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Friday, January 25, 2013

Homemade Pasta

Every year growing up we went to Thanksgiving at an Italian relatives catering hall and every year they served homemade pasta. It is amazing. Years ago when I got married, i registered for a pasta maker thinking of how I would bless my non-Itallian husband with homemade pasta. And then I found out he didnt really like pasta. Really, not liking pasta is one of the biggest insults you can say to an Italian. It floored me that he didnt eat pasta twice a week growing up-- I mean really, what else is there? It is the culinary delight that can go with anything. Anyway.... fast forward almost 9 years later and I am on a low carb diet for my pregnancy. Wheat pasta is the go to answer for my nutritionist and I am going to say this-- its nasty. There, I said it, store bought wheat pasta is just too nutty and pasta shoule be many things, but not nutty. So, I went down to the basement and got my good ol' pasta maker and set to work. Making homemade pasta is really simple, requires just a few ingredients, and will be one of the tastiest homemade things you ever eat. Seriously!
You will need: 2 cups of wheat flour (plus more for dusting the pasta machine and kneading the dough) ** 2 beaten eggs ** 1/4 of water ** 1/4 cup cooked spinach (drain and finally chopped)** 1 tsp of olive oil ** Pour flour in your mixture and turn it on with the dough hook. In a sepeate bowl, mix all the other wet ingredients and spinach together and then poor into the middle of the flour. Keep mixing until you have a nice elasticy dough ball. Take out of mixer and knead on a flour surface for about 5 minutes and then let it rest in a covered bowl. Now for the fun part...
Here is your little dough ball baby. Divide it into four parts. Flaten the first 1/4 ball and slide into pasta maker on level 1. Roll it through once.
And now, after it is through once, fold it like a baby swaddle almost-- each side into the middle.
Now run the swaddle folded pasta through and now you should have no tears or pulls and have a more rectangle like piece. Run it through again on 1, 2, 3, and 4. Let it rest and move on to another ball. Go back to the first ball and cut it in half. Run them through on 4, 5, and 6. Cut it in half again. Run through each piece through 7 and if you would like 8. If you are making lasagna, you can stop here and just use like no-bake lasagna noodles.
If you are making spaghetti (we did lasagna and spaghetti-- well, hey while it was out, we just made two batches and had lasagna one night and then made fettucini and angel hair for two different meals later), then add the spaghetti attachment and roll it through one time and then hang up. We use hangers and it worked perfectly-- the kids loved seeing it hang up to dry (actually, so did my husband). They also were very helpful rolling it out.
After a day its dry and ready. We waited 2 days and then enjoyed it--
Like the steam coming off? I served it with some homemade meatballs made from ground sausage mixed with a mix of ground pork, veal, and beef-- my kids love meatballs and these were a special batch, but so much better than store frozen ones or any out to eat ones (or so the meat eaters have told me). All of that was with a tomatoe sauce I had made a big batch of with minced zucchini, spinach, peppers, and broccoli all added in. So there was spinach in the pasta and veggies in the sauce. My kids are eating veggies and gaining that taste for them and enjoying them. I served it with some more broccoli on the side so they KNOW they are eating veggies.
And guess what? My daughter actually began to cry when there was no more broccoli left over-- my kids seriously love their veggies! Yours can too-- just keep serving them and eating them in front of them!
This little guy is my picky eater and he ate all his food too.
The kids couldn't get over how good their pasta was and went back for more and more. Because I had rolled it so thin and put so many veggies into the dough and the sauce, I could too with no carb guilt (yay)! Truly, homemade pasta is worth the time-- its the best way to have Italian and everyone should try some at least once!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clean Eating Srawberry Frozen Yogurt-- Soooooo much healthier than Yogurt chains!!!

