Meet the Sullivans: March 2012

March 29, 2012

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce

This is another slow cooker recipe that is quick and easy to throw together. I made this in the morning while Owen watched me from his bouncy chair and it was of course all done cookin' by the time Keith came home. All I had to do later was boil the pasta. This tasted delicious and was easy to double for leftovers. 
Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce
For a printer-friendly version click here. 

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (I used the pre-chopped kind from TJ's)
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons dried basil
1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Hot cooked spaghetti

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. Add the next 9 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until heated through. Discard bay leaf. Serve with spaghetti. Yield: 6-8 servings.

I doubled this recipe and froze the leftovers in ziplock freezer bags for an easy dinner in the future!

March 28, 2012

'round here lately

A little Wednesday hodgepodge post for you: 

1. I bought a really cute print for Owen's nursery from Etsy seller Earlybird Ink. I finally got around to buying a frame for it. The little quote is so sweet : "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow". I love being a "boy mom" and thinking that my little guy will someday be a "might oak" of a man brings joyful tears to my eyes. Being a mommy is such an important job. Now I just need to get Keith to hang it for me!

2. Last week I drove by Sergio's Pasta shop that I've told you about and found that they had closed. Closed! Out of business. I'm so sad. Well, it turns out there is another fresh pasta shop 1.5 blocks up the street. I bought two kinds of raw fresh pasta and two sauces; vodka and alfredo. They were great and I think I'll go back. I say I think I'll go back only because the owner was a bit arrogant when I mentioned the closure of Sergio's Pasta shop--he pretended to not even know it existed, which I thought was really weird. Downtown San Mateo is a really small area so of course he knew it was there. Anyway, the pasta was tasty! I really want to make my own pasta again. Fresh is just exponentially better! 

3. Owen has big feet and hands. They're super cute and his toes are often curled up. He likes to kick a lot. My SIL Kelly and I dipped his little feet in blue paint last week and got his foot print for his baby book. I'm tempted to frame the leftover prints--I just love his little toesies.

4. Keith's mom watched Owen on Sunday night so we could go see The Hunger Games! I read the book over the summer while fighting early pregnancy nausea and exhaustion, finished up the second while bearing through contractions in the hospital and now I'm reading the final book during naps or while nursing. Jennifer Lawrence is a perfect Katniss. She brings the character to life and is exactly how I pictured her to be as I've been reading. I know its difficult to do a book justice in a movie, but there were a few things I didn't like about the movie. I can forgive the little in justices but what bugged me was that the relationship between Peeta and Katniss didn't get to fully develop before we were lead to believe they were "star crossed lovers". That being said I can't wait for the next movie! 

5. We celebrated our friend Jackie's 30th birthday (pictured above wearing her fun fancy hat!) this weekend at her fancy hat themed party. Is it funny that I take mental note every time we do something "for the first time" since Owen was born? Anyway, this was the second time we've been out at night together since Owen was born. We brought the little guy to my mom's and went to the party. We got there right on time and enjoyed a cocktail before it got to busy. Unfortunately we had to make it an early night

6. I recently bought these Stella & Dot earrings after seeing something similar on Good Morning America and a friend / former co-worker of mine has invited me to her Stella & Dot party this Saturday and I'm so excited! I have always wanted to go to one but have never been able to make to any I've been invited to. I adore all the Stella jewelry and this will be a fun opportunity to see it in person. Not to mention I'll be getting out of the house for a bit and have some adult conversation!

7. I'm trying to decide which one of these Erin Condren phone cases to buy. Do you like the chevron stripe? The fleur felix? Or candy lace? I can't figure out which one I like more! 

March 27, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

A few weeks ago I found this recipe from 365 Days of Slow Cooking on Pinterest. The recipe looked really simple and called for the seasoned slow cooker liner you see below, which I thought was really interesting looking, so I ordered one and it came within days. I gave the recipe (which is also on the back of the package for the liner) a try last week. 

(sorry to say, but kind looks like a dirty diaper!)

