Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HG recipe review #3: Tasty Taquitos

It's Hungry Girl recipe review time, and this month Jenn and I decided to make HG's Exploding Chicken Taquitos. The taquitos you can buy in the store or at a restaurant are a fast, tasty treat, but they're also typically fried and rather fattening. Hungry Girl's version called for canned 98% fat-free chicken, non-fat cheddar cheese, salsa, a little bit of taco seasoning, and yellow corn tortillas. It's a pretty easy recipe to follow: mix together the chicken, salsa, cheese and taco seasoning and let refrigerate for 15 minutes. If there's any liquid in the filling, you drain it out after refrigerating. You then roll the filling into the tortillas that have been sprayed with cooking spray, bake them up, and voila! You have your very own non-fried version of chicken taquitos.

They're called "Exploding Chicken Taquitos" because when you bake them, the filling might crack the tortilla and seep out a bit. That happened with one of our taquitos. Here is a picture of the finished product, which we ended up having with some rice and corn for dinner:




I had to make a variation on this recipe because the yellow corn tortillas were more expensive than the white corn ones, so I used white corn tortillas. Also, I couldn't find fat-free shredded cheese in the grocery store (the cheese aisle was especially busy that day because of a huge sale on shredded cheese), so I just used the 2% milk kind.

The result was great. Tony said this was the first Hungry Girl recipe I've made that was an acceptable substitute for the "real thing." We really enjoyed these and would recommend them to anyone. My own qualm is the ingredients for this can be kind of expensive. I think in the future I would use regular chicken that I have on hand and stick with whatever corn tortillas were the cheapest.

Overall rating: Four out of Five stars.

For next month, Jenn has chosen HG's Cheesy Butternut Bake, which features butternut squash, Laughing Cow cheese, onions, egg substitute and a variety of spices. I'm excited to give it a try!

Utah fun! (with photos galore!)




Hey, everyone. We came back from Utah on Monday evening and since then I have been too busy to go through my photos and blog. Now that it's nap time, I have the chance! We had a really fun time visiting Tony's brother, grandparents, father and stepmother in Utah. Ruth was great on both plane trips and kept her cool for most of the trip. She had a great time visiting her family. Here are some pictures from each day:

Friday

We arrived on Friday morning and headed up to Perry with Tony's brother to visit Grandma and Grandpa Wayman. Ruth played with the toys there and then Grandpa Wayman let her ride on his scooter chair. It was super cute!


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Grandma Wayman also made us lunch, and Ruth ran around and explored. She loved chasing their dog, Sweetie.



We were so glad we went to see them!


We then went down to Mt. Pleasant to check into our hotel room and visit Tony's parents.


They had a stuffed dog and a Disney princess chair waiting for Ruth, and she loved them both!


We went and got some pizza, and then headed back to our room for some R&R.

Saturday
On Saturday, we did some run
ning around. We grabbed some breakfast and then went up to Provo to get some Jamba Juice!!! I LOVE Jamba Juice!! If only I had hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would totally open up a franchise here in Omaha. Ruth enjoyed sharing with her Grandpa.


I also got the chance to meet up with my old roommate, Suzy! I haven't seen her in a few years, and it was great to talk for a few minutes. Suzy and friends also bought Ruthie a hot-pink teddy bear, which she loves.



After making stops at the Deseret Book and the sporting goods store, we went back to Mt. Pleasant. Uncle Mike got Ruth a hat that says "Cute as a Button Buck." She actually wore it when we went out on an errand yesterday.



Ruth and I went back to the room for some quiet time, and the boys went shooting (and forgot to take photos of it). We then hung out and went to dinner, and then went back to our room for the night. Tony, Mike and I played a game of Settlers of Catan, and it was awesome.

Sunday
On Sunday morning we got dressed and headed over to Dad and Diane's, where Tony made everyone a delicious batch of Danish pancakes. We enjoyed time together before church. Ruth's Grandpa let her play on his drums, and she LOVED them.



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Ruth and I missed sacrament meeting because she was napping, but we were able to have a snack and catch Dad's lesson on missionary work during second hour.



We then went back to Dad and Diane's to hang out and have dinner. Dad and Diane made some delicious bison, we played another round of Settlers of Catan, and Tony and Mike were able to express their brotherly love. :)




Monday
Our trip quickly came to a close, and on Monday morning we went out to breakfast before driving up to the airport. Here is Ruth saying her farewells to her Grandma and Grandpa Gardner:



We had a great trip, but it was exhausting! Ruth wouldn't sleep on the plane on Monday, so she crashed in the car on the way home from the airport at about 5:30 and didn't wake up until 7:30 the next morning! We are still recovering.

I only wish we could have stayed longer! Thank you, Dad, Diane and Mike for the fun time! We love you and are grateful for you!

-Meredith

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Off to Utah

We're all packed up and getting ready to head to bed! We're catching a 6 a.m. flight to Utah tomorrow to visit Tony's parents, grandparents and brother, and it will be a true adventure.

