Monday, December 9, 2013

The Final Month As A One-Year-Old

To My Sweet Genevieve,

Post nature hike sandbox dig
You remind me everyday that you are thisclose to being two.  You are adding new words to your vocabulary everyday, love identifying letters and numbers, are still obsessed with puzzles, building with blocks and reading and are becoming more and more responsive when asked specific questions--you are even starting to tell me a little about your day when I pick you up from "school".  One of my personal favorite new talents is that when we ask you how old you are going to turn you say "TWO" clearly and proudly and study your hands until you're holding up your thumb and index finger--it's so cute!
Butterfly garden fun with Evan

We have been spending a lot of time outside (when it hasn't been raining) and we got to show off a few of our favorite spots to your Grammy, Uncle Dustin and Caleb and Auntie Lauren when they visited for Thanksgiving.  We also went on a nature hike at the Arboretum and Nature Center with our play group last month and I think it was one of our best days together ever.

Swinging with Uncle C and Daddy
Bundled up with your buddies Vivienne and Claire
Marching back to the car after a fun morning at the Nature Discovery Center
We just celebrated Thanksgiving and your favorite parts of the meal were the turkey leg (which you hogged to yourself) and apple cider sweet potatoes.  You have also become completely obsessed with peanut butter, especially on graham crackers and have been known to eat it as all or part of your meal twice in one day.  When the urge hits you you start walking toward the kitchen chanting "pee-nu-budder, pee-nu-budder, pee-nu-budder."  Other favorite foods include "bock, bock" (chicken), especially in the form of strips or drumsticks, kiwi, strawberries, crescent rolls with ham and cheese inside, pork chops, applesauce, yogurt with granola and berries and black berries.
The "Llama Llama books are among your favorites right now.
Having fun with Grammy!

I love you my sweet girl, and can't wait to celebrate your special day very soon.



Building and accessorizing :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

22 Months (a little belated)

Note: Written November 5, 2013.

To My Sweet Genevieve,

Genevieve and Cousin Simone  after a breakfast taco date at Rudy's.
You have become quite the talker in the last few weeks, and Daddy and I (and even a few other people) know what you are saying most of the time.  You have added dozens of words and repeat much of what we tell you (which is exciting and a little scary).  One of the best things is that you are starting to say some of your friends' names and you even started calling your cousins by their names on the same day.  When we're going somewhere you often ask, "Mone? Beck?" wondering if Simone and Beckett will be there.  We've been lucky enough to meet up with them several times recently which has resulted in a lot of fun play-time and pictures and the three of you are becoming quite the trio.  It will be so fun to see how you grow together in the coming years.

Grammy visited last week and the two of you had a great time riding your bike, going on walks and playing at the park while I was working.  You had two full days to spend together, just the two of you!  It became much clearer when she was visiting that she is "Ma" and I'm now "Mommee" which I love.

Pumpkin Patch October 2012
And this year, what a difference!
 We just celebrated Daddy's birthday and you loved helping blow out the candle and singing happy birthday.  With many of your friends celebrating birthdays and a slew of birthdays in our family this time of year you are starting to really enjoy the "Happy Birthday" song.

...because I just couldn't resist.
You were Dorothy for Halloween...
After dancing, singing and catching the rain.
The alphabet song, "If You're Happy and You Know It," and "Old McDonald" are also favorite tunes, but Joe Scruggs' "I Got a Button" that was a favorite of mine as a kid is by far your FAVORITE song right now and we listen to it three times EVERY time it comes on when we're in the car.  Bruno Mars Radio on Pandora is one of our favorites to listen to in the house and often results in a full on dance party.

You are becoming a puzzle wizard and can practically do your jungle floor puzzle by yourself and figured out how to fit several pieces of your new dinosaur floor puzzle (thanks Grammy!) together the moment we opened the box.

We have really enjoyed spending time outside now that it's a little bit cooler and with several rounds of rain you've also found a love for dancing and "catching" the rain.  One day we got home just as it was starting to sprinkle and you ran from the car to the driveway enjoying the rain drops or "bubbles" as we call them--within minutes it was pouring and you loved getting drenched--I had to run out from my dry spot in the garage to bring you inside!

