Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Open-Faced Chicken Club Sandwich

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a free Spice Box from Raw Spice Bar!

I already told you how much I love tradition, especially when it comes to birthday parties.   This weekend we went to BA's annual pumpkin patch birthday party. 

And the kids had a great time.  Thatkid  always loves getting together with his old friends.  He really only sees them a few times a year and he takes advantage of every minute.

The pumpkin patch has lots of rides to keep the kids entertained, and some are even geared toward the little guys.  I've been reluctant to let Thatbaby in a bounce house, because I figure he would be trampled by the bigger kids.  This one was only letting in the younger children, so I let him go for it.  AND HE LOVED IT.  I honestly could not get him out.

There were even rides they could both do together

Although the lack of poles or straps on the Merry-Go-Round meant Thatbaby got to ride with adult supervision.

The train however, I could send him on with Thatkid supervision!

And of course there were snacks, cake, and singing happy birthday!

There is so much I love about BA's birthday.  I love the fact that despite not getting to spend a lot of time together, Thatkid and his old friends fall right back into their usual pattern.  There's no awkwardness or uncomfortableness.  I hope it always stays that way.  I love that the area is small enough that we can give the kids a little bit of a long rope as they run around like crazy.

The only thing I don't love is that I inevitably end up with some sunburn.  Nothing terrible, but it's always so much warmer and sunnier than I expect.  Although this weekend was especially so.  It wasn't just warm, it was hot!  It made you forget it was fall, feeling more like July than October.  Which made me crave foods that are more fitting for summer.  Like an open faced sandwich with tomatoes and avocado.  Skillet cooked chicken which means never having to turn on an oven.  Crispy bacon, juicy tomatoes, and creamy avocado combine in one last ode to summer.  Which may become an annual tradition of its own.

Open-Faced Chicken Club Sandwiches (From Cooking Light)
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
3 Tbsp canola mayonnaise
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 avocado, peeled and coarsely mashed
4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
4 green leaf lettuce leaves
2 plum tomatoes,each cut into 6 slices
4 center cut bacon slices, cooked and drained

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to pan and cook 6 minutes on each side until done.  Remove from pan.  Let stand 5 minutes, slice.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, juice, avocado, and salt in a small bowl.  Stir until well blended.
  3. Spread about 3 Tbsp avocado mixture over each bread slice.
  4. Top each sandwich with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 chicken breast half, 3 tomato slices, and 1 bacon slice.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mommy Mondays: What We're Eating

I love these kinds of posts on other blogs because I think as parents there's so much thought put into what our kids are eating.  We worry if they're eating enough, or if they're eating the right things. 

Given their druthers, my oldest would survive solely on yogurt.  My youngest would eat nothing but fruit.  Neither of which creates a well rounded diet.  So what do they eat?

*Most days the boys have toast for breakfast.  Ideally, peanut butter toast.  But Thatkid prefers just plain toast with butter.  And Thatbaby wants whatever Thatkid has.  Thatbaby usually wakes up earlier, so he snacks on grapes or berries while I get breakfast ready.  I also make them both smoothies (milk+fruit) so I can make sure they get some protein in too,

* On the weekends all the boys (Thatboy included) do cold cereal for breakfast.

* Other breakfast favorites: oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, cinnamon toast, yogurt, waffles (I give teething Thatbaby a frozen waffle on quite a few mornings)

* Luckily I don't have to worry about lunch during the week for the boys.  Thatbaby's daycare and Thatkid's preschool provide lunches.

* On the weekends, 9 times out of 10 they have peanut butter and jelly. 

* It's like punishment getting Thatkid to eat lunch. Most of the time he just wants pretzels.  I put up a minimal fight.  Often he will just have peanut butter toast...and pretzels. 

* Thatbaby is better about eating lunch.  He will often have leftovers.  I try to give him  leftovers I know he likes, like tamales.

* I am not ashamed to admit that chicken nuggets make an appearance for lunches. I keep them in the freezer for lunch on the go. Thatkid will eat them cold, and they're easily transportable.  I put them in Thatbaby's snack cup and they become a great finger food.

* Thanks to the blog, you're probably already familiar with what these guys eat for dinner.

