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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3 Wishes Wednesday - February 2012

Welcome to the first installment of 3 Wishes Wednesday, a monthly series where I will be asking guest bloggers to share 3 wishes with us; one from the past, one for the present and one for the future.  I am so excited to be kicking things off with one fabulous woman, Nicolle Wychulis.

Nicolle and I met several years ago through our husbands (who have been friends for over a decade) and from the very first time we met, I knew I had found a partner in crime, a friend and confidant for life.

Nicolle left corporate America to stay at home with two of the sweetest, smartest, most fun-loving little boys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (and I can tell you, she has everything to do with this).  I envy the way she effortlessly takes on every new challenge, embraces every new opportunity, with such poise and humility.

A constant mentor for me, Nicolle is an amazing wife, friend, sister, daughter and Mom who laughs her way through life and always finds a way to make those around her feel important.  She will be the first to tell you mommy-hood, marriage and life are not always "rainbows and Skittles" but she will also be the first to tell you it's all so incredibly worth it.

Add to the list all of the amazing things she does, Nicolle can tear up a kitchen with the best of them; be sure to check out the delish drink recipe she shares below. One of these days I am hoping I will get her to share her secret family pirogi recipe with me!

My wish would be that she didn't live so far away......

I know you will enjoy Nicolle's heartfelt, honest post, as much as I did,

Wish away Nicolle........

As I sat down to begin writing this weeks blog, Meg asked me to reflect on 3 wishes that I may have for the past, present and future.  I chuckled a bit to myself because as a mom of two boys, 7 and 5 I have not solely thought about myself in almost 8 years.  So after some reflecting this is where I landed:

Wow, how amazing would it be to blink our eyes and transform ourselves with the knowledge we have now into a much younger version of ourselves.  This version would have of course worn sunscreen and not baked myself in baby oil everyday of the summer (really!!)  But all kidding aside, My husband and I have always said our biggest regret is not traveling more right after college.  Be it a ski season in the mountains, backpacking around Europe or driving a car across country.  We were so eager to get our lives “started” and land that great job that we missed out on the luxury of being young, selfish and carefree.  We will highly encourage our boys to take full advantage of this moment.  The great job will always exist but that one moment in time is fleeting.  I am excited to capture this through my boy’s eyes and experience when they reach that point in their lives.   

So my first wish would be to take advantage of the freedom that I did not really understand that I had.  Be carefree and selfish, oh yes and young again!

Hmmm this one is a bit harder.  We have finally reached that point in parenthood were nobody is in diapers.  There is not a giant bag to pack with bottles and changes of clothes just to run a quick errand or most importantly the many sleepless nights.  Which I would not change for anything!!  But we are here now with two amazing boys, that have their own personalities, interests, friends and social lives (which are way busier than mine!). 

I think my wish right now would be to take a moment to “stop and smell the roses”.  Time goes so quickly and in the craziness of the day sometimes I forget to stop and thank God for all of my many blessings.  To appreciate the place we are in and never take for granted this amazing opportunity I have been given as a mother.  I often laugh with my friends that our lives sometimes feel like ground hog day and as much as this is true, I wouldn’t change any part of it even for a second.  I am excited to see where this journey takes us.

So my second wish is to take the time to enjoy every moment because they truly do fly by.

This is hopefully the part where it all pays off.  The numerous reminders to “use your manners”, be kind to others and to be grateful for all of our blessings.  The excitement of watching my boys turn into men.  To see how our guidance as parents helps to shape them into the adults they will become. 

The best part of all…..getting to have my husband all to my self again! 

So my last and final wish would be that we get to embrace this last part of our life with happiness and health, which would allow us to chase all of our dreams and recapture those that we may not have time to experience before.

With all that said I thought it would be fun to include a drink recipe to toast whatever your three wishes may be.  It’s really a fun exercise to take a moment and think about “what would I really wish for?”


