Brussels Sprouts to the rescue and a little sweet potatoes on the side of my side dish

I absolutely adore going out to restaurants. One of the things I love the most is coming across a dish that I never would have thought to make myself. I love cooking but it is easy to run out of ideas. If it were up to me we would eat out more often than we actually do. My husband loves home cooked meals and likes to occasionally eat out. So, after I had these two side dishes at a restaurant I just had to learn how to make them myself. If I can’t go out to eat them then I’ll cook them right in my own kitchen. I was never a big fan of Brussels sprouts. To be honest I always thought they had a funky smell and not much in the taste department but after having them at a restaurant I soon became of lover of all things sprouts!! When it comes to fries I believe they should be a main dish and not just a side. They are delicious, so imagine my surprise when I discovered sweet potato fries. Even better and a welcome change from the regular french fries.

Hope you enjoy!

 

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INGREDIENTS

1 ½ pounds of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

¼ cup olive oil

1½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan.
  3. Cover the sprouts in the olive oil, salt and pepper and mix around with your hand to ensure they are all covered.
  4. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender and browned.
  5. Remove from the over, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again.
  6. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

 

sweet potato fries

 

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch long slices, then ¼ wide inch stripes

½ teaspoon of paprika

1 cup salt

¼ cup black pepper

¼ cup garlic powder

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a sheet tray with baking paper
  2. In a large bowl toss the sweet potatoes with just enough olive oil to coat them all.
  3. Sprinkle the paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper on the sweet potatoes.
  4. Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning them occasionally.
  6. Let them cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: Mix some mayonnaise with Sriracha sauce and you have a delicious dipping sauce for the fries!!!

Shaming my life away….

pregnant at a wedding

There is a natural order to life. Things are meant to happen in sequential order. We are taught from a young age even through playground songs that “First comes love, then come marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”. So what happens when all of a sudden you find yourself having reversed the “natural” order of things?

I was raised mostly in Mexico, a very catholic country. There people tend to be very judgmental if you decide to jump out of line and do something that “society” doesn’t consider appropriate. Getting pregnant by your boyfriend when you aren’t married is definitely one of those situations.

When I was 16 years old and living in Mexico I found myself trying to explore who I was and experiencing a surge of hormones most teenagers are faced with. Unfortunately, I was wrecking my reputation and causing a lot of hurt to my siblings when all the rumors about me would circulate around school. At the time I lied and told my parents that I dreamed of learning a third language and I asked them if they could please send me away to boarding school. The next thing I knew I was on a plane headed to the South of France where I would do my International Baccalaureate at the Centre International du Valbonne.

The truth was that I couldn’t bear to be in my home town a second longer. Going to school every day was torture. I had a great group of friends but they would beg me to change my ways for fear of their reputations being tarnished. My little brother would get into fist fights at school defending my honor (or lack thereof) and then my dad would punish him for getting in trouble at school. It was the hardest months of my life. I couldn’t sleep at nights, I found it hard to focus at school and keep up with my school work. Which is why I came up with the idea of going away, leaving everything I had ever known behind. I was only 16 years old but somehow I knew that life was not meant to be that hard. I hoped that distance and a fresh start would be enough to help me through those difficult times and would allow my friends and siblings to mend their own lives.

Gossip is something we all fall into from time to time. We may not do it maliciously but even if we have the best intentions we can find ourselves sharing information that wasn’t ours to share. We find ourselves judging someone else when we don’t have all of the information. We may not set out to be destructive but at some point or another we have hurt someone with the words we allow to come out of our mouths.

Perhaps this is why I was so tormented when I found out I was pregnant. I used to walk to work with my massive pregnant belly and my bare ring finger with my head held low. I used to think people looked straight at my ring finger when they saw I was pregnant and that when they spotted the empty finger they were silently judging me as they walked past.

wedding 2

Pregnancy is normally a magical time for a woman. It is a time when she glows, she is growing life inside of her and everyone can witness the miracle of her growing bump. For me my pregnancy was a time of shame. No one ever came right out and said it to my face but I can imagine the conversations that took place behind my back when people back in my home town found out I was pregnant and unmarried. Not just old classmates but also aunts and uncles who told others at my wedding that they couldn’t believe my parents were celebrating me, it was shameful that I had gotten pregnant and there they were throwing me a lavish wedding. Perhaps things were a lot worse in my mind, perhaps I projected a lot of my own feelings and insecurities on others. All I know is that even after I had my daughter I continued to feel ashamed and guilty for messing up the natural order of things.

