I'm a 30 year old stay at home mom of two beautiful boys! I love cooking, crafting, movies, playing with my boos, pop culture, and tons of other stuff! I fancy myself a bit of a foodie and have been trying to incorporate lots of fresh, seasonal, local organic foods into my cooking. Hopefully this blog will serve as a forum for me to try new recipes and share them with anyone who might be interested!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hidden Veggie Balsamic Meat"cake"

   I'd like to start today's post by saying that I don't normally advocate "hiding" things in food. I'm of the mindset that if you teach kids to love food, then they will, veggies and all! I firmly believe this because I have seen it happen! Not just with my own solid food eating child but with others as well. I have a cousin who is a vegetarian and has always cooked vegetarian meals for her toddlers too. Her kids ask for tofu and green beans like mine asks for goldfish and gummies! But I digress.... this meatloaf is not, by any means, vegetarian! It is however, another of my internet recipe tweeks :)

   I have to give tons of credit to my former boss/ current friend D. She was the one who originally found this recipe, along with many others, online and I have since taken many of them and added them into my weekly dinner schedule! It's a Bobby Flay recipe found here. This recipe is fantastic just the way it is, however, I like to put my own spin on most things I make. It makes me feel a bit more creative than I actually am :)) I started by adding a bit more veg than what's called for in the original. The first time I made it with 2 different color peppers, all I tasted was peppers! The zucchini was great and added some good nutrients but I wanted more nutrient rich veggies to throw in. I decided to go with carrots and mushrooms, in addition to the zucchini, rolled oats, instead of the panko, and only ground beef which was perfect! You could, however, use any vegetable you happen to have in your possession! The mushrooms have a nice meaty texture and once everything is all chopped up, sauteed, and mixed together, you'll barely notice any of the veggies hiding out in the meat! The other main difference from the original is that I'm not a fan of the whole free form meat pile! If you look at Bobby's picture, it looks a bit too much like dog poo with a sprig of parsley on top (sorry, but it does!!). I tried it first in a traditional loaf pan but the hubby and I agreed that the sauce to meatloaf ratio was way off. Too much loaf and not nearly enough saucy goodness! So I decided to try it in my 8x8 square Pyrex... Perfection! By using the glass, it gave the "loaf" a really nice crust all the way around, cooked very evenly, and in about 1/2 the time called for. My sisters decided, while out for a visit, that it cannot be called meatloaf anymore, so it is now known as meat cake :) I serve this with mashed potatoes and cooked mixed greens. The recipe makes about 8 servings (enough for dinner and sandwiches the next day!) It is by far one of my favorite meals!!!

 Hidden Veggie Meatcake 

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
    you can hardly tell there are any veggies in here at all!!
  • 2 small zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 8oz. container of any mushrooms you like
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided (optional! I leave this out bc the kiddo doesn't like spicy!)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1TBSP chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 rolled oats, pulsed very quickly in a food processor
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano, Parmesan, or any cheese you have (we love pepper jack or blue cheese)
  • 1 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
Roughly chop all the veggies and throw them into a food processor along with the whole garlic cloves.Pulse until finely chopped. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the vegetables, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until almost soft, 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl. Add the meat, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup, 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar, and the cooled vegetables and mix until just combined. Add the oatmeal and mix until well incorporated. Lightly spray the baking dish with oil and turn the mixture out into the pan.
Whisk together the remaining ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the entire loaf. Bake the meatloaf for 45-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Whisk together the remaining ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the entire loaf.

Roughly chop all the veggies and throw them into a food processor along with the whole garlic cloves.Pulse until finely chopped. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the vegetables, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until almost soft, 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl. Add the meat, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup, 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar, and the cooled vegetables and mix until just combined. Add the oatmeal and mix until well incorporated.
Whisk together the remaining ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the entire loaf.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where is that made?!?!?

