July 28, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Upset Stomach

Our poor little Morgan has been sick with flu like symptoms for the past few days. As a kid, one of my favorite things to eat when I was under the weather was Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup paired with Nabisco Saltine Crackers and an ice cold glass of Ginger Ale.

I wanted to make a simple homemade soup for Morgie that would help soothe his stomach and fight off the virus.... so I knew I wanted to add ginger, garlic, and a splash of lemon. Ginger is an herb known for its anti-inflammatory effect that helps to relieve gastrointestinal stress, garlic is a superfood known for it's antibacterial and antiviral benefits, and lemons are full of Vitamin C that helps boosts our immune system.

After a quick dash to Giant to grab a rotisserie chicken I had this healthy homemade soup made in minutes! What is your favorite comfort food when you're sick?

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July 27, 2013

Pumpkin Hummus

During our 4th of July visit to Virginia Beach, our friend Trista highly recommended this healthy and flavorful pumpkin hummus recipe from Forks over Knives. Why do you want pumpkin in your diet? Pumpkin is a powerhouse full of fiber and disease-fighting nutrients with several health benefits. So grab a can of Libby's Pumpkin (or prepare a fresh one) and you can have this healthy and delicious hummus made in minutes!

Want to try making your own pita chips? It's easier than you think. Check out this recipe!

July 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

There are hundreds of peanut butter cookie recipes out there, but this recipe from Alaska from Scratch is a must-have. You'll end up with cookies that are slightly crisp and chewy on the outside edges with an inside that is so soft it will literally melt in your mouth. I made these a few weeks ago for Morgan's amazing teachers and promised I would post the recipe ASAP. One of them commented that she had intended to only to eat one but ended up eating the whole bag. 

A little shout out to Ms. Kimberly, Ms. Susan, Ms. Phlycia, and Ms. Erin. Thank you for an amazing four weeks of summer camp! Morgie misses you already!

July 14, 2013

Blender Salsa

Ok, you know that addicting salsa at your favorite Mexican restaurant? You know, the smooth one, it's usually free and comes with a bottomless basket of chips, so you end up sending your waiter back for so many rounds that by the time your meal arrives you're already full. Yah, that one. Well you are either going to thank me or hate me for this, but Pioneer Woman has a super simple blender salsa recipe that tastes just like that darn restaurant salsa. The smooth texture is bang on! I personally like a little more garlic and a little more lime juice, but try the recipe as is and adjust to taste.

GNG Tip: This is a great party recipe because it's cheap, it feeds and army, and it's wicked easy to make.

July 12, 2013

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

When I think of popular Mexican and Chinese restaurant dishes, light and healthy are usually not the first words that come to mind.... though delicious is! Kung Pao Chicken is definitely one of those guilty pleasures that tastes "so good" but the calorie count is "so bad. With a creative Mexican twist to this popular Chinese takeout dish, Cooking Light solved this dilema with their Kung Pao Chicken Taco recipe that is getting rave reviews from its fans. We recently went up to visit Dad, Joanne, and Rachel for a long weekend in Connecticut to celebrate Rachel's 12th birthday and this was one (of many) delicious dishes we devoured. I liked it so much that I made it again as soon as we returned home. Kung Pao chicken without the caloric guilt? Um, yes please!

July 10, 2013

Virginia Beach Vacation

Going to Virginia Beach to stay with the Imrich's during 4th of July weekend has become a family tradition. Chris is one of Scott's best friends from Hawaii. They worked (and even lived at) at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Lab on Ala Moana Beach Park, near Waikiki Beach, as dolphin trainers. Yup, they really got to live the quintessential childhood dream.

Scott and Hiapo (2003)
VA Beach is so worth the extra 3.5 hours of gridlock traffic we endure (now with a toddler) from DC to Baylake Pines. Usually I holdout from snacking in the car so I can savor rt. 11 chips, a Dogfish beverage and a sandwich from my favorite deli, The Taste Unlimited (conveniently located across the street from our spectacular accommodations at Chris' parents Barb and Jerry).

While sleeping steps from the beach is amazing, it's the hospitality and time with friends that keeps us counting down the days until the next trip.

After a long trip in the car it's so awesome to be greeted with warm hugs and fresh baked treats resting on kitchen counter. One of our favorites is Barb's addicting pumpkin bread recipe. She is always cooking up a storm, trying out new recipes from the paper or pinterest, and we all happily indulge in a week of glorious gluttony. Not only is she an amazing cook, but she is also a retired children's librarian!   Hello? What more could you ask for when vacationing with a toddler? The house is full of vintage Fischer Price toys, musical instruments, bubbles and little science projects like watching butterflies hatch from their chrysalis on the back deck. The finest cruiseships and 5-star resort kiddie clubs will never be able to top the outstanding 'childcare' at the Imrich's.

If you are looking for great recipes or activities to do with children, especially recommendations for children's books, you need to check out Barb's pinterest page!

While the food is great at the house, there are several restaurants we love going to. The first restaurant I ever went to in Virginia Beach is Bubba's Seafood Restaurant and Crabhouse and it remains one of my favorites. I crave their blackened Rockfish! My new favorite restaurant is HK on the Bay, a locals hangout in Chic's Beach. My go-to entree is Dan Walker's (HK Top Chef winner) Tri Tip Chimichurri Sirloin served with a side of Lobster Mac 'n Cheese. (Here is a phenomenal lobster mac 'n cheese recipe you can make at home).

Seafood Pot Pie, HK on the Bay
As for breakfast, I was never much of a scone lover until Barb brought some home from Flour Child Bakery. OMG they are to die for! Morgie thinks so too!

Morgan Devouring a scone from Flour Child Bakery
And last but not least, the Leaping Lizard and Cafe (featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network channel) has become another one of our favorite lunch-time spots that specializes in fresh, locally grown ingredients.

Seafood Penne, Leaping Lizard and Cafe
If you are into antiquing the Leaping Lizard also has an antique shop but my favorite spot is Tin Soldiers Forgotten Treasures.

Shopping with Morgan (2012), Tin Soldiers Forgotten Treasures
And while the food and shopping are great, let's not forget the beach! Baylake Pines has its own private residential beach on the Chesapeake Bay. It is so close to the house that we can walk back and forth several times a day to take a break from the sun. One of the "boys'" favorite past times is crabbing with the kayak then and taking their bounty home to cook on the grill.

Scott's First Catch of the Day
The Harvest
And there is no better spot to watch the fireworks! Can you think of anything better to do while your waiting for the much anticipated show than take a dip in the bay? Morgan can't.


A huge thank you to the Imrich Family! We can't wait for next year :)

July 4, 2013

No Knead Bread

There's nothing like the aroma of fresh homemade bread baking in the oven. So why don't we make it more often? For a baking novice, the idea of making homemade bread may be intimidating. For those who have tried a recipe only to have the end result less than mediocre the thought of trying another recipe may not be worth the effort. Maybe your an experienced baker, but the thought of spending the morning or afternoon kneading bread seems daunting. Well, after being introduced to this NO KNEAD recipe from the NY Times (adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Bakery) there's no more excuses. It's easy, the actual hands on prep work and cooking time is quick, and the recipe is foolproof.

If you like to see a lot of pictures of the whole process take a look at Jaden Hair's Steamy Kitchen blogpost which only helps to reaffirm this is a foolproof recipe as she documents her 4yr old making the bread. Jaden also includes a great tip to wet your hands before handling the dough to prevent it from sticking to you.

A quick shout out to my friend Amelia. I was immediately intrigued to try this no knead baking method after reading a recent blog post about her family's baking adventures using Jim Lahey's cookbook My Bread.