* I make one dinner.  That's what I serve.  If you eat it, great.  If not, that's okay too.  I don't make anyone eat anything they don't like, but you have to at least try it.  I also don't make anyone "clean their plate."  You eat until you're full.  But don't leave half your plate and then ask me for dessert 5 minutes later.

* We eat tamales once a week.  It's something everyone eats and likes.  So it's a menu staple.

* Both boys seem to like protein in all forms - tofu, beans, steak, eggs, chicken, turkey, pork.   Vegetables are more hit or miss with both.  Some nights zucchini gets eaten, some nights it doesn't.  Brussels sprouts are popular, and both of them love salad.  And neither of them has met a grain or carbohydrate they didn't love.

* Fruit.  This is my first choice for them, and the first choice for Thatbaby.

* Cheese.  Thatkid picks out whole blocks and I cut them off sticks/slices.
*  I keep a "snack bucket" in the pantry that Thatkid can help himself to.  Thatbaby's not allowed to help himself, but Thatkid usually get something for him also.  In it I keep granola bars, cereal bars, applesauce, cookies (animal, graham), veggie sticks, dried fruit, goldfish crackers, freeze dried fruits and snap peas

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Runday: Surfing Madonna Beach Run

Did you know I've participated in the Surfing Madonna Beach Run every year since it's inception?  I've run it alone, pregnant, with a newborn, but mostly I run it with my family.

Because the first year I ran it alone, I just kept thinking how much my boys would enjoy it.   And in general, they do.  I decided to break this year down into the "Good" the "Bad" and the "Ugly."

The Good:  Free face painting!  My kids love to get their face painted, so it's always a plus when that's involved.

The course was beautiful as always.  Thatkid and I paired up, while Thatboy manned the stroller with Thatbaby.  This year we were not only on time, we were early!  We were able to check out the vendors and hang out at the start line instead of running to the start after the gun went off.

Thatkid and I ran (and walked) together for a while.

But eventually we joined up with Thatboy and Thatbaby.

As I had hoped, the afternoon start time meant that Thatbaby spent the race napping.

We split up again before the finish line so Thatkid and I could run across.

After we got our medals we waited for the slowpokes to finish.

The Bad:  I noticed there were a lot fewer vendors this year.
Despite being promised "free race pictures" the photographers didn't manage to capture a single picture of any of us.

The Ugly:  Thatkid had a huge disappointment related to this race.  You see, he likes the medals and all, but they get thrown on his dresser.  What he really loves is the race shirts.  Because he loves to wear them to school and show off.  I think that's partially because for years he hasn't been able to wear race shirts because they haven't made them small enough.  So he's been looking forward to this race shirt for a while.  He had made plans to wear it during the race. 

Packet pickup was the Thursday and Friday before the race.  I left work so I could get there early Thursday before the lunch rush hit the area.  But when I got there, they apologized.  The shirts weren't there yet.  After assuring me they would have the shirts ready and waiting for us the day of the race, they sent me on my way.

Which is one of the reasons we got to the race early.  To pick up a shirt for Thatkid.  He was upset he couldn't wear it to the race, so I had consoled him by telling him we'd get there early to get his shirt so he could change into it before the race.

Except on race day, they informed us they had given out all the kids shirts during packet pick up.  None were brought on race day.

To say Thatkid was disappointed would be an understatement.  And he wasn't the only one.  I ran into another mom who was consoling her young daughter.  And frankly, I'm not really sure how this could happen.  The race bills itself as family friendly.  There's even a kid's race.  It's really not acceptable for them to not have race shirts for the kids.   What this means to me is that they underestimated the amount of last minute sign ups when ordering kid shirts.  And some kid who showed up a day before the race got a shirt, while my kid, who had signed up 10 months before the race started didn't get one at all.  There are a bunch of races that only give shirts if you sign up before a certain date.  That way they can make sure they have enough shirts for the participants and early registerees aren't punished.   

This isn't enough to have me swear off the race, but if things continue to go downhill with the vendors and taking care of the little guys, I don't know how much longer we'll keep doing it.  I mean, we can always go for a run on the beach without a race!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Raw Spice Bar Review and Giveaway

Last month Raw Spice Bar reached out to me to see if I would be interested in trying out their subscription service. 