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

1 Homestyle Gravy Seasoned Slow Cooker Liner
4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups water
1 bag frozen vegetable mix
1 can of biscuits

1. Unfold liner and place into slow cooker, gently pushing sides so that liner is evenly spread out.
2. Place chicken thighs in the slow cooker.
3. Pour water over the sides of the liner wetting all the seasoning.
4. Tie up the liner with some kitchen string. Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours (depending on how hot your slow cooker cooks).
5. Carefully remove string. Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board. Shred the chicken and return to slow cooker liner.
6. Add in the veggies. Cover and cook on HIGH for another 15-30 minutes until veggies are warmed through.
7. While veggies are warming, bake biscuits according to directions on package. Ladle chicken, veggies and gravy over the top of the biscuits and serve.

Now, I'm going to be totally honest here. I didn't like this recipe so much. It was simple to put together. The flavors were fine, but the look of the chicken reminded me of gourmet cat food. That being said, Keith liked it! I don't think I'd make this again since I would have to re-order the liner every time and I really didn't like it enough to go through the trouble.

I don't like to talk negatively, but I'm sharing this because I promised I would let you all know what I thought of the product!

March 25, 2012

Menu Monday 3/26

Happy Monday morning! We had what I would now call an eventful weekend for us. We took Owen to my mom's to be babysat while we went out to celebrate our friend's 30th Birthday at her fancy hat themed party (I really wish I had taken more pictures!) and made it out to see The Hunger Games while Owen stayed home with Keith's mom Barbara. Anytime we make it out of the house with or without the little guy there is a whole big production and a lot of planning that goes into it.
After all that fun we are happy to not have much on our schedule for today. We're going to enjoy hanging out at home with the little guy and catch up on some things around the house. I have the week's menu all planned out with four reoccurring favorites and two new recipes this week, so the big event of my day will be doing the grocery shopping for the week!

{clockwise from top left} 

Kevin's Healthy Caesar Dressing {Meet the Sullivans} - So simple and so good! I'm going to use the blender to make enough to last us through 2-3 side salads this week. When I have the time I prefer to make my own dressing because it just has so much more flavor!
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches {Meet the Sullivans} - I love making these sandwiches in the slow cooker because all you need to do it put the chicken in directly from the freezer, no need to trouble yourself with defrosting, and add BBQ sauce. I'm going to use the extra chicken the next night for the pizza I have planned.
BBQ Chicken Pizza - I've made a BBQ chicken pizza before inspired by the Pioneer Woman and CPK and this time I'm going to try making it with the chicken from the slow cooker and a few other extras. We'll see how it goes!
Pasta with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce - I'm taking two recipes and combining them. The first one I've tried and loved (please check it out here: Keeping Up with the Joneses) and the other is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.
Beef and Cheese Foldover {Keeping Up with the Joneses} - We really enjoy this easy dinner recipe. Its really just another way to eat tex mex tacos! I've been craving it for a while, but I have gotten around to putting in on our menu again until this week.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Potato Dumplings {Meet the Sullivans} - A fun twist on your standard beef stew. The gnocchi makes this absolutely delicious!
I hope you all have a great start to your week! If you'd like to see how some of last week's recipes turned out click here.

March 22, 2012

Owen is 2 months old!

Dear Owen,

This week you are two months old! You and I have really become best buddies and I love you so much! Another month has passed us by and I often wish time would slow down a bit, because I worry that I'll blink and you'll be all grown and gone. But let's not think about that...let's talk about you!
You weight 12lbs 1oz and are 23 inches long. You are in the 60th percentile in weight and 65th percentile in height. Dr. Kasuga is very happy with your progress!

You are still wearing 0-3 and 3 month clothes. Your outgrew the newborn stuff weeks ago! You are nursing every 3-4 hours during the day (mostly 3). You sleep your longest stretch first for anywhere between 3-5 hours (we don't get the 5 hour stretches too often). After the first stretch you usually sleep another 2.5-3 hours and maybe another 1-1.5 hours after that. We're looking forward to a few longer stretches of sleep for us all in the coming months.

You have a pretty good routine / pattern going on now. You usually wake happy, play for a bit, sleep, play and eat. You repeat this cycle throughout the day. I really enjoy the predicability!

