Meatless Monday: Tabouleh-Hummus Layered Dip

Potluck and BBQ days are in our future.  I saw this recipe and it reminded me of the 7 Layer Nacho Dips from the 1990’s.  Remember the layers of canned bean dip, tomatoes, olives, green onions, onions, jalepenos, and cheese sauce?  Oh yes, I’ve eaten my share.  It’s right up there with “chile con queso cheese dip”.  After I took some Spanish, I realized the name of the that creation was redundant.

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Red Dirt, Roosters and Rum

What a week we had!  We celebrated my mother in law’s 70th birthday with a trip to Kauai in Hawai’i.  It was my 3rd trip to the islands but my first to Kauai.  I had always heard that Kauai was relaxing and more remote than some of the other islands and really great for families.  It was both of those things and more.  We rented a house right off of

Roscoe the Rooster.  They not only lived in our backyard but they also roamed the beach for entertainment.

Roscoe the Rooster. They not only lived in our backyard but they also roamed the beach for entertainment.

Poipu Beach.  It was a 5 minute walk to the water, a restaurant with delicious food and a park for the kiddos.

We arrived in the afternoon and immediately went down to the beach.  We had to dip our toes into the water!  We picked up some fish and chips for the boys and then Ryan and I headed to the grocery store to stock up on fresh fish, Rum and pineapple.  We had a delicious grilled fish dinner and waited for Casey (Ryan’s brother) and his two girls: Indira and Zyra.

Around 4am the ruckus began.  Roosters were signaling the start of the day.  And they didn’t stop until the evening.  This cycle repeated itself every day.  These roosters and hens roam the island and have since 1991 after a hurricane decimated the island’s chicken farms.  Apparently, the residents decided the chickens were better off roaming free.  This gives a whole new meaning to the term: free range chickens.

Casey took advantage of the Farmers' Market and brought home delicious tropical fruits, grown locally of course.

Casey took advantage of the Farmers’ Market and brought home delicious tropical fruits, grown locally of course.

Our days were filled with tropical fruit breakfasts, beach time, lots of fresh fish, sea turtles and dips in the pool.  Chase and Andrew delighted (most of the time) in spending time with their cousins.  Ryan was able to go on a mountain bike ride with his brother.  And, most importantly, my MIL had all 4 of her grandchildren in one place.  She relishes this time and takes advantage of it.

Andrew and Chase shared a room for the first time.  It worked pretty well.  I was hopeful this would work out because eventually we want them to share a room.  The only downfall was that Andrew went to bed a little later than usual.  The upside was that Chase went to bed a little earlier than usual.  No one fell out of bed…it was a success!

Captain and Poopsie never played tennis but they did go on a run AND have a date night.  It was a delicious dinner with great cocktails.

I was lucky enough to find some locally made rum.  The cocktail of the week was obviously a maitai.  The first one was

My two best friends during our stay on Kauai.

My two best friends during our stay on Kauai.

usually made around 4:30pm local time, but on several days MIL made herself a margarita at lunch and so I felt it was my obligation as her loyal DIL to join her.  Wow!  That made the day fly!  With easy dinners on the menu, I didn’t have to expend a lot of brainpower during the trip.  I wish I could find this delicious rum on the mainland.  I’ll have to do some research on where to find it.

With hikes, fresh fruit and lots of beach time we didn’t venture out of Poipu beach that much.  But, my dear friend Charlotte Casey, who lives in Waimea came to visit us with her kiddos in tow.  It doesn’t sound that remarkable except for the fact that she has a 9 year old, 7 year old and 6 month old TWINS!  I was thrilled to meet the twinsies and indulge Noah

Charlotte and me.  I will admit to cropping the picture so that my arm wasn't in it.

Charlotte and me. I will admit to cropping the picture so that my arm wasn’t in it.

and Avalon with some shave ice, which they informed me was the best on the island.  It had been a couple of years since I had seen beautiful Charlotte but we picked up right where we left off.    While Chase and Noah played, Avalon dashed to the beach on her own.  Andrew however, was smitten with Audrey and Tessa.  To this day he still calls them his babies.  It was a sweet encounter while he touched their toes all while being very gentle.  It may have been a particularly good day, or maybe she just hides it well but I was amazed at the ease with which Charlotte handled to brand new babies and two active and spirited older kiddos.  I would have been sweating profusely at the daunting task of handling that many kids on an outing.  Charlotte, you’re an inspiration!  I can’t wait to see you again!