We attended "Touch a Truck" with your buddy, Hudson and got to ride in a fire engine, got a custom-made turtle balloon bracelet and attempted to ride a pony but neither or you were very excited about that idea.
I love your spirit and energy, even when your temper flares, or you manage to make another escape -- you are always keeping me on my toes.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

21 Months

To My Sweet Genevieve,

Well, it finally happened, I stopped telling people your age in months and started replying that "You'll be two in December" or "a few days before Christmas".  We have had a fun month with a few struggles thanks to all four of your canine teeth coming in and yet another growth spurt (I'm guessing you're closing in on the 3-feet-tall mark and are close to 30 pounds now!).  That's actually why I started telling people you'll be two around Christmas, because strangers keep asking me if you're two or if you'll be two soon and I figure that if they think Christmas is soon (which it's not to me) then yes, your birthday is soon.

Your Great-Auntie Gerry, or Mamaw Gerry as we decided to call her, visited at the beginning of September.  You two completely fell for each other, it was so cute to watch.  She spoiled you by reading you about 100 books while she was here and doing puzzles over and over again.  We showed her some of our favorite spots including Jaycee Park where the splash pad and huge playground are and picked up our produce co-op share at the Arboretum where the turtles you love live.  You were really showing off the day we went to the park and followed one of your buddies up to the top of the tallest slide and went down right after she did--this slide is seriously two stories tall and all you wanted to do after you zoomed to the bottom (while I dashed to catch you) was do it again!

Cousin love--Vivie & Beckett
Aggies in training -- Vivie & Cousin Simone

Still loving to help around the house.
You have been loving puzzles and are getting really good at them too.  Your favorite has the numbers 0-9 and you've become a wiz at it and are even starting to identify some of the numbers outside of playing with the puzzle.  You have also started to really enjoy coloring with crayons, drawing on your Magna-doodle and you've become quite the graffiti chalk artist marking up every surface in sight, including the deck furniture, walls, cushions and me (though when faced with a 6-foot wide chalk board at a friends house you had no interest, go figure).

You seem to really be enjoying "school" and you've started taking your monkey mat, lunchbox and diaper bag out of my hands when we get to the door of your classroom and you march in by yourself without so much as a wave or sniffle good-bye (though you always come running when I pick you up).

Eating from a bowl with a spoon is still how you prefer every meal so you've been eating a lot of yogurt, granola and berries for breakfast and I've been busy finding new soup recipes to try.  Some of your favorites have been a Pulled Barbeque Chicken (Soup), Ginger Chicken Noodle Soup which after eating two helpings you swiped my bowl and slurped every last drop of the broth and this weekend I made a Mexican Squash and Pork (err, we told you it was chicken) stew and you ate everything in it and gave me three kisses when I refilled your bowl for the third time!  I have to admit, I've really enjoyed the new dishes too even if we do have to crank up the air conditioning in order to get in the mood for a steaming bowl of soup (today the thermometer in the car reached 103!).

Facing forward in the car for the first time.
You are as opinionated as ever on what music to listen to and what books you want to read.  Curious George is still one of your favorites, and Osbert, Goodnight Moon, and Strega Nonna have all joined the list of must reads at some point during the day or night.  You especially love to look for the red balloon in Goodnight Moon and the This growing list has led to a slightly longer nap time and bedtime routines than normal.  You also love looking at the photo book of your first year and name "Momma", "Dadda", "baby" on every page.  I've added "My Favorite Things" and "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music to the song selection I sing to you at night and you seem to really like them and ask for "one more" after I lay you down in your crib for the night, so I've started giving you an encore every night.

You are adding more words everyday and are really getting the hang of longer words and a few names--bubble, butterfly (buh-by), blue berry (bu-bee), belly button (bee-bee), baby (bay-beeee), apple, turtle, dino, Elmo, George (Goge), and Jo-jo (though you don't seem to understand that Joe is Daddy's "other" name). 

It's been a great month and I can't even imagine what the next few weeks have in store, but one thing's for sure, I know you'll be keeping me on my toes! I love you my sweet girl!


Monday, September 2, 2013

20 Months and Change

To My Sweet Genevieve,

First day of "school" was a success while Mommy was working!
We have been busy, busy, busy getting used to a new schedule that your 20 month birthday zoomed right past us and now it's September!  In recent weeks I took on a new project and am working more than I have since you were six months old.  This also means you've been spending more time away from me and having fun meeting new kids and getting special play time with a couple of great people in our lives who are taking care of you for a few hours each week.  After having very loose schedule since moving in June it's been a big (but welcome) change.

