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Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

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Lets be honest, momma likes to have a drink every now and then.  A beer after a day on the beach.  A cocktail with dinner.  A just because celebratory glass of champagne.  All good things in my book.  It’s taken me a while to appreciate  wine though.  I didn’t understand all the hubbub over wine until I entered my thirties.  Maybe it’s my taste buds maturing?  Who knows.  Even still, I can’t drink a dry wine.  Give me a sweet moscato though and I’m in heaven.  Mix that moscato with fruit and schnapps, and well, I’ll call that breakfast.  Just kidding.  Maybe. 😉

Me with my babies on Mother's Day.

Me with my babies on Mother’s Day.

I had the most amazing peach sangria on Mother’s Day this year at a Greek restaurant that’s been in business since the 1970’s, Hellas Restaurant and Bakery, located on the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  If you’re ever in the area, stop here for an authentic Greek dining experience.  Absolutely delicious.  While there, be sure to browse the shops and learn a few things about the strong Greek community and the harvesting of sea sponges. You can even embark on sightseeing tours, where you can get the opportunity to look for dolphins, watch sponge diving exhibitions,  see the historic lighthouse, explore natural estuaries, and some boats even beach on an island where you can look for shells. It’s a great place to just stroll around and explore.

Sponge Docks, Tarpon Springs Florida

Sponge Docks, Tarpon Springs Florida

Since dining at Hellas I’ve had a slight obsession with Greek food and recreating some of my favorites.  Some recipes were definite misses, and some were big hits!  This Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria is one of the hits.  Sweet and fruity, it’s a great, refreshing drink to serve anytime of the day or night.

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery on the historic Sponge-Docks in Tarpon Springs, FL

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery on the historic Sponge-Docks in Tarpon Springs, FL

Another thing I love about sangria is that you can add almost any fruit to it.  All is fair in fruit and sangria.  Except bananas.  That would probably be really gross.  Save those for smoothies.  Have some lemon or lime slices leftover? Toss those in.  An abundance of berries?  Throw those in too. Why not?  It will only enhance the flavor.  Plus you can convince yourself that it’s healthier because you’re getting extra servings of fruit, right?  Maybe not, but who cares.

Light, refreshing, sweet, and fruity sangria

Light, refreshing, sweet, and fruity sangria

 

Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

1.75L bottle Barefoot Moscato (or your favorite white wine)
2/3 cup peach schnapps
1/4 cup sugar
16 oz can chunk pineapple in it’s own juice
1 mango, cut into cubes (or frozen chunks)
Optional: Other fruit. I used peach, blueberries, and strawberries.

In large pitcher combine wine, schnapps, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add fruit and the juice from the pineapple can.
Chill. For best results, refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Overnight is better.

Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

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Pizza Quesadillas – AKA Pizzadillas

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Pizza Quesadillas – AKA Pizzadillas

Happy Sunday!! We are having a lazy day here, or trying to at least.  The last week has been insanely busy and Buddy and I needed a day to just veg out.   Sadly, Hubby and Sissy couldn’t join us today.  Sissy is away visiting her far-away family for the summer and Hubby is stuck at work.  Bummer 😦

Funny enough, being lazy is actually hard work.  I keep wanting to go clean something or at least pretend to be productive.  Relaxing is not my strong-suit.  I get bored and anxious.  Buddy, on the other hand,  has been perfectly happy just hanging out this morning and rediscovering some forgotten toys since he hasn’t had a lot of independent play time recently.  I think independent play is so important for children to have.  It boosts their creativity and imagination, helps develop  problem solving skills, inspires confidence, and gives both of you a break from each other.   Some of my most treasured moments with my children have come from independent play.  How can you not smile when you peek in on your 3-year-old and see him dressed up as a cat-superhero-rockstar, talking on a spatula telephone, while baking imaginary eggs for his family of stuffed animals or using the bottom of a drum as an astronaut helmet?

