Friday, November 30, 2012

Cherry Chocolate Martini




   For some Friday fun during this holiday season I thought it would be good to put a fun alcoholic beverage recipe up on the blog. Since my dad works in the wine industry we usually stick to that when it is time for a beverage but when my parents were visiting we spotted this recipe in the  magazine, Woman's World and couldn't resist it. It needed a little tweaking so here is our updated recipe for you. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Cherry Chocolate Martini

 makes 6-8 servings

Stir together
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup of chocolate syrup
1/2 cup of vodka
3 tbsps of cherry liqueur
1 cup of cherry cola



Evenly divide between martini glasses. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and maraschino cherries.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Visit From Gram and Poppa



   We were very excited for Thanksgiving this year because that meant that Xavier would finally get to see his Grandma and Poppa. They were here when he was born but we have not been able to see then since so Xavier and them had a lot of catching up to do. Of course, he took to them right away and thoroughly seemed to enjoy their visit as much as Nick and I did.

Xavier enjoyed listening to music and making funny faces with Poppa. Poppa made sure to check out Xavier's toys and make sure they were fun to play with.
Grandma made sure to kiss and cuddle Xavier as much as possible. Xavier's cheeks were grandma's territory for the week.





Xavier also got his first taste of Italian food when grandma made him his special pastina just for him. (Notice the bib). He loved grandma's pastina and meatballs. "Thanks Grandma"





    I think the best part was watching them all get to know each other better. Grandparents are so important to children and I am so glad they are such a big part of our family. We cannot wait to see them again soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair







      One of my favorite things that we have recently bought is this Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair for Xavier. We had a regular high chair, with all the bells and whistles and although it was very nice, it ended up not being very practical. It was huge, had a ton of tiny crevices that are hard to clean and just is way too much. I try to be a minimalist as much as I can with a baby. We ended up buying this Chico Caddy Hook On Chair as an extra high chair to bring to travel with. All of our family live out of town and we needed something for Xavier to be able to eat in, so we thought this would work well. This chair not only works well for traveling it works so well that I now have made this Xavier's primary high chair at home.
  The Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair is extremely lightweight. It fits any table top up to 4 inches thick with a table skirt up to 6 inches thick. It is machine washable and wipe clean and has a safety harness and quick-grip table clamping with rubberized arms that firmly grip the table without leaving marks or pinching fingers. The Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair is for children weighing up to 37 pounds and the chair itself only ways 7 pounds and folds compactly.

   I like that this chair is easy to put on the table and extremely easy to clean. You really can just use a wet cloth to clean it and there are no crevices to worry about. Plus, you can even hook it on to the corner of a table. That came in handy at Thanksgiving so that Xavier can sit at the big table and not take up too much room. There is plenty of room to grow in this chair. You can easily see how safe and sturdy it is and how the design is flawless and should last a very long time. The only things I noticed about the chair that could use improvements were that it does not "fold compactly" very easily. However, the chair in general is lightweight so if it does not fold completely it is still small and easily portable. I just could not get it to look so straight and flat to be able to walk down the street with it like the mom on the box. Secondly, I would not recommend this for young babies who cannot sit on their own. There is an adjustable strap in it but there is a lot of loose room in the chair for growth. Xavier really had to have the control to sit on his own or if you have a smaller baby that needs help you can put some towels around the baby for extra padding so they don't wiggle as much. All in all it is a wonderful chair that makes meals much more enjoyable. I love that Xavier is also at table height it encourages him to try new foods that he sees on the table and makes him feel just like one of the adults.
    You can buy the Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair at many retailers. I recommend
Babies R Us/Toys R Us
it sells for $34.99 and is well worth the money!