You see the folks over at Raw Spice Bar have put together a service that sends you unique spice blends every month, along with recipes to use them in.  Each month they choose a different region to feature, so its also a global adventure.  The cost is $8 a months, $44 for six months, or $82 for the year, which is really a great value considering that most spices cost at least $4 a bottle.

I love the idea of trying new spices, but even moreso having just enough for the dish you're making.  I have so many random spices in my cabinet that were used once and now just sit collecting dust.  So of course I said, yes!  Send your spices my way!

Not too much later I received a package in the mail.  Inside were three spice packets highlighting "Argentina."  The first "Dark Coffee and Chiles" came with a recipe card for Coffee-Chili Rubbed Steak.  The second, "Sun Dried Tomato Pizza" came with a recipe card for Sun Dried Tomato Pizza Sauce & Pizza Recipe.  And the third, "Chipotle Smoked Salt" had a recipe card for Chipotle Salt Grilled Summer Vegetables.

Each packet has 3oz of the spice mix in it, which was enough for the recipe for my family of four, with some left over.

First up was the Sun Dried Tomato Pizza:

The sauce recipe made enough for the pizza and leftovers (which I used for pita pizzas for our lunches later in the week).   And while I can be picky about my sun dried tomatoes, they work really well in a sauce.

As for the other two spices, since both recipes call for a grill, I decided to combine them.   I was a little worried that they would be too spicy for the kids, but they weren't at all.  Which might be a con for those of you who like spice, but it's a pro for me!

The only complaint I have about the service is the recipes themselves.  I found that often the recipes had ingredients within the recipe which weren't on the ingredient list.  Which is just a pain when you're already halfway through a recipe and realize you don't have something.

But you shouldn't take my word for it, they sent me two of the Argentina Boxes, so I'm passing one along to you!  Just enter below and I'll send one of you these spice packets!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Herbed Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Our next "prep" for Halloween was our annual trip to the pumpkin patch.  


Although we took Thatbaby last year, he got a lot more out of it this year.

Like rides in the wheelbarrow into the pumpkin fields.

And he got his first real experience with our family rule - you have to be able to carry your own pumpkin if you want to take it home.  His initial choices were a little too big.

Thatkid showed him his method of trying to find the biggest one he could lift.

Then Thatkid helped him find one that was just the right size.

Pretty soon that wheelbarrow ride got a little crowded.

Once the pumpkins were picked, we took advantage of the other things the patch has to offer.  Thatkid loves photo holes.  Is that what they're called?  Those boards where you put your face through a hole and take a picture?

And of course, there was the real tractor too.  It was hard to tear Thatbaby away.  He kept heading back anytime he saw that seat open.

There were hay bales to climb,

And goats to feed and pet.

Thatkid found the stockpile of giant pumpkins and headed to sit down and kick back.

And of course, when little Monkey See saw, he wanted to Monkey Do too.

It was a totally successful trip.

The plan was to get to the pumpkin patch early, before the day got too hot and it got too crowded.  We failed terribly.  We got to the patch early, but it was already really really warm.  And really really crowded.  Too hot for October.  The past two days it's been cooler, but this weekend was far more summer than fall.  And not conducive to heating up the house with the oven.  Time for ready made chicken from the store.  Which is great on its own, but also gives perfect leftovers for making chicken salad sandwiches.  

This is almost the most basic form of chicken salad sandwich.  No grapes.  No celery.  None of the falderal I typically throw in.  Bit it does have some surprise additions.  Like the rye bread, a staple of all the best deli sandwiches.  And the inclusion of tarragon, which I always think of as a very French accompaniment.  It adds a citrusy freshness, only made more clear with the addition of a bit of lemon juice.  Personally, I'm not a fan of mayonnaise, but I can tell you that using all yogurt instead of a combo makes this equally as delicious.

Herbed Chicken Salad Sandwiches (From Cooking Light)
1 Tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
3 Tbsp canola mayonnaise
3 Tbsp plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cups chopped skinless boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
8 slices rye sandwich bread
4 red leaf lettuce leaves
1 cup arugula

  1. Combine tarragon, mayo, yogurt, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Season to taste with salt
  3. Stir in chicken and onion
  4. Top each of four bread slices with 1 lettuce leaf, 1/2 cup chicken sandwich, 1/4 cup of arugula, and 1 bread slice.