Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cold Cajun Crab Dip

One of my husband’s guilty pleasures is the cajun crab dip in the seafood section of our grocery store. While there’s no question it’s delicious, it’s not exactly healthy. I decided to take a stab at recreating it just a bit better for you. I used real lump crab meat because I got a pound of it for only $9, which was a flippin’ STEAL (P.S. if you can score a membership to a Restaurant Depot, do it!). You can always use imitation crab meat or a mixture of real and imitation if that works better for you. The consensus at our family crab feast. . . I need to make this again—it was a hit!

Cold Cajun Crab Dip

1 lb real or imitation crab meat

1/2 cup fat free sour cream

16 oz fat free cream cheese, softened

1 tbsp hot sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

1 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese

1/2 cup diced green onion

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp horseradish

 

Mix together sour cream, cream cheese, hot sauce, Worcestershire, Cajun seasoning, garlic, Italian seasoning, and horseradish. Gently fold in the crab meat, onions, and cheese until it’s fully incorporated. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving with crackers, carrot sticks, celery, and/or baked tortilla chips.

 


Bathroom Redesign for Under $1,000!

When we bought our house four years ago, we knew we wanted to redo our upstairs guest bathroom at some point. It didn’t look awful, but everything in the room was original to the house (i.e. from 1979) except for the lovely press-and-stick flooring, which covered the original linoleum.

While we worked our way up to a complete redo, we decided we would at least get a new WaterSense toilet to help with our water usage. What we didn’t realize was that the wax seal had pretty much disintegrated, and we ended up with some serious water damage to the floor. Whomp whomp. So since we had to pull up the flooring and replace the sub flooring, we figured we might as well jump in with both feet.

Our guest bathroom before:

It’s not a great picture, but our hard drive is holding the others hostage, so this will have to do. What you can’t see in this picture is the beautiful unframed mirror covering the entire wall and the nostalgic light fixture.

As we had just plunked down all our cash on our house, we were working on a budget. Luckily, the shower tile and tub were in good shape, so we didn’t have to touch that part. Our biggest penny-saver by far, however, was that my handy husband did every bit of the work himself (painting, tile floor, new crown molding, the works).

Our guest bathroom today:

The toilet is the Kohler Cimarron ($248), which can flush an entire bucket of golf balls. We decided to spend a little more on the toilet since we knew we wanted to have kids one day. That day has come, and believe me, that toilet was worth the money.

Our vanity is from the Estate by RSI Boardwalk collection at Lowes ($180). The mirror is allen + roth ($99) and the vanity light is Portfolio ($59), both from Lowes. 

We found our floor tiles on clearance at Lowes for $0.68 a square foot. The paint color we chose was Behr Manhattan Mist, and we found our shower curtain on sale at World Market ($15).

Our grand total for the entire bathroom. . . $964!


Margarita in a Can {They’re good. Seriously!}

My brother brought Bud Light’s new Lime-a-Ritas to dinner the other night and I, the on-the-rocks-extra-salt margarita snob, was certain they’d be terrible. Much to my surprise (and chagrin), however, they weren’t. They were actually pretty good. Nothing will ever beat a fresh mixed margarita, but for those nights when your stress level requires 100 cc’s of alcohol stat, these will certainly do the trick. And the best part is, the only effort you have to put in is popping the top!

Disclaimer: Don’t be stupid. Make sure you’re 21 before you try these. At the very least, don’t tell the arresting officer that you learned about them here!


Wedding Inspiration & Planning Resources

I realize this post isn’t about moms or kiddos, but I imagine there are plenty of other moms out there who, like me, are providing wedding advice or planning help to friends and family.

My younger brother recently popped the question to his girlfriend (now my future sis-in-law!), and they have tapped me for wedding advice and planning know-how. It may have been five years ago, but I clearly remember that overwhelming feeling that hit me shortly after I got engaged, when I realized just how much work goes into planning a wedding. It’s almost a full-time job.

Sure, it’s fun to go dress shopping, decide on colors, etc., but it’s also super stressful—so. many. decisions. And if you decide to DIY the heck out of your wedding like I did, well honey, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

To help out my favorite new bride-to-be, Caity, and all other brides/planners out there, I’ve compiled a list of helpful and inspirational websites to help you make some of those important decisions.