Independent play isn’t something that comes easily to some parents and children, so start slow if you need to.  Set aside 15 minutes dedicated to independent playtime.  Start off by setting them up with a favorite toy, some dress-up items, crayons and paper, blocks, and/or interesting, safe things like kitchen utensils (whisks, spatulas, plastic bowls,etc).   Go through the items with your child and see what sparks their interest.  Let them lead the way.  When they start to engage with a particular item, let them know you’ll be right back and walk away for a few minutes.  If they instantly come running after you, that’s ok.   Just lead them to their play area and remind them you need a few minutes to use the bathroom (start dinner, put a load of laundry in) then you’ll be right back.  Gradually increase the amount of playtime as your kiddo gets comfortable.

While they are learning how to play independently you can whip up this fast and tasty lunch.  The pizzadilla is also perfect for hot summer days where you don’t want to heat up your kitchen and lazy afternoons.  Use your favorite pizza toppings and customize it anyway you want it!  Serve with fresh fruit, cut veggies, or a salad and you have a complete, light meal.
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Pizza quesadillas – AKA Pizzadillas
Makes 1 pizzadilla. Double/triple/quad recipe for however many people you are serving.

  • 2 white corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon pizza sauce (plus extra for dipping, if desired)
  • 1/8 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (use up to 1/4 cup if you like it extra cheesy)
  • 2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch of italian seasoning
  • 4-5 pepperoni slices – or topping of your choice (diced green pepper, onion, mushrooms, crumbled cooked sausage)

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Preheat skillet to medium-high heat.  Put 1 of the tortillas in the pan.  Top with pizza sauce and spread to the edges.  Sprinkle half the cheese onto the tortilla.  Add toppings.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and seasonings then top with second tortilla.  When bottom tortilla is lightly browned, flip carefully.  The Pizzadilla is done when both sides are browned and toasty. Cut into quarters and serve with extra pizza sauce for dipping.
*Note: Corn tortillas shrink slightly when cooked. The bottom tortilla will be smaller before you flip. Once both sides are cooked, the size will even out
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Orange Scented All-Purpose Cleaner

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I’m not sure when I stopped buying chemical cleaners and made the switch to vinegar.  A few years at least.  I’d like to say the initial reason was to keep toxic chemicals out of my home, to be more environmentally friendly, and “green”  but it really wasn’t.  Vinegar is non-toxic and eco-friendly so those reasons are just really awesome bonuses.  The main reason I switched to vinegar as a cleaning agent was because of its huge economical value.  I can buy a huge jug of white vinegar for a couple of dollars vs. the more expensive store-bought chemical cleaners.  Multiply that number a few times to cover the cost of all the specialty cleaners you would buy to cover all areas and surfaces of your home and it quickly becomes VERY expensive.  Vinegar can be used in a myriad of ways all around the home, making it  (almost) the only cleaner you’ll need.  Vinegar is acidic and because of that it kills germs, bacteria, and most mold.  It can be used to cut through grease, in laundry as a rinse and softening agent, loosens mineral deposits from hard water, dissolves soap scum, and removes coffee and tea stains from counters, cups, and coffee makers to name a few.

Here’s the downside to vinegar.  Until it dries after you use it your house will smell like a pickle.  Not a big deal to me personally, but I know that reason alone has scared many people away from using it.  It’s REALLY easy to cover that scent though and at the same time boost the cleaning power of that magic little liquid.  All it takes is one thing that you probably just throw away mindlessly.  Orange peels, or any citrus peels at that. I use orange because that’s what I have around all of the time. So if the smell has been a reason you haven’t switched to vinegar based cleaners, give this a try.

Infuse vinegar with oranges to make a powerful, great smelling all-purpose cleaner that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and CHEAP!

Infuse vinegar with oranges to make a powerful, great smelling all-purpose cleaner that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and CHEAP!

This is what I use as my everyday, all-purpose cleaner.  Counter and stove tops, sinks, door handles, spots on the floor or walls, even glass, it’s my go-to.  Try  it out and let me know what you think! Already a vinegar fan? Let me know how you use it in the comments or on Facebook at Taking Babysteps.  Don’t forget to like, pin, and share!

