Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

Life as a Mom, A Homesteader, A Blogger and A Wife.

Super Simple Granola

When Abby was formally diagnosed as allergic to tree nuts, our ability to buy store made granola become much more difficult. She loves granola in her soy-yogurt so we have been working on a recipe that will work for her needs. I was using a recipe from the Pioneer Woman that I liked but I decided to play around on my own and I have to say this recipe was a HIT! Abby and I sat and ate it by the handful. Best of all, it was SO SIMPLE!

Basic Granola

Ingredients
         3 cups rolled oats
         4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
         1/4 teaspoon salt
         1/3 cup honey
         1/4 cup coconut oil
         2 teaspoon vanilla extract
         1/2 cup raisins, craisins or dry fruit
         1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds

Instructions:

1.   Pre-heat the oven to 300°F.
2.   Combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine.
3.   In a separate microwavable bowl, combine the honey, oil, and vanilla and stir to combine. Microwave for approximately 30 seconds. Let cool for about a minute and then pour over the oat mixture, mixing well until the oats are evenly coated.
4.   Spread the mixture in a rimmed baking sheet that is well coated with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, stir and continue baking until the granola is very light golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Make sure to mix the oats at the edges to the middle so they do not burn.
5.   Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool the granola about 20 minutes. You can give it a mix every five minutes or so as it will harden as it sits.
6.   Once cool, add whatever fruit, nuts or seeds you desire and toss to combine.

7.   Store granola in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks, if it lasts that long!

May's Gluten Free Goodies


Another month, another great box of gluten free stuff to try. This months box was filled with many things we have never tried, which I love. 



 Lot's of yummy, crunch salty snacks. We loved the pita chips and they were delicious with hummus.
The Bare Belly Sunscreen was awesome. That went straight into my track bag. I cannot wait to try the sauce goddess sample. 

 I LOVE Luna Bars, although I do have to say that the peppermint ones are not their strongest offering, in my humble opinion. 



Now this one was not included in my box, but did you know these lovelies are gluten free???


Pictures and things

I sometimes gather my thoughts and come up with what I think will be a brilliant blog post. Then I sit down to write and after writing all day professionally, I come up short with my personal writing. It isn't that I don't have lots to tell, it's just that my brain is out of words. In the last month or so the kiddo's have been up to so much.

A certain boy turned 3. 


The girls received their first holy communion.


Track has been going very well. Abby is kicking RS's butt and taking names. She ran a 400 meter race and came in 4th out of 12! Grace has had Personal Records in all of her 3 favorite events (1500, 800 and 400) and is headed to the Championship meet and maybe even the Junior Olympics.





Life for Brian and I has been hectic. Brian is taking over the role of the commissioner of track for next season. It is a surprisingly time consuming role. It's so great to be able to give back in such a big way but as he takes over he is gone a lot more for meetings and things. I am working like crazy, both writing and teaching. Plus the responsibilities of home and gardening and being Mom to three crazy kids. I know I am going to miss this all some day but I just hope I am rested enough to remember it. :D 

Gluten Free Goodies!

We had the privilege of trying a number of new Gluten Free, Vegan and/or Health Smart products thanks to our friends at the Gluten Free Media Group. Most of you know that we have restricted diet due to food allergies (egg, milk, tree nut and agave) and we try to limit gluten. What many people do not know is that the amount of gluten in things we eat every day, like bread and pasta, is as much as 200% higher now than when I was a child. Meaning it is being put into foods. Just something to think about!



Our lovely box of goodies was full of great items we have never tried (with the exception of Skinny Pop, which we love and IS VEGAN... EVEN THE CHEESE FLAVOR!!!)



These supplements have been awesome as we struggle through an awful NJ spring allergy season. They also taste fantastic! 


I am now in love with these pumpkin seeds. I like to keep things like this in my van and purse. These are a new must!


And, how the heck can you go wrong with chocolate!