You started smiling last month on Valentine's Day and you haven't stopped! Your dad and I were lucky that we were both standing right there when you did it. It would have been so sad if one of us missed it. Anyone who's around when you're cooing and smiling is instantly glued to you. You've made dad and your grandma late to work many times because they just can't get enough of you.

I love greeting you when you wake up in the morning. When I come in the room I turn on all the lights and open the shutters on the window and greet you with a big smile and a "good morning" and you always smile and coo. I have to get it on video, because it is the sweetest thing. After we un swaddle you you usually lay there with your arms at your sides like you haven't figured out that your arms are free again. Once you realize you're free you start kicking and punching.

You make so many adorable facial expression and we just can't get enough of them! You've been spending a a lot less time fussing and crying and so much more time cooing, smiling and talking. 

Noah and Nico came over for a visit!  

We switched pacifiers this month from Soothies to Avents, which you like much much more. You've even managed to keep them in on your own quite a bit.

You just looove your Dada! You smile for me all day, but when your dad comes home you are a real ham for him. It warms my heart to watch you two chat and hang out.

Your Aunt KC has been coming over at least once a week to spend time with us. You usually sleep the whole time she's here. Ha ha ha!

This video was taken almost a month ago when you first started noticing the birds that hang from your bouncy chair. Looking at it I can't believe how much bigger you look and how much fuller your cheeks are!

You've really been enjoying having play time on your activity mat thing. Your favorite part seems to be the lights. You spend the whole time kicking your legs with so much strength! It used to be that you wouldn't let us put you down, but now you'll sometimes kick and wiggle and fuss a bit to be put down so you can play. Mr. Independent!

Here you are at six weeks sitting in the glider! Aren't you a cutie pie!

You look so much like your grandpa Tim in this picture. I wish he were here to meet you. He would be over the moon.
You're quite the comedian! You keep mom and dad and everyone very entertained!

We love to kiss your big chubby cheeks! Daddy started calling you Mr. Chunkafeild!

We went to Grandma Vicky's house this month for the first time and you met Conan. He's very very interested in you and all of your toys!

We've been working on some tummy time. We think you will definitely be an early crawler because you are so determined and so strong and love to kick kick kick your legs.

 Hanging out at home with mom on a rainy day wearing your new outfit from your great-Aunt Lesley.

We've been pulling you into bed with us in the morning and you love laying on the pillows and talking to us!

 Mousy has become your best friend. You stare at him so intently when you ride in your carseat. You really have a sweet relationship with him.

 You met your cousins Jessica, Amanda and Holly (and Aunt Teri & Uncle Mark) for the first time on St. Patrick's Day. You're lucky to have so many cool cousins who want to play with and hold you.

On March 15th I took you to St. Raymond where you met my kindergarten students who I taught before you were born. They were so excited to meet you and you were such an excellent baby during our visit. We'll definitely be going back for another visit!

 You have the most beautiful big blue (for now?) eyes.

At your 2 month doctor's visit you were such a good boy. You barely even cried...only when you got your shots. You were a bit fussy for the rest of the day and took two really long naps, but you returned to your old cheerful self by the next day. You are a very brave little guy!

We love you so so so much baby boy!! Now don't grow up too fast! 

Love, Mommy

March 21, 2012

Really good

You know how some days are just really good days for no particular reason? Well today has been one of those...

Not only did Owen sleep like a champ last night (10pm-3am, 3:30am-6:00am and 6:30am-8:30am 9.5 hours total), but he also napped in his crib for the very first time today! 

A delicious dinner is simmering in the sow cooker...

We made it out this morning to run a few errands, including a stop at Babies R Us where I picked up a few things for Owen's Easter basket (more on that next week)...

And while that sweet baby sleeps I'm catching up on some magazines and watching SMASH with my sister!
Happy Wednesday!

March 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

***I'm linking this recipe up with Kelly's Korner for Crockpotalooza 2.***

If you like buffalo style anything you've got to try this recipe! I made it while carrying my almost two month old in one arm --its that simple, and it is also really really good! Great for dinner and even better for watching a football, basketball or baseball game!
 Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
For a printer-friendly version click here. 

