Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Best. Stew. EVER!

I have had a subscription to Cooking Light off and on for years now.  Not necessarily for the Light part but because of their somewhat simple, mostly healthy, delicious recipes over the years and their reasonable subscription price.  I have made so many of their recipes and they are always amazing.  The Pumpkin Torte recipe I posted recently was out of the magazine from last fall.  I think I made 4 of the recipes out of their Thanksgiving issue last year.  So this year when it came time to renew our subscription I thought I would try something different. Why? Not quite sure but BIG mistake.  We got a subscription to Bon Appetit instead.  Nothing wrong with the magazine BUT I have yet to see anything in the 4 issues I've received so far that I even want to attempt to make.  A lot of their recipes are extensive with ingredients you have to send out a search party to even find. Which works for some people, not me. I want simple ingredients, easy and YUMMY! So if something is working why mess with it.  I know, I know...duh. 
I made this recipe one chilly Fall weekend when I lived in Nashville.  I have made it a few times since and it is my favorite stew recipe ever.  It is a little heavy on the ingredient side BUT I found it was worth it!  A lot of time I will do one of those throw everything in the pot Sunday stews but if you want to go get all the ingredients and spend the time to make it IT IS WORTH IT!!!  So so good. 
Time to pull out the Halloween decorations, rake the leaves, throw on the sweats and hoodies, bake some goodies and cook a yummy soup or stew! Fall is here!
Well not yet for us in Florida, it's still in the 80's but I can feel Fall coming! Today has been the first cool morning!

They have good recipe resources online also...now on to the stew.

Hearty Beef & Tomato Stew

2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
2 Lbs Sirloin Steak, cubed
1 Cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
11/2 cups fat free less sodium beef broth
4 cups (11/2 Lbs) cubed Red Potato
2 cups slices carrots
3/4 cup pinot noir or spicy dry red wine
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh Thyme
1 (16 oz) package frozen pearl onions
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomato's, undrained
1 Rosemary sprig
1 Bay leaf
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup chopped Parsley

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add beef, cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently.  Remove beef from pan, reserving 1 Tablespoon of drippings in pan.  Add onion and garlic to pan, saute 2 minutes or until onion begins to brown.  Add tomato paste, cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add broth, bring to a boil.  Return meat to pan.  Add potato and next 7 ingredients (through Bay Leaf) bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook 1 hour 15 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally.  Discard Rosemary and Bay leaf.  Stir in Salt and Pepper.  Top with Parsley!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ride Em' Cowboy!

Giddy Up!!!

 Stella & her buddy Zach.

Feeding the chickens!

Follow me Stella...
She could have chased them all day. The poor girl was sweating like a pig herself.   

Stella's new friend, Dakota.

 Pulling Dakota into the ring.  Good helpers.

She was smiling and laughing the whole time.  No scaredy cats here!

  Thanks Zach, that was FUN!  Can we do it again sometime??? You busy tomorrow?

 We had a play date with some friends from Stella's library group on Friday.  They just happen to have 14 horses, 14 chickens, 2 dogs and 2 cats.  Stella was in heaven.  I think she would prefer we move to a farm.  She ran around and got absolutely FILTHY! Seriously, they were covered from head to toe in dirt.  She had gotten her hands dirty then wiped her face at some point, there was sand all in her hair and just dirt everywhere. I had to put her in the bath and rinse her down when we got home. I bet if you asked her though it was so worth it! They played outside, then we walked down to the barn and fed the chickens. I think this was her favorite part.  She could have chased them around for hours.  She was screaming with laughter and followed them right into the bushes.  I had her in leggings thinking it would protect her legs but the poor girl was sweating from running around like a crazy woman! They each rode Dakota around the ring for a bit and Stella got right up with no hesitation whatsoever.  She was grinning from ear to ear! They take the Pony Dakota to birthday parties and festivals and stuff so he is around kids and people all the time. He's so mellow.  We had such a great time and she has been talking about it since!  I'll post some video to follow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Free Leap Frog/Leap Frog Jr Book

