March 30, 2012

Meatless Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sooo... bell peppers are my favorite food. I could eat them every day. They also happen to be really good for you! Also... they happened to be on sale for $1 a piece at the grocery the other day. No, I did not buy 10. But I wanted to.
I did buy 5 though so I needed to come up with some fun ways to serve them. Enter this stuffed bell pepper recipe (from this blog). 

This recipe was easy and fast and I had most of the ingredients on hand already. Paul and Wilder felt it turned out a little too spicy but I was fine with it. Paul's not usually sensitive to heat so I don't know what was up with that but, anyway, you should adjust the seasonings to your taste.
Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers

very large or 6 medium sweet peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
1 Tbs salt
1/2 C white rice (or  brown if you want to take the time to cook it), quinoa also works
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 – 1 jalapeno, minced (or you could sub a small 3oz can of mild green chilies)
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 green onions, sliced
1/2-1 tsp chipotle chili powder (you can start with 1/2 and add more to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 black pepper, plus more to taste
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
1 1/4 C jack or pepperjack cheese, divided
3-4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
tortilla chips, just a handful and more for serving if desired.

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare peppers by washing, slicing tops off, and removing insides.  Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt.   Boil whole peppers for about 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften.  Remove from water with tongs and place on paper towels to drain.

Add rice to boiling water and cook until tender, about 13 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno (or chilies) and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add corn, beans, green onions, chipotle chili powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Stir until corn and beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and add rice, tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, and cilantro.  Stir to combine well and give it a taste.  Add additional salt, pepper, and chipotle powder to your liking.  
Place peppers in a baking dish. Then evenly divide mixture between peppers.
Top peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese (or more if you can fit it on there :) and crushed tortilla chips.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. 

*I did make a special trip to the grocery to get fire roasted diced tomatoes and I think it was totally worth it. I had never heard of them but I liked the flavor they added.
*I used 1/2 tsp of chipotle chili powder and about 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper. Adjust to your liking.
*I boiled the bell peppers longer than the recipe called for, about 10-12 min. and they turned out fork tender. Adjust cooking time to your liking.

March 26, 2012

Wilder Says Mama and Other Happy Fuzzies

Remember how Wilder would not call me Mama for like the longest time? Like 15 months? And remember how I said I would shout it from the rooftops when he did? Well, he did like three weeks ago and I didn't. Sorry. I just didn't want to shout it prematurely and then have him go back to not calling me anything and then I would be extra sad. In other words, I wanted to make sure it stuck once he did say it. 

Three weeks ago I went to that baby shower for my friend, Lien, and Paul kept Wilder for a few hours. Apparently he worked with him while I was gone on saying my name so the next day I woke up to him saying Mama on the monitor. Besides his first cry right after birth, it was the sweetest sound I've ever heard. I will never forget Paul rolling over and smiling at me because he knew how long I had been waiting for that. After that it took him a week or two to really start saying it to me consistently but now he's saying it all the time and will even point to a picture of me and say Mama. I love it and I don't think I could ever get enough of hearing his sweet little voice saying my name.
It was so hard to say goodbye to my mom on Friday but we had such a fabulous time with her. Wilder was a total character for her and basically fawned all over her. If I was feeding him in the kitchen and she walked out of the room, he would belt out Ehh! Ehh! until she came back and then he would just grin the hugest grin at her. 