Disclosure
   No products,compensation or services were given to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC guidelines.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Favorite Blanket







       This week my dad and soon to be step mom are visiting us. We have been having a lot of fun with them and Xavier has been enjoying getting to know them even better. What was great was my step mom, Angie made Xavier a new blanket. He loves it! It was perfect because he was just starting to out grow all his baby blankets and since it is getting colder he needed something a little heavier. He loves this blanket so much it is all he cuddles. I will put him in his crib and it is the first thing he reaches for and he always smiles while he is cuddling it. He does not even seem to like his giraffe anymore as long as he has his blanket he is happy. I think it is great because he goes to sleep much easier. I think it is funny that when we have children we teach them to be able to sleep alone and then when you master sleeping alone and even maybe get your own bed you want and room the way you want you fall in love and have to learn to share your bed and bedroom all over again. I guess it just proves how much life is one big circle.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The First Thanksgiving




    Xavier had his first Thanksgiving last week. Of course, it was two days of turkey and all the trimmings. Luckily, Xavier loves turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and green been casserole. He thoroughly enjoyed himself at dinner. 
    Thursday, we went to my sister's for Thanksgiving. It was great because not only did Xavier get to spend time with her and her family but his grandma and grandpa from NY (my parents) were visiting and they have not gotten to see him since he was born so they enjoyed getting to know him. Also, my brother in laws family was there as well with their children so Xavier had lots of cousins to play with all in many different ages. They all made sure to play with him and he loved the attention. 
    Friday, we hosted a Thanksgiving at our house for Nick's side of the family. Xavier had fun playing with his cousin, Alex and he made sure to gobble up even more food that day. I think he remembered how good it was Thursday! It was a fun couple of days.
   We were very thankful for the weekend to rest, relax and have some quiet time together. Plus this week his grandma and grandpa are staying with us for a few days which will be a lot of fun to see Xavier play with them.   

Hope you all had a wonderful, fun and safe Thanksgiving!




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Catch Seafood Restaurant






Catch Seafood Restaurant
6623 Market St.
Wilmington, NC 28405
910-799-3847
www.catchwilmington.com

Open for:
Lunch Tuesday through Friday 11:30am-2pm
Dinner Monday through Saturday 5:30pm- until


   Last night was Nick and my two year anniversary. Since last year I was pregnant and not feeling all that well we decided to do something very special to celebrate our two year anniversary. We got some great friends to babysit Xavier for the evening and we decided to try out Catch Seafood Restaurant.
    Nick had eaten lunch there before but had never been there for dinner. When he told me about it I was very excited to go and try it out. I love seafood and living in Wilmington it is nice to get fresh seafood all the time. Plus I love high end cuisine. I think that is common among people who like to cook. So we made our reservations, got dressed up and had a culinary feast at Catch Seafood Restaurant. (Something we do not get to do often with an infant at home).
   Even though I am always just happy to be out of the house. Out without Xavier was a nice treat. Especially since he has been eating lately it was nice to not have to have our food get cold while we feed him.
   We had a little hard time finding the restaurant on Market St. It was dark out but we ended up calling and they gave us some tips to find the place. The atmosphere inside the establishment did not disappoint at all. It is very high class and trendy. I liked that you could be comfortable in jeans or dressed up like we were. Even though we made reservations and did not have to wait for a table. I did think it was nice they had a beautiful bar area obviously for hanging out and also for if you have to wait for a table.
     The menu changes constantly as this restaurant is just as it sounds "Catch". Chef Keith Rhodes, a Wilmington native, has been voted the city's best chef for three consecutive years. Also, his restaurant Catch has been voted the best seafood place in the state of North Carolina. You may even recognize Chef Keith Rhodes as he was on Top Chef. He has a passion for "Modern Seafood Cuisine" and is a stickler for wild caught and sustainably raised seafood. At his restaurant all the food is seasonal, organic ingredients. That was one of the things that impressed me the most. It is very hard to find restaurants that recognize that not only is that good for the environment but it makes great tasting dishes.
    We decided to order different things from each other and tried a lot of the specials. We ended up getting a blue crab dish and Kentucky Fried Calamari for appetizers. The blue crab was already shelled and cooked beautifully and was the easiest crab I have ever eaten. We loved the Kentucky Fried Calamari, it was cooked with jalapenos among other ingredients and had a great taste to it. Our appetizers came out right away which we loved because we were very hungry and eager to try everything. Next we ordered a salad special it was a harvest salad with beets, turnips and goat cheese. I think that was one of my favorites. I love salads and really fresh and different vegetables. It was the only salad I have ever tasted that melted in my mouth. For dinner Nick ordered the flounder and I ordered the salmon. We of course tried each others. Both dishes were cooked expertly and the presentation was spectacular. It is not only yummy cuisine but you will appreciate the presentation as you can truly see this is an art form. The way the flavors of the food blends together and the way it is set on the plate truly makes you appreciate food not just for nourishment but also as an art. Even though our appetizer, salad and dinner was very filling I was determined to try a dessert as well. We settled on just sharing one dessert and of course I decided on the chocolate lava cake. Now, I am sure at some point every girl will try a chocolate lava cake, but this chocolate lava cake was beyond compare! It not only was a delicious cake but the chocolate was very creamy. It also had some chocolate ganache, homemade whip cream and a raspberry sauce that was incredible. It also was sweet since they knew it was our anniversary they came out with a candle on top of the cake. Plus, our wedding cake was a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and raspberry filling so this reminded us of our wedding day.
    We had a wonderful time at Catch. You not only go out to dinner but you get to go out for an experience as well. You experience the art form of Chef Keith Rhodes and his wonderful restaurant. I also would just like to mention that we found the prices extremely reasonable for the type and amount of food you get here and we were very pleased with the service, atmosphere and entire experience. We definitely will be going back. Make sure you try out Catch Seafood Restaurant in Wilmington, NC for a truly amazing experience.