Orange Infused All-Purpose Vinegar Cleaner

What you need:

  • Orange peels
  • White vinegar
  • water
  • mason jar (or any re-closeable container)
  • spray bottle

What you’ll do:

  • Peel oranges, eat the insides, save the peels and pith.
  • Put peels and pith in a jar with a lid.  You can pack as many as you have in there.
  • Add vinegar to cover.
  • Shake it around
  • Let it sit for 2 weeks.
  • Strain peels and pour citrus vinegar into spray bottle.
  • Add water.  I use a 1/1 mix of water and citrus vinegar.Orange peels in vinegar

    Strained orange infused vinegar. Use as 1/1 mix with water for a great  all purpose cleaner!

    Strained orange infused vinegar. Use as 1/1 mix with water for a great all purpose cleaner!

Orange infused all purpose vinegar cleanerThat’s it.  Super easy, environmentally friendly, and will save you money!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

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Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

I cannot tell you how excited I am that it’s summer squash season.  Zucchini is one of those veggies that we always have around during the summer and I throw it into anything I can. They are so affordable right now and there is a million things you can do with that delicious green-skinned veggie. Breads, muffins, ragout, sautéed with olive oil and garlic and tossed with pasta, used in frittatas, you get my drift and now I’m drooling.  You name it, I’ve probably done it…except for turn it into noodles.  That’s something I don’t have any desire to try.   I just don’t want to.  You can’t make me.  Neener neener  (so grown-up of me. I know) I’m sure it’s tasty – I just like my noodles filled with carbs.

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By the way! Don’t be one of “those people” who try to sneak squash in place of noodles thinking no one will notice, and you’ll get to be all “SEE! It tastes exactly the same!! And it’s so much better for you!!”  No. They will notice and they will never trust you again.  How would you like it if I gave you water when you were expecting vodka.  NOT SO MUCH FUN NOW, IS IT?!  Just be honest and say you’re trying something new.  It goes over better that way.

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Baked parmesan zucchini crisps

Sorry about that….
Anyway….
Back to my point.
Even though I love zucchini it’s not a veggie the kids get excited about when they hear it’s in the dinner line up.  Hubby swears he doesn’t like it (even though one of his most requested dinners from me is based around zucchini….hmmm…) They are singing a different tune now that I made these parmesan zucchini crisps.  Sissy has asked for them every night for 2 weeks now.  Hubby loves them with my spicy greek yogurt dipping sauce, and Buddy calls them chips and happily munches them down.  Crispy, cheesy, baked goodness that goes perfectly along side a burger or just as a snack.   They are SO FREAKING YUM!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

Sliced zucchini, flour, egg wash, panko

 

zucchini crisps getting ready to be baked

zucchini crisps getting ready to be baked

Flipped, 10 minutes to go...

Flipped, 10 minutes to go…

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps. So brown and crispy without frying!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps. So brown and crispy without frying!

Click here for the recipe!

The Parent of the Year award goes to….

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The Parent of the Year award goes to….

Pssst. You.

Hey you.  Parent over there.  Just a little reminder.  You’re only human.  You will have days like both of these mentioned.  Most days will fall somewhere in the middle. You are rad.  Your kids think you’re pretty OK too, most of the time- until you start doing the wobble in the middle of their school dance.  It could go either way at that point. 

Some days you’ll have 3 full, healthy home cooked meals on the table.  Nothing will be prepackaged.  The laundry will be washed, dried, folded, AND put away.  There won’t be spots on your windows or fingerprints on the walls.  The beds will be made, there won’t be dried up toothpaste in the bottom of the sink.  Crumbs won’t stick to your feet as you walk across your floor and that sticky spot that’s been there for a week will finally be wiped up. The sink is empty, counters are cleaned, and the stack of random mail and papers that lives on the table is sorted and put away.  You AND the kids will be showered and dressed.  They will play together quietly, cleaning up after themselves as they go.  And you?  You haven’t had to raise your voice all day. Your energy tank is full and your mood meter is set to Mary Poppins. You.have.arrived.   It’s the day you’ve always imagined, dreamed of, wished for.  It’s the day you’ll compare all other days to and desperately try and recreate.  It doesn’t get better than this.  You’ll feel like a super parent.  You surely deserve a reward.  A trophy.  A feature in the news.  Maybe even a book deal or  TV show.  Don’t forget to take notes! You’ve figured out the equation, now all days will be exactly as this one was. Right?

WRONG.

Then there are the other days….