1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
1 cup milk
1/2 cup buffalo style hot sauce (I used 3/4 a cup of Frank’s)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 cups shredded cheese (I used a 3 cheese blend and some cheddar)
1 cup finely chopped vegetables (such as celery, carrots, and/or onions)
1 pound precooked chicken, finely chopped
1/2 pound small uncooked pasta
1 packet powdered ranch dressing
Garnish (optional): chopped carrots, onions, celery; crumbled blue cheese; and/or shredded cheese
  1. Mix together evaporated milk, milk, hot sauce, garlic powder, and salt and pepper in slow cooker until combined. Stir in cheese, vegetables, chicken, and uncooked pasta until combined.
  2. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for about 1 hour. Quickly remove lid, stir, cover again and cook another 30-60 minutes or until pasta is soft.
  3. Garnish with chopped vegetables, blue cheese, and/or shredded cheese as desired.
What made this recipe so easy? Well, I bought the mirepoix mix from trader joe's, which is pre-chopped carrots, onion and celery. This cut down my prep time significantly. I also cooked and chopped the chicken in the morning, which made the prep time seem much shorter.

The recipe is from Snappy Gourmet! And I'm linking up for Tasty Tuesdays today!

March 19, 2012

Menu Monday 3/19

Gosh, the weekend really flew by. We celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Saturday with our families! This was the first time Owen has been around for a big family gathering and it was so fun! Last night we watched the season finale of The Walking Dead. I don't want to wait another 6 months see what happens next (who is the hooded lady? and where are they going next?). We had Owen's 2 month doctor visit this morning (more on that later this week).

Anyway, here is what I have planned in the kitchen this week...
{clockwise from top left}
Man Pleasing Chicken (Witty in the City) - Someone pinned this last week and it just looks really really good. Cooking chicken in the oven is really easy, but can be so boring, so I'm always looking for a new way to spice things up. The best part? Only four ingredients! I will let you know how it turns out.

Review: This chicken was really good and as easy as it sounds. Keith really liked it, so much that he commented on it the next day, and he hates mustard--so that really says something, right? I'll make sure to take pictures next time. 

Detox Superfoods Salad (Yummy Mummy) - This salad from Yummy Mummy sounds so good, and good for you too. Its plain and simple. I'm going to add lettuce (seems right, right? I didn't see it in the original ingredients), and grilled chicken.

Review: This salad never claimed to have loads of flavor and be delicious. It claimed to be healthy and that is exactly what it was and we enjoyed it! 

Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Sauce (Taste of Home) - Last week at my hair appointment my hair dresser (She is really awesome, by the way. She is a mom of two young girls, does an amazing job on my hair every time and is full of positive energy) and I were talking about how much we love using our slow cookers to make dinner. We were sharing our favorite recipe ideas and she suggested I try making spaghetti I came home and searched around until I found one that sounded right to me... and so I'm giving it a try! She said it always turns out delicious.

Review: Great base recipe. I made my own alterations and substitutions which I will share this week. 

Taco Salad - There's no real recipe here. I love the flavors of "mexican" food and taco salad is pretty much the healthiest way to enjoy it. I might spice things up a little this week and if I do anything noteworthy I will be sure to share!

Review: I just made a basic taco salad, nothing worth sharing really! 

I haven't forgotten that I said I would share with you the recipes from last week, so look for one later today!

March 14, 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole

This version of Tuna Noodle Casserole is not a glamourous dish. It is no frills and unapologetically a lazy person's casserole. It is 100% a comfort food and totally delish.

This is one of those super quick and simple meals you can throw together fast and stick in the oven to cook while you get other stuff done... Like hold your baby, while also folding laundry and talking on the phone like I did!

Tuna Noodle Casserole 

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or98% Fat Free)
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped pimientos (optional)
1 cup sweet green peas
2 cans (about 5 ounces each) tuna, drained
1/4 of a 12-ounce package medium egg noodles (about 2 cups), cooked and drained
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the soup, milk, pimientos, if desired, peas, tuna and noodles in a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Bake the tuna mixture for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Stir the tuna mixture. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 5 minutes or until the bread crumb mixture is golden brown.