This past summer when we were really cutting back on dyes and artifical flavorings and sugar, a little frozen yogurt shop opened up by us. I thought adorable fruit name: Kiwi with lots of healthy toppings: fruits, granola, etc (and sadly candy). But, hey, I thought at least here maybe we could find something for my son to eat and for us all to enjoy. No such luck-- we ended up getting as small amounts of yogurt as possible and a few fruit toppings and left extremely dissapointed. It turns out its not much better than getting a big ice cream cone (especially if you top it with candy and dyed snacks). Here is the link to their ingredients: http://kiwifrozenyogurt.com/assets/pdf/Yogurt_Ingredients_Kiwi.pdf And more specifically, here is what they put in their Strawberry yogurt: Strawberry dairy Pasteurized and Cultured Skim Milk, Maltodextrin, Strawberry Puree (Strawberries, Water, Maltitol, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Citric Acid, Red #40, Red #3, Blue #1), Whey, Nonfat Dry Milk, Polydextrose, Sorbitol, Milk Protein Isolate, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Modified Food Starch, Pectin, Cellulose Gel, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium. Contains the following live and active cultures: S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L.lactis and L. acidophilus Strawberry Lemonade ****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Really Kiwi? red dye? Natural flavors, and many of the others contain corn syrup and sugar all rolled into one horribly unhealthy snack with a fruit name. So, I am going to tell you how to make amazingly simple Straberry frozen yogurt with less ingredients, no dyes, and in less time than it would take you to drive to Kiwi for their un-healthy, un-clean eating iced treats.
First, if you have some oranges that are about to go mushy (like we did) juice them (I did 4 mushy oranges) or you can use some store bought orange juice with just oranges as the ingredient. I actually juiced these a few days before I could make the yogurt and just left it in the fridge till I had sweet little angelic children who finished their dinner and needed some frozen yogurt to celebrate-- tonight was that night!
Then add your next 3 ingredients: raw honey (I used wildflower tonight as its a little sweeter), plain greek yogurt, and frozen strawberries (They're not in season right now, but if they were you could pick your own and then freeze them).
Place strawberries, juice, yogurt, and a spoonful of honey into food processor. Blend. Enjoy. Now, look at the color:
See how pleasantly pink that is? How smooth and naturaly sweet (okay you cant see it, but my husband who has a sweet tooth said this met his sweet tooth seal of approval). Did you see the part where I added red dye #40? Hmmmmm... maybe thats because God already colored the strawberries so perfectly that they did the job on their own! How about that? Thank you Lord for showing us that you meant food to be visually appealing to us-- no artifical dyes needed! **************************************************** And now for some happy customers:
Bam! Take that Kiwi! So you see, much easier then loading 3 kids and one husband into the car on a freezing cold northern night, much healthier, and well, can I just say again how much healthier it is? Enjoy (oh, and Ill be sharing what we had for dinner soon that had the kids clearing their plates and coming back for more and crying for more broccoli... seriously, i couldnt make that up if I tried)....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

When you think your right....

I keep having this conversation with mu husband on why I am more right on the correct due date than the doctors. I have given the doctors slight little polite hints that they might be wrong, but they're set in their ways. And be it as it may, in the end they might be right, but I doubt it. I was right last time... I kept saying our thirds due date should be later than predicted and he came "later" than the other two by their measure, but right on time by my calculations. I know, the doctors have delivered literally thousands of babies between then all and they know what they're talking about. However, they give each and every woman the same exact date.... They're assuming everyone got pregnant exactly half way between their cycles. But everyone is so different and whose to say we all conceived exactly half way? That's why people go a few days before or after their due date and sometimes on... Their due date was an average guess and that means you'll have some overshoot, undershoot, and land right on the money. This time though, I am pretty sure our due date is a week off. Here's why: I felt the baby at 9 weeks... Which even by 4th baby standards is pretty early. I mentioned this to the doctors and they said it was gas... I'm a bazillion percent sure that the little flutters were not gas. They found the baby exactly where I had been feeling him and I still feel little hands moving in that same spot. Also, my diabetes going into overdrive so early... I think that's also a sign I'm further along. Another thing is that at our 20 week ultrasound the baby measured pretty big and mine have always measured small... And this time I'm on a stricter diet. At our 9 week ultrasound, the baby was pretty big. Not Lima bean size at all but very easy to see head, arms and legs... I've had a lot of ultrasounds in my day and that was one developed baby. Also, and the main reason, I was def. going through menopause this summer due to past medical treatment when this little guy snuck in there, but I was so crazy all over the place this summer that it also gives valid reason as to why I should be due earlier. I'm just typing this all out for my own good... So that if I am right, which I think I am, I'll have a record. Isn't that awful? I know in the end the doctors won't be swayed as our babies get big towards the end and so they'll look further along then they are; however, I'll know. And it will make me feel better when they come at what the drs think to be 34 or 35 weeks, because I'll know we were really due sooner rather than later :) mommys just know these things sometimes ;)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