It's all smiles as the sun sets!

It’s all smiles as the sun sets!

The week was capped off by a Luau.  The food, the drinks, and the sunset were beautiful.  And, don’t forget the dancers! Indira, Zyra, and Andrew were all about going on stage to join the pretty ladies.  There were wonderful musicians playing and singing the traditional music of the islands and telling the history of luau through all of the dances.  I love attending luaus and I am so glad that we were able to see this one.

Kauai is a volcanic island.  It is known for the red dirt that infiltrates every inch of every structure and being on the island.  There is even a t-shirt company that, during the same 1991 hurricane that set the chickens free, was flooded and had its entire stock of white t-shirts “ruined” by the red dirt/water mixture.  It now sells products dyed with the famous red dirt of the island.  We saw many of them during our trip.  I tried to leave as much red dirt on the island as possible.  However, I think I ended up with enough sand to start a sandbox.

So happy together!  All of the cousins at the beach.

So happy together! All of the cousins at the beach.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back.  Chase asks me every other day when we are going back.  I think he may want to move there.  Luckily, my friend Charlotte is a realtor, so if we decide to make the move, she could find a place for us. (By the way, if you need a realtor on Kauai, let me know and I’ll put you in contact with her).  I hope we can go back to Kauai, but I would not be opposed to visiting the other islands again either.

The trip back was long…and got us back on the mainland pretty late, but it was well worth it.  The last 40 minutes of the flight were a little touch and go.  I’m pretty sure I was head-butted 6 times and I subsequently threatened bodily harm to both of my children.

Top Three Quotations from our week on Kauai

3. Andrew: “I high fived the little lady,” referring to the luau dancer.

2. Ryan: “Are her shorts made out of doilies?” seeing the shorts of a gal in the airport

1. Chase: “That’s the thing about Hawaii.  You need to put on your pants,” after waking up for a nap and wanting to go to the beach with just his underwear on.


Meatless Monday: Simple Wonton Soup

Kid Tested. This soup will be a hit!

Kid Tested, This soup will be a hit!

Simple Wonton Soup


The first time I made this, I felt bad because Ryan raved about it and I felt like I was cheating! I have made wontons before and popped them in the freezer to use as appetizers. They are delicious! I got the recipe from Food and Wine.

I bought premade frozen wontons at Costco. The ingredient list is small and they don’t have any gross fillers in them. It lists “simple wonton soup” on the back of the package. I tried it one night and I no longer feel guilty about making this recipe because it is versatile, healthy, and Chase and Andrew eat it like wild animals!


The really great thing about this recipe is that you have options! You can add any vegetable that you want!  I made mine with baby bok choy and chicken-cilantro wontons, but you can use snow peas, broccoli, chopped greens like kale spinach or chard.  There are a variety of frozen wontons that you can use, or, if you have the time, make your own.

The recipe serves 4 adults when you also serve a salad



1 quart chicken or vegetable stock

2 tsp tamari (or regular soy sauce)

8 oz snow peas, baby bok choy, broccoli, kale

8 oz (or half a package) soba noodles

24 mini wontons (you can find veggie, chicken, shrimp or pork)

4 green onions, sliced

Srirachi to top it off



  1. In a large soup pot, add stock and tamari and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add your veggie of choice and return to a simmer (about 1 minute). Add noodles and return to a simmer (about 1 minute). Add the wontons and return to a simmer and let it cook about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in green onions then ladle into bowls. Top with Srirachi for a kick.
  4. Enjoy!


Captain and Poopsie Go on A Mountain Bike Ride

This is the 2nd Annual Post Valentines Day Bliss mountain bike ride.  Captain and Poopsie were lucky enough to

Captain and Poopsie pre-ride

Captain and Poopsie pre-ride

have Captain’s parents in town to watch the kiddos for the morning/early afternoon for a wonderful mountain bike ride in Oro Valley.

Last year, we went on an great ride at the La Tierra trails outside of Santa Fe and then had lunch at Izanami, a wonderful restaurant at the spectacular 10,000 Waves spa.

