Gifts from Bend, OR

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Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lifehacks: Nutella hot chocolate

Who doesn't like Nutella? It's been a staple this whole pregnancy for me so I was pretty excited to see this super easy recipe for Nutella hot chocolate on Pinterest.

The directions are mix 1 cup milk, 2 spoons nutella in a saucepan. Heat medium. Blend with a whisk until frothy.

Believe me, it's amazing!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meatless Monday: Spinach Mac and Cheese

As you may already know from my various Meatless Monday posts, mac and cheese is a staple around our house. Getting my three year old to eat vegetables is a challenge so there are times we need to be sneaky about it so when I stumbled upon this mac and cheese in Everyday Food, I cried with joy!

This mac and cheese is easy to make BUT it was definitely missing something -- maybe Dijon mustard?  When I make it again, I will add a teaspoon or two for sure.

Spinach Mac and Cheese
adapted from Everyday Food


Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1-2 teaspoons of dijon mustard
2 bunches curly- or flat-leaf spinach (about 1 3/4 pounds total), trimmed, washed, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (2 cups)
3/4 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions

Directions

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add onion and cook until translucent, 6 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden and has a slightly nutty aroma, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add 2 cups milk. Add remaining 2 cups milk, raise heat to medium-high, and whisk until smooth; season with salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Cook, whisking constantly, until sauce comes to a boil, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 13 to 15 minutes.

Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted, about 2 minutes. Add cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Five

I'm going to attempt to write up a Friday Five each week so here goes:

We woke up to the first snow of the season. I waited to tell Lil B because I knew he would want to go outside and sure enough, he ran and put all his snow gear on and played outside for 20 mins before school. The drive to work/pre-school was super slick. Probably the worst we've had in years.

Since finding out I'm having a girl, I've been obsessed with tea party sets and play kitchens. I would love to make something like this:

 I'm debating cloth diapers. Sarah from Practically Green put a great thought in my head. Hybrid diapers! Anyone use them and have an opinion?

My husband worked nights this week so I spent the evenings entertaining a three year old. After work, we enjoyed trips to the library. I'm happy that Lil B gets the concept of his favorite Eric Carle books "living" at the library.

I have been really worried about Lil B's speech delay until last night. He and I had a whole conversation before he fell asleep (in bed with me) about the library, painting and drawing pictures and waking up to snow. I understood about 90% of what he said.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lifehacks: Freezing green onions

Another Pinterest find! Freeze green onions and then store in a water bottle!

When ever I get green onions in my CSA, I can't use them fast enough without going bad until I saw this post on Pinterest.

How it works? Chop your green onions, then wipe off excess water with a towel or paper napkin. Let air drawn on a sheet. When dry, line a container with a napkin and them put the green onions in the container making sure it's air tight and toss in the freezer. After a few hours, remove and store in a water bottle! When ready to use, shake the onions onto your desired dish.

For more on freezing your green onions, check out Lunchinabox.net.

Feel free to follow me on Pinterest too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to get your three year old to sleep in their bed

My son was a champ at going to bed --that was until back in May, when we took Lil B's pacifier away. Taking it away meant two weeks of going to bed at 10 pm with me in our bed. Somehow, that routine stuck and I began to get a little grumpy because that meant my normal quiet time to myself from 8-10 pm was spent watching Wow Wow Wubbzy and then constantly telling Lil B "shhh, quiet time, go to sleep." My husband tried to take turns but Lil B only wanted me.

Because our son had his pacifier until he was three, it didn't help with his speech, so in July when we were told his lack of speech was contributing to a tiny behavior problem (because he would try to tell us what he wanted but would get frustrated that he couldn't) we started working with a speech/behavioral therapist. As soon as it started (and also the change in preschool also helped), his tantrums stopped (though he has some from time to time, like a normal three year old).

When we found out that a baby was on the way, we decided to move Lil B from his room to the guest room and have him help us decorate it. We all agreed on a theme: the ocean. With Lil B having ownership in the artwork,  where his bed went and decor -- it eased the transition of sleeping in our bed until he feel asleep to going to bed in his own room.
Grandma made Lil B an ocean quilt. He loves it.

Lil B picked out the wall decals from Etsy
The fish lava lamp aquarium was a surprise from us.
He loves it.


Another trick, making a going to bed timeline:
We follow this starting at 7 pm each night and it seems to be working (except the potty part -- that's the next thing we'll be working on). The weekends we do let him stay up later but for the most part, he's in bed at 8 pm and asleep by 9 pm. Let's hope I don't jinx it!



Monday, November 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Lentil Curry

We've grown to love lentils in our house since starting the meatless Monday journey BUT this baby (which is a girl, by the way) has let it be known to stay away from the yellow curry. My husband loved this dish and pretty much ate 80% of what I made but I blame the baby as I usually love yellow curry!