I unashamedly love Aldis and they had a large old fashioned oats container for so cheap and so we have been making batches of whole wheat oatmeal raisin cookies and baked oatmeal. I am not a fan of oatmeal, but this smelled so heavenly I really wished I could try some. Our whole house smelled heavenly and bonus, we got two days of breakfasts out of it. 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats 1/4 – 1/3 cup raw sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 teaspoons ground organic cinnamon 2 cups milk 1 egg 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled 3 apples cored and then diced-- skins and all. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8” square baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon In a small bowl whisk together the milk, egg, and butter. Place apples in bottom of the bowl. Spread oat mixture on top evenly and then pour the milk mixture over top. Bake for about 35 minutes-- trust me, youll smell when its done! This can be prepared the night before and then baked the next morning.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

We have been asked a few times how we make our own laundry detergent and so since we made a big batch this past week, I thought I'd share. Its incredibly easy and only requires 3 ingredients.
1. Borax 2. Arm and Hammer Washing Baking Soda 3. 3-5 Bars of Fels Nappa Soap.
Pour the first two ingredients into your container. Then grate the fels Nappa soap in just like you would cheese. Stir it all up. This is the part my kids like to help with.
Then proceed to wash clothes. I find it takes about a 1/4 cup a load and things come out nice and clean. To avoid having the fels nappa not break up, dont do too big of a load and I think it works better with warm water if your load of wash is bigger. I also have previously shared that we don't use a dryer. At all. Here is the link where I shared about our amazing drying rack-- between the two you will have lower energy usage, less money spent, and more natural clothes cleaning happening in your home. I'll leave you with my favorite laundry quote: "Laundry is like God's love-- never ending!" http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5690151281930472906#editor/target=post;postID=3655682755814600033

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pink or Blue??

Today was the day we found out the babys gender-- very exciting! I got up a little before 6 to go to the bathroom and noticed a bright pink sky and was wondering if there was a reason I was seeing pink. Then over breakfast the kids continued to debate what we had-- both sides were pretty firm in their guesses so Matt and I began asking the kids to focus on praying for the bays health as that was even more improtant than having a boy or girl. I had to go in by myself which has never happened before and the attendant was one of the most stoic people I have ever met. No conversation, no talking-- it was very cut and dry and when she measured the kidneys and then went back to measure the babys heart again and then bacl to the kidneys I began to get very nervous. I was able to pick up a lot more of the detail this time (I felt a little like an old hat in there) and could see baby had the same nose as our younger two-- a very Francolino Itallian looking nose. And then she announced the gender and left. The doctor came in and was so sweet and kind-- he assured me we had a very healthy baby who is a nice 13 ounces and doing wonderfully-- I was praising God and wiping away tears of joy! Matt and the kids were outside waiting in the car and we drove over to a little park so I could share the news-- they were so, so excited!
Everyond had to turn around, close their eyes, and not peek at their lollipop color-- there were lots of excited giggles as they waited to pull them out and see who had been right.
And was it pink or blue.....???
I promise you, my daughter was showing me her tongue was blue, not gagging at the news. Although, an hour later when we bought some new clothes for her new baby brother, she said, "I just know God made a mistake! Its not too late for Him to change His mind, right?" We had a nice lunch conversation on how special it is to remain Queen of the castle and how God has a plan for this new little guy to which she replied, "Theres always next time." The boys are thrilled and Im glad for another little dude to add to our bunch-- and our playmobil and legos will get lots and lots more playtime :) !
So, praise the Lord, we are adding one very healthy and active little boy who is head down (please stay there) to our Gardner Gang!
And we have some leftover pink lollipops...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January Snowflake Decorations

