What I Cooked for Dinner: From Rachael Ray's Look+Cook

So, I had one of those I need to try something different moments.  I was falling into a rut of Rice & Beans, Salmon and Brown Rice for dinner every day.  I have this book that I found in Sam's Club over a year ago, and I figured it was time to try another recipe!


So I picked out the recipe: 
Bocconcini Stuffed Meatballs with Tomato-Pesto Sauce! 

Sounds delicious already right? That's exactly what I thought when I saw it, and read the recipe I thought that it wasn't too easy yet not impossible! The great thing I like about this book in particular is that the recipe and instructions are on one page, and the spread of pictures showing certain steps an the final product are on the same open spread. Which is great in mid-recipe when you need to double check something there is no reason for tomato-sauce fingerprints on the pages!

So with my dinner plan in mind I made my way over to Wegmans to grab up ingredients I didn't have!
(All excuses are great excuses for Wegmans! Especially when it involves the Olive Bar!)

Here is a gratuitous shot of the ingredients ready to go!!!




So, first thing is to soak stale bread in milk, so that you can later squeeze out the milk and crumble it into the meat mixture.




Which is this, the meat is a veal, beef and pork mixture, egg, flat-leaf parsley, minced garlic, grated Parmesan-Reggiano, and salt and pepper.





Make sure that there are no big clumps of bread, and mix to combine the ingredients well.





So as per the directions, I took a handful of meat, and flattened it, then took the Bocconcini which are pretty big, and nestled it right into the meatball. This is the part that counts, make sure to not leave a seam of ground meat as it will definitely break open an the cheese will melt right out! So make sure its closed up well and roll it between you hands to make sure its nice, round, and even.





Now I must say, these meatballs come out REALLY big.  But in the book its basically the only thing you eat. It isn't paired with pasta. But you certainly can if you want to!






Before popping them in the oven,  I brushed some EVOO onto the meatballs so that they can brown nicely in the oven. (Which was preheated to 425º)




While the meatballs were cooking I started working on the Tomato-Pesto Sauce, I had a can of San Marzano Plum tomatoes, peeled and whole. I put them into a smallish frying pan and mashed the tomatoes.  I then added salt and pepper, to taste. 




This is what it starts to look like after stirring often and cooking on medium-high heat, it will even start to thicken up a little.





The Pesto was Basil, Parsley, minced garlic, lemon zest, chicken stock and S&P.  About of 1/4 cup of EVOO was to be added while processor was going to make it into a thick paste. This step was a bit of a flop for me. Because I have a mini Cuisinart Proccessor which you have open to add anything, so of course, I added too much Olive Oil and the paste just wasn't happening. Next time I will be more patient.




Right around that time, the meatballs were ready! Don't they look DELISH!?
(In the back you can see some of the mozza pouring out from one of the meatballs. Not the most ideal situation but then again, I don't mind the baked cheese at all!)





Here it is....now I'm just going to say this now...I am obviously not a professional food photographer and I am nowhere near skilled in the food presentation department, but.....this is the meal...The Tomato-Pesto which turned out REALLY tasty (and as easy as it was to make, I wonder if I'll buy jarred sauce ever again)
I topped it with the meatballs and then sprinkled some more grated Parmesan-Reggiano over it.

Now the meal as a whole was SOOO yummy...the garlic, herbs and cheese was such a good blend...and the sauce was a great addition.  





Now the recipe makes 16 meatballs stating that it serves 4, but in the end only twelve fit the rimmed baking sheet and two meatballs were more than enough for me! They are still quite large after cooked.  Its definitely yummy alone, but it can be easily tweaked to a meatball parm style open sandwich meal, or you can add a chunky pasta like bow-tie.  Either way, it's pretty easy to make, its totally customizable and get this....

My daughter devoured it!!

How's that for kid-approved!?!? :)


So dinner was a success and this one will definitely be a regular...treat!!! I will be running the calories off of this one today!

Hope you all get a chance to try and if you have any questions at all, feel free to email me or leave a comment below! :)


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My weekend and the Blue Man Group!

This past Saturday I was surprised with a trip to NYC, and tickets to see the Blue Man Group! 


So the baby was taken early to her grandmother's house while I got ready, then we headed out to New York City!





