Banana Egg Rolls

12 May

This recipe is my hubby’s spin on a Filipino dish called Turon (aka banana spring rolls). They’re great as a dessert or even as a breakfast if you’re looking for a sugar high to get you through the day 🙂

3 bananas

egg roll wrappers (we use Nasoya All Natural Egg Roll wrappers which come in a 1 lb package and are sold in our grocery store’s produce department)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

vegetable oil (for frying)

caramel sauce

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut each banana into about 10 slices, cutting them on an angle (they fit better in a rolled egg roll wrapper). Position an egg roll wrapper on a flat surface rotated so that it’s a diamond. Lay 3 slices of banana horizontally across the center of the wrapper. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Starting with the wrapper point facing you, fold that in towards the center over the bananas. Fold in the left and right sides and continue wrapping, using a little bit of water to seal the egg roll closed at the top point of the wrapper. Repeat with remaining wrappers and bananas.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Use enough oil so it will come about halfway up the egg rolls. Fry egg rolls in batches of 3, cooking until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.

Once cooked, place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. While the egg rolls are still hot, sprinkle with more of the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Drizzle caramel sauce over the egg rolls.

Makes 5 servings (2 rolls per serving).






How to get through the first weekend away from your child…and maybe even enjoy it!

8 May

Have you ever taken a Myers Briggs, Peoplemap or other similar personality assessment? I’ve taken a couple over the years, either through my employer or on my own out of curiosity. All of them come back with the same general conclusion, which is the need I have to be told exactly what to do, especially when I’m going into uncharted territory. Myers Briggs calls it “thinking” and Peoplemap calls it “task”. Call it what you want but any way you slice it, I see most things in black and white. Good, bad or indifferent, shades of gray don’t show up often in my world.

Given this aspect of my personality, it’s probably no shock that whenever parenting has me puzzled, I go straight to various internet and book resources looking for instructions on how to get through it. It’s similar to why I like baking over cooking. I know if I follow the recipe exactly and measure everything precisely, it will come out just right. Pretty much every question I’ve ever had I’ve been able to find a suitable answer or at least close enough. That is until my most recent question….how in the world will I ever get through my first weekend away from my baby boy?

That fateful weekend happened just recently and you better believe I spent the night before Googling ways to be ok with this. It sounds silly, I know. And my reason for going out of town was a good one too. Rick and I were going away for the weekend, just the two of us. So of course 70% of me was excited for this much needed get away but that remaining 30% was really eating away at me knowing how much I was going to miss Little D and hoping I could suppress that sadness enough to actually enjoy quality couple time.

I’m sure none of you will be surprised when I tell you I found no magical answers on how to prepare for this momentous event. So when the time came to say goodbye, I did the only logical thing I could think of…cry 🙂 But more importantly, I didn’t let the feeling of missing Little D stop me from going on my trip. Leaving your child with someone else for the weekend for the first time is a necessary evil. It’s good for your child and it’s good for you.

Once we pulled out of my mother in law’s driveway and were on the road to our vacation, I started feeling better. I realized it was more the anticipation of leaving my son that made me sad more so than actually being away from him. I knew he would be safe and have fun with his grandma and those were the only two things I needed to tell myself to reassure myself it was all going to be ok.

Rick and I had a wonderful time on our weekend getaway and I’m so glad we decided to go. Even the most organized families can become exhausted with the day to day demands of juggling children, careers, home life, etc. And let’s face it, when you have a child it takes twice as long to do everything and you’re constantly thinking about the logistics of the simplest things like how to time naps and feedings around outings to the grocery store or church. To be honest, it was great not having to think about any of that for two days. We slept when we wanted, ate when we wanted, shopped when we wanted, did whatever we wanted whenever we wanted.

So to any moms in a similar position, I’ve got just one piece of advice. Try to make the first weekend away from your child for a fun occasion like vacation and not something you might dread regardless of having to leave your child like a business trip. If there is something fun for you to look forward to, it will make the occasion a lot easier to handle.

It also doesn’t hurt if the person your child is staying with won’t mind you blowing up their phone all weekend to check in 🙂

How old was your child when you first spent the weekend away from them? Any words of advice for others on how to make the situation easier?

Excellent menu planner resource for feeding your child from baby through toddler

24 Apr

Once you become a parent, you just expect you’re going to spend the rest of your life worrying. It starts small with worrying about your baby catching a cold and as they get older, the worries become more serious like them learning to drive.

One thing I didn’t expect to worry about? What to feed and how much to feed my child. Rick and I agree on most aspects of how to raise Little D but by far and away our biggest argument has always centered around food.

Even before we started feeding Little D solids, we were arguing on how much breast milk he should be drinking. Now add in feeding solids and we’ve now hashed it out over everything from the texture and thickness of the food, how much to feed him, how often to feed him, the size of the bites and how fast to feed him.