It is amazing how much stuff you have to pack when you're traveling with a baby/toddler, and taking car seats and whatnot makes everything more complicated. We're only taking carry-on bags because the airline we are flying with (Delta) charges $20 per checked bag each way (LAME). I was amazed that Ruth's stuff almost filled up a whole carry-on bag. Diapers and wipes take up so much room! Even though she has a lot of stuff, I was able to cram everything we need for our four-day trip into two carry-on bags and a backpack. That's toys, snacks, shoes, clothes, hats, mittens, toiletries -- everything. We will also be lugging around winter coats and our car seat, which we hope to check at the gate. Our plan is to hook the car seat (we still have its original bag, luckily) on to one of the carry-on bags. Then, one of us will wear the backpack and carry Ruth, and the other will pull the two carry-on bags with the car seat attached. We'll see if it works!!!

Our game plan for the tomorrow is this:

-Arrive in Salt Lake at 7:45 a.m. and get picked up by Tony's brother, Mike
-Go grab some breakfast
-Go up to visit Tony's grandparents
-Drive down to Mt. Pleasant to have a fun weekend with Tony's parents

Tomorrow will be a long day with the flight and the driving. I got a children's book about traveling in airplanes from the library for Ruth, and we've been reading that over the last few days. I also talked to her before she went to bed about how we would be getting up early to go fly on an airplane. Hopefully she will be somewhat familiar with what's going on, but who knows how much has sunk in. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping there will be an open seat on the plane so we can bring on her car seat. I think she would definitely sleep through most of the flight if we're able to do that. I'm anxious to see how well she travels on a plane.

We're all geared up for a great trip, and we're looking forward to seeing friends and family! We'll be sure to take lots of pictures and let you all know how it went when we get back on Monday!

-Meredith

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Family Photos

Disclaimer: Due to copyright laws, this post will not include any actual family photos.

Tony, Ruth and I went to Portrait Innovations to get a family photo taken last night. We did the same thing about this time last year, only last year's photos were taken at Wal-Mart and cost about $100. Portrait Innovations was offering a portrait package deal for $10. Lots of studios are offering cheap package deals right now, but we picked this one upon the recommendation of a friend. We decided to wear white shirts and jeans this year; last year we wore red.

Ruth had a good time playing with their Lego table while we waited for our turn, but when picture time came she did not want to sit on my lap. The photographer got her distracted with a toy, and the portrait session seemed promising for a moment. But then the flash did Ruth in. It startled her so much that she had a complete melt-down and screamed anytime she saw the camera. I think the photographer only got to take six shots and only two of those were usable. She got one of Ruth smiling before she got startled by the flash. The only thing was, in that photo Tony wasn't looking at the camera. So, sorry to everyone who gets our family photo this year - Tony is looking down at Ruth. It still looks cute, but it's probably not one we'll hang on our wall. We are going to wait at least six months to try for a better family photo. By then hopefully Ruth won't get so startled! And maybe in the summer we'll hire someone who can take them outside, so flash won't be an issue at all.

And by the way, with the difference in lighting and setup, I actually think last year's Wal-Mart photos were much better quality than the ones taken at Portrait Innovations (although it might've been a different story if Ruth had been in the mood to cooperate). I also liked that I didn't have to wait at Wal-Mart as much as I did at Portrait Innovations, but at Portrait Innovations you do get your photos the same day, which is nice.

It was a disappointing session, but I'm glad we got our photos taken anyway. Hopefully you will enjoy Ruthie's sweet little smile. :)

-Meredith

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The terrible...ones?

About a year ago I had a friend who had very active and sometimes mischievous 1-year-old. Honestly, watching her 1-year-old made me worry so much about what Ruth would be like when she turned 1 that I didn't at all look forward to her toddlerhood. To me, it looked like the ones were just as terrible an age as the twos!

But since Ruth turned 1 almost 6 months ago, I must admit that having a 1-year-old generally hasn't been bad at all. I actually like the fact that she can walk -- it's much better than her crawling all over and eating stuff off the floor, and she can actually run around and have fun at places like the Children's Museum or the park. I also like how much fun she is to play with and how hard she works to communicate. Of course, there are days that my 1-year-old is more than a handful (especially now that she has figured out how to climb), but she was sometimes a handful when she was a baby, too. I have to say, though, that this weekend has been by far the most "terrible" yet, and it makes me a bit nervous about our plane trip on Friday.

Don't get me wrong - most of the "terrible" things Ruth does are funny (if not at first, they are looking back), and 90 percent of the time she is a very good girl. She got her first haircut (just a trim) yesterday and was a little squirmy at first, but eventually got distracted watching other people get their hair cut and sat nicely. Here is her first salon hairdo:



Later on in the day, however, she managed to dump almost a whole bag of brown sugar on the kitchen floor while I was doing the dishes. I turned around and saw the pile of brown sugar, which she had been eating for who knows how long. :) (When I put her in the dining room so I could clean up without her "help," she kept licking her fingers and saying "mmmm." :D ) At the time, I was a little more frustrated than amused, so I cleaned up the mess without getting a photo. After I cleaned all the sugar off the floor, I went into the living room to check on her and found her playing with a pair of scissors she found in the desk drawer. Needless to say, the scissors have found a new spot on top of the fridge and are no longer a threat. Of course, neither of those incidents would have occurred if I had been watching her more closely, so I am to blame for some of her "terrible" actions!