This year’s ride started out as most do, with Captain gently reorienting Poopsie of the safety tips of mountain biking and giving her a boost of confidence.  Poopsie really does enjoy mountain biking and is so happy to be alone with Captain.  He’s hunky.  Captain delights in engaging in an outdoor activity with Poopsie.  He’s glad she enjoys mountain biking.

Captain and Poopsie have a great ride, exchanging pleasantries with groups of other bikers as they pass.  They see several cows who are admiring Poopsie’s great style as she passes them.

Captain was well ahead of Poopsie when she approached a steep hill. Feeling confident, Poopsie prepared herself to pedal up the rocky challenge but was startle by a flapping, hissing sound.  Looking down, she noticed a piece of cactus in the fork of her bike.  Oh, what a relief!  She carefully pulled it out and commenced her ascent.  The hill was easier than anticipated.

It jumped onto my leg

It jumped onto my leg

And then….OUCH!  WHAT?!?!  THE?!?! F*&K?!?!  Please forgive Poopsie for her profanity!  She didn’t have her pearls on but she’s still a lady.  Poopsie looks down and sees a piece of cactus lodged in her shin!  She attempts to pull it out and the cactus grabs on tighter!  With tears starting to flow, she tries to pedal….PAIN!!!  MOTHERF*$KER!!!  Oh, again, forgive Poopsie but look at what is in her leg!  As she pedals with one foot to try and catch up to Captain, she begins to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.  It’s like the cactus jumped up and bit her!  It was like a Forrest Gump moment when he thought something bit him…something did, a bullet!

Poopsie catches up to Captain and as soon as she sees her hunky

They look beautiful, don't they?

They look beautiful, don’t they?

husband, she begins to sob. The pain is intense.  Captain attempts to pull off the cactus with his bare hands but then unsheathes his giant sword.  He will slay this dragon, um, cactus.  Captain first cuts each cactus spine with his Leatherman tool and then uses pliers to pull out each spine, twelve in all.  The pain dissolves and Poopsie can now smile and laugh at the situation.

“Captain,” says Poopsie, “Can we go eat lunch now?”



Meatless Monday: Vegetable Napoleans

I roasted the vegetables for about 35 minutes at 350.

I roasted the vegetables for about 35 minutes at 350.

Roasted veggies are easy to do.  Stacking said vegetables in a beautiful artistic stack is a different story.  I made the attempt and then it all fell over.  As you can see from the pictures below, it is not the most beautiful creation but the taste was really good.  The vinaigrette is delicious!  The recipe is from the Clean Eats cookbook and has been a go-to recently for us.

Vegetable Napoleans

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main course


1 fennel bulb

1 medium red onion

2 portobello mushrooms

1 large zucchini

1 medium eggplant (8-10 oz)

1 large summer squash (I used 2 yellow zucchini)



freshly ground pepper


1. Prepare all of the vegetables.  Quarter the fennel bulb and onion, keep their cores intact, so the sections stay together.  Remove the stems of the portobellos. Cut the zucchini and summer squash in half lengthwise and slice into 1/4 inch thick half rounds.  Slice the eggplant in toe 1/4 to 1/2 inch rounds.

2. Combine all of the vegetables in a baking dish or baking sheet.  Drizzle EVOO over all the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Allow them to marinate for 10 minutes.

3.  Either grill the vegetables, roast them in a 350 degree oven or saute them in a heavy bottom skillet with coconut oil until they are tender.

4. Make vinaigrette (see below)

5. Build a tower on teacher plate, stacking the vegetables on top of each other like you’re playing Tetris.  Drizzle the vinaigrette before serving.



1 large ripe tomato

2 garlic cloves

2 Tbsp minced shallot

I attempted to stack the veggies and my results were not very pretty, but the flavor is outstanding!

I attempted to stack the veggies and my results were not very pretty, but the flavor is outstanding!

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 cup torn basil leaves

1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup EVOO

pinch of sea salt


1. Cut the tomato in half and run it over a box grater until only the skin remains.  Discard the skin.  In a small bowl, combine the tomato with the minced garlic, shallot, basil and oregano.  In another small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar and salt together, then combine with the tomato mixture.


Lighten Up, Won’t You?

