Friday, December 31, 2010

Foodie Friday - #2

Every Christmas I look forward to baking various items and sharing them with family and friends (and of course enjoying them at home too!). Since my maternity leave ended mid-December, I baked a few items ahead of time and kept them in the freezer, then finished everything else the weekend before Christmas. It worked out really well and will probably continue to do that in the future. I made 6 different treats this year. However, since I am blogging from my in-laws' house, I will only be posting links to the recipes that I found on-line.


Fabulous Fudge
I am not sure why I have waited so long to make fudge. It uses very few ingredients, is extremely easy to make, 1 batch makes a lot of pieces, and it stores very easily. This recipe is from a newer show on Food Network that is all desserts. Yum!
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-thornton/fabulous-fudge-recipe/index.html

Decorated Sugar Cookies
I am obsessed with sugar cookies. The first time I attempted to decorate them it was a complete failure. Since then, I have done some research on food blogs and am getting better with each try. There are tons of recipes out there for both the cookies and icing, but so far these are my favorites.
http://annies-eats.com/2007/12/12/christmas-cookies/
http://annies-eats.com/2008/12/23/sugar-cookies-with-royal-icing/

Candy Cane Biscotti
Every year I have to make something with mint. I found this recipe and have always wanted to make biscotti, so I gave it a try. I think they were my favorites of everything I made this year. I highly recommend dipping them in hot chocolate or coffee.
http://annies-eats.net/2009/12/22/candy-cane-biscotti/

The other things I made were rum balls, double peanut butter cookies, and gingerbread chocolate chunk cookies.

On Christmas day we went to my parents' house for dinner, so that gave me the opportunity to try another new dessert recipe - eggnog cupcakes. They turned out great. The eggnog flavor was not overpowering and the cupcakes were really moist.
http://annies-eats.net/2010/12/17/eggnog-cupcakes-2/


As you may have noticed, many of my recipes come from annies-eats.net. I love this blog and highly suggest you check it out!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Recap

Now that I'm a mom, Christmas seems to get better every year. I love playing Santa and seeing Evan's excitement about the big event. Last year was the first time we were at home in Chicago for Christmas, so we began some of our own family traditions that we continued this year. On Christmas eve, Evan and Luke opened their first gift that was new pajamas. I was very excited to give them coordinating pajamas and of course take tons of pictures of them together! We ate stuffed shells for dinner (see previous post) then watched the Polar Express. In the morning we opened presents then ate breakfast together and played with new toys until we went to my parents' house for dinner. Evan loved every moment and was very happy to open his presents and all of Luke's.

Brotherly love!

A cookie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer


The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...


Woody and Buzz together again!


Evan's first gift to us!

Happy baby

He was so happy that Santa left a sit n spin at Yiayia and Papou's house.

Nouna and Nouno gave him a scooter


Friday, December 24, 2010

Foodie Friday - #1

I love food. I love eating it and making it. I love how it brings families and friends together. It carries tradition, culture and ethnicity with it. I am lucky that Rick feels the same way that I do. In fact, when he proposed to me in college, he actually made spanakopita and baklava, which are 2 of my Greek favorites. Most of the time our TV is tuned to the Food Network while I scour the internet, books and magazines for new recipes. I have been thinking for a while now about adding some food postings to my blog, and while baking and cooking this holiday season I thought now is a great time to start. So, I am beginning Foodie Fridays and plan to post at least 1 recipe each Friday. Most of my recipes are stolen from other sources, and if I am able to I will cite where I found the recipe. Also, feel free to comment with your own favorite recipes!

To begin Foodie Fridays, I am posting recipes for stuffed shells and apple french toast, which I have started to make traditionally for Christmas eve and Christmas morning. What I love about the french toast is that you make it the night before, so on Christmas morning I pop it in the oven when we wake up and it's ready to eat after all the presents have been opened.

Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:
6 oz or approx. 18 jumbo shells
1 jar marinara sauce
1 egg
15 oz. ricotta cheese
2 C mozzarella cheese (divided)
3/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
1 1/2 t. dried parsley

Directions:
Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of 13X9X2 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. In large bowl, beat egg. Stir in ricotta, 1 3/4 C. of the mozzarella, 1/2 C of the Parmesan, and the parsley.

Spread 1 C of the marinara sauce in the baking dish. Fill cooked shells with ricotta mixture and place in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake, covered with foil until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6
Source: Unknown


Festive French Toast

Ingredients:
3-4 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter, melted
3 1/4 t. cinnamon (divided)
1/2 C. raisins
1 loaf Italian or cinnamon swirl bread, cut into 3/4" slices
6-7 large eggs
1 2/3 C. milk
1 T vanilla

Directions:
In large bowl, add sliced apples, brown sugar, butter, 1 t. cinnamon and raisins; toss to coat apples well. Spray 11X18 baking dish with cooking spray and fill with apple mixture; top with slices of bread.

Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining cinnamon until well blended. Pour mixture over bread and apples, soaking bread completely. Cover and refrigerate 4-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes; uncover and bake 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from over and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm, fruit side up.

Source: Unknown

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December Happenings

December has been a big month for us. I can't believe that Luke is already 3 months old. It's amazing how quickly he has changed in such a short amount of time. His fussiness (ok, all out screaming) in the evenings has gone away and we've had some long sleeping stretches, including sleeping through the night the past 2 nights. He is really a happy baby and loves watching his big brother. The 3 month achievement has also led to the not so fun event of returning to work. That has been an adjustment for all of us, and there are definitely pros and cons. It is nice being on a schedule and having some time out of the house, but it is exhausting and I really do miss my boys during the day. Did I mention it's exhausting? I really love my job, but being with 3-5 year olds all day, then coming home to 2 little ones of my own can be tough. But, it is what it is, so let's move on to some adorable pictures!

My little burrito. Swaddling has really helped with calming Luke and getting him to sleep better.

All dressed up for the church dinner dance




Tummy time


Chewing his thumb

He rolled over for the first time today from his tummy to his back

And here's a video of Luke smiling and talking to Rick. Turn your volume up!

video

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Picture Perfect

The past few years I have sent out Christmas cards with Evan's professional pictures on it and have used the website Shutterfly.com. This year Shutterfly is doing a special promotion - if you blog about their company and use a few key points, you receive 50 free cards. Sweet!!

So, here it goes:

Besides Christmas cards, I have also created calendars for our parents as a Christmas gift the past few years. For each month of the upcoming year, I put pictures from that month of the previous year. So, in January 2010, they were looking at pictures from January 2009. Pretty cool to see how much Evan has grown in the past year! What I love about Shutterfly's calendars is that you can choose different layouts for each month - anywhere from 1-10 or more pictures. Another option I have not used but really like is that you can also personalize the calendar grid by adding important dates. Here's a link to their calendars: http://www.shutterfly.com/calendars

We recently had professional pictures taken of Rick, Evan, Luke and me, and I am in the process of choosing our Christmas cards on Shutterfly. I usually use a few of my favorite shots of Evan on our card but this year I am going to stick with 1 picture of our whole family. I thought it was a difficult decision narrowing down our 250 proofs from our photo shoot, and now I have to narrow all my card choices down to 1! Check some out: http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-photo-cards and http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/holiday-cards.

Thanks Shutterfly!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cute Times Four

I've written many blogs about spending time with my BFF, Carrie, and her family. After we each had our first child about a year and a half apart, we always said how great it would be to be pregnant at the same time. Well, mother nature granted our wish. Last December, Carrie found out she was pregnant with #2, and 2 weeks later I found out I was pregnant! Our due dates were 3 weeks apart - crazy! It was wonderful this time around having someone to share the experience with. We emailed quite often discussing how we were feeling, or what was happening in each of our pregnancies. On August 31st, Carrie gave birth to Kaia Beth, and exactly 2 weeks later, on September 14th, I had Luke Alexander.