Just Keep Livin’ Margarita
(Courtesy of Mathew McConaughey and Guy Fieri)

   1/2 cup anejo tequila (recommended: 1800)
   1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
   1/4 cup orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
   1/4 cup citrus soda (recommended: Orangina)
   1/4 cup tonic water
   2 tablespoons cranberry juice
   Lime wedges, for garnish
Fill 2 lowball glasses with ice. Divide the ingredients, except cranberry juice, evenly among the glasses, and stir to combine. Top each drink with a splash of cranberry juice, garnish with lime wedges, and serve.

Linking up again this week with Yeah Write, head on over and vote for your three favorites tomorrow!

Monday, February 27, 2012

MMM Monday! - Week 1


Don't worry - no fish eggs here.  

This delightfully easy, versatile recipe, has become a staple in my kitchen. Use as an appetizer served with chips or pita squares, use as a topping to jazz up fish, or use as a new topping twist on tacos.

You can make this recipe ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

I am linking up this week with one of my favorite bloggers, Jamie from Chosen Chaos, and her partner in crime Denae from New Mom Survival Adventures for the Easy Peasy link up. Check out some great recipes - all with ten ingredients or less!

1 Can (12 oz.) Organic Black-Eyed Peas, drained
1 Can (12 oz.) Organic Black Beans, drained
1 Can (12 oz.) Organic Whole Kernel White Corn, drained
1 Jar (8 oz.) Organic Pimentos, drained and chopped
1 Small Organic Red Onion, peeled & chopped (approximately 1/2 cup chopped)
1 Large Organic Green Pepper, chopped
½ Cup Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ Cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Cup Organic Agave Nectar
Salt & Pepper to Taste


  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine: black beans, black eyed peas, onion, pepper, corn, and pimentos 
  • Add vinegar, olive oil and agave nectar, stirring until well combine 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste 
  • Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes 
  • Drain excess liquid prior to serving 
  • Enjoy with chips or pita squares or use to top fish or tacos 
(Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cha-Cha-Cha, Changes!

Greetings all!

After gathering some advice from readers and a really great blogger whom I admire very much, Erica, from Yeah Write ( I have decided to make a few changes here at Pressure Cooker.

I hope you like the changes and as always, please keep the feedback coming!

From now on, things will go like this: 

Starting next week, I will be sharing a recipe with you every Monday and hope it will be a great start to your week.

A monthly post, this will be a replacement for the Sous Chef blog series.  3 Wishes Wednesday will ask guest bloggers to share 3 Wishes; one from the past, one from the present, and one for the future. The wishes can be for themselves, their children, their spouses, family or friends, or whatever they choose. We will have our first guest blogger of the series next Wednesday so be on the look out!

A more traditional blog post, this weekly update will be where I share whatever motherhood and life have thrown my way each week.

Changes have been historically challenging for this Mommy (and when I say challenging, I mean I like to pretend change doesn't actually apply to me, ever) but I think the new Pressure Cooker format will be an exciting new opportunity for me to move out of my comfort zone and for my readers to find new reasons to love Pressure Cooker.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, see you next Monday for the start of our new adventures in blogging! I am linking up again with Yeah Write - check it out, so many great small blogs!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree BUT It Does Fall Often.

Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes can attest to the fact I am, undeniably, horrifyingly, frustratingly, CLUMSY. I have always been....and as much as it pains me, I always will be.....a KLUTZ.

From the time I was little it was evident.  There isn't a wall I haven't run into, a garden hose I haven't trip over, or a coffee table I haven't missed when trying to put my glass on it (while looking straight at it and telling myself not to spill on it). Broken glasses, dropped picture frames, food spilled on the floor, drinks spilled on myself or others....these are my memories of childhood (and, if I am being honest, some of these happened in the last few days as well).

There were endless ballet lessons, piano lessons, tumbling, tap, jazz....anything my parents could find to ATTEMPT to give me some sort of balance, any sort of name it, they (we) tried it. But to no avail. I still managed to fall, run into things, trip, drop and wobble my way through life. "It will get better as she gets older", I remember my pediatrician saying. IT did not.

