April 2013

Showers: April Wrap Up

We have definitely seen many showers here in the midwest, and for that I am completely grateful. The grass is green, the flowers are starting to bloom, and you know what that means? Commence the daily Allegra.

In all seriousness, while the winter here was pretty mild, I am very happy that spring is here!
I created a few recipes this month that I think will be perfect for the warmer months. The first was a simple and perfectly tart recipe for lemon squares that were the Smart Cookie recipe for the month of April. Next up, was Chocolate Zabaglione which is something that was a little out of my comfort zone, but will be perfect as it requires no baking and is the perfect compliment to all the berries that are in season. I created a portable caprese salad which while very simple could be the perfect appetizer for any summer event. Finally, last week, I tried my hand at some easy Indian butter chicken, and think I will try my hand at some more Indian Cuisine.
April was a little light on the home projects, but to be honest, I am kind of in a place of contentment with how things have been running around here. Let’s be honest though, I will be getting the bug for some projects soon. I did however show off a paint job that was well over due: the new color in the family room as well as shared some furniture that had been rearranged.
I did tackle a few smaller projects such as a simple party favor idea. I also accomplished the hardest puzzle of all time for Earth Day with the kids. I was also able to go through some old family recipes. Finally, we finally got around to packing up all of the glasses that Russell has collected to give to New Eyes for the Needy.
We were able to celebrate with our extended family a wonderful Easter.
Last but certainly not least, we celebrated G’s birthday, and I have to say that was the highlight of this month.
You know what they say: April Showers bring May Flowers… or mud, but hoping for flowers.
PS This is my 200th post on Home Everyday. Thank you so much to my readers for your support. 

Quick Dinner and Reminiscing: Indian Butter Chicken

When it comes to making dinner for my family, there are days where I just want to prepare something fast and not do a ton of prep or cleanup.

The other day, it was so nice outside we spent a lot of time outside, and I knew we probably would be making our way out again after dinner too, so cleanup should be at a minimum too.
Then, I remembered I had purchased this:


The first time Brian and I had ever had Indian butter chicken was when our friend, Sunita, had us over for dinner a few years ago. We spent a lot of time chatting and hanging out, and eating. Brian kept asking for more. Since then, whenever I have butter chicken I think of Sunita.
While we enjoy this type of cuisine, I have to say I am a teeny bit intimidated by it, so when I saw this simmer sauce, I thought it would be fun to give it a whirl. Kind of a way to get me going. Also, it was fast and easy. Only 20 minutes. 


Normally, I like to give every detail of a recipe, but I honestly feel kind of weird doing that when all I did was follow the directions on the back of a package, and all packages might be different. However, I did jazz it up with some roasted pineapple for fun. I thought that if the butter chicken was too hot the pineapple might cool us down. It worked.
First, I made basmati rice. While the rice was cooking, I sauteed some chicken and followed the directions on the butter chicken package. Finally, I sliced up some pineapple into spears, placed the slices on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and put it in the oven at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.It only took 20 minutes for this:


Brian had seconds, which means it was good.

Now that I have my feet wet, I’m ready to dive into some Indian cooking. It look like I will have to start trying recipes in my fellow ChicagoNow blogger, Anupy Singla’s book, Indian as Apple Pie.

Family Room Reveal

Last month, I finished painting and organizing the family room. Since finishing this project, I have taken on a few other things, and completely forgot to post photos for you to see our freshly painted room.

The original color was a very peachy tan as you can see here:

After painting some swatches of a few variations of soft gray on the walls, we made the decision and went with Behr’s Barnished Clay in a flat finish. It is soft, neutral, and is almost warm. This is a color that we used in both bathrooms, and while I did want to try something different, sometimes you have to stick with what you know you like.


Here is another before:


Here is the after:


Once we finished painting, we completed the furniture switch, we sorted the toys, and created a better play area for the kids.


I also moved the craft table. Having it near the ledge near the stairs allows us to store buckets of crayons, coloring books and supplies.

Finally I created little area near the fire place for reading stories and set up Coco’s dollhouse for her to have a separate place for her to play on her own.


I am really loving it! Now that my family room is less peach and more gray, I can focus on doing a teeny bit more sprucing. I’m hoping to add a extra large ottomon for kicking up and watching movies, hiding the cords for the TV, and perhaps slipcovering the couch near the fire place.Anyone else finish a paint project or move around some furniture?

Earth Day, Goodwill and a Puzzle

A few months ago, we made our way to Goodwill to look for lamps. While we were unsuccessful with the lamps, we did find some puzzles and books. We were able to find a book of Nursery Rhymes for Caroline, The Encyclopedia of Horses and Ponies for George, and this awesome 3D Globe Puzzle for Russell.