I think if you know me, you know that I love snow. Its so magical to watch it fall and always reminds me that Jesus promised to wash us as white as snow.
I was very excited when two months ago we went to Kitchen Kettle Village in Lancaster and I stumbled into the Old Candle Barn and found tons of snowflake decorations. Right there I decided that instead of having valentines decorations out for two months, we'd have a month devoted to snow decorations. Some things I found while I was there and some my little crafters and I made.
I found all the white letters and white frames at A.C. Moore and we painted themwith sparkles and then sprayed them with a finishing gloss and they turned out very well. I found the new Year vintage image searching online and the Winter Fun printable on pinterest.
Now, if only we actually had some snow on the outside of our home, but its a very nice almost spring like 50 degree week here. Ah well, we've got snow on the inside :) We have also began making some decorations for Valentines and February and here is a little sneek peek of a finished craft. We modpodged some scrapbook paper hearts to some more scrapbook paper and then added some stickers to the bottom. I'm excited for February! Happy Januray friends!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Souper Sunday

Yesterday was actually sunday, but we spent a lazy day hanging out and making two big batches of soup. Before we ate our soup for dinner, the kids and I took a nice winter's day walk. At one point, the little two were behind me and my older son was in front of me and I was walking all alone. If you have kids, then you will understand that I was actually surprised to find myself alone. Normally there is a hand holding mine, a hand waving a stick just inches from me, someone walking in step chatting with me. My older son was imagining he was walking home from school and needed some space as he was a big kid. I get that. He is wired a lot like me-- he needs his alone time to make time with others more pleasant. So I let him pretend to walk home from school (never mind that it was a sunday, that most kids loathe walking to and from school, and technically since our home is our school, he was walking to and from school). My younger two have had this long running dramatic play game of mommy and baby going on. Im not sure who likes it more, my daughter or little man. She can get him to do anything and he thrives on it. Its a little bizarre at times especially when he is calling, "Mommmmmeee!" and I answer and he says, "No not you Mommy, Mommy 'allie" and then he finds her and they continue their game. It is also so sweet-- they love each other and are often glued at the hip with this game. So, anyway, there I was with them behind me desiring some mommy 'allie and me time and my older son walking home from school in front of me. And I was all alone. For a little bit, but it just allowed me this time to see them growing older and letting their imaginations soar. After 3 minutes of thinking all this through, the mommy and me pair had to share some sticks they found and my older son wanted me to time him running. And they were all back.
When we got home from our walk, we had some savory Lentil and Chunky Vegetable Soup. Here is the recipe as I actually got all 3 kids to eat it (my oldest went all the way to thirds as he is a big soup fan like his mommy).
Savory Lentil and Chunky Vegetable Soup 1. 4 cups of vegetable stock 2. 4-6 cups of water 3. 1 cup of lentils 4. 1 cup of carrots chopped 5. 4 small zucchini sliced and halved 6. 2 heads of broccoli chopped up, but not too small 7. 1 cup of spinach chopped (fresh or frozen is fine, I had just frozen batches of spinach pre-chopped, so I used one of these baggies) 8. about 1 tsp. of thyme 9. salt and pepper to taste Cook your lentils in the water for about 15 minutes after following the bags directions. While that is happening, chop all your veggies. Add them and the broth in to the pot, season with salt and pepper and thyme (I buy a little cluster at the store and store it in the freezer and when I need it, just shake some in. It freezes incredibly well and is easy to use this way). Simmer for about an hour or two. It will go from a bright green like this >
to a pea green color. Thats when it is done. Take about 2-3 cups and puree to thicken up your broth (this step is optional, but if your kids are big broth people, then its a way to sneak some extra
It was very good and low in carbs and low in sodium as you can control how much sea salt you add in. Ill share our other soup sometime soon! Emjoy!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

5 things That are Rocking My World This Week!