This was a new category for us. It is a sauce to add to asian inspired dishes. I have been trying to master a few dishes in this category so I can't wait to get testing!


I LOVED THIS BAR! I limit my carbs because I am insulin resistant and with only 4 net grams of carbs these are awesome. I haven't seen them in stores but amazon had them.


We have tried many different sunbutters but these are tops! And the little pouch is ideal for track meets or games. 


Who thought a quinoa cookie could be good? It was!!!


Love, love, love, love, love!


Everything in our box this month was a hit. I suggest if you can get yours hands on some, go try them!!!

Togetherness

When I found out I was having multiples (was triplets to begin with) I wondered how much children would get along when they got older. Would they be the inseparable kind of twins? Would they get along better than most kids? Would they drive each other nuts because they were together so much? 


 Then they were born and I realized that they were siblings, not just twins. Sure they fight sometimes, but probably less than most siblings. We chocked that up to the fact that they were twins. But we always put an emphasis on the importance of your siblings. When no one else in the world is there for you, a sister always can be.


 Then when we knew another baby was on the way I started to worry. How could this new person fit into the world of twins? Would this baby always be the third wheel? Would he/she ever be able to fit in?


Then he was here. And they loved him. And although there are moments when he is the third wheel, he fits in their world better than I could have imagined. I love watching they bond and grow and love each other. He misses them terrible when they are gone at school. They hug him so tight when they get home. They're quite a trio these three. 

Meatball Casserole


In an effort to drop a few lbs and increase my overall health I have cut carbs and sugar from my diet. I am not a big fan of "dieting" but I also know that as someone with PCOS and insulin resistance, minimizing any sugar from my body is the best plan for my homeostasis. But, who can resist the call of spaghetti and meatballs? The answer is no human being living in Southern New Jersey, that's who!


So we are attempting some mock recipes to try and fill the (very large) whole in our hearts where pasts used to be. 

Meatball Casserole:

Ingredients
  • Clearly making your own is the best way to go. I however, took the easy route (since it was a basketball practice night) and use Trader Joe's frozen mini-meatballs which are egg and milk free. 
  • 1 Jar of really good tomato sauce. I used one I canned in the summer. 
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 block of fresh mozzarella 
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • Parmesan for sprinkling
Preparation
  1. Put the meatballs, sauce, pepper flakes and garlic in a crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 
  2. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Prepare a 2 quart baking dish. 
  3. Spread a layer of sauce from the crock pot on the bottom of the pan and sprinkle in some spinach. Top with the meatballs and remaining sauce. Top with spinach and give it a little stir. 
  4. Top with the mozzarella and place in preheated oven. 
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the spinach is cooked down and the mozzarella is browned and bubbly. 
  6. Top with torn basil leaves and parmesan. 

  

This was a truly delicious bake. It lacked a little something without the pasta or bread but you could certainly serve this with a nice crusty garlic loaf. 

Outtakes

Me: Kids go lay in the grass together and I'll take your picture.

All three in unison: Oh, come on Mom.

Me: Do it

Them: Fine

All three jump on the ground to get it over with. In comes Wisdom the Dog to try and see if he can liven things up.






At least I (sort of) got my shot in the end. 

Yucca - Take 2



I love a culinary challenge. I am no Bobby Flay but I like to push myself out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. When I failed at my first round of Yucca, sent to me by Goya to test I was very disappointed. So I challenged myself to get it right on take two. Here is my second attempt:


Goya Yuca with Garlic Sauce



After failing at working on my own recipe I decided to start with something proven. This is recipe supplied by Goya that I adjusted slightly to our preferences.
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag (24 oz.) frozen GOYA® Yuca
  • ½ cup GOYA® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves of minced fresh garlic
  • 1 TB fresh, chopped oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Prepare the yuca according to package directions. (This was as simple as boil and drain!)


2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, heat the olive oil. Once hot add the garlic cloves salt and oregano. Heat, stirring occasionally, until you just begin to smell garlic, about 5 minutes. (Do not allow liquid to simmer or garlic to brown.)
3. Serve!