On Tuesday we went to story time at the library with Rachel and Lexi and had a big time as usual.
Wednesday we drove up to La Habra to see my cousin, her new baby, Tempe, and big brother, Henry. Wilder and Henry entertained themselves by playing with trucks and stuffing decorative pine cones into speaker holes, you know, boy stuff, while the ladies passed around the sweet new baby. Tempe was so tiny and good-natured and beautiful! Surprisingly and thankfully though our visit did not give me baby fever. We're still good with just the one for right now. 
At lunch in Carlsbad on the way to La Habra.
Wilder thought tracing his hand was a clever trick ;)
 Sweet, squishy new baby goodness
I think Wilder's good with being an only child
for now too. Look at how he's eyeing that "other"
baby his mama is holding, haha
 Boys doing boy stuff
On Thursday we took Grana to the zoo and had such a good time showing her all our favorite animals. Sometimes when you go late in the afternoon the animals are all tired and lazy but that afternoon they were really showing off. We saw flamingo fights, sea otter flips, hippos swimming laps, and monkey shenanigans. It was one of the better trips to the zoo we've had and I'm so glad my mom could experience it with us. 
My monkey with the monkeys
This monkey is in with the hippos and
he was thoroughly entertaining that day -- 
jumping on the hippos' backs, bouncing off the 
glass separator, swinging from his tail, and doing
flips. We stayed at the hippo exhibit at least
half an hour along with a huge crowd of people.
Like I said, my mom left Friday, which was hard, but the fact that Friday was also Paul's last day of school for the next two weeks made it a little easier. We have been enjoying having him home SO much already and have plans to do a lot of fun stuff during his last ever school break. Wilder has been absolutely loving having his Dada here to show off for and has been so silly.
The other day he was obsessed with
putting "hats" on Posey's head and
would follow her around putting bowls,
shirts, etc. on her. Very entertaining
(for us, not necessarily for her) :)
 He entertained himself for a while
stepping into and out of Dada's shoes.
 He saw this hat in the top of his closet
and insisted on putting it on. This child
is quite obsessed with hats and it 
totally cracks us up.
On Saturday we decided to play tourist and take Wilder and his bike over to Old Town for lunch and a stroll. We had a delicious lunch but didn't stay long after that because it turned ridiculously windy and pretty chilly. Wilder didn't want to get on his bike after lunch so we let him roam around a little and explore while we followed behind. He is so curious about everything he sees and we love watching him.
Not too worried about Mama and Dada
I'd like to end by saying how thankful I am for great friends. My BFF, Jinny, is a given here. We haven't lived in the same state in ten years but somehow we have remained as close as ever and I feel so lucky to have her in my life. I'm also thankful for newer friends. I've never been good at making pals because I've always been so shy about it, but somehow I've ended up with some really great ones. When my friend, Rachel, found out Paul was about to be on break she asked if she could keep Wilder one evening while Paul and I go to dinner and a movie (The Hunger Games, of course! Cannot wait!). I mean, how incredibly nice!! Paul and I also have a meeting we both have to go to this week and Rachel offered to keep Wilder then too, but I just couldn't bring myself to ask her two days in a row. So I called another friend, Holly, to ask for her babysitter's number and she said, Why don't I just keep Wilder for you? No need for you to pay a babysitter! I just can't get over the kindness of people. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. :) Thank you, ladies, for allowing me to count you as friends! I hope I'm as good a friend to you as you are to me.

Alright, that's it for now. Hope you all have a fantastic week! 

March 20, 2012

Life is Beautiful... If You Decide It Is

I'm claiming today to be a GREAT day! Paul is almost finished with finals and will then have two whole weeks off from school, my mom is here visiting and we are so enjoying spending time with her, and I have the most amazing little fellow in my life to remind me every day what my purpose is.

Here's what we've been up to lately...

I went to a surprise baby shower for my friend, Lien. Oh, how I love surprises! Paul kept Wilder for me so it was a fun morning having some time with just the ladies.
We've had many a trip to the dog park, of course. Wilder loves exploring there and always leaves so dirty. He collects rocks and sticks, digs in the dirt, and climbs on things. Such a boy!
When I was getting him dressed this
day, he went into his closet and
pointed emphatically at his MS State
hat so I put it on him and he wore
it the entire day. Love my little Bulldog!
Only my child would bring a book
to the dog park, haha ;)
The weather hasn't always been great so we've done some playing at home, which is fine. We always find stuff to get into.
Here he is yelling "Dada!" out the window.
Paul was studying at the coffee shop down 
the street and when I texted him this picture
he came home right away. He hates being
away from his little buddy and he needed a
good excuse to take a study break :)
 This is Wilder's new favorite seat.
Rider's not happy about it but 
she tolerates him. 
 Playing "search and rescue boat"
 He's been very climb-y lately and is pleased
as punch with his new hobby.
 He has learned to climb up and
go down the slide all by himself!
 He also likes to check out the
mechanics of the slide.
We've also had several play dates of course.
We love storytime at the library and try
to go every week.
Wilder and Lexi
 Wilder: (super loud and obnoxious bird sound)
Lexi: Um, yeah, that's a skunk.
 Taking care of some business on the computer
 Playing at the park with Dean
 The "I just ate a mouthful of sand and
immediately regret it" face
 Play date at Rachel and Lexi's house
Wilder enjoys being serenaded at dinner
Best of all, my mom has been here visiting since Saturday! We are loving having her here -- Wilder loves showing off for her and she has helped so much by watching him while I get stuff done (and also helping with my backlog of laundry, haha). 
 We took a trip to the aquarium in 
La Jolla the other day
 Getting up close and personal
 That pointer finger got quite a workout.
 Petting a starfish.
 Pumping water by pedaling a bike. Wilder
thought this was hilarious.
 Watching some basketball.
 Paul and I got to have a little date
night the other night. It was sooo nice!
Life is good!