Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Favorites: Loving Lately

Time for another edition of loving lately! I so enjoyed all of your feedback on the last post like this, that I couldn't resist doing it again. Proving that sometimes it's the little things that bring the most joy, this is a collection of what that I'm loving lately:
Last weekend in Michigan we hit the 20 week mark!
Black knit top c/o Pink Blush Maternity
If I'm going to add something to my pregnancy wardrobe, I prefer it to be versatile, comfortable and bonus points if it isn't rouched (which, I think, extends the life of the garment to be wearable after the bump).  I was recently introduced to Pink Blush Maternity and added this very cozy black knit top to my maternity staples.  Check out their maternity stuff here or their non-maternity stuff here.  I especially love this top and these robes. And if you're interested in winning a $75 gift card to shop their site, find me on Instagram (@megan_leanderson) and enter to win.  I'll be picking a winner later today.

We recently got a Nespresso machine (talk about life-changing) and switched to using clear glass cups.  I've found that our old coffee cups were too big, and it is nice to see the drink through the glass. Nespresso sells a glass mug, but I don't like the handle as I find it's hard to hold (especially for little hands who like to drink fluffies).  Ikea has a look-alike that has a better handle for only $2 a pop.Win-win!


I finally updated my recipe index to a visual format.  I hope that this will make it easier to search and find new (and old) recipes to try and love.  It was funny to look back and see how my photography skills have changed over time!  Click the recipe tab at the top of this page to check it out.


These earrings from Fura + Tena have been in  my online shopping cart for a few weeks; I love their collection of stud earrings.  While my everyday pearls are still a stand-by,  I'm ready for something more fun and unique.  Wouldn't they be the perfect Valentine's Day treat?


I'm loving all the video tutorials about the Honest Beauty line and am intrigued to try some of their products, particularly the Magic Balm. It's supposed to be like an Instagram filter for your face, in real life.  I'm thinking a little natural wrinkle diffusion could be helpful right about now. Has anyone tried it before?

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead! xx

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Guest Post with Christine Bono: Crab Empanadas + Yogurt Sauces

The best thing about blogging is connecting with other mothers and my guest today, Christine, of This Is How I Mom, is one of the sweetest.  I take so much inspiration from her zeal for mothering and the delicious food she prepares for her family. I'm always ogling her Instagram posts of the meals she makes, so I’m very excited to have Christine here sharing her Crab Empanada recipe- enjoy!

Hello and Happy Wednesday! I'm so thrilled to be sharing a fun new Crab Empanada recipe (with 2 yogurt sauces) I put together this weekend to celebrate my 21 month old son's newfound love of crab and my continued love for empanadas. It was a big hit in my house and I could see it being the perfect Valentine's Day or Superbowl appetizer (or any time appetizer).
Crab Empanada

But first, I'd love to share with you a little about myself. I've always been a huge food lover and have never shied away from testing out a new recipe. I'm a laid back cook who loves whole foods and letting the ingredients shine on their own in any dish I make. I've always been a big believer and lover of the family meal so as soon as my son began eating solid food I began counting down until the day we could all sit at the dinner table and enjoy the same meal together.


My husband and I have never been big celebrators of Valentine's Day so last year we decided to create an extra special 'Valentine's Family Day'. We went to the library, took a long walk, and I got to do my favorite thing: cook a special meal. Looking back now, I think this may have actually been the first time we all sat at the dinner table to eat the exact same meal together, so for me this was a dream come true! It was Julian's first taste of beets and I even threw on a dress because I was feeling extra festive.