1. Snippet and Ink—Beautiful photos and inspiration, with some great DIY ideas!

2. Style Me Pretty—So. many. pictures.

3. Weddingbee—All kinds of info and even an online shop.

4. Hostess with the Mostess—Great “real wedding” inspiration.

5. The Party Dress—I love this blog for kids’ birthday ideas, but they have a fabulous wedding section as well.

6. Rustic Wedding Chic—Caity, I think this blog was made for you!

7. The Knot—The Godfather of wedding sites. A little bit of everything.

8. Pinterest—Pin, repin, and go nuts! Create a wedding board and start searching for inspiration.

9. Ruffled—Great professional photo ideas and nontraditional details!

10. Oh So Beautiful Paper—Amazing invitation ideas and photos. Really great if you’re doing your own invites.

11. 100 Layer Cake—Stunning photography, unique touches.

Happy planning!

Photos: Courtesy yours truly, by Daniel Min Photography


Peruvian Roast Chicken

I was craving El Pollo. I had chicken thighs in the refrigerator. I gave it a go.

I am by no means claiming that this can touch the deliciousness that is Super Chicken, but I’d definitely make it again. FYI, this takes an hour and a half to cook, so it’s probably not the best option for a quick weeknight meal, but you could try it in the Crockpot or on the grill to make it doable.

 Peruvian Roast Chicken

4 bone-in chicken thighs

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp white wine

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp salt

 

Trim the chicken thighs, pat them dry, and place them in a casserole dish. Loosen the skin on each one with your fingers. Mix together the other ingredients and rub a spoonful of the mixture under the skin of each chicken thigh. Top each piece of chicken with some of the remaining marinade, rub in to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Uncover the chicken and spray or brush each piece with olive oil. Bake for an hour and a half or until the internal temperature of each piece is 180°.


The Best and Worst “Spill Proof” Straw Cups

There is nothing more annoying than a “spill proof” cup that does not live up to its promise. We have no less than eight different brands/types of straw cups in our kitchen drawer at the moment, and maybe two of those are actually spill proof. So today I’m going to spill the beans (pun totally intended) on the best and worst straw cups.

The Best

The Tommee Tippee Explora Truly Spill Proof Straw Cup is, by far, our favorite! It does come with more pieces than some of the other straw cups, but it never leaks. The straw mechanism is easy enough for Olivia to open and close it on her own. True, they are a bit more expensive than some of the other straw cups, but you get what you pay for—trust me. And if you move quick, Toys R’ Us has them on sale for $4.78 a 2-pack!

Tommee Tippee Explora Straw Cup

 

The Worst

Our least favorite of all the straw cups is the Playtex Insulator Straw Cup. Spill proof? BAH HA HA HA. Clearly they didn’t have any actual children test this cup out when they slapped that claim on the packaging. Not only is it not spill proof, but it spews forth milk and whatever else is left in the straw like a freaking volcano. Even if you close the top straw part, it leaks liquid all down the sides. And I have heard this same complaint from several mama friends whose kids have the same cup. Pass!

Playtex Insulator Straw Cup


Seven Stylish Nursery Chairs

The chair in my daughter’s nursery was my best friend toward the end of my pregnancy—between my sore back and hips, raging heartburn, and trouble breathing, it was the only place I could sleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time. After Olivia was born, it was where we cuddled during 3 a.m. feedings. Now that we’re no longer breastfeeding, the chair is home to bedtime stories, afternoon dozing, and random snuggles.

I think it’s the most comfortable chair in our house. And since we chose a stylish upholstered recliner, its next life will probably be in our basement family room or living room. Nursery chairs are expensive, so why not choose a design that will travel well to another room in your house? Here are seven of the most fabulous nursery chairs I’ve encountered. (Pssst! Ours is number four on the list, and I think we paid around $350 for it.)

Best HAGEN Chair, See Retailer for Pricing

Nurseryworks Sleepytime Rocker, $700.00

Little Castle Allure Recliner, $889.00

Best TRYP Recliner, See Retailer for Pricing

Monaco II Glider, $658.00

Joya Rocker, $995.00

Little Castle Swivel Glider, $449.99


Guest Post: Tabouli Salad

My friend Dori, who writes the blog (703) Mommy and Me, recently made this delicious Tabouli Salad when we were over her house for dinner. Not only did my husband and I love it, but Olivia ate three helpings of this healthy side dish! Since I have mint and parsley coming out of my ears and am dying to make this, I asked Dori if she’d be willing to share her recipe with my readers. Luckily, she loves me and was happy to share, so enjoy!