Disclosure
   No products,compensation or services were given to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC guidelines.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baby Has A Bath Today

 

  I love bath time pictures. They are so adorable and children look so innocent in them. Xavier loves taking a bath. We are very fortunate that he still fits in his tub in our kitchen sinks. We are delaying the big bath tub as long as possible to save our backs. This picture was taken the first time Xavier started playing with his rubber ducky in the bath tub. I thought it was cute.

This poem is from the book,  Good Morning Sweetie Pie and Other Poems for Little Children By Cynthia Rylant.

BABY HAS A BATH TODAY

Baby has a bath today,
he takes his teddy bear.
He fills his hands with baby soap
and washes Teddy's hair.
His mama washes Baby's ears
and Baby's pretty neck.
She rubs a cloth on Baby's legs
and gives his toes a check.
When Baby and his teddy
are all bright and squeaky clean,
Mama dries them off and then
they eat a tangerine. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Baby Loves A Rainy Day







    This is a very hectic week since Thanksgiving is Thursday. So I will be keeping posts shorter then usual. I will be back to normal next week. I thought this was a great poem for today. I don't know about where you live but here North Carolina it has been raining almost an entire week and we have been stuck inside. So I thought this was a cute poem to put up for today.

This is from the book Good Morning Sweetie Pie And Other Poems for Little Children by Cynthia Rylant.

BABY LOVES A RAINY DAY
Baby loves a rainy day,
his mama keeps him in to play.
She brings out all his baby toys
(the special ones for baby boys).
He puts some people in a house
and reads a book about a mouse.
He rolls a ball across the room
and sweeps the carpet with a broom.
He stacks some toy blocks up high
and cuts a piece of dough-y pie.
Then Mama puts some music on 
and Baby sings a baby-song.
Baby loves a rainy day
when Mama keeps him in to play. 
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Camera Ham

  
 So far in the short time that Xavier has been around he has always been a camera ham. I am convinced it is a combination of genetics (both Nick and I love to be on either side of any and all cameras) and the fact that he has had a camera in his face since he has been born. It is no surprise that my child lights up the minute he notices  you taking a picture of him. He will definitely flash you a smile, a smirk, even a side ways glance. There have been a couple times when he is out with family and friends and people are taking pictures. If he is not in the picture and he sees you taking the picture he will babble and flap his hands and try to move to get you to put the camera on him. I am not making this up. It does not have to even be Nick or I who are taking the picture. He somehow knows a camera when he sees one and he even seems to get phones sometimes. Although you may be able to slip a picture by him better with a phone.
   The other day he had a play date with two other babies.  One of the moms was taking a picture of her baby. When Xavier was in an exersaucer behind her. He noticed what she was doing and he started talking really loudly. "Aaahh, Aaahh" he would cry and flap his arms and try so hard to move towards her. I told her what he was doing. I am not sure she totally believed me when I told her until she turned the camera on him and he flashed this pose. Some things in life you just cannot make up. Children definitely make your life interesting.



