Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chicken Pasta in a Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Sauce

Chicken Pasta in a Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Sauce

The best inventions in the kitchen are the ones that are thrown together without thinking or measuring!  I came up with this yesterday and I've replicated it today so I could blog it.  If I didn't, I would end up forgetting it, and I love to share good food with you all! The creamy spinach and mushroom sauce calls for 2 cups of heavy whipping cream along with one cup of cheese, so it might not be the best diet-friendly meal, but you could always make a healthier Greek yogurt sauce and use the rest as the basis for the recipe! 

The Ingredients - Forgot to picture the garlic, olive oil, and pasta.  Just imagine that they're there!
After cooking the onions until translucent, add the spinach and stir to coat
Pop the stems from the mushrooms and then slice them across and then longways. 
Add mushrooms to the spinach and onions and stir on medium heat until mushrooms become juicy and are soft
Add cream 
Add water with bouillon
Add cheddar cheese
Add Parmesan cheese 

Shake chicken in bag with parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder
After cutting chicken into bit-sized pieces, heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet and begin to cook chicken
After chicken is done, add sauce to skillet and continue to simmer on low
For the pasta, use the same saucepan you used to make the sauce.  It will add flavor to the pasta, and honestly, our dishwasher is broken, so the less dishes the better!
Once pasta is cooked and drained, combine pasta and sauce in a large bowl
Just look at that creamy goodness!
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan  

Place onion in a medium sized saucepan with 1Tbs of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add clove of garlic and cook for an additional  30 seconds. Throw in the spinach and stir into the onions and garlic. Once spinach is cooked, add sliced mushrooms. Continue to cook, while stirring, until mushrooms are juicy and soft. Add cream and water with bouillon. Bring to a slight boil and then turn the heat down to low. Stir in cheddar and parmesan cheeses.  Let simmer and stir occasionally.

While the sauce is simmering and remembering to stir occasionally, put 2Tbs of extra virgin olive oil in a medium size skillet on medium heat.  Shake chicken breasts in bag with parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder until well coated then cut into bite-size pieces.  Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and stir until browned.  Put lid on skillet and continue to cook until done, stirring occasionally.  Once chicken is cooked all the way through, add the sauce to the chicken, turn heat to low, and let simmer to thicken.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, stir into sauce, and serve with freshly grated parmesan sprinkled on top!

1 large onion, diced
1 minced clove of garlic
1Tbs + 2Tbs extra virgin coconut oil
5oz organic spinach
8oz portobello mushrooms 
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup water with 1 chicken bouillon 
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 large chicken breasts
2Tbs parsley
1tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
14.5 oz whole wheat spiral pasta

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Extended Rear Facing - Life and Death

My three year old and my fourteen month old safely rear facing

My oldest son, Wesley, is three years old and weighs 35lbs.  He is still rear facing along with his little brother, William, who is 14 months old and weighs 18lbs.  Both of my children will continue rear facing until they reach the height/weight limits on the car seats.  Believe me, I've had friends think I'm crazy and family members think I'm a "mean mom", but I am educated in my decision and this is what is right for our family.  Wesley doesn't mind rear facing one bit and has never complained about his legs hurting.  It's funny to see him criss-cross them, put them high up in the air, or just perch like a frog.  He's young, flexible, and perfectly content with his seating arrangement.  I joke to my husband that I want the kids in the best car seats I can find and continue rear facing because I don't trust my own driving, but even if I was a perfect driver I can't protect us from other vehicles on the road.  What I can do is keep my children as safe and secure as I can in my vehicle.

Kicking the seat in excitement after finding out that we were on our way to the ranch

In the most recent policy statement published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children should remain rear facing until two years old or until they reach the height and weight limit on the rear facing car seat and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you should keep your 1-3 year old child rear facing as long as possible and should remain in a rear facing car seat until they have reached the height and weight limit.  While the AAP just came out with this statement changing the minimum to 2 years old last year, they've always recommended keeping your child rear facing as long as possible and only listed 1 year old and 22lbs as a minimum.  Parents looked at the 1 year old and 22lbs as a milestone and were excited to turn their children around and didn't realize that it was a minimum, and turning their child around put them in danger.  How can I go so far as to say that it could be putting their children in danger?  A 2007 study in the journal, Injury Prevention found that children under age 2 are around 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Crash studies done by the International Consumer Organization, ICRT and ADAC on 13,000 crashes, show that head and neck injuries and death are FIVE TIMES less likely when using a rear facing car seat. Studies of real life accidents done by Volvo and insurance companies show that children in rear facing seats are FIVE TIMES safer than those in forward facing seats.  Five times?  That's life or death.