There are other "terrible" behaviors that I can't do much about. On Thursday, for example, we did a second walk-through of the house we wanted to buy. It ended up taking longer than planned because the real estate agent forgot to bring the key to the house, and by the time we were able to actually look inside, Ruth was ready for dinner and probably some quiet rest time. By the end of the walk-through, she was inconsolable and had her first official toddler melt-down. She just laid on the floor as flat as a board and cried.

Then there was Stake Conference this morning. Ruth woke up a little too early, so she wasn't in the best mood. (The girl needs her beauty sleep!) She was not at all interested in sitting nicely in the folding chairs and watching two hours of conference. She also fell over and hit her head on one of the chairs, resulting in a good amount of screaming and a nice little bump on her head. (Poor baby, I felt so bad!) When she didn't want to color or play at our seats, Tony and I took turns taking her out into the hall and holding her. I almost got her to fall asleep, but another little toddler came screaming down the hall and snapped her awake. Overall, conference was very uplifting and edifying -- especially with the visit from Elder Dallin H. Oaks from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles -- but it was much harder to concentrate with an uncooperative 1-year-old.



On Friday, Ruth will embark on her first airplane trip to Utah to visit her Grandma and Grandpa Gardner, Uncle Mike, and Great-Grandma and Grandpa Wayman. Our plane leaves at 6 a.m., so we will have to be to the airport no later than 5 a.m. Hopefully, I will be able to get her to sleep on the plane. Otherwise, I'm afraid we might have another toddler meltdown at some point on Friday morning (hopefully not on the plane!!!)

I wouldn't trade my 1-year-old for anything, but I am noticing that as she gets older, it's harder and harder to get past that stubborn, mischievous, little mind she's developing. :) Maybe they should start warning parents that the "ornery ones" come before the "terrible twos." :D

Happy Sunday!

-Meredith

Friday, November 13, 2009

House hunting update


Well, we found a house we really liked when we went house hunting earlier this week. It's a very cute old house located in the Florence area. It has some neat built-ins throughout, a good-sized kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a garage, a wonderful backyard with a secret garden, all of the appliances, new furnace & a/c, and a whole lot of potential. We went on a second walk-through on Wednesday night and then decided to meet with our real estate agent to put in an offer yesterday. We offered them almost full asking price (they had already reduced the price $9,000) and asked them to pay our closing costs, fix a few things on the outside, and provide a one-year home warranty. After talking to the selling agent, we thought there was a chance they would like our closing date (at the end of Feb. because of our lease and the fact that we want to use our tax return as our down payment). The woman who has owned the home (for the last 53 years) is now living in Texas, but all of her stuff is still in the house. However, they didn't accept any part of our offer. They said that if we wanted them to pay closing costs they would raise the price of the house by $3,500, and if we stuck to the closing date they would keep the house on the market. That means there would be no guarantee we would get it - they could accept another offer at any time. We decided to walk away. We hope the house will still be on the market at the end of December or beginning of January, when we might put in another offer. In the meantime, we'll keep looking to see what else is out there. We are kind of disappointed, but we are learning a lot from this home buying process. Things will work out as they should!

Tomorrow is Hungry Girl review day! I actually think I might make the taquitos tonight for dinner, but I'll hold off on posting the review until tomorrow.

Happy Weekend!

-Meredith

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Madness!

This weekend was filled with Halloween fun! Jack was over on Friday and Tony had the day off, so we made bat cookies using the new cookie cutters and rolling pin Tony's mom bought us:


We had the ward Trunk-or-Treat at church on Friday night, and our "little brother" came along. It was a dual-ward activity, so it was a little crazy, but we had fun! Ruth was a leopard and wore the same costume her daddy wore when he was a 1-year-old. She is her father's daughter:





The pic on the right is one of Tony in his costume. It's a picture of a picture, so it's not very good quality, but they look alike! :)

The "real" Halloween was last night. Ruth isn't really old enough to appreciate Halloween and eat lots of candy, so she just trick-or-treated at her grandma and grandpa's before we went to get Tony from work. She got to hang out with her cousins, Christopher and Kora, for a little while.

Christopher was a Power Ranger and Kora was Dora the Explorer. Kailyn, who was handing out candy and not in this photo, was Hannah Montana. Ruth actually kept her leopard ears on for a little while and let me draw whiskers on her face!

On an unrelated note, Ruth has discovered the joys of falling into a pile of blankets. Enjoy this video:

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I'm so happy it's fall! Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!

-Meredith