Being clumsy is not (although you may think it is) something I can control. I have tried, OH HOW I HAVE TRIED. Maybe I am moving to quickly? Maybe I have an inner ear issue? I am reminded frequently (and thankfully) that my Dad, my sweet Dad, is also clumsy.  MAYBE...just's genetic.

Do I find this comforting somehow? NO...I DO NOT. I find it horrifying, actually.

I have a daughter now. A beautiful, sweet, loving 8-month-old daughter.....and I ALREADY fear I have passed along the clumsy gene to her. GASP!

When we were pregnant with her, my husband and I would talk about what we hoped she would be like, what qualities from each of us we hoped she would have and what we hoped she would not. At THE TOP OF MY LIST....every time....was that I hoped she wouldn't be CLUMSY LIKE HER MOMMY.

Then, yesterday, I watched her try time and again to put a piece of food in her mouth...each time missing her mouth completely. Later I watched her try to grab for a toy and although it was right there in front of her, she missed it by 2 inches each time until she eventually gave up and just laid on top of it. She tries to suck her thumb, instead she pokes herself repeatedly in the gums. She tries to crawl but gets her tights hung up in the SMALLEST OF SPACE between the rubber squares on her play mat. The horror, the spite of of my endless wishing, the CLUMSY GENE has made its way to another generation.

YES...the apple did not fall far from the fact, it fell extremely close.


I get VERY frustrated with myself when the clumsy kicks in; it is embarrassing and tiring. THE DIFFERENCE WITH MY DAUGHTER is that she DOESN'T SEEM TO MIND. She doesn't get frustrated trying 17 times to put the same piece of food in her mouth, no. Instead, she laughs and claps for herself when she finally gets it. She doesn't mind having remnants of food all over her face and hands...she waits patiently for me to wipe her off when she is done. And that toy she was trying to reach? Does she cry when she can't get it? No. She lays down on it and finds something else nearby to focus on. When she topples over after scaring herself with a musical toy, she does not cry.  She instead looks surprised and then giggles with her whole body as if to say "I am so silly!".

Even though she seems to have indeed inherited this pesky gene...THANKFULLY SHE HAS ALSO INHERITED THE INCREDIBLE PATIENCE OF HER FATHER.

Next on my to-do list....don't fight it.....accept it....and stock up on rubber padding, helmets, lots and lots of band aids, and an abundance of giggles.

Next on YOUR to-do-list should be making this delicious appetizer; artichokes used to scare me but they are actually much easier to prepare than you may think.  Enjoy!

Steamed Artichoke with 
Roasted Red Pepper Aioli Dipping Sauce

2 Organic Whole Artichokes
4 Cups Water
2 Organic Orange Quarters, unpeeled
3 Organic Dried Bay Leaves
3 Organic Garlic Cloves, whole
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 Cup Organic Mayonnaise
1 Organic Roasted Red Pepper, whole

  • In a large stock pot, combine water, bay leaves, garlic, orange quarters and olive oil.  Bring to a simmer

  • Prepare artichokes by cutting off stems, trimming ends off leaves and cutting approximately 1 inch off straight across the top

  • Place artichokes upside down in stock pot, cover and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Artichokes are fully cooked when you can insert a knife easily into the bottom

  • While artichokes simmer, combine mayonnaise and red pepper in a medium mixing bowl

  • Using a hand mixer, blend thoroughly

  • Cover and refrigerate until artichokes are finished cooking
  • When artichokes have cooked, drain and remove bay leaves, oranges and garlic.  Stand artichokes upright in a serving dish and gently open up petals; sprinkle tops lightly with salt and pepper
  • Spoon dip into a small bowl between artichokes

  • Break off individual leaves, dipping bottoms in the aioli, scraping out the artichoke meat with your teeth 
  • Enjoy!

