Wednesday, February 29, 2012

HP e-All-In-One Printer Review

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
As a member of MomSelect, I was chosen to review the new HP DJ3052A e-All-In-One Printer available at Walmart for just $69.
This printer-scanner-copier features technology that allows you to print directly from your smart phone, tablet, or laptop from virtually anywhere! This is great for printing:
  • Photographs
  • Coupons
  • Recipes
  • Maps
  • Important documents
  • Airline tickets
  • Teaching materials (hand-outs, craft ideas, etc.)
Check out the following video which demonstrates just how easy it is to use the HP e-All-In-One Printer to make document special times with your family. Here's how my daughter and I baked bread by printing coupons to buy ingredients, printed photos of the bread-making process, and assembled a book of our cooking project. So much fun!

* I received the aforementioned product for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 9 ~ Go out for Ice Cream

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
'Go out for ice cream' turned into lunch and ice cream with my sister and mom ~ Pasquale's Pizza & Cold Stone Creamery. Lydia and I shared the sweet cream ice cream with brownies and graham cracker crumbs. I put her portion in a cone, and I ate the rest of the cup. Yummy!

Can't I eat my ice cream in peace?

Please! No more pictures, Mommy!

Fine, I'll pose for just one more!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 8 ~ Bake Cookies

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
This was an awesome challenge! I got ty try out a recipe I had thought about trying, and when I shared the idea on Facebook, I think I inspired three other mommies to make some. I decided to do homemade Oreo cookies. While I like things that are cookies n' cream flavored, there's something about store-bought Oreos that I don't like. They have a bit of a cardboard texture/flavor that just makes them taste processed. Well...the solution is to make your own! You can click the link above for the recipe, so I'll just share my series of photos. I used King Arthur Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa for a really rich, deep flavor.

Homemade Oreo Cookies

Lydia loves cooking with me!

You can laugh about what this dough looks like. I did a bit...but it was yummy!

I made my cookies pretty small - I wanted them to be the size of store-bought Oreos.

Here are the cookies straight out of the oven.

I put the filling in a zipper bag and cut the tip to "pipe" the filling into the cookies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 7 ~ Barbecue!

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.
Our food challenge for Day 7 just said BBQ. Well, I went our for brunch that day with my childhood best friend, and Richard decided to do the BBQ with Lydia for lunch. He wrote it all out for me:

Half rack of Bourbon Babyback Ribs

2 t smoked paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 oz bourbon

1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 T honey
1 T brown sugar
1 t dijon mustard
1 t molasses
1 t Worcestershire sauce
pinch of chili powder

Directions: Marinate in a large zipper bag overnight. Place on a charcoal grill. Brush glaze on periodically while both sides of meat cook to completion.

Polish Sausage

a bottle of beer
1t caraway seeds
1 medium onion, sliced

Directions: First, cook on a charcoal grill until grill marks appear. Then,  cook in a bath of beer, caraway seeds, sliced onions.

Looks like Lydia enjoyed!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 6 ~ Make a Vegan Meal

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

I lost a few days in my food challenge because I had to get all 4 wisdom teeth removed, but I'm back! Today's challenge was to create a vegan meal. Now, I may have been a vegetarian/pescatarian for several years, but the vegan thing is a true challenge! I decided to go with a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern flavor.

Here are most of the ingredients that I used

And here was the outcome

I made vegetable kebabs that I brushed with a lemon-garlic-dijon vinaigrette and grilled. I brushed some flat bread with olive oil, added Italian seasoning, and grilled that, too. I made a salad of garbanzo beans, read onion, celery, salt, pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. I served this with some hummus and a decent-quality pre-packaged mix of whole grains (brown rice, bulghur wheat, and a few others). It was pretty delicious! Although one thing I will say, because this contained absolutely no animal products, it also contained absolutely no animal fat. This means that in order to get nice grill marks (which means flavor), I had to use a lot of olive oil. The nice thing about meat products, dairy, etc. is that they naturally contain fat, so you do not have to use as much additional oil. I think I forgot about this as I moved toward eating a more well-balanced diet.

Day 5 ~ Bake Bread

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

While I absolutely love cooking, I have only recently begun to learn to bake. There is such a science to baking that I am starting to understand. My latest interest is in learning how to bake breads. Bread-making always looked so complicated, but I am quickly learning that you can make pretty good bread with just a few ingredients and a few steps. Pinterest guided me to a 5 minute artisan bread. Five minutes? I could do that! Well here goes...

