Sunday, March 8, 2015

Kiddie Update

My Littles.

Tripp, 15 months:
Expert crawler. 
Nervous stander. 
Fruit, cheese and bread chomper. 
Happy sleeper. 
Car and truck racer. 
Couch climber. 
Cabinet hider. 
Afternoon napper. 
Stairway sneaker. 
Toilet bowl finder. 
Taiga tickler. 
Book reader. 
Marker eater. 
Smile giver. 
Daddy's hat wearer. 
Heart stealer. 

Charlie Ann, 3 1/2 years:
Problem solver.
Self dresser. 
Attentive listener. 
Book reader. 
Let It Go singer. 
Twirling dancer. 
Curious George watcher. 
Daddy lover. 
Outdoor adventurer. 
Rule follower.
Deep feeler. 
Do it myselfer. 
Olive eater. 
In the lines colorer.
Fabulous helper. 
Brother protector. 
Everything pink wearer.
Magazine flipper. 
Perceptive watcher. 
Hotel pool swimmer. 
Fiery leader. 
Tenacious avower. 
Detail rememberer. 
Expert puzzle piecer.
Beautiful inspirer. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

SOUPer Soup

Winter swallows everything for a solid six months (insert black and white scream mask here) in the grand land on Lake Ontario. And when winter hits, it gives the ol' one, two punch with knee deep snow, plunging temps and grey, grey, GREYNESS. For. Months. On. End. My current fight-back technique is straight from the kitchen- armed with pots, measuring spoons, butter and a LOT of spatulas.  Cooking and baking. That's how I fight fire cold with fire. And, when I'm in Narnia, I cook a lot of soup. I mean, A LOT OF SOUP. I'm actually thinking of hosting a soup swap party, where everyone brings recipe cards and a big bowl of their favorite kind...  We'd use approximately 87 paper bowls sampling the soup spread, drink generous amounts of wine and soak up olive oil and pepper with the best bread, but anyway, I digress..
So, soup. Chowders. Bisques. Stews. Jambalaya. Broths. Stocks. Curries. Chilis. Yep, I love all of that hot in a pot goodness. 

Here's what is boiling on my stove this winter:

Zuppa Toscana

1 pound Italian sausage
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 slice pancetta bacon, diced
1 1/4 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 tsp chicken base (or bouillon)
4 cups water
2 potatoes, cubed
2 cups kale, rinsed and julienned
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place sausage links on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until done. Cut each link in half lengthwise, and then into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside for later.
In large pot, over medium heat, saute onions and pancetta for 10 minutes, or until onions are almost clear. 
Add garlic and saute one minute. Add chicken base, water and potatoes and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. 
Add kale, cream and reserved sausage, simmer for 5 more minutes and serve.

Minestrone Soup {Slow Cooker}

4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried crushed rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/3 cups diced zucchini
1 1/3 cups shell pasta
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup green beans
2 cups slightly packed fresh spinach
Finely shredded Romano cheese, for serving (Parmesan works too)

Add vegetable stock, water, tomatoes, celery, carrots, onion, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and sugar to large slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook on low heat 6 - 8 hours or high 3 - 4 hours.
Add in zucchini, green beans, pasta, garlic, kidney beans and cannellini beans and cook on high heat and additional 30 - 40 minutes, until pasta is tender. Stir in spinach and cook several minutes until heated through. Serve warm topped with Romano cheese.

Chicken Noodle

1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and meat chopped
2 TBS butter
1 med onion, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup peas
1 cup corn
1 cup green beans
6-8tsp better than bullion, chicken
10 cups hot water
1 tsp marjoram
frozen or refrigerated noodles (i.e., Reames egg noodles)
1/4 fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Saute onion and celery in butter in large stock pot or dutch oven.
Add remaining veggies and chicken.
Dissolve bullion in a cup or so of the hot water. Stir into pot. Add remaining water and marjoram.
Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.  Let simmer about 35 minutes.
Return to a boil and add noodles and parsley.  Boil about 3 min (or according to directions on package).
Remove from heat. Pepper to taste.


1/2 medium cabbage
4 cups sauerkraut
1 lb stewing pork
1/2 lb bacon, uncured
1 lb kielbasa sausage sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
1 bay leaf 
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut the cabbage in thin slices and boil until tender in a pot of boiling salted water.
Boil the sauerkraut in another of about 2 cups water. Strain and keep the sour water aside.
Saute diced pork. Set aside.
Saute bacon, kielbasa, onion and garlic together.
In a large pot, combine cooked cabbage, sauerkraut, sour water, tomato paste, spices, cooked meats, onion and garlic.
Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Let simmer 1 hour.