   Ever since becoming a mother, I find myself checking labels on everything! Being a self proclaimed foodie I've been checking food labels for most of my adult life, but have only recently started noticing where other things are made. While i was a nanny there were quite a few recalls on kids toys made in China due to poor quality and hazardous materials, so I vowed that when I had my own kids I would try my best to not buy anything made in China. Now, there are a few things, in our modern world that are made overseas that most of us couldn't live without (or would rather not)! Basically if you want any kind of electronic devices you'll have to compromise a bit on this particular moral dilemma!
   My first step in trying to eliminate our foreign dependence on stuff was to eliminate one of the main sources of cheap, poorly made, crap.... Walmart! I'm proud to say I haven't set foot in a Walmart in almost 3 years. It actually hasn't been that hard! Between Target, online shopping and nice local stores, I've been able to not purchase many new things made in China. I also don't feel like it ended up costing us any more in the long run. Yes the USA made pair of shoes might (but not always!!!) be twice as much as you would normally pay for a pair of shoes but chances are they will last you twice as long, if not longer. Not to mention the peace of mind knowing that the toys/clothes/shoes you're buying for your children are probably not going to give them lead poisoning anytime soon.
   Once you start looking into where things are made it's actually quite shocking to see things that are quintessentially American that are made in China. Things like Nike, playskool, and even American Girl dolls, are all made in China! I find it extremely disheartening that American companies outsource jobs just so they can increase profits! I'm happy to say that most of Little Tikes toys, some New Balance sneakers, and plenty of other products are made in the USA.... you just have to know where to look!
   For the record, I don't work for or have any investment in any of the name brands I listed above! I'm just 1 mommy trying to make our home a bit safer and the economy a little better! Stop buying foreign made products, don't be afraid to let companies know that as long as they outsource we won't support them with our hard earned money, and jobs will start to return to the USA!
    Here are a few great websites to get you started:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blackened Tilapia Sandwiches... Where the Southern US. meets Vietnam

Ok, so far this blog is definitely more food than anything else but oh well :) I do love me some food!!! So this is a recipe that I found a few years ago when hubby and I were trying to find ways to incorporate more fish into our diet. The original recipe is a Paula Deen recipe which, in true Paula fashion, starts off with a hefty helping of BUTTER! Being that we were trying to eat healthier, I immediately decided to take this recipe under my wing and make it my own. First things first, 1 stick of butter... Really Paula!?! Ok, enough Paula Deen bashing. I don't love the way she cooks but she does remind me of my Nana :) For the record, I do always make a recipe the way it's written the first time I make it. If I love it then I don't do anything to it but there are some recipes that I've tried that need a good old fashioned tweak!
         So once I eliminated the butter, I started testing out the amounts and flavors of the other seasonings. I found that the 1/4 cup of paprika made the fish taste like nothing but paprika. After cutting everything in about half I found that the flavor was still missing something significant! CUMIN!!! I added a little cumin and it was perfect! The original recipe serves the sandwich with a cilantro lime mayo which, when I made it, I found tasted like mayo... not cilantro or lime, just mayonnaise. I decided this was something else that needed "fixing". I took some ideas from one of my all time favorite sandwiches, the Vietnamese Banh Mi. Banh Mi has a protein of some kind (traditionally it's pate) on nice fresh bread, topped with pickled daikon radish and carrots, tons of cilantro (what you would typically see as lettuce on any American sandwich), and sriracha mayo (there's a fantastic recipe for Banh mi here). I personally didn't like the pickles on the blackened fish, so I left those off  but the cilantro and sriracha mayo hit the nail right on the head! A last second squeeze of fresh lime was the last touch.  The final, perfect (in my opinion) blackened fish sandwich had been created!
oh, and p.s. this sandwich comes in, with mayo and a giant roll, at about 500 calories (according to compared to Ms. Paula's at about 985 :)

Blackened Tilapia hybrid sandwiches:

  • 2 TBSP sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 TBSP ground thyme
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • red pepper flake to taste (optional)
  • 4, 4-6oz. tilapia loin filets
  • 4 kaiser rolls
  • bunch of fresh cilantro, washed (you could use basil here if you don't like cilantro, just don't use as much!!)
  • 4 TBSP mayo and sriracha mixed to your particular spice preference 
  1. Combine all the spices together in a small dish and then sprinkle onto the fish. 
  2. Heat either a grill or pan to med high and cook the fish until just beginning to flake apart easily, approximately 3-4 minutes per side (if doing in a pan, you will need a bit of cooking spray so the fish doesn't stick)
  3. mix your mayonnaise and siracha together and spread on both sides of the bun (I make extra for dipping too)
  4. Place desired amount of cilantro on bun and top with fish
  5. Squeeze a wedge (1/4) of lime or lemon over fish 
  6. ENJOY!!!

Start by generously coating the tilapia loins with the seasoning mixture.

The finished product!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Thank you Pinterest!