Which is why, this year, I want to keep our family Valentines Day tradition going strong. Julian tried crab for the first time on New Years Eve and has been raving about it non stop since then. This gave me the perfect opportunity to try and recreate one of my favorite empanadas from my many trips to Puerto Rico as a kid. Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster empanadas can be purchased at any of the many kiosks that line the beaches there and it was always the ultimate vacation treat: decadent, indulgent, and memorable.
Crab Empanada
Which is what a Valentines Day meal should be: decadent, indulgent and memorable! The crab makes it ultra luxurious and the empanada makes it fun, different, and the biggest bonus is how quick and easy it is to make!
Crab Empanada
Crab Empanadas: (makes 8-10 empanadas)
Ingredients:
1 cup crab meat (claw or lump)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup fat free Siggi’s or any plain Greek yogurt (or 3 tbsp softened low fat cream cheese- see below)
1 package empanada shells for the oven
Salt and Pepper to taste

First, a note on buying your crab:

You can purchase your crab in tubs or cans at your local supermarket. I know this may sound crazy but I've used both and I found that the crab I purchased at Trader Joe's from a can was the freshest and lightest tasting crab I've tried outside of cracking them by hand myself. I also bought claw meat since I knew I would be handling it more and when using lump meat you want to manipulate it as little as possible because of how delicate it is. If I were making a crabcake it would be all lump, but in this case we enjoyed the fresh crab taste at a much lower price point, Win, win!

Directions:
1. Remove empanada shells from freezer and set the oven to 400.
2. Cook the peppers and onions over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil for a few minutes to take some of the “raw” flavor out of it. 
3. While the vegetables cook, mix a half-cup of crab with the yogurt or cream cheese. I always use Siggi’s yogurt when I have it on hand because of how thick it is and the very low sugar content, but you can use your favorite plain Greek yogurt as well. 
4. Fold the vegetables into the crab mixture and season as you wish. I used a dash of cayenne, salt, and pepper, but give it a taste and adjust as you see fit. 
5. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a very large baking pan and set a few of the, now somewhat pliable, empanada rounds on top. 
6. Fill the center of each empanada shell with a generous spoonful of the crab mixture and fold over to shut tightly. To close the end tightly you can take a fork and press and press all around the edges, but I like to fold the ends over because they bake prettier and keep closed just as well. 
7. Season with salt and pepper on top of each empanada before putting in oven. 
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. They are done when they are golden brown on top.

Crab Empanada
The Yogurt Dips:
While the empanadas bake, I like to throw together my 2 “go-to “dips: The always crowd pleasing avocado crema and a chipotle yogurt sauce, for the spice lovers. For the crema, I mix a quarter of a smashed avocado with about ¼ cup of fat free yogurt and season with salt and pepper. For the chipotle yogurt sauce, I mix a generous sprinkle of cayenne pepper with ¼ cup of Greek yogurt, the juice from a quarter of a lemon, and the tiniest drizzle of honey for a spicy but balanced dip.
Crab Empanada
The crab empanadas which were made with the Greek yogurt came out very creamy while the empanadas made from the cream cheese were a lot flakier and the shells came out crispier. Both were equally decadent and satisfying. Julian ate 2 whole empanadas before asking for more. He also loved dipping them into the avocado and Greek yogurt I put on the side. For me, there is no greater pleasure than cooking something with love and having it be enjoyed by the ones I love most. If you make these, please stop by and let me know if you enjoyed them! You can visit me at my blog (www.thisishowimom.com) or on Instagram (@thisishowimomdotcom).

This is how I Mom
The biggest thanks and hugs to Megan for letting me share a little bit of my family and my love of cooking with you all! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Valentine's Day Activities for Toddlers + Our Favorite Homemade Play Dough Recipe

Is anyone else excited that it's February?!  We've been enjoying some Valentine's Day toddler activities around here lately that I hope you'll like too. I find it fun to incorporate seasonal and holiday themed activities into our play routine.  It helps keeps things new and interesting for both James Robert and myself plus it feels festive.  I love that the toddler stage provides more understanding around what we're doing-- but we're definitely still in the stage that activities need to be quick and easy!