Here are some other photos throughout Xavier's life with him posing for the camera. Notice my photography skills are improving.















Thursday, November 15, 2012

Apple-Sweet Potato Bake




 Fall is such a wonderful time of year to eat lots of great vegetables. You can get some really healthy vegetables very cheap in the fall then any other time of year. We are very big vegetable eaters in my house.  We are not vegan or even vegetarian, however, there are vegetables at every meal and most of the time they are the largest portion of food on our plates. One of the ways I have learned to cook and appreciate vegetables was by finding vegan or vegetarian recipes. Even if you are not vegan or vegetarian they are the people who know how to cook vegetables the best. To get the best flavor, the best texture and to mix with other great things. Instead of just steaming a bag of broccoli out of your freezer check out a vegan or vegetarian cook book or look up recipes online. You will be surprised how much better your vegetables are when you cook and mix them correctly. If you think about it you do the same with meat and other side dishes why not your vegetables?
    So in honor of my crusade of "eat your vegetables" this is a completely vegan meal. You can use this as a whole meal or a side dish. This is also a great alternative to your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes which usually are nothing but sugar, sugar and marshmallows. Also, if you have an infant in your house like I do they will love this. You can serve it as is to them. It is now one of Xavier's favorites.


  Apple-Sweet Potato Bake

Ingredients
- 6 sweet potatoes or yams, scrubbed and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 3 firm, tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Directions
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes and apples in a baking dish.
 In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, cinnamon and ground cloves and mix well.



 Drizzle the oil and spices mixture over the potatoes and apples. Mix gently to coat potatoes and apples evenly with oil.



Cover the dish and bake about 1 1/2 hours or until tender.


 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: LeapFrog My Pal Scout






   I am excited to do a review of a toy for Xavier. I figured with Christmas coming soon everyone will be on the look out for toys. Although LeapFrog My Pal Scout is not brand new it is a great toy for your little one.
   The LeapFrog My Pal Scout is for ages 6 months to 36 months. It is an interactive toy that you can customize to fit your child.You can also get LeapFrog My Pal Violet if you would like the girl toy.


 Scout hooks to your computer through a usb port and cable and lets you customize music, your child's name, favorite food, animal and color as well as choose from 30 different songs.

You simply press any of the paws or the middle to hear Scout or Violet play music, teach songs, play games, play lullabies or have emotions. It works off of just AA batteries. LeapFrog My Pal Scout and Violet teach your child first words, daily routines, early number sense, feelings, emotions and animals.

The best part is this toy sells for only $19.99 at Toys R Us and other retailers.


I opened the Scout before giving it to Xavier to play with and personalized it. I am very tech savvy but it still was extremely easy. The cord is right with the box on the back of Scout and it is a standard mini usb to regular usb cord (in case you lose the one they give you). It hooked right up to my computer and downloaded the software in less then five minutes. It was easy to follow along to personalize. I was even impressed that when you type in your child's name they give you different pronunciation options. They pronounced Xavier correctly. ( His name is pronounced X zavier). Also, you get to add your child's favorite, color, animal and food. There are a lot of options. They you get to pick five songs from the game category, five from the sing a long category and five for the lullaby category. There were plenty to choose from and you can always change and update when you get sick of them. I thought that was a great idea. He has a couple musical toys that I am already sick of listening to the same thing over and over so it is nice to have an option to switch it up. Simply unplug and tuck the box into Scout and you are done.


 Xavier loved Scout from the moment he saw him. He is at that age when he loves stuffed animals in general. However, I was pleased that Scout is the perfect size. Big enough to play with and small enough to cuddle with. Also, it is nice because it is extremely soft. The outside is really fuzzy and you can squeeze him without feeling wires and boxes.
  It took some help from me to show him how to push the buttons and what Scout does. However, he got so very excited when Scout said his name. It did not take him long to figure out that by pushing the buttons Scout sings. Xavier loves anything and anyone that sings so this of course he loved. Also, there is a little name plate on Scout that flashes different colors when he is singing and talking. That of course will draw your child's attention as well.

