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FALL BEEF STEW

This is the kind of dinner my husband associates with Sunday afternoons, after-church meals. While I’m not the biggest meat-eateIMG_0882r, this dish brings out a buried, inner carnivore. Feel free to omit and substitute whatever veggies you have lying around. For example, you’ll notice in our picture I added pear tomatoes (since they were either getting stewed or tossed!). The crock pot is forever forgiving and melds all the ingredients into a perfect medley. Pair with rice, or in our case a Honduran “gallo pinto,” rice and red beans with coconut milk (we’ll publish the recipe in another post).

Olive or vegetable oil

6 garlic cloves minced

1 purple onion, diced small

4 carrots, sliced on the bias

2 lbs stew beef, cut into chunks

salt, to taste

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 cup butternut squash, chopped

white wine, 1/2-3/4 of a cup

1/4 teaspoon sage powder

1/2 teaspoon pinch of chipotle powder

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

black pepper, to taste

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and add garlic, onion and carrots. Saute briefly, then add to the crockpot. Add a bunch of the beef (to fit the skillet, but not crowd it) and quickly sear the beef, you don’t need to get all sides. Salt the beef to taste (remember you can always add more later). When you semi-sear all the meat and place it all in the crock pot, then add the wine to the skillet and with a wooden spoon release any yummy brown bits. Bring to a simmer, and then immediately add to the crock pot, mixing in the remaining ingredients. Simmer in the crock pot on high for 3 hours, then change it to  low setting for another four hours.

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CRACK US UP … (monthly humor link)

For those of us nearing, sneering or jeering towards the big 4.0, read this post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-wruble/40-effed-up-things-about-_b_3386565.html

Of course, if you’re like Melissa (my sister/co-blogger), who just celebrated her 30th birthday (@#&!$!), this post will be as foreign as Family Ties, Reebok high tops and tube tops. For the rest of us, fill up that merlot glass, sit back in your elastic pj bottoms, and enjoy the read. Surgeon General’s warning: Read at your own risk. Tannins may trickle down your nostrils!  xo, Carolina

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Clever or Cute this Halloween?

Halloween
This past Saturday, all of the chicks got together for a big Halloween bash. Though the jury is still out, I opted for a clever costume. Can you guess what I am from the photo on the left?I’m wearing a slip, and the old man on my body is Sigmund Freud. Get it? …A Freudian Slip. Carolina thought it was too much off a stretch, so she last minute wrote up a bunch of post-its with Freudian references to slap on me. And still, few ‘got it.’ (Carolina: “They probably think you’re some hung over mom who left the house with only her slip on!” Me: “STOP IT!”)

She, on the other hand, was a traditional devil…and her girl chicks followed suit. My girls opted for classic Elsa and ballerina.

What’s your style this Halloween?
Any other scary clever ideas?
xx, Melissa

Happy Halloween from all of our chicks!
Halloween 2
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HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT SPLASH

69034b7418c56975b5cc5a7e52db47e7A new study says that a high percentage of women who engage in social media feel pressure to act as if they have the ‘perfect life.’ Well, not on this blog. Sometimes I feel stuck in a comedy of errors. Just last week, yelling at Chick4 to stay close to Chick1 and Chick3 in an Olympic pool, while speaking to my husband on the iPhone–you know, multitasking mamma–I slipped. I fell. Fully clothed, in a dress, into a pool, making an indelible public splash.

With iPhone in hand.

I had a bikini on underneath, so I quickly got out, stripped off my dress, dried my phone on a towel, and jumped back in–as if it was all planned. Onlookers abounded, but I did a few breast strokes and pretended to ignore the stares. Chick2, who was dry as a bone, in a time-out, laughed her head off. (Later she told me that she had made me fall with her telekinesis powers. If you don’t know what those are, you need to watch the 80s Disney cult classic, Return From Witch Mountain. She said that’s what happens when I put her in a time-out.)

Forget the embarrassment of falling in the pool. I soon had an iPhone problem on my hands. It wouldn’t turn on.