In mid-August we packed up the car for a short road trip to Austin with a pit stop in Brenham, Texas home of Bluebell Ice Cream.  Though there weren't any real cows (like your daddy and I thought there would be) there were plenty of pictures, videos and a statue of your favorite animal.  We went on the factory tour and watched the ice cream get packaged and ready to ship off to stores all across Texas and some of the surrounding states.  To our delight you LOVED the factory tour and said and signed "more", "more", "more" when the boxes of ice cream sandwiches and cartons of Homemade Vanilla slid down the line past the windows we were peering through.  The highlight was definitely the ice cream parlor at the end--you of course picked strawberry ice cream for your scoop and savored every bite.

We had to get in a little live music in Austin and went to Stubb's Gospel Brunch.  You tried the fried catfish and couldn't be restrained by the high chair so we let you out to boogy down.
You didn't need any help figuring out the "corded" phone in our hotel room.
We had a very nice, relaxing time in Austin.  It was the first time your Daddy and I had been back since we lived there seven years ago.  The city has definitely changed and grown but after driving around a bit we started to get our bearings and found one of our favorite spots--Mt. Bonnell.  Our city girl was a little unsure of what to think about looking over the hills and lake from that high up, but you enjoyed running around the trails as long as we didn't take your picture.  We even saw a huge hawk soar right over our heads!  You learned a few new words in Austin including "bat", "bat", "bat" when we watched the bats take flight from under the Congress Ave. Bridge (one of my favorite "weird" Austin things to do).  I honestly had forgotten how beautiful Austin is and I'm so glad that's where we decided to go for a little reprieve, and was most appreciative that you even understood by the second day that vacation days don't include 6:15 wake up calls (we all slept until 8:00 three days, an amazing gift for mom and dad!).

You are adding new words and even a few phrases to your vocabulary every day.  You've perfected "peeees" and "thayn you" and use them frequently (sometime accompanied by their sign), but "here you go" and "there you go" are my personal favorite things you say.  And just this week you started putting your finger to your chin and saying "hummm" when pondering a selection of choices like snacks or books or which vegetable to pick at the grocery store.  On a recent trip to the store we passed by the berries and as I looked over the prices and at the condition of the berries you pointed at the blueberries and said something else for the first time, "Momma, boo!"  I looked at you and asked if you really wanted them because they were pretty expensive this week (seriously, $5/pint--they were $.99 at the same store a week earlier), and you looked at me square in the eye and said, "Mom-ma" very seriously.  You ate half the pint before we got home.

You continue to love music, hum along, dance and have VERY strong opinions regarding what we listen to in the car and at home.  Right now Zac Brown Band's "Jump Right In" is frequently on repeat along with Sugarland's "Genevieve" which you start bopping around to the second it comes on the iPod.

A very rare moment in our house, napping on the couch.
We've been able to squeeze in a few more swim days between invitations from friends and our vacation.  You've dunked your head in the water dozens of times now and love to "1, 2, 3, jump!" from the edge (which is more like a belly flop).  Counting down is another favorite--you haven't joined in yet, but I've pretty sure you're understanding the idea and it's a saving grace on grocery and Target runs these days now that you can escape the buckle of the cart.  When you start to get fidgety I say, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!" and it keeps you entertained and in your seat just a little while longer (Why? I have no idea, but I'm grateful I figured it out.).  12 Days of a Minnesota Christmas is still a favorite book, but it has a lot more competition these days from Curious George, So You Want to be President and Corduroy.  Saying your night-time prayers is also high on the list of favorite things (it's one of our favorites too, especially when we list our intentions and you start saying, "Momma, daddy, momma, daddy").  The other night you didn't even want me to sing you a song, you just wanted more prayers.

And we can't forget the animals--you now mimic a rooster (thanks to a few in our neighborhood), chomp like an alligator, yawn like a hippo (you also fake sleep including a few snores like daddy ;)), whinny like a horse, say "hisssss" like a snake, "buzz" like a bee and you never miss a chance to pucker your lips at every picture or mention of a fish and sniff every real or pretend flower.

Discovered this great play area at Jenni's Noodles
I wasn't even going to mention food, but after last night, I was reminded that this month has been all about mastering using a spoon by yourself and you are excited to eat anything that can go in a bowl and be eaten with a spoon without help (yes, this is very messy and I've had to up my game in the stain removal department).  It may have been the height of a Houston summer, but we were inside having soup and chili many nights in August.  Beef and barley from grandma and my veggie chili were two favorites--you at bowl after bowl of both.  Chicken and hummus have been your favorite proteins and many fruits and a few veggies made a comeback after being on the rejected list for months including cantaloupe, watermelon, blueberries and zucchini (you insisted we get five of them at the grocery store this morning, so I hope it's still in the line-up of acceptable foods).

