away. :)

I was really excited to use the new toys I got from my Secret Santa - my pastry blender and mat. I've already used the mat like 5 times already within the first week of owning it! Thanks little bro! You're the best!


Here are some step-by-steps. The first time I made these, I was all distraught because the dough was so crumbly. But worry not, it's supposed to be that way and despite your fears, just mush in into shape, cut it up...


...and get 'em on to a cookie sheet, re-forming them if necessary.



They WILL still come out beautiful and delicious...


ESPECIALLY after you drizzle them with glaze. :) ...though SOME prefer it glaze-free, like my hubby. Voila!! Whaddya think? Even the girls liked them, blueberries and all.

The BEST wholesome blueberry scones ever. SO delicious and SO easy to make!

The BEST wholesome blueberry scones ever. SO delicious and SO easy to make!

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Update: 8/19/14:
Just made a strawberry version using the the same amount of strawberries to replace the blueberries and once again, DELICIOUS!



Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)


Disclosure: Some affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies

Little Sis really had her heart set on making some gingerbread houses this Christmas - ones she could actually EAT while decorating since all of the kits I've ever run across in stores always have some sort of nut contamination. And as much as I wanted to oblige her like I did in years past:


I just couldn't this year. :( I even found this recipe last fall: Food.com's The Most Wonderful Gingerbread Cookies and couldn't wait to make some from scratch, what with the name and all. :) But sadly, I just ran out of time this Christmas. The year of the shortest possible amount of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas plus an all-weekend-long travel soccer tournament wedged in between really screwed me up. I even made the dough and stuck in the freezer but just didn't find the chance.

But with the holidays over and things *ALMOST* back to normal (still have to put indoor Christmas decorations away, vacuum up a million pine needles and plan two birthday parties before it's all said and done), I got around to baking these up this weekend.

Instead of actually making gingerbread houses, I cut up a few gingerbread house cookies to be funny. When I showed them to the girls, Little Sis was excited at first, then quickly reminded and then sad that we never got around to making the houses. When I asked "What about these cute little gingerbread houses" while holding one up, she was not amused. At all. Once she got over it, which thankfully didn't take long, she happily decorated a couple gingerbread dude/dudette and scarfed them up just the same. I'm happy to report that the cookies indeed lived up to its name and both the girls (and I) thought they were just delish!


I hurriedly decorated all but the two reserved for Little Sis (since Big Sis deferred hers) using my favorite store-bought frosting: Pillsbury Whipped Vanilla Frosting.


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So, it's never too late to make and decorate gingerbread cookies, right? At least I got 'em in while Christmas music is still being played on my satellite music channels! ;) Now it's time to go work on that "Happy New Year" Card I never got around to making in December. Sigh...

I'm happy that we were able to enjoy our 2nd Annual Tree Decorating Party - oh wait, I just realized I never got around to blogging that up - darn! Oh well, here's a link to the inaugural festivities: It's Never Too Late to Start a Family Tradition. :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Disclosure: Some affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Happy 2014!! As always, I'm a little sad to say good bye to the old year that's been filled with so many happy memories and fun times. A new year means another year of the girls getting older and it just kinda makes me sad, but I welcome the new year and all of it's new adventures with open arms. I will try hard to keep in mind that time goes by too quickly and to try to enjoy especially the little moments w/ my dear hubby and girls, knowing that this age will never happen again. So I'll try hard to keep life in perspective - that even when things get crazy or out-of-hand, that life is still good and I have so much to be grateful for. :)

And what better way to start the new year than by putting together this monstrosity left over from Christmas? We've been on the go so much that this is the first chance we've gotten to tackle this beast. Good thing we have family visiting to help - thanks Dad! ;)


While these guys were working on this, I thought I'd give my new Belgian waffle maker another try. My first attempt wasn't very successful, but I'm happy to report the second one was! Check out my post for the recipe: Belgian Waffles.


Little Sis topped hers w/ some eggs! :) Just love how she eats with such vigor! :)

Our day was spent calling family afar, taking it easy and hanging out, for the most part. Grandpa and Grandma wanted to take us out for dinner so we planned on a late breakfast at lunch and an early dinner. But in between, we were sure to get the munchies, so I set out this nibble tray of healthy goodies to tide us over until dinner. Got this great idea from one of my favorite feeding kids healthy blogs: Doctor Yum's posts on Balancing healthy snacks and treats and Super Snack Plate. Just LOVED these ideas! No treats on this plate, though, as I let the girls split a Hershey's Bar just beforehand.


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On this tray:
  1. Sugar Snap Peas
  2. Baby Carrots
  3. Sabra Hummus
  4. Stacy's Whole Grain Pita Chips
  5. Spinach and Artichoke Dip
  6. Fuji Apples
I was watching my nibble tray much like I do our bird feeders and this is what I spied. I decided to spare the adults from the paparazzi. :)


The girls then dashed outside to play with the neighbors. As it turns out, 4 other neighbor friends got the exact same Christmas gift that the girls did from their very awesome Auntie Cat and Uncle Brian - Nerf Bow and Arrow sets. Another neighbor put one order. haha! Needless to say, there was an onslaught of Nerf "bows" filling the sky. haha! Meanwhile, Sweetie and Dad decided to be a bit more productive and here's what they were up to - the long overdue raking up leaves. Looks great! Thanks guys!!


And finally, here's the joint effort put forward by Sweetie, Grandpa and myself. Grandma put her time towards building some of the room kits. Thanks to my parents (Homi and Hobi) for the girls' sweet gifts and thanks to Grandpa and Grandma for you help it putting it all together! I actually really enjoyed doing it, as did Sweetie.


Finally, we headed out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday's for a fairly healthy dinner - thanks Grandpa and Grandma!

 The girls had fun trying to teach us how to do "cups", but Big Sis was having a hard time teaching Daddy because his hands weren't floppy enough. Then there were giggles abound when Daddy tried to teach the girls HIS version.


Afterwards, we headed back home for dessert and football (and blogging for me). :) And of course w/ school back in session tomorrow (how cruel - lol) here's my sad attempt at an New Year's lunch. Better than nuthin' I guess. :) Glad it at least came home emptied! ;)

 

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In this lunch:
  1. Applegate Salami and Provolone Cheese pocket sandwiches using my handy dandy new cutter from Pampered Chef
  2. Sliced carrots with ranch dressing
  3. Cantaloupe
  4. Maplehurst Bakeries' Peanut-Free Mini Cupcake left over and frozen from school Christmas treats
With the girls finally asleep and lunches made for tomorrow, it's time to hit the hay as barely sneak this post in. A pretty great way to start the new year, if you ask me!

Happy New Year! Hoping you all the best in 2014!!

Shout-outs:
EasyLunchBoxes - love my ELB's!!

http://www.easylunchboxes.com/

My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Japanese Bento Accessories Sauce Container set of 4 Lovely Mayo Cup Japanese Bento Box Accessories Food Pick Cute Animal Fork 8 pcs Japanese Bento Accessories Silicone Colorful Food Cup 6P

Nature's Own - for providing such a large variety of healthy, yummy breads!

DoctorYum - for sharing so many healthy and delicious recipes with us!

Applegate for providing natural (and organic varieties, too) nitrate-free yet oh-so-convenient pre-packaged deli meats. Check out my FB post professing my love for them: FB post professing my love for Applegate :)

Maplehurst Bakeries - for providing my girls safe and delicious peanut-free cupcakes!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Disclosure: Some affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table