Sweet Potato Quinoa Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I know it's not actually summer yet, but today's sunshine could have fooled me.   A wave of warmth hit my corner of the world this week and today's temperatures were in the 80's.  Eighty glorious degrees - in March!  Every window in the house was open, for the first time this year, and it felt so good.  It's not summer, but I can pretend anyway.

I know mother nature can be fickle and these warm days could tumble out as quickly as they sailed in.  But whatever she has up her sleeve, I am going to enjoy every minute of the sunshine while it's here.  So with a warm breeze blowing through the kitchen, I put these Sweet Potato Quinoa Tacos on the dinner menu.  And then, just to keep our summer dreams alive, we ate dinner outside.

With "superfoods" like Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa, these tacos are quite healthy.  They are also so delicious that you quickly forget about healthy and just think "Yum!".  The smoky flavor and spice of the Chipotle Sauce is a perfect compliment to the Sweet Potatoes.  I see a lot more of these tacos in my future - I just hope they come with more sunshine too!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Books About Spring

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We've been fighting our way through sickness this past week, and we may still have a few more days of it.  I wouldn't wish this nasty flu/cold bug on anyone, but I have caught a few glimpses of silver lining as we've been holed up here.  There has been a lot of cuddling, resting, and a lot of reading.

I pulled out our Spring book basket this week, to welcome the new season and ease the boredom of kids (and a mom) stuck in bed.  Here are a few of our favorite Spring books, which hopefully you can enjoy without our sniffles and sneezes (clicking on the book covers will take you to the books on Amazon):

How Robin Saved Spring

by Debbie Ouellet

Lady Winter doesn't want to give up her throne.  The world is blanketed in ice and snow and Sister Spring will continue sleeping.  Robin and the animals can't let winter last forever!  How can they wake Sister Spring and save the day?

and then it's spring

by Julie Fogliano

This boy and his dog are tired of winter's browns.  They decide to plant a garden, but they still have to wait through the rains and several shades of brown before Spring brings them new colors to enjoy.

A New Beginning

by Wendy Pfeffer

A nonfiction look at the Spring Equinox that children will love!  It explores the science of spring, as well as its celebration in cultures throughout the world.  It's filled with lovely illustrations and prose.

Mama, Is it Summer Yet?

by Nikki McClure

No, it's not summer yet, but Mama is happy to point out all the signs of Spring to her wondering child.  Beautiful illustrations and lyrical prose.

Ininatig's Gift of Sugar

by Laura Watterman Wittstock

Learn more about the Native American spring traditions of sugar making.  While explaining the process, the author also weaves in the traditional story of Ininatig, the Man Tree, and his gift to the earth.

At Grandpa's Sugar Bush

by Margaret Carney

With his Grandpa, a young boy learns to make syrup the old fashioned way.  This is more than just a book about welcoming spring, it is about a beautiful bond with nature and how this bond is shared and passed from generation to generation.

And the Good Brown Earth

by Kathy Henderson

A sweet story about a grandmother and her grandson planting a garden.  This book takes you from Spring, through the cycle of seasons in a garden and back to Spring again.

What favorite storybooks do you enjoy during the Spring season?

Whole Grain Banana Nut Muffins

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I love muffins!  They are the perfect make-ahead breakfast, afternoon snack, or gift for the neighbor.  I make some version of them at least once or twice a week.  In fact, it's only Tuesday and already I have made 3 dozen muffins this week.  Luckily, I also know a lot of people who like muffins as much as I do so I won't be eating them alone.  

These Banana Nut Muffins are my new breakfast menu favorite.  They are soft and moist, with a sweet mild flavor and a bit of nut crunch.   I like to make my muffins big so that just one, with a glass of milk, is plenty filling for breakfast.  I also like to add in freshly ground Spelt flour so I can start my day off with whole grain goodness.  Spelt keeps the muffins light and fluffy so much better than wheat flour.  I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do!

Whole Grain Banana Nut Muffins 

(Printable Recipe)


3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or cashews


Grease each cup of muffin tin and set aside.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Stir chopped nuts into flour mixture.  In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg, syrup, oil, and banana.  Beat until smooth.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture.  Fold wet and dry mixtures together, being careful to not over stir. Batter will be lumpy, not smooth.

For large muffins, fill 9 muffin tin cups almost to the top.  For medium muffins, fill 12 muffin tin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until muffins are golden and spring back when touched.  Cool on wire rack and serve warm.