It has now been eight years since I was pregnant and I am happy to report that the guilt and shame has faded. It has been a long road to get to this place where I am happy with the way my life has turned out. Perhaps it would have been more convenient if I had gotten married and then gotten pregnant but to be honest I don’t think things would be any different. I wouldn’t love my husband more or my daughter more if I had followed the natural order of things. Many times we are our own worst enemies. When I think back to the amount of time I spent judging myself, being hard on myself and allowing the shame to consume me I want to cry. It didn’t help me, it didn’t make things easier for me and it certainly didn’t fix anything. All I am is grateful now that I lived through it, came out the other side and am stronger for it.

kids

No matter what you are going through don’t forget you are not alone. Hold your head up high and remember that this too shall pass. Things in life are temporary and we have to enjoy them while they last.

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

finished zitti

Baked ziti is an Italian-American staple. I love that it’s so comforting, yet full of fresh, herby flavors. I decided to make things a little easier on myself and use the slow cooker instead of the oven. The best part is I didn’t have to boil the noodles first – they cook perfectly in the marinara sauce!

To brighten up this dish I add fresh basil from our herb garden, rosemary, and lemon juice to the ricotta. And with so much cheesy goodness I decided to leave ours vegetarian, but you could easily add a variety of different meats.

I love the slow cooker because after a long day I can come home to a tasty meal!!

 

INGREDIENTS

Ricotta Mix:

  • 2 eggs
  • 15oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Other:

  • 1lb Penne pasta
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 3 cups parmesan cheese

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Make the Ricotta Mix by beating the two eggs, adding all of the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup basil, 1/2 tbsp rosemary, 1 tbsp lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

basil.jpg

 

ricotta mix.jpg

2. Grease the inside of slow cooker with nonstick spray or butter.

3. Add about 2 cups of pasta sauce in the bottom of slow cooker. Layer ⅓ of penne noodles on top of sauce, followed by ½ of ricotta mixture, and ⅓ of Italian cheese blend, then repeat all steps so there are 2 layers of all ingredients.

layering

4. Top with remaining penne and sauce, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, until noodles are al dente.

5. Top with remaining cheese and cook an additional 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted through.

6. Serve hot and enjoy!

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!!

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What is the Liebster Award?

In the blogging world, the Liebster Award is online recognition given by bloggers to other new bloggers for enjoying or valuing their work. It is meant to highlight and credit favorite new up and coming blogs within our writing community.  It does this by asking the blogger to share answers to 11 questions about themselves and their blog, and then encourages them to nominate blogs deserving of the award.

I was nominated by Meanderwithmeg and I am very grateful that she took the time to read my blog posts and thought I was worth nominating. The fact that anyone takes the time to read what I write in and of itself is a great honor. Being nominated for the Liebster Award is encouragement for me to keep doing what I’ve started. So here it goes….a little insight into the accidentalmommydiaries!

What is the primary reason for starting your blog?

My sister kept pestering me about how funny I am (apparently I’m hilarious…i don’t think so, but hey, who am I to say she is wrong??) and said that I have experienced a lot and would be great at writing a blog. Finally I decided to give it a shot and see if I was any good at it. I think I am still a work in progress but I definitely enjoy being open and honest about my experiences and reading what people think of my posts is very encouraging. If I can help anyone with anything they are struggling with or if I manage to make someone smile when they are having a crappy day then this blog has done exactly what it is meant to. Life is hard, people don’t always share about their struggles and a lot of people in this world go through difficult times on their own thinking they are the only ones facing this. It can sometimes defeat them but if we all open up and share with one another we somehow help each other survive the obstacles in life.

How often do you post content on your blog?

I try and post a few times a week. I have two kids and am going through house renovations so I don’t always get a chance to sit in front of the computer and pour my soul out.

Is there a story behind your blog name?

YES! I got pregnant accidentally straight out of University and it was the biggest most life altering thing that could have ever happened to me. It has kind of defined who I am for the past seven years.

Do you hire people for writing content/creating photography and videos?

