Groupon canvas deal

I just got a really good Groupon deal for prints on canvas (through Piedmont/Triad deals - Cafe Press was the company it is through).  It was $39 for a 16x20 but there was an extra deal from Groupon where $15 came off my order automatically in the checkout.  I hope we get a really good picture of the three of us at Aria's birthday party so I can order it using this deal!

 Here is what my cart looked like:



Pack it up!

I think I may be the only person who loves packing.  Well, I should rephrase that to I love organizing everything into it's place and packing lends itself well to putting things in their place - all the while, being able to clean areas that were jam packed with stuff and haven't been cleaned in three years!  Plus you get to decide if you really want something.  Does this contribute to your life?  Will it?  Is it just going to sit in a box for 40 years until your grandkids find it and go "why did she keep that?"?

We had a very successful Moving Sale a few weeks back after packing up here and there.  We had so much we had to just go ahead and have it even though we have more for another sale already.  The only thing I hate about packing, is lugging boxes.  Actually, there is another thing this time.  Before, we would move from one apartment to another, but this time we will be moving from our first house to someplace yet to be determined, hopefully a townhouse.  It will be sad leaving here, but will be relieving to leave behind the responsibilities of home ownership.

That being said, here is a picture of what our living room looks like now.  These are just boxes from the downstairs room, and not everything from down there either.  I think we are going to need to get a big storage unit...


Whole-Wheat Chicken Alfredo Pizza

The other day I made chicken Alfredo pizza for dinner.  It was so easy, I made it again for dinner the next day!

Here is what you will need:

for the crust:
1-2 cups of whole wheat flour, it will depend on how your flour and yeast mingle as to how much you will need
1 pouch of pizza dough yeast
2/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of salt, I use kosher

for the sauce (adapted from 100 days of real food):
2 tablespoons of organic butter
1 cup of organic heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
1-2 cups of extra sharp cheddar cheese, I used Cabot (I didn't have any parm at the house, so I substituted.  I do this often)

I used frozen organic broccoli, fresh sliced de-seeded tomatoes and leftover shredded chicken from this recipe.  If I had some on hand I would have also added shredded carrots or maybe some caramelized onions. 

For the crust I just followed the directions on the packet.  Heat your oven to 425F.  The whole wheat will make the dough a little stickier and will cook up thicker than if you were to use all-purpose flour.  If you don't like the dense crust you can use half whole wheat and half all-purpose.  You could also cook the crust for like 5 minutes before adding any of your toppings to help make the middle of the crust seem more cooked.  Note, the crust will rise if you do this, just gently push it back down when you pull it out of the oven before adding the toppings.  I also spray the pan down with olive oil Pam before putting the crust down on it so that I don't have a huge cheesy-baked-on mess to clean up after dinner.

For the sauce, heat the butter and cream on medium heat until it becomes slightly thick.  Turn the heat down so that it doesn't boil.  Mine seemed kind of thin for pizza sauce so I added some flour little by little until it thickened up until how I wanted it.  Whisk continuously so that it doesn't burn.  Since I only use block cheese, I shredded it before putting it into the pot.  Put the shredded cheese into the pot and whisk up until it thickens up.  Set it aside or put the burner on warm while you add the toppings to your pizza.

Next add your toppings to the pizza.  I don't like to leave a lot of crust room since I don't like plain crust, so I usually go as close to the edge as I can with all the goodness.  Once you have your toppings arranged how you want them, pour on your sauce.  I had some left over which I used the next day for the second pizza.  You can top it with more shredded cheese if you want, but the sauce is pretty cheesy so you don't have to.  Then put it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  I have a convection oven so it doesn't take as long.  Let it sit for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven so that the sauce can settle up some and it doesn't run everywhere when you cut it.

I served it with a simple salad of organic greens, cucumber and tomato with unsalted sunflower seeds.

It was so easy to make, even with a baby babbling at me the whole time.  I love to pretend I'm a cooking instructor like Julia Childs when I cook in front of her.  She likes to a show with her dinner, so it is win-win.
Don't you love my dough-rolling-out skillz?

Cheesy goodness

Dinner side salad


A big trip to the Farmer's Market means a lot of cooking!

My parents are here visiting this weekend which means - lots of food!  Yesterday we spent the better part of the day making a ton of food and we spent ALL day today making even more.  Tomorrow, after they pick my brother up from a college preview weekend, they will be coming back to make even more!  Love it.

On Thursday I had gone to the Farmer's Market near NC State in Raleigh.  It was very glamorous and bustling with activity.  Aria loved every minute of it.  I came away with 4 "green" bags full of produce.  My intentions were to make most of her food for the month and freeze the rest of it for the winter months.  I was able to find a really nice stand by a local farmer who had a TON of different types of fruits and veggies and they were all pesticide free and looked amazing.  I think I'm already spoiled by this market even though I live an hour away from it.