I came across this link for a free Leap Frog Tag or Tag Junior book.  They only give you one option on the book, you can't choose.  Also after you register it says it will be shipped in 6-8 weeks but hey it's free and I'll probably forget I even filled it out and it will arrive just in time for another Xmas gift! :) Less shopping + Free. Right on! It's asks you which products of theirs you own and we just happened to already own a few so I used those but I don't think it makes a difference.  You just have to register for their site and the link takes you through all the steps, it's super easy.  It's through the actual Leap Frog site and it gives you a confirmation so we'll see in 6-8 weeks! :)
Stella is getting Tag Jr for her upcoming birthday but shhhhhh don't tell!!!
We had actually bought this book already so it's going back and I can trade it for a different one! Sweet! Oh, sometimes it's the little things....
If you own or plan on buying one of these soon get your own free book here:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A good day with the girl

Today has been a good day. We started off with our morning run/walk.  Then the newest Tinkerbell movie came out today so we ran down and picked it up. It is adorable! Really really cute. They also have a cute/fun website to check out here http://www.pixiehollow.com/
Stella is still too young for that kind of thing but if you have a little bit older girl they have cute activities.
After the babes nap the first thing she said was "Outside"! So we headed out to hook up the spinkler and play in the yard.  I threw on her swimsuit from last summer with out a diaper.  It's a 6/12 month suit and the top was riding up a bit and the bottoms were sagging. She was a little plumber!  Our grass is really bugging me right now.  We haven't had any rain in about 2 weeks. Not a drop, at our house at least.  Plus it's been about 85.  Mario's been watering pretty much every day and it's just getting brown and dried out.  I don't know how people keep their grass green in Florida. Underground spinklers that water at least twice a day I guess.  I really really really wish we would get like 3 days of torrential rain or a nice tropical storm or something. I know it will be cold soon enough but for now I'll just take some fall showers please. 
Yes, that is stickers up and down her leg.
I love our 2 hibiscus bushes. We transplanted a huge Gardenia bush right before summer and it looks like it's about to take off since the humidity has dropped a bit. Hopefully we'll have a nice big bush full of fragrant Gardenia flowers. My favorite!!! Reminds me of living in Hawaii when I would wear either a Plumeria or Gardenia behind my ear every day!

Monday, September 20, 2010


I think she's a little big for the tractor. Maybe it's time for a bike.

She sure did take a liking to one of the bikes at Maddie's house, although I think it is a little too big...

She also loved Maddie's slide. She went down it over, and over, and over again.

This is her octopus that goes over the bathtub head.  The other day she brought it downstairs and was carrying it around like a baby.  She even insisted on brushing its teeth.  Good thing because right before she fed it a cookie. ;)

Hugs for octopus.  She's a good little mama. :)
She really is a constant source of amusement. As her personality comes out more and more with new words she never fails to crack me up. It seems blogspot has a new format. It might take a bit to get used to. Kind of a pain to maneuver right now. Haven't got the quirks down yet. It's been a great crappy week. Not for little Miss Stella but just a lot of extended family stuff. I'll probably post more on that later but don't have the energy right now. I think it's close to a full moon also, greeeat. Off to go meditate and sing koombyya. Kidding...kinda.

Kam rocks!

I got this pic on my phone the other night.  Our best friends, Hillary and Kamryn, made Stella's Banana Bread!!!
Hope it turned out yummy!!! Miss u, love u!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baker Stella & her Banana Bread

Yum! Juuuust right!
Well fall is quickly approaching, in some areas more so then others. :) Here, it's still 85 degrees. But that's beside the point. Fall is approaching and for me at least that makes me want to cook soup/stew and BAKE!!! This morning Stella and I made Banana Bread. Yum! Almost as good as Zucchini Bread which is my fave. Chef Stella did quite a good job! Minus a few egg shells and the batter that is now splattered on the ceiling. Mario called and needed me to fax something for him real quick and she was supposed to be stirring. I look up at the little munchkin and she stuck her finger right in the bowl, which at the time only had sugar and butter in it. She pulls it out sticks it in her mouth, looks right at me and says..."Yum!"
She is such a comedian. Mario had football on last Sunday. Stella has decided that she likes "feet ball". Monday morning when I went in to get her from her crib the first thing she says to me is..."Feetball Mommy, watch Feetball"! Huh??? Mommy herself hates "feetball", guess she's just going to have to be satisfied with Tinkerbell. :)
So anyways, back to cooking. I am really excited to make this again,
I made it for Thanksgiving last year and it was SO good. Seriously, it takes a little while with the layers and having to let them set but it is SO worth it!!!
Here's the recipe for the Banana Bread Stella and I made this morning:
Stella's Banana Bread
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 Cup White Sugar
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup chopped Walnuts
2 medium Bananas, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Grease 9x5 loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Finally, fold in sour cream, walnuts, and bananas. Spread evenly into pan.
3. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before removing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Some Surprises Nana from Austria & one for Aubrey from Daddy!