AAP Recommendations -
NHTSA Recommendations -
Injury Prevention study abstract -

There are a few reasons why rear facing is so much safer for your child.  It seems that the main point is that when you are in a frontal crash, the child's body will be thrown forward like a rag doll if sitting in a forward facing car seat.  Because the bones that protect the child's spinal cord do not harden until they are between the age of 2-5 years old, this can mean internal decapitation.  Frontal and frontal offset crashes combine for about 72% of severe crashes and side impact crashes are about 24%.  Rear and rear offset crashes only account for about 4% and are more common at lower speeds.  The odds of being in a frontal crash with a fatality or very serious injury are many times greater than being in a severe rear-end crash. We know that frontal and frontal offset crashes are more frequent and more severe than rear-end crashes.  When rear facing in a frontal crash, the entire shell of the car seat cradles the child's back, neck and head. The crash forces are spread throughout the large area of the child's back and head, reducing the pressure during the crash, and keeping the head from snapping backward with respect to the body.  A child's legs and head are not restrained at all if they are turned front-facing.  In a serious frontal crash with a front-facing car seat, the head and legs of the child are thrown forward like a rag doll, and serious forces are put on the child's spinal cord. 

Video showing the "rag doll" effect in a forward facing seat and the "cushion" of the rear facing seat -
This gives a great visual of weight relation between head and body on children and adults -

My car seat of choice is the Diono Radian RXT (previously known as Sunshine Radian) which is usually priced at $339.99 but is currently on sale for $288.95 on Amazon.  The Diono Radian RXT rear faces until 45lbs, forward faces until 80lbs, and then converts to a booster seat until 120lbs.  This is the only car seat you will need all the way from birth until your child outgrows the carseat.  While the price may seem like a lot, you're not buying an infant seat, convertible car seat, and then a booster seat.  Also, who can put a price on safety?  With the steel alloy frame and aluminum reinforced sides, it's not a light piece of plastic that you could easily pick up with one finger.  This thing is solid and would protect your child in the event of a collision.  - Diono Radian RXT

Because nobody believes anything until it comes from a mainstream media source - CNN Article
This is a great resource for reliable information regarding extended rear facing -

He is three years old and has 10lbs left to go until he is forward facing!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brussel Sprout and Chicken Linguini

Brussel Sprout and Chicken Linguini

This is one of those recipes that came to be when my cabinets were bare and my fridge was close to empty.  I needed to make a meal with what I had on hand, and wanted to use the last of my vegetables that I had in the fridge.  I was so pleased with the results of my endeavors, this is now one of my favorite recipes!  The recipe below will serve two families, for I made this for ourselves and delivered the other portion to some friends who just added a new baby to the family. Feel free to cut the recipe by half, although I recommend using the same amount of chicken and brussel sprouts, but I like chicken and brussel sprouts in each bite! If you haven't ever had brussel sprouts before, or even if you have and didn't enjoy them, I encourage you to try this recipe and see what you think! 

Our ingredients
Saute onions and garlic until translucent 
After peeling, cut brussel sprouts into fourths
Allow to simmer with 1 cup of chicken broth 
Cook chicken breasts and sprinkle with flour 
This is where I skipped a step and didn't photograph adding the milk and cream with the whisked flour and then combining the chicken and cream dish with the brussel sprout dish.  Pretend that I didn't do that.  :) 

Serve on whole wheat linguini and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese

Place onion in a large skillet with garlic and 1Tbs coconut oil (or olive oil) on medium heat. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add in brussel sprouts that you have already peeled the outside layer off of and cut in half and then in half again. Stir into the onions 
and garlic. Add 1 cup of chicken broth (feel free to substitute with 1cup water + 1tsp organic chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube) and place life on skillet.  Bring to a slight boil and then turn the heat down to low.  Stir occasionally.