Do you remember that scene in the Jungle book when Mowgli is with the vultures and they sing, "when you are... just look around"? I do. It might be one of the bleakest scenes in the movie, but I do like that they try and cheer Mowgli up because he doesnt want to go to the man village, he ran out on his best friends, and a killer tiger is bent on killing him. I really hate gestational diabetes-- when my insulin dosages are right, Im not really that hungry and its easy to stick to my diet. But then, the baby does what babies in utero will do-- it grows. And this sends my body into a tizzy whenever a big growth happens-- it drops off in its own insulin production, I become a hungry mama bear, and then I feel awful. Awful for feeling hungry. Angry that Im on a diet. Starving and angry at people who can eat whatever and not be affected. But, I know now that all of that the emotions, hunger, and everything else is just the diabetes. It cracks me up that one of the side affects of diabetes is irritability, um yeah-- wouldnt that be a given? Annnnnnnnnyway.... it gets me down and the worse is still to come. Every week that the baby grows, the harder it is for me to make insulin, my contractions will increase... but again, I digress, Im whining and off the point. When your down, I think its fun to find some cool positives. To look at your blessings, sure, but Id also like to share 5 things that are new or new again to me this week: 1. http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Aluminum-2-Inch-Long-Loaf/dp/B00024WNOU/ref=sr_1_sc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1357436298&sr=8-2-spell&keywords=wilson+large+bread+loaf+pans These Bread pans are amazing. Really, if you make your own bread, these are great because you only get two ends instead of 4 if you were to use two small loaf pans. They also make your bread look more store bought (yes, sometimes if you have kids, looks are everything!). Makes baking bread easier :) 2. Shark Valentine Plates. I love valentines Day. I love sharks even more. When I saw these plates in the dollar section at target, I knew they were designed just for me and my boys. The other one is cute too, but really, the shark ones steal the show!
3. My new food processor-- My husband surprised me with one after doing all this research on his own comparing blenders, processors, etc. and I am so thankful for him and his making my life simpler. My last blender was awesome, but after a soup explosion almost a year ago, the glass cracked and I knew we needed something better, but had no time to look or read about any of them. So, my husband doing all that for me when he knows I am a visual hands on person and hate reading reviews, is a blessing in and of itself. And now after two weeks of playing around with it, I use it almost every day. Here are some of our sugar free smoothie creations. Very simple-- frozen fruit, spoonful of plain greek yogurt, splash of pom juice, splash of water or milk. Done. I cant have any, but everyone else has said they are wonderful. My husband has even said theyre better than store bought strawberry milk which has been his sympathy craving of late.
4. Being a big sucker for Disney movies and seeing as a special little someone had a birthday this week, this was our special family day to celebrate her. It was an amazing show! The kids behaved the whole time and I was really pleasantly surprised that they cut out the scary parts and focused on the more up beat parts of the movies. I would def. take the kids to see a different show sometime in the future as it was a special outing that we could all enjoy.
5. The book of Romans. This one isn't new, but its one of my favorite books of the Bible-- maybe even my second favorite. I am reading this time with the message translation and enjoying it a lot. I am almost to my favorite chapter, chapter 12 :) Makes me think of summer at Harmony Heart Camp when we studied that entire chapter one summer. So there you have it-- 5 things that have rocked my world and made things bright when life wants to get me down! The biggest help is def. God's word-- so thankful for it especially on days when I feel like Satan would like to see me give in to self pity. I keep reminding myself joy is a choice and laughter is good medicine :) So, wherever youre at, focus on the good God has for you whether its silly or profound!