I love you sweet girl, and I look forward to what the fall and the return to going to the playgrounds and parks on a regular basis bring after making it through our first Houston summer.  The good news is that we still have six-eight weeks of pool-worthy weather left so we won't be putting our little splash zone away for awhile.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

19 (Months) on the 19th

To My Sweet Genevieve,

Another month has zoomed past us and you are now 19 months old.  Last night I was reflecting on all the milestones you have reached during the last few weeks--you've graduated from your high chair to a booster seat at the table, started sitting on the potty before and after bath time, mastered the "ba" sound adding new words to your vocabulary and the most significant (to me at least) is that you are completely weaned from nursing.

I could tell you were almost ready to drop your bedtime snack of "momma milk," then one night you requested a cup of (cows) milk before your bedtime story and after Daddy read your stories to you all you wanted from me was to snuggle, rock and have me sing a few songs.  You were finished--18 months and 1 week after you were placed in my arms and nursed for the first time--it was even a Monday, just like the night you were born.  It was bittersweet for me at first, but I was so glad it was your idea and you have loved coming to get me after your story time with Daddy so I can sing a few songs to you.  You've even started to hum along to "Amazing Grace" and "Silent Night" and sign "more" when you want me to sing it again.

Speaking of signing "more" you can say more now too!  It's still your most common sign and you have even started using it to try to communicate with other children using the sign if you want to play with something when they take their turn on a toy you were eyeing or playing with and when you are having fun playing a game like peek-a-boo, giving high fives or getting hugs.

We did make it back to the library a few times this month to check out books and attended a session about dinosaurs recently which was really geared for kids a bit older than you but you really liked the big fossils and the "dino dig" at the end of the session.  In addition to dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, wild animals and farm animals, dinosaurs have become one of your favorite creatures and you love watching the show "Dinosaur Train" about a family of Pteranodons who tend to break in to song as they explore the different time periods dinosaurs were alive during.

A new favorite song is "The Hokey Pokey" and you are perfecting putting your "right leg in" and you've got the "turn yourself around" down, which we're still trying to capture it on video.

You continue to be very inventive and created your own game that we call "Blockhead" where you put a large soft nesting block on your head so it completely covers your face and walk around running into things and laugh hysterically.  You've gotten so good at navigating our house blind you can go up and down the two stair steps on the main level without trouble.  You also enjoy going "shopping" in your dresser and collect all of your socks and put them in a bag.  You have had a lot of fun helping be in the kitchen especially since we've been hosting frequently now that we're settled in a little more.

We had a great visit with Pappap and Grammy this month.  We did a little shopping and Pappap bought you your first bike and we went on an extra-long hike in Memorial Park when I accidentally took a new path and ended up on the Outer Loop of the park (oops).  We also made sure they sampled our favorite breakfast tacos and went to Rudy's for breakfast one morning.

Your favorite books this month have been The 12 Days of a Minnesota Christmas (a must read for anyone with a Minnesota connection) and Go Dog Go.  Your new words include "more," "bubble," "ball," "ba" (banana), "ball" (clementine), and to Grammy and Pappap's delight, "Pappap" and "ma" (Grammy).

I love you, Vivie and couldn't imagine my life without you and your spunky spirit.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

When there's "nothing" in the fridge...

Disclaimer: Both of these dishes involve eggs with runny yolks.  If you don't like eggs fried, poached or over easy,  you really should give them another shot, they are amazing and can transform a rather basic dish into something gorgeous and delicious.  I also think that cage free or even better, farmer's market eggs really make a difference when serving these dishes.  If you're pregnant and craving runny eggs (like I always did) just bookmark this and come back to these recipes after the babe arrives.

As I've said before, I am not a meal planner and I don't really plan on becoming one anytime soon.  I've tried, believe me I've tried, but for some reason it just doesn't work for me.  I do, however, have a couple stand-by recipes for when there's "nothing" in the fridge that I turn to and last week I made one of my favorite "something from nothing" recipes--Dave Lieberman's Santa Fe Enchiladas.

