Easy Beef & Brocolli Stir-fry

Today was our big grocery trip. Grandma P came in last night and she came with us.  Trying to find the healthiest options was a little hard, but after we finally checked out, I felt great about our choices.  Our goal is too save money by not eating out.  Our hotels are going to have a microwave and fridge, so this helps a lot.

Since our goal is to eat all the food that will go bad in the fridge before we leave, I wanted to use all the leftover brocolli up. Remember Rodney brought home about 5 pound of brocolli last week. Ya, it's been fun trying to think up recipes on how to eat this pretty tree as Sunny calls it.

Sunny is so excited about Disneyland and the beach. I am so glad we are celebrating her 3rd birthday there this week. What a memory for all of us.  I love seeing the excitement through a child.

Sunny is mellowing out big time. Sure, she has her days, but my goodness, what a breath of fresh air. Turning 3 and she is changing. She was such a hard baby and hard toddler, up until now.  Someone told me something very interesting and I so agree with it.  She said that those who have really mellow babies end up having harder toddlers, and those with harder babies end up having more mellow 3 and 4 year olds.  This makes me feel so great!

Here is a great recipe for a busy weekday or weekend.  Brocolli has never tasted better, besides adding it to cheesy soup, it really is delicious!


    • 1/2  cup soy sauce
    • 1 T. sesame oil 
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
    • 2 or more T. cornstarch
    • 1/4 c. beef broth or stock
    • 1 pound boneless sirloin, tri tip, flank or skirt steak - sliced into 2 x 1/2 inch strips
    • About 2 c. fresh broccoli florets
    •  vegetable oil


    1. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic and ginger.
    2. Place the beef in a Ziploc bag (or glass bowl), pouring in half of the sauce mixture to coat the beef. Marinate for either 20 minutes on the counter or covered overnight in the fridge.
    3. Whisk the cornstarch and hot beef broth together and add to the remaining sauce mixture.
    4. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat, add 2 teaspoons oil and add the beef. Cook for 4 minutes and remove beef to a clean bowl.
    5. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan and cook the broccoli for 2 minutes.
    6. Add the beef back into the pan. Make a well in the center and pour in the sauce. Cook until the sauce is thick and everything is heated through, about 2 minutes.
    7. Serve over rice.\\
    8. Recipe Adapted from  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/beef-and-broccoli-stir-fry


Pregnancy Goals

I have set a lot of goals for myself this year. I am terrible at following them, yet remembering what I set for myself in the first place.  However, since being pregnant, I realized I have not set any new goals.  Pregnacy is a whole new ballgame for me.  The goals I set for myself not pregnant do not always apply when I am pregnant, so here are my new goals and an explanation of why I am choosing these goals.

1.  Eat less sugar. I am the worst at this. I have the world's worst sweet tooth.

2.  Improve my posture so I don't have to return to the chiropracter so often. The chiropracter is expensive, even the tiny bit that insurance does pay!! The last three times I went to the chiro, I felt it was a total waste of money.  I am not going to say who it is, but my gosh, the guy charges an arm and a leg and does nothing but run this dull device down my back.  He invests in no new equipment either and I get the impression he thinks people are idiots and don't know the difference. Believe me, people know!

So my posture is bad. Horribly bad. I have a curved spine thanks to horrible genetics and it takes more effort and thinking to remember to stand up straight. It does not come naturally to me at all. My mom has the same problem.  Not only is bad posture horrible for your health and well-being, but it's so unattractive.  During pregnacy I suffer worse from bad posture. I am making a conscious effort to stand up straight and tall no matter what.

3. Continue to go to gym and fitness classes.  Pregnancy makes me tired and lazy. Taking care of a busy toddler doesn't add more energy.  Going to my classes often only helps me sleep better at night, but helps me improve my eating habits.  An added bonus is it's such a social place. I love running into so many people I know, making new friends there, and just having adult conversation for once.

4. Stop Self-criticism. I have to improve on this. I thought it was only a high school and 20's things, but I am a married with a child, and this needs to stop.
I over- analyze everything and it's a negative trait I wish would end.

5. Finish a task, stop procrastinating!  I love working on house projects, particularly, but I often start many of them and leave them uncompleted, which only bugs me more.

6.  Spend more time outdoors.  Sunny loves to be outside and I know it's good for both of us.

That's all I can think of for now. I am sure I will think of others later.


Brocolli & Cheddar Soup

One of my pregnancy issues is not being able to stomach vegetables. They are extremely hard for me to eat.  However, this soup was no problem for me. It was so rich in flavor with hints of chicken stock and butter flavor and loaded with sharp cheddar cheese and veggies. This soup didn't just have brocolli. It also had celery, onion and carrots. Everything blended so well. The toasted sour dough bread soaking in the warm soup was the best part.