 I took these two pictures after coming through the Holland Tunnel and then driving through Chinatown! Love the building! But it wouldn't be New York if there wasn't some kind of scaffolding happening here!

It had been a few months.....that may sound like a short time to many of you, but for me its like a lifetime! When I was in my early twenties, I may have hit the city, 4 or five times a week! Shopping, socializing, sight-seeing, food, what have you....I was there and I loved every minute of it!

So we did a bit of a stroll but the wind was TOO crazy, so we waited inside for the doors to open for the theatre. Our show was at 5, with the doors opening 15 minutes prior.  I am glad we waited inside of the theatre because the line got REALLY LONG!

About the show:


ITS SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH FUN!!

Photos and Video were not allowed whatsoever once we were inside the theatre until the end of the show, which I can agree with since they deserve to be seen live.  I wish I could tell you every detail that went on! But if I did I would really ruin it for you, so the best I can say is DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY, check it out where you are as soon as you can! Its funny, surprising, bright, and you will bop your head to the music, it really is a great show they are all SO talented! A fair warning....it does get interactive!! But to make it even better grab up the front row seats in the poncho section! you won't regret it!


I even got to take pictures with the Blue Men afterwards!!!


{That's how they say Thank You :)}

After the big finale, we realized it was only just before 7PM....so what better to do than grab a bite to eat?!


So we decided to drive from NOHO to Tribeca and get some good Puerto Rican food at this great restaurant called Sazón.

Good ol' NYC cabs!




via
In the section where you see only white tables...we sat in the dead center one! :)


The beautiful bar area via






















































This was my glass of Sangria....it was really good! And I just love the stemless goblet!




So about Sazón. It's......DELICIOUS!!!! Honestly I have pictures of the meals we ate, but it was SO dark, it would have done a HUGE disservice! Just trust me on this one. For the appetizer we had Carne Frita, which basically deep fried chunks of beef, they give you a lime wedge and a dip I like to call Mayo Ketchup (trust me you'll like it).  I had the Ropa Vieja which was oh...so... savory shredded beef with arroz gon gandules, which is yellow rice with pigeon peas. My mouth is watering right now as I think about it! lol And the portions.....well lets just say that you will definitely have enough for lunch and dinner the next day!
We closed it out with a traditional Puerto Rican dessert called Flan, and I had a not so Puerto Rican Cappucino to top it off!! :)

We were all stuffed and ready to take our doggie bags home when my brother shot me a text saying he was in NYC also. He lives in NC and doesn't get to visit home much because of the military, so it was a treasure to have him home this week!

So he came by and just so you know we convinced him and his girlfriend to help us finish the $45 pitcher of Sangria! We were definitely not going to do it alone....so the waiter set us up in the lounge area downstairs and we had a hilarious time!

We danced to old school music like goofballs and we had our sibling "love/rivalry" quips back and forth.   We even made friends with the people around us, which were probably a little too happy from the happy juice they were drinking! It was definitely a great night of laughs!



Look at that thorn in my side.....o little brother of mine!! HAHA (look at those evil eyes....I knew it)


So our initial plan was to meet up and finish the sangria and check out a movie in Times Square, but we ended up having a lot of fun so we stayed and partied to the wee hours of ONE A.M. like the old fogies we are...since our normal bedtime is like 9 or 10 on a good day!

You know its a good time when you're so tired you forget to change into pajamas!!! All in all it was nice....theatre, food, and music...was a great way to spend my Saturday, with family and friends!!! 

11 Things About Me!



Via


My friend Ali from Embrace the Struggle tagged me in one of her recent posts, so I'm sharing 11 things about myself and answering her 11 questions to me.  Next, I'll ask 11 new questions of my blogging buddies, in hopes that they (and all of you!) will join the fun!

Here goes:

11 Things About Me:


  1. I love to shoot! .50 Cal, Shotguns and hopefully soon I will try archery!
  2. I was in Marching Band AND Theatre when I was in High School.
  3. I love NJ, the Shore, its proximity to the city, but I don't love its cost of living and overcrowding. 
  4. I think I love to play in my daughter's Ikea Circus Tent more than she does...don't judge me.
  5. I was a Girl Scout!
  6. Going to Australia and checking out the Great Barrier Reef is on my bucket list!
  7. I have lived the majority of my life in the United States, however I am Puerto Rican, and I credit that with my love for tropical weather and ultimate loathing for SNOW!
  8. I wanted to be Marine Biologist growing up and I still have this passion to one day become an Underwater Photographer!
  9. I have a guilty pleasure, and that guilty pleasure is: Dancing with the Stars!
  10. I used to be a social butterfly, but since having my daughter I love staying home!
  11. I am allergic to dogs!! Yup even the "Hypo-allergenic" ones.....brushing out my dogs coat causes my hands to break out in hives.