  After a full week of taking Scout out for Xavier to play with it has quickly become one of his favorite toys. He always reaches for it and pushes the different buttons on it. He loves when it says his name or sings his name. I even saw him trying to show a book to Scout the other day so I think they are good friends. He does not get to sleep with Scout yet as he is too young to have toys in his crib but he definitely enjoys playtime with Scout.
    As for my opinion this toy is fantastic! Certainly worth the $19.99. I love that it plays many different songs and different games so I do not have to hear the same thing over and over and even if I ever do get sick of them you can always change them. I also like that this is a toy that Xavier can have for a while and grow with. I can already tell that he will just keep getting more and more out of this toy as he gets older. I highly recommend you get a LeapFrog My Pal Scout or Violet for your child it is well worth the investment.

 If you would like me to do a review of your product or business feel free to send me an email at
ReneeArbia@yahoo.com. Local businesses and events are welcome we are in the Wilmington, NC area.

 Disclosure
   No products,compensation or services were given to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC guidelines.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby Food: Roasted Banana Puree


  Most babies even when trying bananas for the first time can just eat them mashed up. However, this is a nice recipe to have on hand if you have an infant in your house and you have some bananas that are browning. This is great to put over oatmeal or baby cereal as well as on it's own. It is nice to have something to do with browning bananas besides the average banana bread.

This recipe and information is courtesy of the book Easy Gourmet Baby Food 150 Recipes for Homemade Goodness By Chef Jordan Wagman & Jill Hillhouse, BPHE, RNCP.

" For the sweetest puree, use overripe bananas...As a first food bananas are smooth and easy to swallow. Because they are sweet, like breast milk and formula, your baby will take to them easily. If your baby has diarrhea or vomiting, the potassium in bananas helps to replenish the mineral balance in their bodies. Bananas also have an astringent or drying property, which may help reduce the water loss associated with diarrhea." - Wagman and Hillhouse, BPHE,  RNCP

Roasted Banana Puree
 makes about 1 cup

Ingredients
- 2 bananas unpeeled
- 1/2 cup water

Directions
Place bananas on baking sheet and roast in preheated oven at 250 degrees until soft, about 30 minutes.



 Transfer bananas to a plate and transfer cooking liquid from the baking sheet to a saucepan. Set aside and let bananas cool until they can be easily handled. Peel cooled bananas, holding them over the saucepan to catch the liquid, then add to the saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil over medium heat.



Remove from heat and transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender in the saucepan. Puree until smooth.



 Let cool until warm to the touch or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.



Not Just For Babies
Mom and dad will enjoy this puree warmed with a drop of cognac and drizzled over vanilla ice cream.
 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Quinoa and Butternut Squash


   This is a meal that I actually developed by myself for a change. I had a chicken, butternut squash and quinoa that I wanted to cook together and I found a great way to mix them all together. It ended up having a great taste to it all and it is very good for you. The quinoa is a protein along with the chicken, and squash is so good for you and it's a nice meal to have this time of year. If you have an infant at home this is good for them as well. It is all easy foods that babies like. Xavier loved having this for dinner he ate two bowls full.

Roasted Chicken with Quinoa and Butternut Squash

Ingredients:
- whole chicken (cleaned and take out the neck and other inside parts)
- quinoa
- butternut squash
- olive oil
- onion
- celery
- carrot (if desired though I did not have one in the picture)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 Tbsps minced garlic
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. dried sage
- 1 1/2 tsp. cups of sliced up butternut squash
- 2 Tbsps butter or margarine

Directions:
  In a skillet at medium high heat add olive oil, onion, carrot, celery and cloves of garlic that are chopped up. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until tender.



 Add two cups of water to one cup of quinoa. Salt and pepper to taste.



 Bring to a boil and stir, lower heat to low and cover the skillet and cook until quinoa absorbs all the water and remove from heat. Approximately 7-10 minutes.



Once quinoa has absorbed all the water stuff into the chicken in the front and back. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine 1 1/2 Tbsps minced garlic, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sage in bowl. Loosen skin from breast and drumsticks, rub over skin of chicken.

Combine squash, butter, 1/2 tsp of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper. Coat squash with mixture then arrange squash around the outside of chicken.



Bake stuffed chicken with squash around it uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until juices run clear.



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