I didn't even mind the small peices of glass found in my soup. It was a bit uncomfortable I must say, but it didn't keep me going back for seconds.

So how did the glass end up in my soup and Rodney's.  It started with Sunny grabbing a chair like she always does, trying to help make dinner, her reaching for my favorite Pioneer Woman Glass water mug, taking a drink, and then slamming the mug down as hard as she could. Glass shattered everywhere. My poor favorite mug I just bought.  I admit I did lose my cool.

Water and glass was everywhere, dinner prep was put on hold, and the stove was pulled out so water would be soaked up with towels.  Bits of glass was everywhere.

The only good that came out of this was I got to see how much crud was underneath the stove.  After sweeping and mopping and putting the fan out, it was finally done and clean!  Phew!

I decided to put myself in time out and just collect my thoughts. Sunny is getting to be a handful lately, reaching and grabbing for everything.   As I sat there, all mad over my mug, I fell asleep.  It's only a mug afterall.

So, back to the soup.  Sunny of course wouldn't touch a drop of it, but Rodney and I had no problem finishing it off.  Now Rodney is baking away as he does on Sunday. making a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake.  We eat A LOT of sugar on the weekends!


5 T. Butter
1/4 c. onion, chopped
2-3 T. flour
1 cup half and half or milk (not skim)
1 1/2 c. chicken stock or broth
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery, chopped fine
2 c. brocolli florets, chopped
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Melt butter in large pot.  Add onions and saute until tender, Then whisk in flour.  Add celery and carrot and cook on low medium for about 3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and brocolli and bring to boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes until veggies are tender.
Add half n half or milk last and allow to simmer another 5 minutes.  Add cheese and stir. Serve.
Note: If soup is too thick, add about 1/2 c. of liquid and this will thin it out. Also, if you want to double this batch, increase your liquid and cheese amount.

Source: Allrecipes.com  Recipe by Sandy Lafleur


Gender Reveal

When I was pregnant with Sunny, I thought I would find out, however, at my 20 week BIG ultrasound, they asked me if I wanted to know. Suddenly, I just couldn't find out.

Instead I asked them to write it down for me and place it in a sealed envelope. Rodney agreed to wait until I was ready.  I thought I would sneak a peak and look, but I never did. Not until I was 38 weeks.

I guess you can say I was very patient at that time. However,

This time I couldn't wait to find out.  On Thursday, I had a Dr. appt. I took Sunny with me.

  Anyway, I sat in the room and Sunny looked at the big TV and we decided to find out.

Here is what thoughts entered my mind.
For Boy: This would be different. I like the idea of having a son. Rodney really wants a boy bad. He wants to have a son to take to scouts and do all the guy stuff with.  Boys have a lot of energy usually, but I am used to that in Sunny. She is very much like a boy. She is extremely active, never can sit still for long, and loves to climb and play with cars and trains. I am used to this.  A boy could be great.  BUT:
That would mean I would have to get all new stuff. Everything I already have is for a girl. Would Sunny mind sharing a room with a boy? Oh, this is so minor in the gist of it all.  I would love a son, I think.

For Girl:  Sunny would enjoy a sister. They would be best friends and practice braiding each other's hair. They could share dolls, and clothes if they wanted, and a girl could get a lot of Sunny's handydowns. This would save a lot. Yes, I like the idea of another girl.

So as I imagined life with either gender, the tec asked me if I was ready.  I said Yes!


Rodney really wanted a boy, and I wasn't sure how he would feel about another girl, but he is getting used to the idea of being the only guy around here.

I am thrilled, I was so excited I just wanted to shout it to the world.  Can't wait to meet our bundle of joy.


Taco Bell Tostada's

Those exhausting weekday nights. The last thing most people want to think about is what to make for dinner.  I imagine how nice life with be if I had a fairy doing everything for me.  But then again, that is not what the gospel teaches us. We all are here on this earth to work. It's good for us.

Some days, it's more stressful then it should be. That is why there are some nights where having a can of beans, corn tortillas, and toppings on hand, makes for a pretty quick dinner to through together.

I remember when I started high school.  They had a Taco Bell in the cafeteria. I thought this was the next best thing in my life.  I remember my youth, and all the times I went to Taco Bell after a movie for a quick dinner. I never could get enough.

So Sophomore year, I had seminary right before lunch.  I sat in the back row. I remember never paying attention very well. Instead, I was drawing pictures of my lunch. Crazy isn't that? Lots of pictures of tostada's and burritos. Hey, it helped my stomach to stop growling.

Our seminary teacher was way cool, He let us leave for lunch about 5 minutes early. That is where I would run, not walk, to the cafeteria to be the first one in line for my Taco Bell fix.