 My mom used to make us tabouli (or tabbouleh) salad all the time in the summer. The fresh vegetables and herbs make it completely mouthwatering while providing a high protein and low calorie meal. Tabouli is super easy and quick, so it is a perfect side dish (or main meal) for a busy bee. I made this as an accompaniment to a leftover roast chicken Greek pita sandwich.

Pitas: Pita , chicken, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, hummus and a Greek yogurt sauce

1 C Bulgar (I purchase mine in the bulk food section at Whole Foods)
1 container of grape tomatoes, quartered
½ English cucumber, chopped
1 C Scallions, chopped
1 C Parsley, chopped
2 tbs Mint, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
3 tbs EVOO
S&P
* 1 C Feta, crumbled (optional)
* shredded romaine lettuce (optional)

Mix Bulgar with 2 C boiling water, cover tightly and let it sit for 30 minutes. While the Bulgar cooks you can cut your veggies and herbs. Strain the Bulgar using a mesh sieve making sure to get most of the moisture out of the grain. Mix the Bulgar, veggies, herbs in a bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together the lemon, EVOO, S&P. Incorporate it into the grain mixture and serve. You can also add the crumbled feta and lettuce to the mix or you can top a bed of lettuce with the grain and then cheese.


Hey, Four Eyes, Check Out Warby Parker

I have been meaning to get some prescription sunglasses for, well, ever. But I just couldn’t stomach the idea of spending $300 on sunglasses. I can’t see two feet in front of my face without my contacts or glasses, so wearing my glasses on sunny days is miserable. I toyed with the idea of taking my glasses off on a recent (very bright) drive home from work so that I could wear my sunglasses. That “brilliant” plan lasted all of five seconds before I panicked that I might hit a small child or something. So when my coworker told me about Warby Parker—their hipster styles, low prices, and awesome mission—I decided to give them a peek. (I mean, any company that sells a monocle is definitely worth a look, right?!)

Via Warby Parker

Warby Parker was started by four friends looking to rebel against overpriced, bland prescription eyewear. While the selection of frames isn’t staggering, the styles are offbeat, well-made, and only $95 ($150 for prescription sunglasses- still a steal)! Plus, for every pair they sell, the company donates a pair of glasses to someone in need.

Warby Parker only has a handful of showrooms across the country, but you can select up to five pairs to try at home. They ship the frames to your house free of charge and include a paid return shipping label for you to return the glasses after you’ve tried them on.

I decided to go with the Mabel sunglasses in Greystone. Pretty snazzy, right? (No picture of myself in them yet—I sent them back before I thought to snap a photo. Oops!)

Via Warby Parker

I just have to go online and place my order, and I’ll finally be able to stop driving with my hand over my eyes when I wear my glasses. Yay!!

 


Custom-Blended Whiskey Just for Dad

My husband loves a nice glass of scotch or whiskey in the evening, so when I heard of the custom-blended, personalized malt scotch whiskey from Whisky Blender, I knew I’d found the perfect Father’s Day gift.

Now, you’re probably thinking “way to give the gift away by blogging about it before Father’s Day.” And yes, my husband does read my blog. However, he knows better than anyone that I nearly explode with excitement when it comes to giving gifts. I can’t wait to see the reaction a perfect gift elicits—to me, it’s better than receiving a gift myself. As soon as the bottle arrived in the mail all the way from Scotland, there was no way I could wait another week to give it to him!

Whisky Blender allows you to create your own blend from among their seven different whiskies, with names like Banana Split, Vanilla Fudge, and Smoke on the Water. I don’t drink whiskey, so I know pretty much nothing about the flavors or how to put them together, so it was a total crap shoot. Ryan eagerly taste-tested it, however, and I’m happy to report that he said it was really good!

The whole thing was a bit pricey with shipping (£75.69, or $94.66), but I loved the unique concept and the personalized label. Since this was a Father’s Day gift, I labeled his blend “Daddy’s Wawa,” since “wawa” is Olivia-speak for water.

The bespoke bottle takes a couple of weeks to arrive after you place your order, so it’s a bit late now for Father’s Day, but this is definitely an idea to keep in mind for your next gift-giving opportunity!