I'm going to start this post with a shout out to Pinterest... I love it! I originally started using it to pass the time while my youngest naps (he likes to fall asleep while nursing and if I dare move him, he wakes right up). One of my good friends warned me, "you'll become obsessed", and she was not wrong. Mixed in with all the wonderful DIY crafting ideas are some awesome recipes. This particular recipe was one of the first I tried (and this time I remembered to take a picture before we devoured them all). Peanut butter cup bars! They taste just like the real thing!!! Instead of rewriting the whole recipe here, I'm posting a link to the original blog where the recipe came from.... note how much nicer her pictures are compared to mine, lol!

Peanut butter bars!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just a quick share

A friend of mine pinned this on Pinterest and I already shared it on FB and texted it to my peeps but I'm a bit obsessed with this quote so I'm putting it up here too :) Our men might make us crazy but I sure do love mine! He's been waking up early with me to work out and on the days we don't work out, he still gets up with M so they can have some 1 on 1 time (and lets me and baby L sleep in!) I'm a very lucky lady <3

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jalepeno Artichoke Chicken...

Last night I was going to make chicken piccata for dinner. I use the same recipe every time and it's delicious, every time. But for some reason, I was feeling creative so I decided to try something new. No recipe, just whatever came to me. I pulled out of my fridge a shallot, chicken, artichoke hearts, sour cream, dry vermouth, and jalapeno artichoke dip from Costco. It came out so good! I served it with nice soft polenta. Delicious! Of course, I made a rookie blogger mistake.... We devoured it before I could take a picture :(

Playgroups: A parent's way to socialize or a cause of unnecessary mommy guilt?

Recently, I've been reevaluating some of the more common parenting practices and trying hard to figure out why I hate so many of them. My oldest son is now 2 and for the sake of this blog we'll just call him M. When M was first born, I decided straight away that we needed to enroll him in something, ANYTHING to get him interacting, socially, with other children. I know it sounds silly, but ever since my days as a nanny in San Diego, it's been drilled into my brain that in order for children to thrive they simply must begin their social lives ASAP.
        There are countless playgroups, some of which you must apply and pay for to be a part of, classes, demos, seminars, workshops, etc. Working as a nanny in SD, I had come to terms with the fact that I was well below most of the other mom's socioeconomic statuses but that was no problem because I wasn't the one paying for all the classes (but for the record, my boss was amazing and very level headed about all the nonsense too)! When we got pregnant with our first son, my husband had just been accepted into a graduate program in Michigan. I had high hopes for our life here in MI! I figured "there have to be lots of other moms around my age and in similar financial situations!! M and I will make tons of friends! I mean, it's a college town after all"! But after 2 years living here, it really doesn't feel terribly different that California. All of the moms I've had the pleasure of interacting with here in MI are perfectly pleasant but it doesn't feel as though we have anything in common other that we've all birthed children. My husband is a student, theirs all have "real" jobs. We rent, most of them own. I can't afford to pay to be part of an organization just to have to pay for my kids to take classes at said organization. Their strollers cost close to what we pay in rent, mine I got on sale and with a coupon (and it was still expensive!).
       Now don't get me wrong, we live very comfortably! My husband works hard so that we can do lots of stuff, take a few trips a year, and really don't want for much of anything. I just can't seem to bring myself to spend money so my children can socialize! Plus, most "mom's groups" tend to feel very clicky.
       It used to be, back in my day (said in a crotchety old voice), that you made friends on the playground, around the hood, and in school. Now, before your child is even 1, people are asking you "what classes are they taking?", "have you looked into any preschools yet?", "shouldn't you put them in daycare so they can interact?". When did parental interaction become not good enough?! We should be baking cookies, playing with clay, blowing bubbles outside after a picnic lunch with our kids! I don't want some stranger teaching my boys how to tumble, I want to do that! That saying "Dance like no one's watching", we should be doing that, every day with our kids!!!


So, you've decided to start a blog...

I'm not exactly sure what inspired me to start a blog. Everyone who knows me, knows that I have an opinion on just about everything, so that could be a big part of it. I've been reading a lot of blogs lately, mostly on food, fitness, or parenting and I wanted to create my own that will incorporate all of those elements along with many other topics. I suppose this blog won't necessarily "focus" on any one aspect... it'll just be me talking, ranting, sharing about any given thing on any given day. This is a short first post but I wanted to get writing and I have limited time (nap time dictates my life :). I hope Happy Headaches doesn't feel too redundant because I know in this world of social media and the internet, personal blogs are a dime a dozen. But I will try to be fun, funny, and entertaining, and most of all relevant!