Farmer's Market bounty!
 So among other things that were made yesterday, for Aria we made peaches, plums and butternut squash.  For the peaches and plums we blanched them in a heavy-bottomed pot for about 10 minutes.  Before placing them in the water, I cut a X into it and placed the fruit X-side down into the water.  The skins didn't peel away like I had expected them to, but it was still a lot easier than if I had tried to peel them off before cooking them.  I blended them up in her baby bullet and froze half of it and kept half of it out for her food for the next few days.  For the butternut squash I just lined a pyrex dish with foil, cut them in half, de-seeded them and put them flesh-side down into the pan and cooked them for about 45 minutes at 375F.  When they are done you can literally just spoon the meat out of the skin.  I didn't even have to blend that up in the bullet - she will eat it as is.  It doesn't get easier than that.  I also rinsed and froze the blueberries on cookie sheets in the freezer and then bagged them up for later.  So much cheaper than getting a tiny bag of frozen organic blueberries at the store.  I also did this with some peach slices so Brad and I have some fruit to snack on later this year too.
The plums and some eggplant ready for the freezer!
 Today was a bigger adventure.  I had picked up a different type of eggplant and beets at the Farmer's Market, neither of which I had ever bought before.  The lady at the booth told me that this type of eggplant was much sweeter and tender than the traditional type you see in the store and since I was making it for Aria, she recommended this kind.  I have found conflicting names on the internet but they all say some form of "striped" in the name.  We skinned it and cut it up and steamed it in the microwave for about 4 minutes.  It was very soft, kind of like tofu but had an amazing texture after I blended it in the bullet.  It was kind of like really creamy mashed potatoes with a really nice earthy flavor.  I would much rather substitute these for potatoes than cauliflower if I ever do a low-carb type diet again.  I think I might try that the next time I come upon this type.  I froze half and kept half of it in the fridge.  Aria tried it and loved it, so I'm pleased with the results and how  quick it was to make.
The striped eggplant blended up!  Creamy!

We also made her some beets and potatoes.  Basic cooking like before.  Cut the beets up and boiled them until they were tender.  Peeled the skin off of them afterwards.  Then peeled, cut and boiled some potatoes.  Then I put equal amounts of each into the baby bullet and whizzed it up.  It had an amazing color and texture to it.  Didn't taste bad at all.  I would probably add salt to it for myself, but I didn't put anything into Aria's batch.

The beets cooking.  Look at those rings!  So much prettier in real life.

Aria's beets and potatoes all mixed up and ready for the fridge.
 Then we peeled, cut and blended up some pears for her too.  In addition to all of this we also made beet, potato and egg salad for us for dinner along with a veggie couscous cold salad and pan fried chicken.  The chicken was so tender, I went back for seconds!
Tonight's dinner.  Beet, potato and egg salad, cold couscous veggie salad and pan fried chicken breasts.

I also learned how to roast red peppers in the oven.  Although I don't really like peppers, I am going to add them to my homemade hummus.  Probably one of the only times I don't mind them.  I'm hopefully going to make this tomorrow.

And on top of all of that, my dad made homemade bread and homemade pita bread.  It was a really long day full of a ton of dishes (I think I ran the dishwasher 4 times today) and full of cooking, but it was really fun and we have a lot of great food waiting for us on days that I have too much going on to cook!
Homemade loaf bread and homemade pitas.


I'm pretty sure this is like the millionth blog to cover this type of thing

...It's ok though. Even if I just blog for myself, It'll be a good little time capsule of this time in my life. So I'm not the best writer and I would really love to change that and grow with this blog. I should start with an introduction I guess. Well I am a college graduate with a science degree. I worked in the industry at a large company for 4 and a half years before quitting just last month to stay at home with my daughter and become The Family Manager. I have always been a crafter at heart and would love for this blog to be a place to put up my projects. I also eat "real food" and basically follow the rules Lisa has on her blog, http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/. I am married and have a 10 month old daughter. She, of course, is the best baby ever. I am currently planning her first birthday party in a Ladybug Girl theme. Trying to keep the cost of this event down by making all the decorations (or at least most of them) and all of the food myself is good practice for when she is older and has siblings. Plus, she will be one. I don't think she will remember if I didn't have the latest and greatest at her shin-dig. I will try to keep up with the budget and post it on here and where the money went as well as pictures and recipes! If there is anyone out there reading, do you have any special ideas for a one year old's birthday that would make it interesting to adults and other small children without going overboard?