So what did I end up getting?

It was always the same.  Tostada, maybe 3 of them, occassionally a bean burrito with a side of sour cream or chicken soft taco, and maybe a dozen Taco Bell mild sauce packets. I love that stuff, and I even discovered the mild sauce at the grocery store.

I would literally inhale the food. I was starving and growing and my metabolism was very fast. I din't gain a pound from this fatty food.

And remember, I am lactose intolerant, but back in high school, I didn't care. I put up with stomach aches and all the downfalls from dairy. It was worth it to me back then. So worth it!!

I know Taco Bell is crap food now, but it's still so good, right?

So, in making these beautiful tostadas, I remembered my days of Taco Bell.  It's kindof cool you can buy Taco Bell kits at the grocery store to really re-create that taste you love.
                                                             My staple food in high school

Easy Taco Bell Tostada

Corn tortilla's fried in oil until hard (or already prepared ones)
1 or more can of refried beans, heated up
sharp or mild cheddar
shredded ice-berg lettuce
chopped tomatos
Taco Bell Mild or Hot salsa

Spread beans on top of tostada, then add rest of topping.  Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Cookie With Peanut Butter Reeses Cup Center

I have this rule I set for myself. I try to reduce my sugar as best I can during the week, but on weekends, bring on the sweets.  My favorite thing in the history of ever is chocolate chip cookies. Not just any though. I have made some horrible recipes. My favorite is the classic Nestle recipe, which is found on the back on the chocolate chip bag. That one is great.

I love my cookies with just the right balance of sweet n salty. If the salty factor is missing, the cookie is a no go for me.

If you add my favorite candy bar to the equation, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, then I might be in trouble.

Today, we had some leftover chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer and left over Easter candy, which happened to be Reeses Eggs.  Oh yum!

So before I get onto the cookie recipe, I want to share a little bit about Sunny.  She changes so frequently and I am not too great at running to my blog to record every little cute thing or not so cute thing so does.

So, while fresh in my mind, let me first brag about this little bugger.

1. Call me biased, but she is the cutest and smartest little girl I have ever seen.

2. She knows how to spell her name, count to 20, do her ABC'S, knows all her shapes, including what a octagon and hexagon is, has incredible comprehension skills where she can name the character's of a movie or book after she has read/seen it.

3. She is completing complex puzzles for ages 3 and up. I can't even do them.

4. Her vocabulary is impressive. A week ago, on our way into town, she was sitting quietly in her carseat when she said, "Mom, change lanes, okay."  My first thought was who on earth taught her about lanes???
5.She can identify all the letters of the alphabet and numbers 1-12. She is currently working on wrting them.
6. She has amazing artistic skills and patience.She paints almost daily and makes amazing abstract art. When she colors, she stays in the lines very well.

7.  She is extremely friendly, drawing attention to us each time we are out and about. When she sees a small child, either boy or girl, she will wave and shout, "Hello, little girl, Hello, little boy."  How adorable is that?

8. She gives most kids hugs when she sees them.

9. She loves her dance class and it must be the highlight of her week.

10. She talks about Disneyland and Mickey Mouse often.  We decided we are taking her there a few weeks before her 3rd birthday as a birthday gift.

11. Loves to sit in her carseat and go on car rides. This is a huge change from when she was under 2 and screamed in her carseat.

12. Loves to jump on trampoline and LOVES to sing. I find it hilarious that she asks when choir practice is so she can sing first, and then play with "little boy"

13. Loves having her hair cut, curled, and her nails painted. She actually holds very still.

14. Loves to help in the kitchen. Whenever I am at the counter preparing dinner, or Rodney is baking, she will pull a chair up and try to help. Not sure this is a blessing or a curse.

Now onto the NOT SO GREAT STUFF:

1. The older she gets, the pickier she gets. She refuses all meals I serve.  My rule is eat or go hungry. She prefers to go hungry. Sad, but true.

She has gotten so picky, that the only foods she willingly eats now are bread, chips, cheddar cheese, cookies, pancakes, muffins, banana and once in awhile maybe a cucumber or carrot.

She is sassy and strongwilled, I have said this on every milestone update.  To clarify, she doesn't like authority or being told what to do.

Still hates sleep. Stopped taking naps shortly after she turned 2.

Hates having her teeth brushed.

Absolute refusal to sit on potty. Might sit on it once in a blue moon.

Still gets out of her bed at night.

Loves watching cartoons a little too much. I'm working on no more then an hour a day as they say.

Phew! Well, that's her milestone updates for now. Next month, she turns 3!!! Yikes!  A lot of my family and friends tell me that age 3 and 4 is much harder then age 2.  I am learning there is truth to that for sure. She is getting so much more independant and determined and I know things will get more challenging.  I need to get prepared.