The Dough

The Bread

The Bread After Lydia Got to It

Yes, I can bake bread! And it was delicious! However, the one thing I learned about baking bread is that it must be eaten immediately to truly appreciate how special it is.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 4 ~ Try a New Food Store

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

With two kids, I've found a lot of the everyday activities I used to engage in somewhat of a challenge. One of these is grocery shopping...and going out in general sometimes. I have to worry about my recently toilet-trained daughter having access to a toilet, changing my son's diapers, having snacks for her, breastfeeding him, etc, etc, etc. So many things to think about! A lot of times I feel more comfortable going out on a weekday with a companion, like my sister or my mom. Yesterday I went over my sister's house, we went out for lunch, and then just decided to take a drive. It gave the kids a chance to sleep and us a chance to bond. It also gave me a chance to try a new food store. I saw a small "sausage" shop on US-1 near Ft. Lauderdale Beach.

Not only was this store new to me, it actually just re-opened about a week ago. They had a great selection of sausages, bacon, and other cured/smoked meats. I got some andouille sausage, bierwurst (never tried that before), and double-smoked bacon. I also got a free hot dog!

The bacon was freshly-sliced and very yummy. 
Here's some of it cooking. Yes, I did eat bacon for dinner last night.

Day 3 ~ Food Artwork

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

Our Day 3 food challenge was to paint with fruits & veggies. This isn't exactly a cooking challenge, obviously, but it makes us rethink the beauty of food. I recently saw an awesome pin on Pinterest using okra to paint. Unfortunately, the only packages of okra they had at the store that day were huge, and I didn't want to make the investment, but I'd definitely like to try that one day. We used heart and start-shaped potato stamps, an apple, and broccoli to paint. Since it was Valentine's Day, we used pink paper and pink & red paint. Next time, I think we'll use food as our medium (perhaps some pudding, cool whipped, gelatin, etc.).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (part 2) ~ Work-at-home Moms

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

My own creation!

Wordless Wednesday ~ Pinterest: Nailed it!

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

As everyone knows, I love to cook! I also love to share photos and recipes...of my successful meals/desserts. Well, sometimes, I have some not-so-successful dishes, more like disasters, in the kitchen. This past week, I've made a ton of recipes from Pinterest. Some of them turned out awesome, but here are two of my failures - Enjoy!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

"Baked" Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


For my Forever Valentine -

Let me start by saying that I have no permission to do this (unexpected) guest blog.  I make this point not because I need permission to do things in my life, but rather to draw an initial contrast.

The contrast is this: most couples begin, continue, and even end their relationships based on a set of fairly finite rules.  These are unspoken rules, but they are followed, accepted, conventional, and understood.

And none of them are us.  None of them are her.

My wife, the writer of this blog, is known by many names: Huppiemama, Mommy, Dr. Wells, Mrs. Wells.  She is a Daughter, a Mother, a Sister, a Wife, a Friend; she is a Director, a Teacher, a Writer, a Cook, a Photographer, an Accountant, an Activist, an Advocate.

She has meant more and done more for more children and more families than most people could expect of themselves in a lifetime.

You could take all of her accomplishments, and all of her contributions, and all the roles she has filled in so many people's lives, and you can combine them all and get a vivid picture of who she is.

But that picture pales in comparison to the Carrie that I see every day.

Carrie has to-do lists for her to-do lists and likes when I get her water at night.  Carrie loves to feel in control but lets me drive all the time.  Carrie will be the first to point out an issue but also always the first to offer a solution.  When Lydia or Bryce or I hurt, Carrie hurts.  When we succeed, Carrie revels in our successes.  When we fail, Carrie encourages us to learn rather than trudge in the muck of regret.

Carrie has helped me become a better Teacher, a better Brother, a better Father, and a better Man.  And Carrie has done all this with an unbelievable grace.  And all she asks for in return is love.

Without knowing it, Carrie has done what Emerson once suggested: "Give all to love; obey thy heart."  It is the only rule by which Carrie lives her life, and it is the rule I have learned by watching Carrie and marveling at everything she has been, and is, and will become.

Carrie - today and every day I give all to you, my now and forever love.  Happy Valentine's Day.