The Verdict: This attempt was a much bigger success. I hope to take some bigger risks with it in the future. The kids liked it more than I expected. I think next time I will try something like yucca fries since it is more appealing to little ones.











Mojito Chicken with Cilantro Crema

For Valentine's Day my sweeties and I all went to dinner at Bahama Breeze. We chose somewhere family friendly as we had all three kids in tow. I ordered a grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and a cilantro cream sauce. It. Was. Delicious. Specifically that cilantro cream. I knew this would be my next recipe to tackle.



Step forward about a week and I received a box full of awesome ingredients to try. Goya foods is a line of foods I have bought in the past. I love their rice, beans and sauces. As a test chef I was working with Frozen Yucca, their Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Adobo Lite (a lower salt of the original seasoning). I decided I could marry these two and come up with something delicious.



Mojito Chicken with Cilantro Crema

Chicken Ingredients:
  • 1 lb Boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 5 TB Goya Adobo Lite Seasoning
  • 2 TB Goya Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup of beer
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Steps:
  1. Set up a station to dredge the chicken. In one bowl I mixed the cornstarch, flour, 2 TB adobo seasoning and beer.  (Most people would probably want to use egg and milk but we cannot because of Abby's allergies.) In the other I combines the panko and the rest of the adobo seasoning. 
  2. Dredge each piece of chicken in the batter mixture and then in the bread crumbs. Set aside. Sprinkle with extra adobo seasoning
  3. In a large skillet (I used my new favorite cast iron pan) heat the olive oil to medium high heat. In batches brown each side of the breaded chicken. My tenderloins were thin so they were almost cooked through after browning. Place the chicken in a a baking dish in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until cooked through. 


Cilantro Crema Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (we used soy)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup soy creamer
  • 1/3 lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Steps:
  1. Whisk the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over chicken. 

The Verdict: A definite thumbs up! The chicken was delicious and even the kids loved the seasoning.




A word about yucca. The recipe was supposed to read Mojito Chicken with Cilantro Crema with Yucca. I planned to boil the yucca, season with adobo and drizzle with the cream. However, it didn't come out right. It was very bland and needed work. It is obvious this is a new ingredient for me. Thankfully I was sent two bags so I can get back to the drawing board on that one. Stay tuned... 


Lettuce Wraps

It's been a while since I posted a recipe but I have been working on one for a while now and wanted to share. One of my absolute favorite splurges is PF Chang's Lettuce Wrap. They are by no means a health food, but they are fairly low in carbs which is what I watch the most for myself. I have been tweaking this recipe and trying to get it just right and I am SO CLOSE!

Copy Cat Lettuce Wraps



Ingredients:
  • 11/2 TB Olive Oil (separated)
  • 1 Pound Ground Chicken
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • Half of a large onion, diced fine
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 8-oz can of water chestnuts, diced
  • Lettuce leaves, I used a head of Bib Lettuce
Instructions:
  1. Heat large pan to medium high heat and add 1TB olive oil. Cook the ground chicken until completely browned. Make sure to crumble the chicken as fine as you can. 
  2. Drain any fat from the cooking. 
  3. Add 1/2 TB olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook 3 minutes, then add back the ground chicken. Lower heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients. Cook about 2-3 minutes until well combined. 
  4. Serve on lettuce leaves and wrap like a taco!
One of the great things about this recipe is it is dairy, egg, gluten and nut free! Here is my issue (and I am welcoming suggestions)... it is lacking a hint of sweetness. I've tried a few things but nothing seems to add the sweet undertone and keep the asian flavor profile.  Suggestions?!?

I also wanted to note that I bought Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Hoisin, Rice Wine Vinegar and water chestnuts and all were gluten free. I like to have a go-to gluten free meal for when friends with allergies come to visit. This could be a a meal or a snack! I was very impressed with the Kikkoman brand and the quality of the ingredients. 

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About this blog

Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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