So my iPhone spent all weekend as if it were a Canyon Ranch guest. It laid in a closed bag of aromatic jasmine rice. It suntanned in my car. It laid in another treatment bag of silica beads. (I almost put Chick2 in a bag! Telekinesis my ***). On the third day, my phone rose again. I almost cried when the apple appeared. But then … swipe, swipe, swipe … the touch pad wasn’t working. Calls and texts came in, but I couldn’t collect them. Siri would talk to me–from afar– but wouldn’t do anything until I unlocked my phone. Ughhhhh. What a tease! Talk about forbidden fruit.

Thankfully, I had Apple Care, so it was a $40 mistake. Sadly, pictures of my summer trip to Spain have only been saved in my mind (well, I’m going to try and retrieve some from email and Facebook).

No, my life is not perfect. No one’s is. Not even Siri’s. But it’s in those moments of imperfection that we grow, learn, love, and hopefully laugh. x, Carolina

The moral of the story:

1- Back Up Your Phone/ Get It Insured

2- Keep Phones Away from Water

3- Don’t be too hard on any psychic kids! They might push you to your limits.

4- Finally, embrace your imperfections.

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SUGO ITALIANO, no 1

IMG_0825-2Tomato sauce variations are many, as it’s one of the most essential concoctions in piecing together disparate ingredients that result in a cohesive masterpiece. While I have many versions of a simple marinara sauce, I made this one over the weekend. We ate it over fresh taggliattini (with lots of parmesan cheese), but I’ve also used it in a vegetarian lasagna, to dip fried eggplants (Trader Joe’s has an awesome one), for adding to battered mozzarella and to flavor a chicken cacciatore. While the base is comprised of onions, sautéed on low for an hour, once you add the tomatoes, their acidity undercuts the sweet richness of the caramelized onions. It results in an affirmative, yet super simple (2 main ingredients, 1 herb) sauce that begs for an encore. X, Carolina

ps. I sliced the onions on a handheld mandolin

 

SUCCO ITALIANO, no 1

extra virgin olive oil

1.5 onions, very thinly sliced

1 T sugar

1 can whole, Italian tomatoes (San Marzanos, if you can)

1- 2 teaspoons salt, to taste

coarse black pepper to taste

1/2 cup white wine

fresh basil, handful or more, thinly sliced

 

Over medium-high heat, sauté onions in olive oil in a deep, sauté pan. Cover, add sugar, and lower heat as low as it will go. Stir occasionally, slowly adding about 2/3 of the wine. After about an hour, uncover, add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil and raise the heat. Stir in wine, salt, and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until all the liquid is evaporated (couple of minutes), then lower heat again and add tomatoes. With a handheld potato masher (or big spoon), chop up the tomatoes. Cook for about 8 minutes. Adjust seasoning to your particular taste and stir in the fresh basil. The heat of the sauce will cook the basil just enough so that it retains it’s aroma.

Serve over pasta with lots of parm or Romano cheese. Or serve over chicken, beans, veggies–just about anything. X, Carolina

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GOT MILK? Yeah, it’s in the Bottle. (Linked Up, part II)

Because there has been so much commentary on pro-choice breastfeeding lately, including that brilliant and brave Wash Post article I mentioned last week, I wanted to link up to this commentary as well. http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1053781/one-surprising-reason-french-women-dont-breastfeed

French have always espoused liberty. Where were these women when I was bumbling my way through blazing boobs, two at a time. It was such a disaster, never making it to the major leagues, no matter how hard I tried, squeezed, pumped and inhaled fenugreek! And to make matters worse, by night time I had to ALWAYS supplement since supplies ran low. It was the equivalent of high end restaurant torture in which miniature sized plates de resistance leave you BROKE and STILL HUNGRY.

Glad those bovine days are over. For those of you still in the trenches, “Let them drink milk!” And don’t worry if it’s from the breast or the bottle.