I discovered this dish watching a show on the Food Network  in the days when our TV was tuned into cooking shows rather than PBS cartoons.  I was in love with the dish from the very beginning and went strait to the computer, printed the recipe, made the dish, saved the print out for all posterity in one of my recipe binder and  flagged it so it wouldn't get lost in my recipe collection (at least I'm organized with my recipe hoarding).  Well, that was at least six years ago and it's still one of our favorite dishes I never actually plan on making.

One of the reason it's so terrific is that it's so easy to adapt to what you have on hand and it involves a fried egg on top.  I always have canned tomatoes, eggs, cheese and tortillas on hand, even the day before grocery day (which is exactly when this landed on our kitchen table).

This time around I ended up with the version of Dave's brilliant dish I've shared below.  And by the way, where is he these days?  His show was great, am I the only one who remembers it?

This week I ended up with odds and ends for vegetables, and not much in the way of proteins except eggs, so I turned to my good friend Pinterest for a little inspiration and found this terrific idea for a roasted vegetable salad (I'm slightly obsessed with roasted vegetable right now).  I adapted it to what was left in my fridge and pantry and came up with a brand new recipe that Joe and I both devoured.  
So next time your cupboards and refrigerator shelves are looking a little bare at dinner time check the egg carton and see if this weekend breakfast staple can help you pull together dinner.
What food "staple" do you always have on hand?  What's your go-to dinner the night before a grocery run?
Santa Fe Enchiladas (adapted from Dave Leiberman's recipe)
1 Medium Onion, Sliced
1 Bell Pepper, Sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1/4 Cup Salsa Verde (I've used canned chiles many times as well)
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Dried Marjoram (which I've been substituting oregano with lately)
1 Teaspoon Chili Pwder
1 (28-ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes (I think crushed works best though)
9 Corn Tortillas (I do not recommending substituting flour tortillas)
1 cup shredded cheddar (about 4 ounces)
4 large eggs

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions, garlic, cumin, marjoram until tender, about 5 minutes, add salsa and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes, the sauce will thicken slightly.

Char the tortillas slightly over the flame of a gas burner--keep a very close eye on them and flip when they puff up slightly (do not try this with flour tortillas).  If you have an electric stove top, brown in a dry skillet.
These are stacked enchiladas rather than rolled, so the assembly is similar to making a lasagna.  
Layer some tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x9 casserole dish then top with three tortillas and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat this ending with cheese on top. Bake 20-25 minutes until browned and sauce is bubbling around the edges.

While the enchiladas bake heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat and cover the bottom of the pan with canola oil. Break an egg into a small bowl or cup and gently pour them one at a time into the hot oil.  Spoon the hot oil over the tops of the eggs until the whites are cooked through and the yolks are still runny. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the pan and drain on a paper towel.  I find that it works best to cook them two at a time, and for the little person in our house I break the yolk so it cooks through.  Fry two eggs per person (and one for any egg-loving babies in the house).
Scoop out the enchiladas and serve with the fried eggs on top. Enjoy!
Roasted Veggie Salad (adapted from Martha Stewart's Roasted Vegetable Salad)
2 Zucchinis
3 Carrots
1 Beet
1/2 Red Onion
Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons Herbes de Provence
Romaine Lettuce, chopped
White or Apple Cider Vinegar
Poached Eggs

Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat oven to 425.  Slice veggies into 1/4" thick disks (or chop in similar sizes), drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the herbes de provence.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, until caramelizing on the bottoms and cooked through. 

While the vegetables roast poach two eggs per person. 

To poach the eggs, fill a high-sided skillet half-way with water and add one teaspoon of white or apple cider vinegar to the water. Bring the water to almost simmering, break the eggs one-at-a-time in a small bowl or cup and gently pour into the water.  Allow the eggs to cook without touching them and remove with a slotted spoon when the whites are cooked.

For the dressing, add equal parts of olive oil to the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk or shake to mix.

Spoon the roasted vegetables over the lettuce and top with the eggs.  Drizzle with the dressing and dig in!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Feeding a Growing Crowd

Last week Vivie and I hosted our play group.  This was my own personal deadline for getting the main spaces of our new house unpacked and presentable and I'm proud to say I met my goal (with a little creative reorganizing).