While the brussel sprouts are cooking, and remembering to stir occasionally, put 1/2Tbs of coconut oil in a medium size sauce pan.  Slice the two chicken breast in half to make them skinny and then cut into bite-size pieces.  Add the chicken breasts to the saucepan and cook until done on medium heat.  Sprinkle with 2Tbs of flour and stir to coat. Whisk 2Tbs of flour into 3 cups of heavy cream and 1 cup of milk, pour onto the chicken and stir together. Add brussel sprout (they should be very tender by this time, if not, cook longer) and chicken broth mixture to the saucepan and stir. Add 1 more cup of chicken broth and stir. Turn to low and heat to thicken.

Serve on whole wheat linguini pasta, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, and enjoy!

½ large onion, diced
1 minced clove of garlic
1Tbs + ½Tbs coconut oil
16oz brussel sprouts
2Tbs + 2Tbs flour
1 cup + 1 cup chicken broth 
3 Cups heavy cream
1 Cup milk
2 packages of whole wheat linguini pasta
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Honey Glazed Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Such a simple dinner, and yet so delicious!

1 4-5lb chicken cut into pieces
1 medium onion cut into pieces
2-3 large sweet potatoes (I use as many as I can make fit!:)
2Tbs olive oil
3Tbs honey
1tsp kosher salt
1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange the chicken, onion, and sweet potatoes in a casserole dish.  Drizzle with the oil and honey and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat.  Bake for 45 minutes, take out to stir, and then bake for another 45 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

The ingredients

Place chicken pieces in dish

Chop onions and sweet potatoes

Layer over chicken pieces

Drizzle with olive oil and honey and then season with salt and pepper

Stir to coat

After baking

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces

I often have people comment on William's necklace asking why in the world my son is wearing that and I just laugh it off and tell them that he is a very fashionable baby.   I don't tend to share about the amazing benefits of baltic amber very often because the response tends to be confusion and skepticism.  I must admit though, before I researched the topic and started using the necklaces on my baby, I had the same reaction!  I was desperately searching for something natural and truly safe to give my baby though.  When Wesley was a baby, he consumed so much Tylenol and Motrin, it's sickening to think about.  There were two times that Tylenol was recalled and I checked the numbers on our half empty bottles to find that we had the recalled medicine.  After researching baltic amber teething necklaces, I still wasn't too convinced, but what could it hurt?  Either it works and I would be amazed or it wouldn't work and at least I would have a fashionable baby! :)

1 month old William with his first teething fever (he broke his first teeth at 4 months)

The first time I used the baltic amber teething necklace on William was when he was a month old and had his first teething fever.  We got the necklace out and put it on halfheartedly not really expecting any results.  The fever appeared that afternoon and was gone by that evening!  Considering that fevers always go up at night, we were completely convinced that the necklace worked.  It was amazing to see our poor son go from absolutely miserable back to his normal, calm self.  The necklace has proved itself time and time again.  William has had a fever due to a cold twice and the necklace reduced the fever to a manageable temperature of just above 100 degrees that would still fight off his cold.  William is 10 months old now and has never had any man-made medicine.  Just breast milk and his baltic amber teething necklace!

2 month old William with his first vaccine reaction.  The water and baltic amber necklace calmed his symptoms.

Information about why baltic amber is effective - "Baltic amber contains 3-8% of succinic acid, a scientifically examined medical substance used in contemporary medicine. The highest content of the acid is found in the amber cortex--the external layer of the stone. Baltic amber is an organic substance, a “fossil resin” produced by pine trees which grew in Northern Europe - from southern regions of the present day Scandinavia and nearby regions of the bed of the Baltic Sea. The climate became warmer and trees started to exude big amounts of resin. Scientists say that amber is a fossil pine resin from this region that has achieved a stable state through oxidation. The active ingredient in Baltic amber is succinic acid, which it has been discovered that there is no risk of the accumulation of surplus amounts of succinic acid in the human organism." - Information taken from

4 month old William learning to sit up

Here's some information about baltic amber teething necklaces that will hopefully clear up some of the common questions.  First, the necklaces are meant to be worn under clothing so the natural oils from the baltic amber are applied topically to the skin.  These necklaces are not meant to be chewed on!  I recommend getting a light-colored and "raw" necklace that hasn't been polished because the highest content of the acid is found in the external layer of the stone.  In regards to the common worry about the necklaces being a chocking hazard, in between each bead is a knot so that in case the necklace breaks, only one bead will fall off.  The necklace is also meant to be tight enough that it shouldn't catch on anything, but if it does, it is made to break easily.  The necklace should not be soaked in water and be taken off before bath time.  Also, babies should never be left alone wearing the necklace, although let's be honest, when are our babies ever without us? :)

I recommend purchasing from Amber Artisans or Inspired By Finn - or - These two sources seem to be the most reputable.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Rumble with Grumble

“The Rumble with Grumble: The Epic Adventures of a Turtle…and Some Bees” – Written by Kelsey Wagner - “And so it came that a turtle and some bees set out on a mission to find, if a monster was asked politely a question, would he, could he be kind?”