Brotherly love

Brotherly love

Recently, Andrew has been going to bed later and later.  There have been nights in the last week that Chase falls asleep before Andrew does.  This has thrown me for a loop.  I have been extremely irritated at this change in sleeping habits.  Ryan has told me multiple times to relax and not let it bother me so much.  Easier said than done.

This morning, I was driving home from drop off and heard a piece on NPR’s Tucson Spotlight where Dave Barry was interviewed about a column he wrote about how much fun his parents’ generation had and how serious his generation has been about child rearing.  He says that his parents of the “Mad Men” generation had lots of fun while also being parents.  On the other hand, his own “Baby Boomer” generation took parenting so seriously  that it totally consumed them and a lot of the time, and they didn’t have any fun once they became parents.  He said that even though his generation was the sex, drugs and rock and roll generation, once they had children, they stopped all of that and made sure that their children were always happy, never had any obstacles, and never struggled.  During all of this, they as parents were so hyper focused on parenting the right way that they forgot to have fun.

I have to say, I feel that way sometimes.  Parenting is all consuming and not much fun

What you don't see is our children fighting in the background

What you don’t see is our children fighting in the background

sometimes.  I chose to have children so I need to just come to an understanding with myself that I can also have fun in the process.  I need to just lighten up and not let myself become consumed with the drudgery that comes with being a parent.  So, here’s my prescription for lightening up and enjoying the roller coaster ride.

1. If Chase falls asleep before Andrew, it is not a catastrophic event that will make my life miserable.  On the bright side, this too will pass AND, they both sleep through the night most of the time.  It could be a lot worse.

2. The house is never going to look like a spread in Architectural Digest, so accept the fact that it will look like Barney barfed LEGOS, dress up clothes, and coloring books.

3. They will eat when they are hungry and because I don’t keep twinkies, hot fries or slim jims in the house things are going to be ok.  Chase and Andrew do eat a lot of fruit…but it is fruit, not candy, so that’s a start.

4. I will have fun on my own and with Ryan.  We will do our own things and go on date nights and not feel guilty about it.

They talk, they play, they occasionally hug each other.  Chase and Andrew will make it through, hopefully unscathed.  I need to lighten up.




Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

I had to take a bite...the chicken is soooo good.

I had to take a bite…the chicken is soooo good.

The following recipes are easy choices for me.  It is one of Food and Wine’s amazing combinations by Grace Parsi.  I love fried chicken.  Some of the best fried chicken can be found at a home cooking restaurant in Indianapolis called Hollyhock Hill.  I live in Arizona, so going to Hollyhock Hill on a regular basis is not an option.  Food and Wine calls this a Southern fried chicken dinner.  Last night, I made the chicken and potatoes and paired them with a big salad.  But if you can handle it, you can really impress dinner guests with all three.

Oven Fried Chicken


2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 large skinless, boneless chicken thighs, lightly pounded
1/2 cup canola oil
Lemon wedges, for serving


1.  Place a rimmed nonstick baking sheet on the lower rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°.

2. Put the beaten eggs, panko and flour in 3 shallow bowls. Season the flour with the celery salt, garlic salt and cayenne. Dust the chicken with the flour, then dip it in the egg, and finally in the panko, pressing to help the bread crumbs adhere.
3. Pour the canola oil onto the baking sheet. Carefully dip the chicken thighs in the oil, being sure to coat both sides evenly, and set them on the baking sheet. Bake the chicken thighs for about 25 minutes, until they’re golden and crispy, turning halfway through. Drain on paper towels and serve with lemon wedges.




1.5 lbs fingerling potatoes

1/4 cup EVOO

3 large jalepenos, sliced int o1/4 inch rings and seeded

Salt and freshly grounded pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 450.

2. Place a rimmed nonstick baking sheet in the oven to preheat.

3. In a bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil and jalepenos and season with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer the potatoes to the baking sheet, turning them cut die down.  Roasted the upper rack for about 35 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and golden, serve.

Sweet and Sour Green Beans


3/4 lb green beans

2 Tbsp EVOO

1 medium shallot, minced

2 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Place the green beans in a steamer basket set over a large pot of boiling water.  Steam until bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

2. In a medium skillet, heat the oil.  Add the shallot and cook over high heat, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the vinegar and sugar; stir to dissolved the sugar.  Remove from the heat and add the beans.  Season with salt and pepper, toss well and serve.