Meaty Split Pea

1 lb sausage
6 cups water
2 cups split peas
2 med potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook sausage until browned, drain.  Add water.
Rinse peas, add to meat. 
Stir in remaining veggies and spices.
Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and let simmer about 1 hour, until peas are tender.

Spiced Kettle of Beef and Vegetables

2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast (stewing meat)
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbs salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Olive oil 
1 cup onion
6 cups water
1 clove
1 tsp pickling spice
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cups carrots, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
3 cups potatoes
1 cup peas
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

3 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 cold water

Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1Tbs salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp paprika. Dredge beef in spice mixture. Brown dredged beef in stock pot with olive oil.
Add onion, saute.
Add water. Put clove and pickling spice in mesh wire tea ball. Immerse in soup.
Simmer 30 min, covered.
Add veggies and seasonings. Simmer uncovered another 30 min.
Make thickener. Stir into hot soup.

Cauliflower, Bacon & Cashew Curry

2 cups coconut milk (canned)
4 Tbs curry powder
1 lb bacon, uncured, cut in 1 in strips
1 tsp sea salt
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup water
3 cups cauliflower, cut in small florets
2/3 cup cashews
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet cook bacon. Set aside
Add 1 cup coconut milk to stock pot with curry powder and sea salt. Bring to simmer. Whisk to combine.
Add cooked bacon, onion and garlic. Cook one minute. Add remaining coconut milk and water.
Boil a few minutes to reduce liquid.  Add florets and cook 3 minutes, until just tender.
Remove from heat. Stir in cashews. Garnish with cilantro.  

***Follow the link to read about these previously posted amazing soups.***

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tripp Turns ONE YEAR OLD

Tripp. Tripp. Tripp. My Little Boy. This past year has been a wonderful one with our little guy.  He has brought new depths of joy and happiness like I've never known.  I am so thankful for this little man's endless good days.  His smile is contagious and that grin brings a new level of love to the Sickler household.

Tripp, at one year old, loves to crawl. He army crawls most of the time, but is beginning to do a little stiff-elbowed, hand and knee crawl. He is pulling up on anything 30in or shorter. He loves to climb the stairs and is faster than a toupee in a hurricane when the gate is left ajar. Tripp has figured out how to open kitchen drawers and about 50% of the time can manage the kitchen cabinet doors as well.

Tripp loves to clap, to wave, to point and to grab. He is working on those fine little motor skills while turning the pages of his board books--he shakes, he is concentrating so! He is quite busy with the books, and will occasionally let you finish reading one to him. But most of the time, if you start to read a book to him, he wiggles down, finds another book, scoots back and enjoys "co-reading".

His favorite game is putting small things into bigger things, dumping out, and then repeating.  He plays with all of Charlie Ann's baby-friendly (and the non-baby-friendly, actually) toys, and tries to do everything she does.. especially coloring and magna-doodling.

Tripp is a chitter-chatter-chatter box.  He doesn't stop talking.  Even when I have soothed him to sleep, and as I am laying him down in his crib, he still is mumbling and smiling with his eyes closed.  What a funny boy.  He is saying a few words, like "stop, stop, stop", "all done", "daddy", "night-night", "Taiga", "mama" and "no, no, no, no".  (An insight into his little world, maybe? Ha.) He is learning sign language for please, thank you, more and all done.

He is a bit picky on foods.. rather, I have let him be pickier on foods. Sigh, some things gotta give.. and when there is a challenge on eat this! vs. eat something!, I usually go to the latter.  It's mainly just non-pureed meats and veggies that we have problems with.  But he does pureed meat and veggies just fine... Hence, why we are still purchasing jars of 'chicken orzo' and 'beef with mixed veg'.

Tripp still nurses.  Sigh.  However, over Thanksgiving, with the help of our holiday company, Tripp has managed to take a soft spout sippy cup! Whoop.  I have him on almond milk and occasionally cow's milk.  He is not really into it as a substitute for nursing, but... baby steps?  Also, he is successfully going to bed for Jarod or our holiday guests.  Which is like... MEGA-RELIEF for this mom. It's like a pinch hitter. A pinch hitter that you want to write into your will.

He is LONG AVERAGE and SKINNY still.  In the 60% for height at 30'', and 11% for weight at one ounce shy of 20 lbs. Ha. Tripp wears size 18 month clothes across the board.

Tripp is in the funny (not-so funny) stage of merging his two naps a day to one.  Making for either a long morning or afternoon (whichever one didn't get the nap). His night sleep is good. When he is not teething or under the weather, he sleeps a solid 12+ hours.

And, at 12 months old, he has 12 teeth. Chomp.

Tripp is the cuddle bug of the family- still snuggling and laying on shoulders.  He is so sweet.

Tripp is seriously a ball of joy and laughter and I am so thankful he is part of our family.