I am loving Yeah Write - linking up again this week, check out some great blogs and vote for your favorite three on Thursday!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reason to Celebrate

My husband and I have never celebrated Valentines Day, not even when we were first dating.  We both agreed (almost 7 years ago) Valentine's Day to us was a commercialized day of guilt, stressful for couples and singles alike.  If you are coupled up on Valentines Day, there is pressure to buy something, send something, go to dinner or make some grand gesture of your love.  Blah.  Alternatively, if you are single on this dreaded day, you will spend all day watching flowers, gifts, and candy arrive at co-workers desks....all the while feeling sad and sorry for yourself that you will not be receiving anything (after promising yourself last year you would NOT be single next year on Valentines Day).  Of course there were always the flowers my Dad would send; he never forgot and I always appreciated the gesture.

We have never celebrated Valentines Day and I thought we never would.....UNTIL LAST YEAR.

I was five and a half months pregnant on Valentines Day and as per usual, didn't plan anything special for my husband and certainly wasn't expecting flowers to show up at the office. My husband was traveling on Valentines Day last year, I remember because when he came home, he came through the door with a giant teddy bear holding a heart shaped balloon and a huge smile (much bigger than I see on most days).

Surprised I smiled too and asked him what this was all about (assuming these things were for me, of course).  He handed me the bear and told me to read the card, which said:

"Happy Valentines Day to my baby girl....I love you, Daddy."   

And then I knew; right then and there, everything had changed.  I was looking at a Daddy whose baby girl would not be forgotten on Valentines Day. For the rest of her life, her sweet Daddy would make sure she was never without a Valentine.  I realized then my Dad had not (for all of those years) been sending me flowers out of pity that I didn't have a Valentine of my own to spoil me.  No, as with my daughter and husband, my Dad was celebrating the bond only a father and a daughter can know.  Seeing this through my husbands eyes gave me a whole new appreciation for what my Dad was expressing every time he told me he loved me, every time he called to check-in or say hi, every time I did something that made him proud. Every time he sent me flowers on Valentines Day.

We now celebrate Valentines Day, this tiny little family of three.  Not for each other, but for our daughter.  She is love personified, she is our little love bug, our one and only.

Commercialized holiday?  Maybe.  But now, somehow....celebrating Valentines Day no longer feels contrived and feels amazing.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This weeks recipe, Goat Cheese and Thyme Stuffed Sweet Peppers, are delicious, bite-sized bursts of flavor in your mouth.  Topped with bacon crumbles, this appetizer is great to serve to guests or even as a fun replacement for your usual dinner salad.  Full of color and flavor, you will love these sweet and savory peppers!

Goat Cheese and Thyme Stuffed Sweet Peppers

20 Small Organic Sweet Red Peppers (I can always find these at Whole Foods near the fresh olive bar, they are approximately 1-2 inches tall and 1 inch wide - tiny little things!)

6 Ounces Organic Goat Cheese
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
1/2 Pound Organic Bacon

Preheat oven to 350
  • Lay bacon strips flat approximately 1/2 inch apart on a large broiler pan
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until  brown and crispy
  • Remove from oven and drain excess grease from bacon by placing strips on a paper towel and patting dry
  • Crumble bacon, set aside
  • Remove liquid and any inner seeds from peppers (they should already come hollowed out but sometimes remnants remain). Pat dry with a paper towel, set aside
  • Combine goat cheese and thyme,  use a hand mixer to combine
  • Spoon cheese mixture into a large zip lock bag, pushing cheese to one of the bottom corners.  Seal bag and snip the end of the bottom corner off to allow mixture to be piped through

  • Pipe cheese mixture to fill each pepper, just above the top edges
  • Arrange in a small serving plate with sides (to keep peppers upright) and sprinkle evenly with crumbled bacon
  • Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 72 hours
  • Enjoy!

I am excited to be linking up with YeahWrite.Me again this week!