The Return of Muffin Tin Meals!

We have been really, REALLY busy with family in town these past few weeks. We have been sightseeing all around the Island (more on that later this week), and enjoying some relaxation time with other adults around to play with (and spoil) the Island Kids.

That said, this week's Muffin Tin Meal theme is "favorite foods." Normally, macaroni and cheese would have been first on the list, but the kids had that last night, as Island Dad and I were out for a date.

Top Row: Apple circles with cinnamon, grilled cheese sandwiches in the shape of a "J" and stars, chocolate pudding with star-shaped sprinkles.
Bottom Row: Grilled cheese, "Number 4" egg (hard-boiled), raisins

The name of the egg: We were visiting friends last winter when Island Boy was about 23 months old and just starting to recognize numbers, but not yet letters. These friends had a stash of hard-boiled eggs stored in their refrigerator for breakfasts. The hard-boiled eggs were marked, of course, with an "H" on the shell. Island Boy mistook the "H" for a number 4, and has thus been referring to them as "number 4 eggs" ever since. We haven't really bothered to correct him....

At any rate, he ate about half of everything, going (surprisingly) for the apple slices over the pudding as his first item. He liked it all, just was not in an eating-type mood today. The adults in the house have all been passing around a cold, and I suspect Island Boy may be dealing with the cold, as well. Looking forward to getting back into the swing of Muffin Tin Mondays again!


Fuzzy Paradise Bed & Breakfast

I mean what I'm about to say in the most polite, kindest way possible (and I truly am happy to have had my parents and then my in-laws come to visit): lately, I feel as though I'm running a Bed & Breakfast! First, my parents were here for 17 days (9 of which, my brother was also here for). They left on Monday morning (early). The housekeeper came later Monday morning and did the "big" clean (I do little cleans here and there, but it's so, so nice to have someone else do the bathrooms and floors!) Island Dad's parents arrived on Tuesday night (late). Just about 36-hour turn-over, lol.

We had a great visit with my parents and brother, and, if the rain ever lets up, the visit with Island Dad's parents should be just as great! The Island Kids are both eating up all of the attention (you know, the kind that only grandparents can give) and spoiling.

I observed the other day that Island Dad and I have both picked up different things that we've kind of become good at "tour guiding." For instance, he knows a lot of facts and figures about size of the island, population of the island, and military history of the island. I can now give a pretty good tour of the WWII sites on the island (though he knows the sites on the Naval Base a bit better than I do). I also know more about the area around the Basilica in Agana than he does, while he knows more about the southern end of the Island than I do.

Living in such a remote location, we are fortunate to even have family members who are both willing and able to visit us. We are even more fortunate that there are plenty of things to do here to keep visitors occupied, and that we enjoy finding new things to try all the time. As it turns out, being forced to act as someone else's tour guide can turn you into a pretty good tour guide quite quickly.


Going Healthier

I have two main food-related goals for the year:
1) Get all of us eating more fruits and veggies (not such a problem for Island Girl who will literally eat anything, but a HUGE problem for the rest of the Island Family).

2) Incorporate one meat-less meal a week. This should help in the eating more fruits and veggies category. Island Dad will just have to suck it up and deal with it. He'll thank me in the end, right?

So, tonight was my first go at the meat-less meal (not vegan, mind you, just no meat).

From Taste of Home Magazine, we tried out Black Bean Cakes with Mole Salsa.

1 can (15 oz. Black Beans), rinsed and drained
1 egg, beaten
1 cup shredded zucchini (1 small zucchini)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin

Salsa Ingredients
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
3 Tbsp. grated chocolate
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 to 2 tsp. minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 tsp. honey.

In a small bowl, mash beans. Add the egg, zucchini, bread crumbs, cheese, chili powder, salt, baking powder and cumin; mix well. Shape into six patties; brush both sides with oil. Place on a baking sheet.

Broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until a thermometer reads 160*.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all salsa ingredients. Serve with black bean cakes.

My modifications: 

I inadvertently left out the baking powder and cumin. Would not have known a difference at all, though they were likely more dense without the baking powder. Even without the cumin, these were still VERY flavorful, especially when eaten with the salsa.

In the salsa, I left out the chipotle peppers (I have not been able to eat them at all since I was pregnant with Island Boy 3 years ago). I also left out the cilantro, mostly because I can't ever use it all up when I buy it, and also because Island Nanny doesn't care for cilantro. The salsa was still plenty amazing without either one, and Island Boy even managed to eat a few bites of "chocolate tomatoes" and "chocolate peppers". And this is a child who NEVER eats raw vegetables (I "forgot" to tell him that there was zucchini in the "cakes"....oops!)

Now, I did also over-buy on the zucchini. So, I made Zucchini Sweet Potato bread!
I based my recipe off of the zucchini bread recipe from the Joy of Cooking (Rombauer, Becker, & Becker, 2006, p. 628).

Zucchini Sweet Potato Bread
1.25 all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated zucchini  (squeezed of excess moisture)

Preheat oven to 350*. Combine first four ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, eggs, sweet potatoes, vanilla, and salt. Blend well. Stir in the dry ingredients. Stir in zucchini with a few swift strokes.