Mario's mom went to Austria to see his sister and her girls. She brought some great stuff!! This used to be one of the girls. Isn't it adorable!!!

Mario finally got Aubrey a cell phone for her birthday. She's been trying to convince him for about the last 3 years!

Prepaid though. We're not dumb.
Yes, he is scared. But she was obviously extremely excited!!!

Roo Roo
The boots were from Tiffany also, they are still a tad big but SO cute!!!

It's been an interesting week. Aubreys 14th birthday is coming up next weekend so we spent some of last weekend getting supplies and such. Pretty mellow all and all.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our little Garden Fairy and her Happy!

Our little fairy is turning 2 next month. I can hardly believe it but I won't really go there right now other then to say she just gets more adorable and entertaining every day. I know the terrible 2's, oh and 3's, 4's & 5's and so on also are challenging but every day she makes me laugh way more then she makes me cry. Well...most days.

Just a little bit ago we were listening her tell Mario about the horses that we see on our run in the mornings. Well, kinda the horses but mostly about the gnats that bug you if you stop. "Dada, bite arm"! "Bugs"! She was having her own little conversation with us that went on for about 5 minutes. Each day her words and sentences are getting longer. Absolutely amazing.

We took inspiration for her "fairy party" from a few places. After I saw what Kelle http://www.kellehampton.com/ did for her daughter Lainey's' party I LOVED the idea and all the FUN things you can do. We've stolen some of her ideas. Thx Katie for turning me on to Kelle's blog a while back. Then in turn, thanks Kelle for your tips, I appreciate it!! They didn't have the glass jars still, but we decided not to do fairy dust anyways! You should check out her blog if you haven't before, she's a Floridian transplant and a COOL chic!

Stella looooves Tinkerbell. She calls her Tinky. She looooves tutus. "Tutu on Mama"!!! There's also the new Tinkerbell movie coming out next month so there is an influx of Tinkerbell and fairy things out there right now. Basically the inspiration came from a few different places and once I started researching on the Internet I got more and more excited. This has turned into Stella's Fairy Garden Party Extravaganza! We actually are doing a lot of projects but they are all economically reasonable. I must thank Mario for putting up with all the tulle and glitter that has been floating around the house though. Right now our current project is Toadstool stools. We've modified it some but should have the same look. SO FUN!!!

You can find a similar stool and other GREAT ideas here


How cute is the Madeline party idea??? Hmmm, next year? KIDDING!

Here is one of our appetizers...


Here are some of the things we've been working on...
Some of the signs
I'm making all the girls tutu's & wands and got wings. I put their initial on the wands.

Their SO cute!

Supplies... :) For every show I worked on you would have to have a show notebook.

It rubbed off.

I have a party inspiration notebook...

So you get the idea, we are in full fairy swing over here and so excited!
I'm in BIG trouble if she ever gets into all the paint and glitter glue!!!

Let me know if you have any great ideas for Stella's Happy Fairy party!
I would LOVE the input! :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wakulla Springs

Plotting their sandcastle

Baby Trace, why are you eating that?
At least Maddie would smile! :)
Yesterday Jenny and I took the kids to Wakulla Springs for the afternoon. 2 of Jennys kids are back in school so during the day she only has Maddie and baby Trace. Which is perfect for outings for the girls! The girls play well together and Stella is getting better at the whole "play" thing. The springs is a State Park with cold clear water, and I mean COLD. I won't go past my knees, but on a hot day it's refreshing even to stand in. The humidity has cooled down some. It was still 90-95 though. There are no waves so the kids spend more time in the water here then at the beach and there's a nice little half shade half sun sandy spot for us to sit.
Stella's big thing now is "Oh". Everything is Oh.
(Her) Mama, where's Dada?
(Me) At work.
(Her) "Oh"

(Her) Mama, treat?
(usually grapes or raisins or something and she isn't the wiser that it's not really a treat)
(Me) No baby, I'm making dinner right now and we're going to eat in a bit.
(Her) "Oh"
(Me) Ok, Stella let's go c'mon.
(Her) Bye? Bye?
(Me) Yes baby, we have to go to the grocery store.
(Her) "Oh"
You get the picture. It's kinda like the preview of "why"? I have a feeling when she figures that one out it's gonna be fun.