Lentil Curry
from Everyday Food


Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 head cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds), stemmed and separated into florets
1 cup brown lentils, picked over, well rinsed, and drained
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with juice
Coarse salt
Plain low-fat yogurt, for serving (optional)

Directions
In a nonstick Dutch oven (5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes.
Add curry powder; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in sweet potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, tomatoes and their juice, and 1 1/2 cups water; season with salt.
Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover, and cook until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with yogurt, if desired.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lifehacks: soak apples slices in ginger ale or lime soda

It always killed me to purchase those individual bags of organic apples from Costco. They are expensive and I hated throwing away that plastic bag. Then I saw this pin on Pinterest and it has changed my life!

Thanks to Muffin Tin Mom, you don't have to buy those individual bags anymore.

How it works: slice the apples and soak in ginger ale or lim soda for 10 mins. Viola! Ready for your lunch!

Got a tip? I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Lil B and Brian's new father/son activity


While I'm working away on blog content, Brian took Lil B to the bowling alley for the first time. It was a hit (and I'm sad I missed it)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Green plan: Sell something on Craigslist

With a new baby coming in the spring, we have to give up our guest room/toy room to make way for Lil B's new room (more on that later). Even though my husband didn't want to, I talked him into selling our couch hide-a-bed that guests used to sleep on when they visited. He was quite attached to it but we had to make some tough choices and he finally parted ways with it.

If you don't know how Craiglist works, here are some tips:

  • To sell your product, make sure you are very descriptive.
  • Use photos. Nothing annoys me more than when someone posts something and doesn't include a photo.
  • Research the market price of your item. Hide-a-bed couches were going for anywhere from $75-$200 in our area so we posted it for $100 and we got $100 for it.
  • Clean the item. If you can't clean it, then maybe the Goodwill is your option for getting rid of it.
  • Post on Saturday or Tuesday. When researching for this post, I discovered you can relist every three days and it seems the general consensus is that people like to browse on Saturday.
  • Make sure you're not alone when someone comes to look at an item. Just a general safety rule and I always make sure when I go to look at something, someone is with me as well.
The folks that bought our couch recently relocated to Bend with nothing so it was nice that our couch went to a good home. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meatless Monday: Pan-fried squash gnocchi

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Oh hey, it's me, Shannon. I haven't posted in a month and trust me, it's been killing me as much as it's been killing you.

This baby has turned me, an healthy eater, into the pickiest eater of all time. Nothing has been really tasting good to me. Chocolate Halloween candy -- turned my nose up to it.  My dad takes me out to a fancy dinner in Portland -- I get a salad (while my dad had salmon and my husband had a steak). I have been craving the strangest things: Taco Bell, salad with bleu cheese (yes, I know, I'm NOT suppose to eat that), the yummy pretzels at Deschutes Brewery. Thank goodness, Soupcon always has something for me to eat.

When my dad visited last month, my husband made some comment about how our CSA was going to waste because I just wasn't up to cooking. Yes, I hate to admit that but at the time, my lettuce, beets and other stuff was basically worm food. My dad put a big dent into my lettuce and carrots because how the heck could his daughter WASTE such awesome organic veggies. Who have I become?

The good thing about some of my CSA veggies, the squash has a long shelf life. Then I started to struggle ... what do I do with two acorn squashes, two delicatas and a green pumpkin looking thingy? I roasted them all and scooped out the insides for puree.

Usually, as my co-workers would tell you, I overdose on making stuff with pumpkin and squash by Halloween. This year, that has not been the case. So I sifted through my pumpkin recipes in search of some inspiration for the pounds of puree I had and I found the perfect dish: Pan-fried squash gnocchi by Steamy Kitchen.

As you may remember, making gnocchi was one of my goals for the year so I dived into the recipe and boy, was it easy and amazing. In fact, I think I'm going to make another batch and freeze it for later.

Enjoy!

Pan-fried squash gnocchi (she used pumpkin but I used acorn squash)
adapted from Steamy Kitchen

serves 4-6

1/2 cup skim milk ricotta
1/2 cup squash puree
1/2 cup freshly grated parmegiano reggiano
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest (use a microplane grater) (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted plus more for dusting (see sifting tip above)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
3 sprigs fresh sage, plus more for garnish
shaved parmegiano reggiano for serving (use vegetable peeler)

Preheat oven to 300F

1. Combine ricotta, pumpkin parmagiano, yolk, zest and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently turn with spatula a few times to incorporate. Dump mixture on clean, lightly floured countertop or you can still do this in the bowl. Sprinkle remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two. Any longer and you will be over-kneading.

2. Dust a clean, dry surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, 1″ diameter log. Cut gnocchi into 1″ pieces.

3. Heat a large frying pan or saute pan with just 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add a few gnocchi – enough to cover surface but not touch each other. Fry on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, turn and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove gnocchi, place on large baking sheet to put into oven to keep warm. Repeat with rest of gnocchi.

4. When all gnocchi is finished, discard butter/oil in pan and clean pan with paper towel. Heat pan on medium heat and when hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the fresh sage. Let the sage brown and sizzle (but not burn) for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Remove the sage and discard if you want (or keep it in to eat — as many people in the comments below like to do!) To the pan, add the balsamic vinegar and whisk. Let simmer on low for 1 minute and pour over the gnocchi.

5. Serve with shaved parmegiano reggiano and a sage leaf for garnish.

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