Feeling Like a 16 Year Old, and Not in a Good Way

As a teen, I did not struggle too much with acne.  Of course I had a breakout here and there but it

Neem Clay Mask

Neem Clay Mask

was never a huge problem.  At that point in time my occasional breakout was treated with Clinique’s “toner” also known as rubbing alcohol and neosporin.  Back then a blemish would heal within a matter of days.  As I have gotten older however, the occasional breakout feels like it lasts forever.

Insert: Just Neem mask.  I know I have posted it before, but I thought I would sing the praises of this amazing product!  I use it once a week and I love what it does for my skin!  So when I noticed an angry red spot forming on my chin, I immediately started putting a little bit of the mask on the area.  It was amazing how quickly the redness went down and brought the dreaded whitehead to the surface.  When I was ready for the big moment of extraction, I tried to be as gentle as possible.  Then I immediately applied a small amount of the mask to the area.  In a matter of two days of using it twice a day the swelling had gone down and the zit was eliminated.

I know, I know, 1st world problem.


Meatless Monday: Rise + Shine Smoothie

There are a million smoothie recipes available.  Many of the smoothie recipes however rely on dairy, protein powders and too much sugar, all things I want to avoid.  My goal in a breakfast during the week is healthy and portable.  I usually eat my breakfast in the car while I take the boys to school.

Luckily, Andrea Bemis of Dishing up the Dirt is a master at putting whole foods into her smoothie recipes.  The Rise + Shine Smoothie recipe below has all of the things I need in the morning.  I found the recipe on the Barre3 website and it is delicious!

Rise + Shine Smoothie


1 cup frozen blueberries

1 banana (ripe)

1 cup spinach/kale

1 Tbsp almond butter

1 Tbsp maple syrup (pure)

1 Tbsp ground flax seed

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup water


1. Add all ingredients to a blender, whirl away and enjoy!


Meatless Monday: Gluten Free Pizza

I love pizza.  I often dream about it. I don’t eat it very often because it contains two things that don’t do my body very good: simple carbs and cheese.  In order to satisfy my craving without throwing my eating habits out the window, I have found a couple of pre-made crusts but they don’t do the trick.  I came across this little gem in the Food & Drink section in “The Week”.  Nancy Cain’s cookbook: “Against the Grain” feature gluten free recipes born out of her son’s diagnosis of celiac disease.  There are lots of recipes for gluten free items (a lot of them are downright terrible) and this one is delicious!  I’m working a more in depth post about gluten free recipes so stay tuned.

Rainbow Chard and Kalamata Olive Pizza

For the Dough – makes two 12 inch shells


2 cups tapioca starch

3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp light buckwheat flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup EVOO, plus 1 Tbsp for brushing the dough

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp sugar

1 large egg


1. In a food processor, combine tapioca starch, buckwheat flour, and salt.  Pulse until blended.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1/4 cup oil and 1 cup water to boil, stirring constantly.  Immediately pour hot mixture into dry ingredients and process until it is moist with a sand-like texture.  Allow to cool 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and 1/3 cup warm water.  Allow to proof for 15 minutes.

3. Add yeast mixture to the dough and blend until combined.  Add the egg and blend until dough is smooth and comes together.  Allow it to arrest 20 minutes in a covered bowl.  Lightly grease a 12 inch pizza pan.

4. Dust your hands with tapioca starch.  Form the dough into a smooth bowl and divide in half, then roll each half into a ball.  Use your hands to gently spread the dough to desired size on a pan.  Create a rim at the edges by rolling dough under toward the center of the shell.  Lightly brush the shell, including the rim, with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Let crust rest 15 minutes.

Chard and Kalamata Olive Topping (enough for one pizza):


2 Tbsp caola oil

6 small white onions, sliced

3 large leaves of rainbow chard with stalks, cut up

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives


1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and chard and cook until  stems are barely tender, about 10 minutes.  Spread sautéed vegetables evenly on shell.  Sprinkle cheese on chard and top with olives.

3. Bake directly on oven rack (or on a perforated pan0 for 25 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned.

4. Slice and serve!


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