In comes Gerber Meal Planner to the rescue!!

This is an awesome resource and lets you create a meal plan based on your child’s developmental stage (supported sitter, sitter, crawler, toddler and preschooler) and birthday. The site will generate a recommended weekly menu with a breakdown of the amount and type of food that should be fed at each meal. You can also modify the generic meal plan or create your own.

Of course the amounts and types of food are just general guidelines and you will come to know what types of food your baby likes and how big or little of an appetite they have. But if you haven’t a clue where to start, this is an excellent guide.

Tomatillo chicken with yellow rice

20 Apr

This is one of my favorite go to recipes to make, especially during a hectic work week. It’s quick, flavorful and healthy, the perfect combination for any busy family.

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 1/3 lbs chicken breast

1 poblano pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 ½ cups chicken broth

1 cup jarred tomatillo salsa

10 oz package yellow Spanish rice

Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a non-stick skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper and then sear on all sides. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Sauté the poblano and onion until softened and tender. Add chicken broth and salsa. Add chicken back in and simmer until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken from skillet and shred it. Place back in pan until heated through. Prepare rice according to package directions. Serve tomatillo chicken over the cooked rice.

5 servings (approximately 400 calories per serving)

Tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night

14 Apr

So you’ve finally gotten to the point where it doesn’t take three hours to put your baby to bed each night, right? But now the challenge is how do you KEEP them asleep?

It didn’t take me long after Little D was born to learn that parenting is one constant learning experience, for both the parent and the child. Just as one skill is learned, it’s time to move on to a different skill with each new one building on the one that came before it.

Now I’ll admit, before I was a parent it never occurred to me I’d have to teach my baby to sleep. After all, sleep seems to be such a natural act why would it need to be taught? Well tell that to any parent whose baby spontaneously wakes up every night at 2:30a and won’t go back to sleep.

Rick and I tried a number of different strategies during our quest to get more than 3 hours of sleep at a time but these are the ones that ended up working the best for our family and I hope they’ll work for you too.

Have your baby sleep in their own room

We moved Little D into his own room a couple months before he actually started sleeping through the night but I think it was an important first step in the overall goal. Having your baby sleep in your room in the first few weeks of life is definitely expected as there’s a convenience factor that comes into play. It’s a lot easier to feed and change your baby’s diaper every two hours when they’re sleeping just at the foot of your bed.

But once that time has passed, having them sleep in their own room even before you expect them to sleep through the night will start instilling good sleeping habits. Your baby is a smart little thing and it won’t take them long to become attached to doing things a certain way. If your baby only knows how to sleep if you’re in the room, that’s going to make the process of teaching them to sleep through the night a couple months later that much harder. You probably don’t want to be teaching them to sleep in their own room at the same time you’re teaching them to sleep through the night. Knowing they’re already accustomed to sleeping by themselves will make teaching them to sleep through the night a lot easier on both of you.

Each parent will be comfortable with their baby sleeping in another room at a different point but trust me, this is as beneficial to the parent as it is to the baby. You finally won’t be sleeping with one eye open just waiting for them to wake up at any moment or be awoken by every little noise they make.

Avoid coming to the rescue at the first sound of their whimper

Once Little D was falling asleep on his own and sleeping in his own room, we thought we were doing pretty good in the sleep department. But despite those two accomplishments, I was still waking up several times a night to feed him. It didn’t matter if he’d been asleep 2 hours or 5 hours once he’d start to cry, my reaction was always the same. I’d hop out of bed, change his diaper, nurse him, lay him back down to sleep. Rinse and repeat. No seriously, it was a never ending cycle. Since Little D was way past the point where nighttime feedings turned into multi hour crying sessions and he’d go right back to sleep, we didn’t really see the issue. But even under the best of circumstances, a person can only stand waking up numerous times each night for so long.

Then one night we decided to see what would happen if we waited a few minutes before going into his room. As each week went by, we’d increase the amount of time that we’d wait before going into his room. Color me shocked when he’d actually fell back asleep!! And stayed asleep for a few more hours!!

Now I’m not saying it worked this way every time, but after some trial and error, we began to recognize if he was crying because he just happened to wake up and was working through getting back to sleep or if he was crying because he really needed something.  We started off small, like around 5 minutes, and worked our way up to 30 minutes before we could officially say Little D was sleeping through the night.

This is the time where it really helps if your baby is already used to sleeping in their own room. If they’re not, they may have a harder time getting themselves back to sleep just for the pure reason that you’re not there. If they’re already over this hurdle, it’s one less roadblock preventing them from going back to sleep.

If you decide you’re up for trying this same method, I’ll tell you that having a video monitor will help out greatly. No shocker here, it can be hard to watch your baby cry because you feel like they really need you. But if you can see them on the monitor and be assured they’re doing just fine, there’s a better chance of you giving it some time for them to try to work it out on their own.