Since their birth, I couldn't wait to see our babies together. This weekend, Carrie and her family drove up here to visit us, and it was a great visit. Kaia is absolutely adorable and has the cutest smile! Kaia and Luke did watch each other, and when placed on the floor next to each other Kaia enjoyed grabbing Luke's ear. We'll continue to have them get to know each other since Carrie and I are already planning their big, fat, Greek wedding!

Even though Evan and Brett (her oldest) have seen each other many times, they always acted shy around each other until about an hour before it was time to leave. I think maturity finally kicked in, because this time within a few minutes they were running around and having a blast! Evan definitely took on the role as the older one, and Brett was very interested in doing what Evan was doing or saying. At one point they were upstairs and were very quiet, so I checked on them assuming they were up to something. Nope, they were sitting on the air mattress reading books together. So sweet! But, their favorite thing to do was run around our kitchen/living room/dining room in a big circle, and by the end of the night they were ready to fall over from exhaustion. So much to look forward to with each of our future visits!

The future Mr. and Mrs.


Our 4 cute kiddos


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2 Months Old

Luke was 2 months old a few days ago. We went to the pediatrician today for a check up, and she said that he's doing great. She was happy with how well he was making eye contact with her. They gave him 2 shots and an oral vaccination, and he cried for just a short time and was calm again. Such a good baby!

Here's his stats:
Height - 23 inches (75th percentile)
Weight - 10 lbs 15 ounces (50th percentile)
Head circumference - 39 cm (25th percentile)

Just for fun here's Evan's stats at that age:
Height - 22 1/2 inches
Weight - 11 lbs 10 ounces
Head - 39 1/4 cm





Oops, and I just realized I never did a 1 month posting, so here it is:

Height - 21 1/2 inches
Weight - 8 lbs, 18 ounces
Head - 37 cm


Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Call Me George

When Evan started preschool in September, each child in his class was given a paper apple name tag that they were supposed to wear for the first few weeks of school. A few times, Evan needed some encouragement to wear his, so that's when Pappou stepped in. He told Evan, "If you don't wear your name tag, your teachers won't know what to call you. Maybe they'll start calling you George!" This became a running joke between Evan and my dad. A few weeks ago I figured his teachers knew his name, so I didn't put on his name tag. When he entered his classroom he told his teacher, "I don't have my name tag on so you'll have to call me George." His teacher, Mrs. Hanson, thought it was hilarious, especially since Evan barely talks at school. She told us that she went home that night and told her whole family the story. This become an inside joke between Evan and his teacher. Then last week, Mrs. Hanson said "Hi Evan" to him, and another student stepped in and said, "That's not Evan. His name is George!"

And speaking of school, here's pictures of Evan on his first field trip to the farm. He was not being very cooperative for the camera.

Riding the bus

Refusing to look at the camera and refusing to pet any of the animals

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Smile!

My first picture of Luke smiling!

Trick or Treat

As Evan gets older, we find ourselves looking more and more forward to holidays. It's nice to see that he understands what is going to happen and is excited in anticipation of it. That was definitely the case for Halloween. He picked out his own costume (which actually is a bit of a bummer for me that I don't have control over that anymore!). At first he wanted to be a dog, then a rock star, and he finally decided on Buzz Lightyear. Evan was lucky and was able to wear his costume twice. The first time was for the party at his preschool. The afternoon began with a performance for the parents. The kids sang songs and did some fingerplays. Of course Evan just stood there and did not participate, but he was one adorable Buzz! Then the parents left and the kids stayed at school for their party. On Halloween we headed to my parents' neighborhood and Evan had a blast going trick or treating. I was very proud that he did say "thank you" for all of his candy! And of course, I can't leave out Luke. He was dressed as a very cute black cat and slept through most of the excitement of trick or treating!

Evan's Class - he's in the front row on the left

He gave me a huge smile when he spotted me!

Evan with one of his teachers - Mrs. Polk

On Halloween

My boys!



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Family Pictures

Here are more pictures of Luke with family members:

Uncle Brad
Aunt Lisa

Grandma

Papa
Yiayia and Aunt Alexis