The play group is something that we really look forward to every week.  After batting the idea around to have a standing weekly play date with the new friends I had made through our activities at the library we started our "little" group in late January with 6-7 mommas and their babies. Since then we have doubled in size!  The play group is at the top of our list of priorities each week--I don't schedule anything that may conflict with it and it's often the highlight of the week for us.  We each take a turn hosting the group in our home or off site and the host provides lunch.  The "babies" range from 11 months-just turned two. When we started none of the original babies were even walking and now all but the youngest two are!  Baby/toddler development really is an amazing thing!

The last time we hosted the group was in March and our numbers and the babies' appetites have all grown by leaps and bounds since then.  When I was planning out our lunch it looked like we were going to have a relatively small group, but by the time Wednesday came almost everyone in the group was able to come plus a couple extra people and we had a total of 12 parents and 12 kids under two come over!  It was wild, chaotic, but also a lot of fun and a great way to "break in" the new house.  We waited a long time to buy a house and I've imagined having a space big enough to fill with friends and family and we finally have it and watching the littles run laps around the kitchen and living room filled me with joy.

Well, like I said the numbers for our get-together ballooned after I went to the store so I did a little creative reworking of the menu and I stretched it out just enough.  After the dust settled there was a slice of sandwich, one deviled egg and about half a cup of salad left!

The original menu was:
Deviled Eggs - recipe below
Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwich
Sunflower Butter and Banana Sandwiches (Usually Vivie's favorite, but she didn't touch hers)
Whole Wheat Crackers and Hummus
Strawberries and (store bought) Shortbread Cookies with Nutella
Ginger-Peach Soda

After the additional responses I decided to make the veggie sandwich open-faced and added:
Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa Salad - recipe below
Roasted Deli-Sliced Chicken and Ham with Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Mashed Avocado

I also put out some cheesy crackers, granola bars and fruit strips (similar to fruit roll ups) for the kids.

A note about hosting with sandwiches:
I love sandwiches and when I'm hosting I try to make things that I really like so they are often on the menu for casual get-togethers.This may sound a little simple and boring to serve to a group, but when you make a few changes to the norm people are surprisingly impressed. 

Goat cheese, roasted vegetables*, avocado and mustard that's not neon yellow are a few of the ways I like to make a company-worthy sandwich.  I always get a loaf of bread like ciabatta or french bread and make one large sandwich then slice it before the guests arrive.  It's much easier to prepare and store ahead of time, and it also looks fancy. 

*I roast the vegetables the night before while I'm making dinner or while we're eating dinner.  425°
for 20-30 minutes usually does the trick for tomatoes and sliced veggies.  Cherry tomatoes, zucchini and red onion tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper are my favorites for sandwiches right now.

I hope you'll try serving a company-worthy sandwich or one of the recipes below at your next summer gathering.  The salad and deviled eggs would also be great to share at a pot luck.

What's your favorite dish to serve to a crowd?

Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa Salad
~2 C Cooked Quinoa
1/2 Cucumber Diced
3 Roasted Red Peppers, Chopped (reserve juice)
1/4 C Feta
1/4 C Chopped, Pitted Kalamata Olives

3 T Reserved Red Pepper Juice
3 T Red Wine Vinegar
6 T  Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Toss salad ingredients.  Add the dressing ingredients to the jar the roasted red peppers were in, toss and serve (I discarded about half of the red pepper juice before making the dressing).

If preparing the night before toss half the dressing in with the salad, add the remaining dressing, to taste before serving.

Deviled Eggs
9 Hard Boiled Eggs*
1/3 C Light Mayonaisse
1 1/2 T Mustard (spicy brown or dijon)
Pinch of Salt
Ground Pepper
2 T Dill Pickle Diced (or dill pickle relish)

I realize nine is an odd number when serving eggs, but I have a dish that serves 18 deviled eggs (thank you Shion!), so nine eggs it was (which ended up being perfect for our group).

Shell and cut eggs in half separate yolk from white.  Mash yokes and add other ingredients except paprika.  Spoon yolk mixture into center of whites or place yolk in a plastic baggie and cut off a corner to pipe in (if preparing ahead of time store yolk mixture in baggie until a few hours before serving, then pipe in).  Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

*There are many theories on how to make a perfect hard boiled egg.  My way is not perfect, it's just the way I do it.  Sometime they come out great, sometime they are difficult to peel, but this is how I do it... place eggs in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit 10 minutes.  Remove from water and place in colander, cover in crushed ice (or place colander inside a large bowl of ice water).  Allow to cool, peel or place in fridge until ready to use (I give hard boiled eggs a shelf life of 5-6 days.)