Pour into a greased 9 in. x 5 in. loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.

With the addition of sweet potatoes, this turned out amazingly moist, and so, so yummy!


10 Months!

As of today, Island Girl is now 10 months old.

At lunch a few days ago. Handling the straw like a semi-pro.

She has changed so very much in the last 10 months. At birth, she was 9 lbs. 5.5 oz., and 20.34 inches. Now, she is pushing 20 lbs. and 28 inches She has a well baby check tomorrow, so we'll get an official weight and length then. 

She's been hitting milestones one after the other lately. She pulls herself up to standing very consistently now (she's been doing this for a few weeks), and is starting to cruise along whatever surface she is holding onto at the time.

She still army crawls, except for when she is going a short distance between two things she wants to stand up on. Then she crawls on all fours. And when she army crawls, we refer to her as [Island Girl] The Alligator. She's so fast with the army crawl that she does, in fact, resemble a reptile.

She's starting to pick up words, too. She can say something that sounds (to us) like Island Boy's name while looking at her brother, something that resembles "bye-bye" while waving, and something that sounds like "stinky" while waving her hand in front of her nose. Oh! And she can play the "so big" game like she's been doing it her whole life. And she applauds herself when she's done it right, haha.

It's so hard to believe that a year ago I was feeling hugely pregnant, though still had 2 months to go. Harder still to believe is that a year ago, we had no idea who this little person we were waiting to meet would turn out to be. She fits so totally perfectly in with our family, and is, in some way, a perfect balance for each of the other three of us (just as Island Boy is, just as Island Dad and I  both are). She is fun, bubbly, and willing to jump into just about anything (except anyone other than her mommy or daddy's arms for now). And she hate, hate, HATES being told "no." She listens and stops, but oh, is she unhappy about it!


Teething Bites

Island Girl has been working on teeth lately. Working HARD. As of Christmas, she had just her two bottom teeth fully through, and a third bottom one that had poked through shortly before. Two weeks later, she now also has two top teeth through the gum, and a couple of other tooth-y looking bumps on her bottom gum.

Normally a happy baby who is excellent advertisement to have more babies, Island Girl has been outright GRUMPY lately. She wants to be held, but not be still while being held. That's not a lot of fun for the person holding her (i.e. me). She also was wanting to nurse significantly more frequently. That part wasn't a huge deal, except that that's in addition to wanting to be held nearly constantly. And, oh! the constant whining and/or crying.

And we can forget about her going to bed as easily as she used to. Lately, it's a screamfest even if she's completely fed, dry, and tired. There's been a fair amount of rocking and back patting lately. I refuse to fall into the same traps we did with Island Boy when he was a baby, so she always always always falls asleep in her bed. No nursing to sleep, no rocking to sleep (she won't sit long enough for the latter, anyway).

One other super fun thing she's started along with the teething is biting. Her favorite thing to bite is.....me. When she's done nursing, she clamps down, grins, and pulls back (teeth still clamped). Believe me, she's the only one smiling when she does it!

Hopefully, she will get several teeth out of the way now, and then we can all have a bit of a break. I'm sure she's ready to stop hurting, and I'm ready to have my sunshine-y baby back. Just in time for her to turn into a toddler!


Through a Tourist's Eyes

We are all healthy here again, thankfully! My turn arrived on Friday, and I spent all of Friday, and a good part of Saturday feeling pretty crummy. But, I'm back to full steam now. Yay!

My parents (Island Nanny and Island Grandpa) and brother (Island Uncle 1) arrived on Friday. Island Grandpa has, unfortunately, already picked up the stomach bug. Thankfully, we know it passes quickly.

Before he got sick, though, we were keeping pretty busy, seeing our island through the eyes of tourists. Saturday, Island Dad and Island Uncle 1 went out geocaching and explored Pagat Cave.
Island Dad inside the cave
(photo credit: Island Dad)

Island Uncle 1 checking things out

Island Uncle 1 going cliff-jumping 
They had a great time, and I was truly sad to have missed the experience. Island Girl has been clingy lately, so I was definitely needed at home.

The following day, we took them to Ritidian Beach. This is one of our very favorite spots on The Island.

Because of changing trade winds and currents, the waves were absolutely HUGE while we were there. They break very far from shore, so it's still swimmable. The waves were supremely awesome, though. Island Boy tolerated them quite well, and even squealed with delight when they would "tickle" his toes. Island Girl, being all about mimicking lately, also started squealing along with her brother. Island Nanny and Island Grandpa had a great time playing with the kids, and Island Grandpa in particular had a grand time showing Island Boy how to use a turtle-shaped sand mold. 

Today, Island Girl and I ran some errands in the morning. Island Boy has wanted no one's company besides Island Nanny these past few days, so he stayed home with her. After our errands were done, we picked up Island Boy and Island Nanny and visited K-Mart and Home Depot. It's noteworthy that this was only my second trip to K-Mart (here), but that we frequent Home Depot.

Otherwise, it was an easy, relaxing day. The rest of the week will hold other adventures, as well, while Island Uncle 1 is here, and we'll find other ways to occupy ourselves during the remaining week-plus that Island Nanny and Island Grandpa are here.