Yesterday, I was trying to find something to do for Earth Day with the kids, when Russell suggested we do the earth puzzle since we hadn’t tried it yet. ‘What a great idea!’ I thought. I mean what better way to celebrate Earth Day than with a reused puzzle of the Earth. Russell is a genius.

While I realized that this puzzle was kind of difficult for the age range of my kids (540 pieces), they were extremely helpful by taking the pieces out, flipping them all over, and then they sorted the puzzle by the numbers printed on the back of each piece into groups. (NOTE: If you’ve never done a 3D Puzzle before, they are often numbered as they must be put together in a certain order so they do not collapse).

My favorite part of doing the puzzle was talking about Earth Day with the kids. When George asked about it, I said that it is a day where we celebrate our planet. We then talked about things that we could do help keep the Earth happy and healthy. This activity was perfect for opening up the conversation. Which I will say doing any kind of simple with my kids lends it self to conversation.

We started after lunch, and worked on it all afternoon taking breaks to play outside and take naps. We were able to finish before bedtime.

They were so excited.

What did you do with your family mark Earth Day?

Just a Reminder: It’s Better to Give Than to Receive

With the week that we have all had, I thought it might be nice to remember there is good in this world. Sometimes, we just need a reminder.

A few months ago, Russell turned 5. As part of his birthday celebration, he asked to collect glasses for those that cannot get glasses themselves. You can read more about Russell’s birthday and collecting glasses here.

Over the past few months we have been collecting glasses from everyone we know. We got the word out to our parish in the city, and even the kids’ babysitter asked her sorority sisters to help out. Meema was able to gather quite a few pairs from her friends.

Well, over the course of 4 months, Russell (with the help of our wonderful family and friends) was able to collect hundreds of pairs of glasses (if I could guess it would be in the 200 to 300 pair range). Every time we wanted to send them on there way, people would give us more and more glasses. It was amazing to us how many people wanted to help. It was also so wonderful to see Russell get so excited to put the glasses in the box every time he received a pair.

A few weeks ago, we thought it would be a good time to box them all up and get them ready to send to New Eyes for the Needy.

The kids were so happy to help.



The kids very carefully put them in some boxes with bubble wrap.


These two HUGE boxes are ready to go, and give so many people the opportunity to see.

I’m so proud of my children I cannot even explain. I am always proud of them and their accomplishments in school, sports, and as they achieve developmental and personal milestones, but I have to say to see my kids willingly and excitedly showing compassion and wanting to help people has been the most rewarding accomplishment of all.

Sometimes we just need a reminder of all the good there is in this world.


A Word on Running and Those in Boston

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about what has happened in Boston. While I am having a hard time gathering my thoughts regarding this horrific tragedy, I, quite honestly, don’t think I can write about much else today.

I have been running since I was 13 years old. Running with my Dad. I was a member of both my high school cross country and track teams. I continued running through college, and into adulthood. I have done countless 5K and 10K races, and have even completed a marathon in my lifetime.

I love running.

When I think about running, I know my times are slow, and sometimes the road is rough for me, my focus is always on moving forward. In that moment in a race when I am through the worst, and I see those I love cheering for me, my mind goes to a place of complete peace.

When I was thinking about those in Boston, I know that healing, grieving are slow processes and the journey ahead for those affected will be rough. With the help of all of us, I hope we can help those affected somehow find peace.

You are in my heart, Boston.

A Blast from the Past: Recipes

There seem to be few things that can take you to the past like food. While I agree, old photographs and mementos can remind of you certain moments of you life. The smells and tastes of certain foods can immediately take you back in time to experiencing a moment again.

Sometimes, I like to think of food as a time machine.

There are certain recipes that I make to remind me of certain people. There are recipes in my family that come to be known by the person’s name, simply because it reminds us of them.

We have a recipe for baked chicken that has come to be known as Nano’s Chicken. My Grandma Nano made it quite a bit. While it is a common recipe and can be found pretty easily, I make it from memory and think of eating dinner with my family at her house.

I have been trying to master zucchini frittata for years, as it reminds Brian of his own grandmother. When I first made it for him, he immediately started telling stories of sleepovers and stopping by his Grandma’s house after work.

A few weeks ago, my cousin emailed and asked if I had any old recipes. I am so glad she did. I asked my Mom and one of my Aunts if they had anything, and they had a few things for me.


After sending them to my cousin, I cannot wait to try some of them.

Perhaps, I will be transported back in time.

What are your favorite family recipes? What do they make you think of?

Home Everyday continues to send concern and thoughts to those affected by the events at yesterday’s Boston Marathon. 