Saint Patrick's Day Round Up

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We already had a Saint Patrick's Day birthday party last weekend, but the Irish fun isn't over yet.  I have been looking for a few fun and simple ways to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day with my family.  Here are my top picks for Saint Patty crafts, activities, and snacks!

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Saint Patrick's Day Crafts

Shamrock Wreath  ♣  The House the Lars Built
Shamrock Barrette   ♣  Paper & Ink
Shamrock Pinwheel    ♣   The Mother Huddle

Saint Patrick's Day Snacks

Key Lime Pie Cream ♣ Chocolate-Covered Katie
Mint Lime Cupcakes   ♣  Some the Wiser
Party Popcorn  ♣   My Baking Addiction, via She Wears Many Hats

Saint Patrick's Day Activities

Saint Patrick's Day Reading List   ♣  Good Life Eats
Saint Patrick's Day Printables  ♣  Family Fun
Shamrock Name Fishing Game  ♣   B Inspired Mama

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How are you celebrating Saint Patrick's Day?

Mint Lime Cupcakes with Lime Curd Filling

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For our Irish themed celebration over the weekend, I made cupcakes.  The part where I Made Cupcakes was a big deal!  In the past I have always purchased them from my favorite local bakery or called my sister, the baking expert, to produce pretty and delicious cupcakes.  Frosted cupcakes were too daunting for me to try on my own.

But, my favorite food bloggers are always posting photos of such lovely handcrafted cupcakes and they got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could do it too.  I had the luck o' the Irish with me after all.  So, after fiddling with a few recipes, some crossed fingers and muttered threats, and a few tense minutes when I realized that frosting cupcakes is seriously not easy, I made cupcakes.  My frosting skills could use a little practice, but the taste was perfection!

I used Katie's most recent cupcake recipe because I knew she had perfected it for our high altitude baking issues.   I adapted it to fit with our Irish theme - green party, green ingredients!  With a Lime Curd filling, a light Lime frosting, and a delightful hint of Mint in the cupcakes, these were the perfect addition to our Saint Patrick's Day Party.  They weren't nearly as hard as I expected them to be; I see a lot of cupcakes in my future!

Mint Lime Cupcakes

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A Saint Patrick's Day Party (and a Birthday!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My sweet baby was born on Saint Patrick's Day two years ago.  Two years ago!  Instead of dwelling too much on how two whole years could have possibly passed us by, we planned a party to celebrate.

When it comes to birthdays, I think keeping it simple helps to make it more special - more about the celebration of a life and a little less about the "stuff."   That being said, I love a good theme party and I couldn't resist the chance to use all the fun that comes with Saint Patrick's Day.  After all, this is likely the last birthday party I will ever get to plan for her on my own.  This time next year, I am certain she'll be running the show.

(And yes, I know Saint Patrick's Day and Adelaide's Birthday are not officially until next weekend, but we had to pull some strings so that everyone could be at the party.  Who needs calendars anyway? Right?)

With the Irish in mind, we had a baked potato bar with all the toppings, and a rainbow of fruit too!  Check out The Yummy Life for more Baked Potato Bar topping ideas.
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Banana Roll: The Easiest Breakfast Recipe!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I am definitely more of a brunch person than a breakfast person.  Brunch, in my opinion, is superior largely because I have a few extra hours to prepare and ease into it.  Breakfast, for heaven's sake, takes me by surprise almost every single morning. 

When I wake up in the morning, I need at least an hour of prep time, i.e. I need to lounge in bed, preferably a quiet bed, for at least 20 minutes after I wake up.  When I do get going, I want to do it very slowly.  I want mornings to be quiet and simple. 

My real problem with breakfast is that everyone in this house (i.e. the five year old, the three year old, and the almost two year old) is oblivious to what I need in the morning.  I started this day off with someone poking me in the ear with a toothbrush, followed by a chorus of shrieking because someone said they saw a bug that turned out to be a raisin.  And it never fails that before I even open my eyes in the morning, someone (or everyone) is saying they are HUNGRY.

At my house, breakfast must be quick!  And to make that possible, breakfast must also be simple.  This quick and easy Banana Roll breakfast is a really fast way to please everyone while still making sure we've all enjoyed a healthy protein packed morning meal.  

Banana Roll

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