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LINKED UP: BREAST FEED OR NOT … JUST DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

Gosh, I could not agree more with this writer. I did a combination of both, but the breasts were hung out to dry early–and I didn’t care. And yes, I got a bunch of judgmental stares. But YOU try breast feeding and pumping (and diapering and bathing) TWO at the same time. Check this out below, x, Carolina

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-i-dont-breastfeed-if-you-must-know/2014/10/13/74c5fd3e-459a-11e4-9a15-137aa0153527_story.html

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NO BLUE LIGHT SPECIALS HERE

Numerous studies have linked ‘blue lights’ (you know the kind that emanate from electronics like computers, tvs and phones) to disruptive sleep in kids and adults. I was just at the home of a friend and could not believe how many apparatuses were plugged into her kids’ room. Really?

Blue light at night can interfere with melatonin production, which basically means that are kids are not getting quality sleep. And if they don’t get a good night’s rest, it will percolate into their day (poor testing, distracted, ADHD, etc.) … Here’s the bottom line:

1- if your kid has a computer in the room, make sure it’s in sleep mode when your kid is in the same mode.

2- Limit electronics in a room. Have them do their homework somewhere else (I like the kitchen table, so you can keep a watchful eye).

3- Ditch the modern alarm clock. Go old school and get one of those battery operated or wind up  clocks.

4- If there are a lot of lights outside your kids’ bedroom window, invest in shutters or shades. Keep the room dark.TeddyBear_Text copy

5- Finally, for the love of BLANK, ditch the night light. If your kid is out of diapers, they can turn on a bathroom light. It’s one thing to have small lights were there are stairs, etc., but not in the bedroom.

Happy Zzzzzs. x, Carolina

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ENERGY ON THE GO … QUICK SNACKS FOR MOM

If you’re like me, it’s hard to get three square meals in. On busy mornings my breakfast can be a musical plates rendition of eating my four kids’ leftovers. We all know that skipping any meal–especially breakfast–is not a good thing. Especially bad when it’s time for bed and I’m suddenly starving. That’s when Haagen Dazs yells at me from his stainless steel prison. “Let me out!” Or more like “Let me in!”

That’s why I’ve just started keeping some easy, homemade ‘snack packs’ in my mini-van and in my purse. And while I’m waiting for Chick 1 and Chick 2 to get out of school in the abominable pick-up line, I have something to munch on (of course, the kids are not allowed to eat in the car, but Mom is a constant rule breaker. Plus, I don’t leave crumbs!).

Some of my favorite energy boosters:

getty_rf_photo_of_tween_holding_healthy_trail_mix_snack

-CRISP CEREAL (like Special-K or Product 19) MIXED IN WITH RAISINS, DRIED CHERRIES AND DRIED PINEAPPLE … cereal is a great way to get filled up and obtain vitamins and minerals we may be lacking in (for me it’s iron), the dried fruit rounds it out and gives some natural sweetness

7-126_trader_joe_cashews_400
– TRADER JOE’S THAI CHILI ROASTED ALMONDS (if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s just flavor roasted almonds with chili powder, salt, pepper, and lemongrass leaves)

 

roasted-and-salted-macadamias-SALTED MACADAMIA NUTS MIXED IN WITH COCOA NIBS .. chocolate, especially in this form, is chockfull-of goodness and antioxidants. This is a perfect pairing of semi-sweet and savory. Get a protein and mild caffeine boost.

 

sleep-banana- BANANA … how easy is that. Bananas are like a heaven-sent power bar. And you can buy them for 19 cents. Potassium, B6, manganese, vitamin C, biotin, fiber … and I could go on.

 

OLOVES-Hot-Chilli-Mama-906x906-OLOVES … a relatively new product. They are basically vacuum-packed olives with none of the juice, but all the flavors. Of course, I love the chili flavored ones. The packets are small, and not exactly cheap (walmart sells 10 for $15), but it adds to the variety. Of course, not everyone loves olives. I could eat a Costco-sized jar, but that’s just me!

ENJOY!  x, Carolina