You are beyond exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed and the quiet children from days past have sensed your weakness.  They have taken over,  becoming mini terrorists trying to destroy everything in their paths, including themselves.  That sticky spot is back and you still don’t know what caused it.  The freshly cleaned windows have face and fingerprints on them, and you’re hoping the brown smear on the wall is chocolate and not poop.  There’s a smell coming from your children’s room that suggests something crawled up and died under their bed and the closest thing you’ve come to a shower is walking into the bathroom that has the removable shower head 30 seconds after you realize what your kids meant by “playing car wash”.  Your son insists on being naked and streaking down the street any chance he gets.  Your daughter makes up games where the main objective  is simply to either get someone else in trouble or beat them up.  The only fruit or vegetable your children have seen is a grape they picked up off the floor from snack time yesterday and a smear of jelly from the sandwich they made themselves at lunch.  There are shrill screams, yells, and someone is always crying.  There’s a good chance it may even be you.  You are on empty and your patience flew out the window.  You’re done, you give up.  You’ve failed as a parent and your children obviously hate you otherwise they wouldn’t act as they do.  CPS is going to be knocking at your door any minute because of the dishes left in the sink.  When you see comments on Facebook about bad parenting they are obviously being passive aggressive and talking about you.   Right?

WRONG.

Guess what?  We ALL have those “other” days.  Every one of us.  If someone says they don’t, they are lying.  Liars suck, and you have my permission to punch them in the face. (Disclaimer: Don’t actually punch anyone in the face. Violence is wrong and I’m not OK with it. Mmmmk?).

So on the chance that you’re having a day more like the latter, as I am today, I want you to do something with me.  Declare this day crazy train day and let it go. Don’t try and strong arm it into being something it’s not. It’s a craptastic day, and that’s OK!  You’re allowed to have those!!  Try as you might, you are not June Cleaver and life does not come with a complimentary pearl necklace.  Leave the dishes in the sink, let the kids jump on the bed for 10 minutes.  For one day only, inside voices are optional and no, you don’t have to eat your broccoli.  Go ahead, take a shower yourself and let the littles watch some extra TV.  Babystep your way through the day.  Have a glass of wine, no one is judging you.  Now go polish this turd of a day,  give yourself yet another reason to be declared Parent-Of-The-Year and have ice cream for dinner.  When the kids are grown, I’m 99% sure they will remember the one time you let them have ice cream for dinner more than every day your windows had a streak-free shine.

Ice cream for dinner :)

Ice cream for dinner 🙂

Soft Onion Sandwich Rolls

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Soft Onion Sandwich Rolls

Onion rolls are pretty much one of my favorite things.  I became obsessed with them after having them at a kind-of local NY style deli restaurant.  I’ll even buy all of their day old/reduced bags  and take up every inch of my freezer.  We don’t need anything else.  Just onion rolls.  I’ve talked my husband into driving toward that town, without feeding him, knowing he’ll get hungry and want to stop somewhere.  How convenient! We just happen to be near that establishment!  Not that I planned it that way, at all.  Nope.  Didn’t do it.   Oh look! Free onion rolls!

This is my version of an onion roll.  Soft, chewy, full of onion flavor with just a hint of garlic. This is the perfect vessel for delivering delicious meat and vegetable fillings to your awaiting taste buds.  You’re drooling now, right? Read the rest of this entry

Oat flour…whaaat?

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In my Soft Onion Sandwich roll post I mentioned oat flour. Who? Huh? What the heck is oat flour?  When I first saw it in a recipe I was completely clueless.  I hadn’t heard of it either.  Turns out, it’s really stupid easy to make.  PLUS you get all of the nutritional benefits of oats.  Good to know! Right?! Follow along…

Take some old fashioned rolled oats…

Making oat flour

Put oats into food processor.   I used my blender because I already had it out and didn’t mind a more coarse texture for the recipe I was using it for.  You can get a fine grind with a blender, it will just take a few seconds more.

Trusty blender

Trusty blender

Pulse until it’s powdery/flour like.
1 cup of oats generally makes 1 cup of oat flour.

That’s it.  Seriously.  Oat flour. Don’t spend money on fancy store-bought oat flour. It only takes a minute to do yourself.

Coarse oat flour

Coarse oat flour

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