Fancy Meets Practical: Party Favors

Party Favors are something that I kind of have a love/hate relationship with.

The girly side of me loves all the ideas on Pinterest with beautiful gift bags filled with pretty little things.

But the practical side of me thinks that party favors are pretty pointless unless they are a.) food  or b.) something I need.

While I understand that a favor is something that says Thank You to your guests, I sometimes feel that isn’t the party, entertainment, appetizers, meal, and dessert kind of a Thank You too?

So, when planning a party, I try to have a little something for my guests to take with them, but I always do something food related or practical.

A few weeks ago, with the help of some friends, we threw a small baby shower. I had thought about doing Sprinkles Cupcakes because c’mon, who doesn’t like cupcakes, but then suddenly a wonderful idea came upon me: Champagne Favors!

In our wonderful world of technology, there are no more phone trees to get the news out of a baby’s arrival. With a few clicks or swipes on a smartphone, people can send notice of the baby’s safe arrival, that Mom is doing alright, and a picture of the new baby hours… or even minutes old.

With that, I thought it would be awesome if all of our friends could be toasting to the new baby at the same time. While we couldn’t all be together for the arrival of the baby, we could all be sharing a sip of something bubbly and sending good wishes to the new family.

I wrote a short poem, printed it out using PicMonkey, and then tied them with ribbon to splits of bubbly.

The favor cost less than even cupcakes, and seriously, what’s more practical than champagne?

PS I am over at ChicagoNow this week too!



Happy 4th!

Last week was my George’s 4th Birthday! When your kids’ birthdays fall around holidays like my kids, a lot of celebrating happens. We celebrated a little bit with all of our extended families on Easter Sunday, but on his actual birthday, we tried to make the day special.

He started the day wearing his favorite baseball jersey he got from Nana. After school we played lot of baseball in the yard and colored some pictures. When Daddy got home we had George’s favorite dinner of all George’s favorites: chicken nuggets, grapes, carrots, and cucumbers.
His wonderful Godmother dropped off some allergen free red velvet cupcakes and as you can see, he couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Next up, was present time. For those of you that know George, you know he LOVES anything equestrian. We have books, toys, movies, and clothing. So he received lots of gifts with this kind of theme.


Russell, however, decided to go against the grain, and buy George a limited edition Lighting McQueen. That too was a hit!
I cannot believe George is four. When he was born, I remembering feeling scared about going from one child to two in such a short span of time, but we quickly fell into a wonderful routine. Russell loves playing with his baby brother, and Caroline calls him her Georgie. We cannot imagine our family without this wonderful, rambunctious, cuddly, considerate, smart, and hilarious boy.
Happy 4th, Georgie Boy!

Out of my Comfort Zone: Chocolate Zabaglione

This past weekend, our friends invited us over for dinner. It was wonderful. There is nothing better than good conversation, great food, and happy kids playing for hours.

I asked if I could bring something, and thought maybe this would be a good time to try something new. I wanted to go beyond a traditional baked dessert of pie, cake, brownies, or cookies. Also, since I only had to bring dessert, I thought it might be fun to try something that was a little bit more labor intensive.


I stared digging through my cookbooks, and in Giada De Laurentiis ‘s Everyday Italian I saw this recipe for Chocolate Zabaglione.

Zabaglione is traditionally an Italian vanilla cream custard that is served with fruit. To Brian, it isn’t dessert unless it is chocolate, so I thought this would be perfect. Also, it gave me a chance to use my new double boiler.

I did make a few changes to the recipe based on what I had on hand. For example, I used a very dry white wine that I had on hand instead of a Marsala wine. Also, I did not have the large eggs that the recipe calls for, so I used 9 egg yolks instead of 8. Finally, the kids love all kinds of berries, so instead of using just strawberries, I used a mixture of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Everyone LOVED it!

Chocolate Zabaglione adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
8 large or 9 medium egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup dry white wine
pinch of salt
1 pint strawberries hulled and sliced
1 6 oz container of raspberries
1 6 oz container of blackberries

In a small sauce pan, gently heat cream and chocolate chips stirring constantly until smooth. Set aside, but keep warm stirring occasionally.

In the top part of a double boiler, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, wine, and salt. Then carefully set over the bottom part of the double boiler with simmering water (NOTE: Don’t let the water touch the bottom of your double boiler). Whisk the mixture constantly while over the heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until it reaches 160 degrees.

Remove from heat, and then carefully fold in the chocolate mixture.

You can serve warm over berries, or let cool for 6-8 hours in the fridge before serving. It is important to note you cannot reheat this recipe.

We enjoyed it cold.