I think the book What To Expect The First Year put it best… “the moment will eventually come when it will no longer be practical or possible for you to be her sandman. If you make that moment now, not only you will get more sleep, so will she.”

What methods did you find worked best to teach your baby to sleep through the night?

Moms to be: have you created a post baby budget?

7 Apr

Rick and I are known in our circle of friends as the couple who has an Excel spread sheet for everything. Are we going on a vacation? Spread sheet! Are we thinking about getting a new dishwasher? Spread sheet! Are we planning on buying a new pair of shoes? You guessed it…spread sheet! I’d make a spread sheet of all the candy I like if I thought it’d do me any good.

Truth is, major life occurrences and life decisions seem less scary and less intimidating when you’ve done some research and can anticipate what’s around the corner. So when Rick and I started talking about having a baby, one of the first things I did was purchase the book What to Expect Before You’re Expecting. Oh yea, I made a spread sheet too 🙂

A close family friend told Rick and me that if you wait to have a baby until you think you can afford it, you’ll be waiting forever. I agree with that general idea but it was helpful to get an idea of how our monthly expenses would change once our bundle of joy made his arrival. I didn’t really have a concept though of how much baby items would cost and how often I would need certain items. Now that I’m in the thick of parenting, I know what to expect each month financially. Here are some expenses to consider in the first 6 months:


Size 1 0-3 months 10 234 $47 $60
Size 2  3-6 months 7 246 $48 $42

Wipes: a box of a 4 pack of wipes (192 per pack) is $27. Expect to use about 20 wipes per day in the first couple months so a box will last a little over a month. As your baby gets older and you’re changing diapers less often, expect to use about 10-15 per day which will make a box last around 2 months.

Daycare: the cost will vary widely depending on part time or full time enrollment, area of the country, additional fees for early drop off or late pickup, etc. but a good estimate to use is approximately $800 per month for full time enrollment.

Clothes: you’ll probably get a lot of clothes as gifts but as the months pass, you’ll realize where there are some gaps in your baby’s wardrobe. Some months you might not need any clothes and other months you may need a couple outfits. Plan for around $25 per month and you should be good.

Baby food:  if you choose to breastfeed then bonus for you, the estimated cost for this is $0 for at least the first 4 to 6 months! But if you need or want to feed your baby formula, a 23.2oz can of formula is $24. In the early weeks when your baby is eating 20oz or so per day, a can will last about a week. When your baby starts nearing 6 months and is eating closer to 35oz per day, a can will last about 4 days. Once you start dabbling into cereal at around 4 to 6 months, an 8oz box is $3 and will last about a month and a half.

College fund: whether you’re putting money in a savings account, a college investment account or a state prepaid college fund, the cost per month can range anywhere from $5 to $300 or more depending on your comfort level and/or the prepaid plan you choose.

Incidentals: this could be toys, medicine, things for their nursery, bathing products, etc. It’s not a given you’ll need something every month but that’s why they call it an incidental. $50 is a good amount to plan for. This is probably a high estimate but better to plan for it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Moms, how did you plan for all the new expenses before your baby’s arrival?

Create long lasting dyed Easter eggs!

3 Apr

Ever been to a wedding or other party and seen a cake that was seriously just too pretty to cut into and eat? Well I kinda feel the same way about Easter eggs. You spend all this time hard boiling eggs, mixing various glasses of dye and decorating them. Then after all that, you have to put them in the refrigerator where no one can see them so they don’t go bad. A couple days later all your hard work ends up in the trash with one good crack of the shell!

This year I decided to try my hand at hollowing out an egg and it was pretty easy. Once you’ve hollowed out the egg, you can decorate it the same way you would a hard-boiled egg but you can put them on display all Easter season and keep them for years to come!

To hollow out an egg, I did the following:

  1. Using a needle, gently poke a hole in the large end of a raw egg. You’ll have to tap it a couple times and use some gentle pressure but it’s fairly easy to do without damaging the egg.
  2. Do the same thing on the small end of the egg but create a slightly bigger hole.
  3. Hold the egg over a bowl and put your lips over the small hole with the large hole facing down over the bowl.
  4. Now just take a deep breath and blow out with a good bit of force. After a few puffs, the egg will start coming out the larger hole and into the bowl.
  5. Once all the egg is out, run the egg under water and then blow out the water. Do this a couple times to make sure all the egg is rinsed out.
  6. Let the egg air dry for a couple of hours and then start decorating!

I decorated my eggs using an idea from Martha Stewart Living magazine. Here is the link to the instructions on her website: Spring Menagerie Eggs. My only recommendation is that I found it easier to free hand the small features like the eyes, nose, beak, etc. It was a little difficult to cut out small enough stencils for these features and it ended up being much faster to just draw them on using a marker.

Here’s my finished product:

Happy Easter! 🙂