My answers to the 11 questions asked by Ali:


  1. What's your #1 pet peeve? Babies (infants) at late night movies in the movie theatre!!! Those little precious babies should be asleep peacefully at home, not shrieking to the sounds of explosives in an action film!
  2. What facial feature do you find most attractive on the opposite sex? Eyes!
  3. Are you a clutterer or a neat freak? Clutter :(, but I try to minimalize it.
  4. Which subject were you the worst at in high school? Pre-Calculus...HANDS DOWN, I hated it.
  5. Dogs or cats? Definitely dogs.
  6. Who was your favorite child star growing up? I loved Saved by the Bell...soo Mark-Paul Gosselaar aka Zack Morris! 
  7. What skill do you still want to master? Sewing clothing!
  8. If you had unlimited money and time and didn't have to work, what would you do daily? Send my daughter to the best schools, spend edu-vacations with her, and continue making things for Heavenly Blossoms, except all proceeds would goto my church and various organizations!
  9. Who is your favorite cartoon character? Rainbow Brite.
  10. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Introvert, mostly.
  11. Which social cause interests you the most? At-risk children and teenagers, who have the potential to do and be great, but lack the necessary resources to get there!



11 questions for my Tagees!
  1. What is your favorite meal?
  2. Do you have a dream job?
  3. Tea or Coffee?
  4. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?
  5. What is your favorite condiment?
  6. Do you consider tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? :)
  7. What is your favorite way to chill out and relax?
  8. If you had a choice to vacation ANYWHERE with no limit on cost, where would you go and what would you do!?
  9. What is your favorite Girl Scout cookie if you have had one?
  10. Are you wearing anything Pink?
  11. Do you have any guilty pleasures?


Tag Rules:


  1. Post these rules on your blog.
  2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions set for you by the person who tagged you.
  4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag.
  5. Let them know that you tagged them.
  6. You legitimately have to tag 11 people, but if you don’t know 11 bloggers, tag as many as you can.


    Tag, you’re it!












    Remembering My Youth

    I don't have much to say on this subject.....the nostalgia is best felt through pop culture of that time......:)

    So to you all in your late twenties, early thirties......its a nice feel good post about the 90's today :)






    via


    Yeah....i DEFINITELY dressed like the girl on the far right!






    POGS!!!!! I aware this is a picture of my former pog collection!











    DAWSONS CREEK!








    Things were truly cheaper too!!

    Cost Of Living 1998

    How Much things cost in 1998
    Yearly Inflation Rate USA 1.55% 
    Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 9181 
    Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 8.25% 
    Average Cost of new house $129,300.00 
    Average Income per year $38,100.00 
    Average Monthly Rent $619.00 
    Cost of a gallon of Gas $1.15 
    Average cost of new car $17,200.00 
    US Postage Stamp 32 cents 
    1 LB of Bacon $2.53 
    1 LB Hamburger meat $1.40 
    Loaf of Bread $1.26 
    Dozen Eggs 88 cents 


    (I'm assuming the gas was the national average, because I remember $.98....and 5 dollars was more than enough gas!)







    Please feel free to add on what you think I may have missed!!! And share your favorite songs, movies, in the comment box below!! :)
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    Our trip to Adventure Aquarium!

    Hope your weekend is going well!!!

    The little one had an AMAZING DAY on Friday. We woke up and watched Finding Nemo (she loves to speak whale) after the movie was over, I told her were leaving to go see Nemo, Dory, and Crush today!! She was SOOO excited!!! LOL She's only two but man this kid is quick!

    The Adventure Aquarium is in Camden. It's pretty far from us, basically next to Philly. Knowing that it would be a fairly long ride, and food there would probably be expensive, I made all of us sandwiches and packed snacks into a cooler the night before, so we could lunch in a rest stop on the way, or at least in the parking lot (which has a flat fee, so you can take your time).
    So we loaded up the car and headed out and down the NJ Turnpike!