I have the pleasure of being dear friends with the author of this adorable and unique children’s book.  I took the boys to her book signing and was so excited to read it, but I honestly didn’t have a chance to do so for a couple of days, due to our constantly busy schedule.  When we finally did get a quiet moment to sit on the couch and crack it open, I was absolutely blown away by the book. 

“The Rumble with Grumble: The Epic Adventures of a Turtle…and Some Bees” is so unique! It certainly is not your average children’s book.  Engaging and challenging words with more than two syllables are used to beautifully tell the story. – “Then the turtle looked up with grout and conviction…” The illustrations are soft and delicate and the animals of the Forest of Sweven are so adorable.  I must admit, I’m quite partial to the “deer who came forth with a decent idea”.

Author, Kelsey Wagner, stated, “What I want to address… plays only a small part in the book, and yet such a major part in the lives of so many. I want to talk about allergies.” She donated all of “The Rumble with Grumble” autographing proceeds to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  If you are interested in having her read her book at your school or event please contact her at She would be happy to talk about allergy awareness with staff, students or just have a fun reading with your little kids.

William with author, Kelsey Wagner

You can purchase “The Rumble with Grumble: The Epic Adventures of a Turtle…and Some Bees”directly on the blog (You can get an autographed hardback here!) - on Amazon here – or at Barnes and Noble here - 

With every purchase of a book, you also get a free audio book download, with the book read by the author! -

Make sure to “like” the book on Facebook! -

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas - 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

This past year has gone by so quickly, we can hardly believe 2012 is nearly here! It has been a year filled with watching the kids grow and learn.   The joys of parenting have presented many wonderful and treasured moments, along with challenges alike.  There haven’t been too many noteworthy events, but a plethora of special moments here and there.   

Our biggest blessing in 2011 was the birth of our second son, William Charles Vaughan.  He was born on March 16th.  He is now nine months old. Oh my, how time flies! He is such a mellow and sweet little boy.  He has a personality very similar to his father’s and it takes a lot to get him worked up, or to show much emotion at all.  William has started standing up all on his own and is working on mastering that talent at this time. While he is very calm, he is also incredibly mobile.  He manages to quietly get into everything!

We have our hands full with Wesley who is two and half years old now. He happens to have a personality quite similar to his mother’s and is an incredibly ornery and difficult ball of fire, and perfect in every way.  He loves anything that has to do with guns or wildlife and enjoyed his first deer hunting trip just a couple of weeks ago.   He is working on learning his numbers and colors, along with the differences between a buck, doe, and fawn.  You know, all of the important things in life!  Our proudest moment with him this year was when he potty-trained shortly before turning two years old.  Who knew how exciting potty-training would be?!? 

Jennifer is currently working two days a week at our local Christian radio stations, The House FM and My Praise FM ( & as an assistant to the promotions department.  She enjoys her job very much and loves being surrounded by wonderful and entertaining co-workers.  Jennifer has become a Silpada Designs Jewelry Independent Representative ( for a hobby in her spare time along with cooking and baking.  She also enjoys focusing on and learning about chemical free, non-toxic, organic products and it has made a big impact in our family.

Steven works from October to March at Red Rock Ranch guiding deer hunts and bird hunts and he is the assistant manager of Evans and Associates Big Fork Ranch April through September.  He often comments how he can’t believe that he actually gets to go hunting for a living! He is busy at this time with guiding bird hunts at work and deer hunting himself on his time-off.  He enjoys coming home to spend the evenings wrestling with the boys before bedtime. 

Christmas is such a special time of year when the weather is cool, the smell of chimney smoke fills the air, and sparkling and decorated trees are seen everywhere.  It’s easy to join into the commercialization of Christmas, but it’s this season that we are reminded of God’s eternal love for us and the Christ Child who was born in a manger.  We are praying for you all and wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

                                                                               Steven, Jennifer, Wesley, & William