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

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

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. 

Have You Ever Read It All? You Should!


One of the greatest losses I believe we ever experienced as a nation was the loss of Dr. King. I often wonder how different our world would be had he lived to be 90 years old. I know it would be a better place. 



Martin Luther King, Jr.
I Have a Dream
delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!
                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

¹ Amos 5:24 (rendered precisely in The American Standard Version of the Holy Bible)
2 Isaiah 40:4-5 (King James Version of the Holy Bible). Quotation marks are excluded from part of this moment in the text because King's rendering of Isaiah 40:4 does not precisely follow the KJV version from which he quotes (e.g., "hill" and "mountain" are reversed in the KJV). King's rendering of Isaiah 40:5, however, is precisely quoted from the KJV.

Dusting

Every time I click on my bookmark to come write a blog post I get overwhelmed. It's like a dusty fan that is out of reach and in order to clean it you need to spread a sheet, climb a step ladder and cover your face. Okay, so maybe not quite that dramatic but the more time that lags in between posts, the more disconnected I feel with what to write.

I am now writing almost full time. When you add in my teaching job I am just about out of things to say by the end of the day. It's not that there are not a million blog-worthy things going on in our life. Life hasn't slowed one bit.


The girls have joined a Brownie Troup. Grace is playing basketball AND in a private Lacrosse club (turns out she is REALLY good at Lacrosse). Jack has gone from baby to full grown boy in what seems like overnight. Both girls are excelling in school.


Abby has had a little acceleration in some of her vestibular and sensory issues. There has been a ton of flapping, spinning and head rolling. It's the winter and although its been mild so far Grace's ADHD is in full tilt. She is wild some days. We're trying to keep her active but it isn't always easy.


It's a new year and I wish I had some dramatic resolutions, but I find those get lost within a week for me. So we're trying to keep it simple. Take better care of our bodies and minds, devote more time as a family and stay focused on what is important.

I wish you all a blessing filled, wonderful 2015.









December

It's that time of year again. Time for rushing and bustle and the hectic days. We made a conscious decision that our December would be one of purpose and thought. Our holiday this year will be overshadowed by the loss of my aunt to cancer and the final chapter of my grandfathers life. Dealing with loss, end of life issues and grieving at the holiday is sad. No one wants to go through loss and really no one wants to go through it at the holidays.

I'm trying to take something more away from the grieving process. I have a feeling that if I asked either of my family members what piece of advice they would give me it would sound something like "enjoy your family", "spend more time with the people you love" or "slow down and enjoy life." So that is my goal for this holy season.

I want to wake up every day and instead of thinking of how much I have to get done, I want to think of ways to enjoy my children, my husband, my family and my friends. When my live draws to a close I sincerely doubt I will be looking back on the Christmas cookies that did not get baked or the half-done wrapping job. I will remember the time spent with the people I love.

I wish you all a family filled, peaceful and purposeful December!

Us

Us

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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