I only just started this blog so I haven’t hired anyone to write. I would love to have guest bloggers to bring a treat to my readers. I have some very creating friends so if they ever wanted to create videos or snap some pics for the blog I would totally be up for it.

When you were young, what did you want to grow up to be?

I wanted to be a mother and a wife! I also wanted to own my own Bed & Breakfast. I am people person. I am an extrovert and I have the gift of hospitality. I love inviting people into my home and making them feel welcome and showing them around my town. I always dreamed of one day owning a B&B and getting to do that every week and helping people make lasting memories.

What motivates you to blog?

Sharing my experiences and hopefully helping someone with their struggles or letting them know they are not alone. I also find it therapeutic to put things down on paper.

What is your ideal morning routine?

To stay in bed until 12pm!!!! I am NOT a morning person at all.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would want the power to heal anyone from any disease or injury.

What is your favorite country?

So far I have been to over 50 countries so choosing just one seems near impossible. I love Vienna, Dubrovnik, Hawaii, Tulum, Cambridge, Copenhagen, etc

What is your favorite thing to do abroad?

I love eating, visiting the museums and going to the supermarket. Me and my hubby feel like until we have gone to a grocery store in a foreign country we don’t really have a feel for what their way of life is.

 

Rules of the award:

  1. Thank and link back to your nominator
  2. Answer your 11 Questions
  3. Select your top bloggers

I have nominated several bloggers to be the next recipient of the Liebster Award! Here’s my list:

How to test your marriage….

kitchen remodel

It has been weeks since I have been able to write a blog post. For a while I had the time and the momentum to write from the heart but then our house remodeling got a little chaotic and I had no time to sit in front of a computer.

Let me tell you one thing, if you ever want to test your relationship or your sanity take on a renovation project. I have no idea how Christina and Tarek (#fliporflop) or Chip and Joanna (#fixerupper) manage to stay married throughout the endless hours or remodeling, renovating and decision making.

We bought our house in paradise back in October. We managed to get an amazing deal because the four bedroom house we purchased had been left in the 70’s. We had to renovate every single room of the house, every bathroom and the kitchen. We were very excited to take on this project, it was the first proper house we had bought as a couple. It had so much potential so when we sat down to make the plans for the renovation sky was the limit.

bathroom remodel

Our first problem popped up when we tried to get planning permission from the City of Coronado. Something that was meant to take three weeks turned into an 8 week fiasco. The City kept returning our plans making one correction at a time which extended things and took so much longer than we expected.

We finally managed to get the plans approved by mid-December but then the problem was Christmas and New Years. We managed to get most of the demo done but progress was very slow. Finally, in January we managed to get the ball rolling. Walls had been torn down and wall paper was scrapped off.

When problems arise the easiest person to take it out on is your spouse. When the wrong window gets delivered, the wrong paint gets used and the work isn’t progressing enough your spouse is the one person you can blow off steam with. This is a tricky situation though, as the weeks go on the hostility can do some lasting damage. I realized after a few months the importance of quality time and clear open communication.

luxury shower.jpg

The other person is always going to feel like they are doing more, they are spending more time on issues or they are more involved than the other person. Eventually, I realized this is what was causing the tension in our marriage. Of course my husband felt that I should be doing more because I was at home all day. What he failed to acknowledge (it happens often) is that when I am at home I am looking after two kids, and as any mother knows looking after two kids is not an easy task. Especially when you have to go to a building site and manage people, paint, go to Home Depot. There is only so many hours you can keep a toddler in a car seat or a seven year old in an empty house. There were times when I wanted to throw myself on the floor of Home Depot and cry from exhaustion and frustration because I didn’t know what crown molding was or how I was going to chose it for our house.

I finally asked for help. My friend Cristina looked after baby Charlie a few days while I went to the new house and painted the doors, the crown molding, the framing, etc. It really does take a village!!

Cris and Charlie.jpg

In the end it all worked out. We are finally living in our brand new beautiful dream home on our island, Coronado. This house has my sweat and tears and my husbands. Even though at times it felt like it was pulling us apart in the end it brought us together and it will bring us a lifetime of memories with our family. I now sit in my beautiful living room looking out my french doors on to my patio deck watching my son play in his yard. Life really can’t get any better than this!!

Coronado.jpg