    Once we got to the aquarium, bought our tickets and the really nice attendant gave me a military discount and we got our little one in for free even though she missed the free under 2 cutoff by about a month! We were handed a map and we decided to start with the Hippos.....

    Check out her reactions! :)



    She loved it although she didn't trust getting too close :)


    I have to admit, it really was the coolest thing to see those Hippos.  They were MASSIVE. I kept thinking of the dancing hippos in Disney's Fantasia with the way they twirled underwater though. What can I say......I have these really random thoughts sometimes....hahah

    FISH!!!
    Just enough time to capture this picture!

    I have to brag a bit here, I like how I caught her reflection in the glass!

    Surfing!! :) It's okay if she is facing the wrong way...at least her form is right!


    On a regular Mommy day, I should really start committing to wearing headbands!


    A shot of Philly Skyline, with the sunset!


    I used my iPhone to capture the pictures and video.  It was WAY easier than dealing with my digital camera.

    The aquarium really was a ton of fun.  There were touch tanks for these tiny sharks but they were asleep and weren't able to reach unless we want to get elbow deep! The next touch tank was for various sting rays and the like, they were sooooo into the human interaction, as soon as we put our two fingers in, they came over and flapped around so we can touch their silky skin.


     As you can imagine, I felt like a kid again, even I was having fun with the exhibits, I also made sure I savored every moment with my little girl, going over what colors the fish were, and feeling like a proud momma when she would see and say "Alligator!", "Dolphins!", "Sharks!", "Starfish!"

    At the gift shop it was love at first site, so to enhance her experience we just couldn't say no ;)


     I didn't get too many pictures, as soon as I upload the rest I will definitely update this post to show you all. But all in all, the trip was a complete SUCCESS!! I had fun, she had fun and we didn't leave empty handed, she got her hippo, I got a picture to remember our day and we both have a book to share so we can learn together about marine life, which includes some crafty science experiments in the back!!

     Best of all it was a great way to bond back with my daughter after my long absence from home and after my mother went back home. We will have these amazing memories and even though she may be too young, we have photos and videos for backup!

    Mommies Don't Get Sick Days

    It's the first day of February, and I caught the bug....

    no, not the love bug....although I would surely prefer it!


    My little one has had a nasty little stomach virus these last few days. The crazy thing about it is by looking at her you would never think she was sick.
    After a bath and wardrobe change.

    This time it was especially tough for me. Granted she is two years old, she has had her fair share of lost meals.  But it was her first episode after solid food. AND BOYY was it NOT easy.  It's a real challenge for me to deal with anyone getting sick that way. Being a medic KINDA  made it easier for me to deal with it, out of compassion for ill soldiers, and I thought that being this little girls mommy, would make me immune, but it didn't.

    I held my own, but as I cleaned up the mess,  I looked at my little girl's face and she looked worried and I realized, I had the "EW" face. I felt so bad. I didn't want her to think she was yucky to me and thats exactly what I read off of her face. And that was my wakeup call.  "EW" face was turned off and I immediately went into soothing mode for her.


    So the little one was immediately placed on her BRAT diet, and it was just water/Pedialyte and chicken broth for the remainder of that night.

    The following day, breakfast included toast and apple sauce.  We kept her hydrated, (she actually loves the Pedialyte juice boxes.) For snack we stepped it up a notch, the wheat bread wasn't toasted and she had some yogurt with banana slices.  

    In the meantime I was feeling über sick (nausea was the star of the show), but unlike times before I became a mother, I couldn't just lay out on the couch and nap all day.  This little girl needed me to keep my "A" game alive and well.  It meant lifting up my two year old and carrying her up the stairs even as the same illness knocked me on my behind making me feel like my own body weight was two tons.
    It meant consoling my little baby (yes she will always by my little baby) the best I could even as my stomach churned and my abdomen pinched with pain....to keep a smile on my face so she could have one on hers.


    Even in the Army, you don't call out sick, it doesn't work that way. But if you are sick there is a specific time of the day where you can see someone for treatment and they will send you home to rest if they feel that you should. But this isn't the Army...and with my latest challenge as a mommy I wouldn't have it any other way but I  have now learned that you don't get sick days in Mommyhood.