Here are 5 activities for you and your toddler to enjoy that are perfect for Valentines' Day (plus don't miss our play dough recipe at the end of the post):


1) Banner from felt cutouts.  We went to the dollar store and bought felt heart cutouts and then strung them on ribbon we have at home.  It helped him practice his fine motor skills and he was tickled with the result that he were able to display. This could easily be made from felt you have at home already if you do have some.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Favorites: Books About Becoming A Sibiling

Happy Friday!  We're hoping to take James Robert skiing for the first time this weekend.  I'm bummed that I won't be able to go with him learn how to go down the slopes with him, but I can't wait to see the look on his face when he goes.

Lately, we've been doing our best to help prepare James Robert for the massive changes that will happen when we bring his little brother home.  I do hope that all of our talk about it will help ease the transition and help him be excited for his new role.  I know he will be such a great big brother, but I also know it may be tough on him.

One of the most helpful things we've done is read him books about becoming a sibling.  We were lucky to receive some wonderful books from family and friends over the holidays, so I wanted to share some of our favorites.  Please do let me know if you have any others to recommend that we could add to the mix!



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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

French Beef and Carrot Stew + A trip to the Market


Sometimes I'll choose a recipe based purely on how French it will make me feel while cooking it.  And last week with the cold weather I wanted to make something hearty, warm and satisfying.  So I went in search of a beef stew recipe that would accomplish both my francophile tendencies and palate.  I found the perfect recipe in this French cookbook.

My sister was visiting us last weekend and we used the opportunity to take her to one of our favorite spots in Toronto, St. Lawrence Market.  The markets are indoors at this time of year and are bustling with vendors, musicians and families on a Saturday.  James Robert loves to explore the food as much as we do.

We picked up some local goodies for this recipe and took in the sites.  What's more French than that?


Monday, January 25, 2016

Baby Blue

It’s a boy!  And I still feel surprised by the news!

Mat is more shocked than I am- he was convinced that this baby was a girl. But I have easily slipped into the happy reality of adding another little boy to our mix. 

My Gram was the mother to three boys.  She often used to joke with me that one day I would end up with a house full of boys too. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Favorites for Winter Hair

This morning we are headed to our 19 week ultrasound- I'm on pins and needles with excitement and nerves to hear if everything with the baby looks OK.  My biggest wish is to just hear the doctor say the words healthy.  I'm also crossing my fingers and toes that they will be able to tell us the gender.  So, I hope to be back on Monday with an update!

In the meantime...when I find something that works, I can't wait to share it with friends.  And after 32 years, I think I finally figured out a formula for good hair days in the winter.

When the weather turns frigid, it just isn't an option to air-dry my hair like I usually would do during the summer.  I would prefer to remain low maintenance, but out of necessity, I found that this process is a time-saver in the long run.

I should preface these recommendations by admitting that I dread blowdrying my hair.  However, I consider the technique shared below to be 10 minutes well spent.  If I style my hair following this tutorial and use these products, I can stretch my blow-out for 3+ days (shhhh)! 
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First things first, watch Marianna's tutorial.  I promise if it seems like a lot of work, after doing it twice, it will be like second nature.

To save as much time as possible, I like to put my hair up in this towel when I  get out of the shower.  It soaks up so much water and cuts the hair drying process in half.

I tried the mousse that she recommended and found that it had a lot of hold which provided volume, but weighed my hair down more than I'd like.  Therefore, I suggest using her technique with Aveda's smooth infusion instead.  When I put my front layer in the velcro roller (life-changing I tell you!) I like to give it a quick spray of the hairspray.

At the end, I finish everything off with a pea-size amount of the Redken Outshine. My hair stylist recommended this as a great way to tame the static that plagues hair this time of year and I love it.  It helps fly aways and doesn't feel heavy.
hair on day 3
And let's be honest.  One of the only things that I like about winter hair is that I can get away with wearing a cute hat which doubles as a great way to cover a few day old blow-dry.

Hope this works for you if you try it- let me know!  

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