As I wrap up this post, I would like to mention how nice this rain is for the past 3 days. I love loud thunder and I know our grass needs this.  The air is cold and chilly, but what better way to enjoy this Sunday, then enjoying some freshly baked cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookie With Peanut Butter Reeses Cup Center 


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)   Nestle Chocolate Chips (Milk or Dark
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • For the center: Reeses Peanut Butter cups. I used our left over Reese's Chocolate Eggs from Easter.
What You'll Do:

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars. 

 dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. You may now place a peanut butter cup in the center of each cookie, or you can choose to place the  candy on the cookie immediately after coming out of oven. Both work.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. 

Source: Verybestbakingbynestle.com


I Can't Fight Those Pregnancy Cravings

It's 10:35 pm right now. I should be a asleep, but I'm not. Instead I'm in bed thinking of all the foods I wish I could eat right now. Those obnoxious pregnancy cravings! They hit you anytime, anywhere, anyday.

It's been a rough week.  I decided to take Sunny into the doctor today because she has had this chronic cough that keeps her and everyone up all night and a runny nose that won't stop.

I was told to give her delsym every 12 hours and bring her back for an anti-biotic in about 5 days if no improvement.

Nonetheless, She is still such a happy little girl. Always singing, laughing, asking to play with a friend, jump, swing, and all the things that 2 year olds love to do.

So, anyway, what else is there to discuss this time of night.

My appetite is huge lately. I am gobbling down portions I never would before.

Sometimes I am so close to getting in my car and going to those places that house my cravings.  My biggest pregnancy cravings are Carbs and Cheese. (Subway sandwiches with pepperjack cheese, enchiladas and ALL mexican food, cottage cheese, lasagna, etc.

The problem is, I can't eat cheese. I am lactose intolerant. I always will be.  But I discovered something a couple weeks ago. A pill that I can take that lets me have dairy now.  It works! Hallelujah!!!

I have heard a lot of pregnant women talk of their cravings. Some our salads, some are veggies, some are meat, etc. I craved salads in my first trimester, the very few times I was able to actually eat.

I crave none of those things now. Not this time, anyway. In fact, the thought of a salad makes me want to puke. My body doesn't want it. I have tried forcing down all the healthy stuff. The result is not good.

Instead, I eat a small side of veggies alongside a meal, but I eat them very slowly and carefully.  So far, it is working out okay.

This pregnancy is so different then with Sunny. With Sunny, I ate very low carb, lots of salads and veggies, even smoothies. But this time around, I just can't.

I once heard the saying that whatever your body craves is what it needs. I am trying not to feel guilty for wanting to eat what I crave because I know a lot of of those things aren't the healthiest.  However, my new approach to battling guilt is: What baby wants is what baby gets. I am eating for two.

One thing that has never made me sick is tomatoes.  I have always been a huge tomato lover. My favorite being toasted sour dough bread with mayo & fresh salty garden tomatoes.  Our tomatoes are not even close to that point yet, so while on a grocery run today, I had the brilliant idea to make my favorite soup EVER. It's called Gazpacho. It is so tasty and healthy. I have been eating it for years and never have gotten sick of it.

While searching around for the perfect Gazpacho recipe, I stumbled upon the Pioneer Women's recipe. I love that woman. She makes me want to eat.

Probably the best soup I have ever had.

And the bonus is, I am finally getting some veggies in and they aren't making me want to gag.

Pioneer Women's Gazpacho Soup
                                              It taste so much better then it looks, trust me!

  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 whole Red Onion, Diced
  • 1 whole Large Cucumber, Diced
  • 5 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 1 whole Zucchini, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 1 dash Salt To Taste
  • 1/4 gallon Tomato Juice
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/8 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons White Sugar
  • 6 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 dash Black Pepper To Taste
Instructions:  (Please Note: This is Ree's recipe. If you want to alter it, go ahead. She loves to go all out on every dish she makes which only makes me wish she was my own personal chef).

  • In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the minced garlic with half the red onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, half the zucchini, half the celery, half the tomato juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, Tabasco, and a dash of salt. 

    Pulse until all ingredients are blended well; mixture will have a nice speckled, colorful texture. 

    Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the tomato juice, and half of the remaining onion, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, and celery. (Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish.)

    Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding salt if needed. Chill soup for at least a couple of hours; soup needs to be very cold!

    Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with remaining diced vegetables, a sliver of fresh avocado, sour cream, and cilantro. Finally, place a grilled shrimp on the top and serve with grilled slices of bread.
Recipe Source: Thepioneerwomen.com


Mango Salsa (see January archive on right for recipe)