- Richard

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 2 ~ Create a Meal w/3 Animals

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

So today's challenge was to make a meal containing products from 3 animals. As I began to create this dish, I decided I could actually easily incorporate five. As a pescetarian, I ate a vegetarian diet + seafood. I did this for many years after a trip to Gainesville where I had a Hardee's sausage biscuit. It was so completely inedible that all I could think about was how an animal died to make something that tasted so disgusting. It changed my whole philosophy about food. During my first pregnancy, I remained a pescetarian, but about a year ago, I decided to incorporate meat back into my diet. I decided that since the animals were going to be killed for meat anyway, I would prepare them in a way that was respectful and delicious! I also try to use animals that are humanely treated, like grass-fed beef and free-roaming chickens, or wild, like shrimp and fish. So here was tonight's delicious meal. It contained products from fish (cod filet), pig (chorizo sausage), cow (milk & butter), chicken (broth), and goat (cheese).  It was...phenomenal.

Chorizo & Cod Stew with Goat Cheese Polenta

For the stew:
2 chorizo sausages (uncooked)
1 cod filet (about 3/4 lb), cut into 2" squares
2 plum tomatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 t pimenton (smoked paprika)
salt & pepper to taste

For the polenta:
1 cup coarsely-ground cornmeal
2 cups milk 
2 cups chicken broth
2 oz. goat cheese
1 T butter
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brown the chorizo on medium heat in a nonstick pan that can go in the oven.

2. While sausage is browning, pour one cup of broth and one cup of milk into a large pot. When it begins to simmer, add cornmeal. Continually stir for 20 - 25 minutes, adding the other cup of each liquid as it begins to thicken.

3. When the sausage is browned, slice the sausage into about 1/2" thick pieces. Leave about a tablespoon of fat in the pan and discard the rest. Add the diced tomatoes, sliced garlic, sliced sausage, fish, pimenton, and 1 cup of chicken broth to the pan. Place the pan in the oven for 15 - 20 mins, until the fish is cooked through.

4. While the sausage and fish stew is cooking in the oven (during the last 2 - 3 mins of cooking), complete the polenta by adding the goat cheese and butter. Adjust seasoning as needed.

5. Remove pan from the oven. Serve stew over a mound of polenta on a plate.

Makes 2 servings.

Day 3 ~ Make food artwork.

Day 1 ~ Make a Comfort Food

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

Inspired by a similar idea on a friend's blog, I decided I would do a 30-Day Food Challenge. I love to experiment with food. I've eaten a vegetarian diet, a pescetarian diet, a dairy-free diet, a low-carb diet, a low-fat diet, etc. Each temporary modification challenges me to think about food differently - I learn more about different flavor combinations, cultures, products on the market, and my own food likes/dislikes. To complete this food challenge, I came up with 30 different ideas and put them in a container. We'll take turns drawing ideas from the container each day (for the next day) and follow what it says.

Food Challenge Day 1 ~ Make a comfort food.

Richard quickly suggested Chicken & Dumplings, something I believe I have made maybe once, so I quickly found a recipe and modified it based on the ingredients we had in the fridge/freezer/pantry.

Chicken & Dumplings

For the chicken stew:
1 whole chicken, broken down
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 quart chicken stock
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 t fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste

For the dumplings: 
2 cups unbleached flour
2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
2 T butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup minced fresh chives

1. Heat the chicken stock to a gentle simmer in a medium pot.

2. In a separate, large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken pieces, placing the pieces skin-side down first. This will render out fat you will use to build the stew later.

3. Once the chicken pieces are browned on both sides, remove them from the large pot, and turn off the heat. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken pieces and put the chicken pieces into the pot of simmering stock. Poach the chicken in the stock until cooked through, about 20 minutes or so. Remove the chicken pieces and set on a tray to cool for a few minutes. When the chicken pieces are cool to touch, pull the meat off the bones and shred. Set aside.

4. Take the rendered chicken fat, pass it through a strainer to remove bits, and place in the large pot.  Return the heat to medium-high. When it is hot, add the onion, celery, carrot and thyme and sauté until soft, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and mix well. The flour will absorb all the fat in the pot and will stick a little to the bottom. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir this constantly for 2-3 minutes.

5 Get a ladle ready and have the pot of simmering chicken stock nearby. Add one ladle of hot chicken stock at a time, stirring well between each addition to make a gravy. Add the reserved chicken meat. Simmer.

6. Make the dumpling batter by sifting together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add chopped fresh chives. Add melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients. Use your hands to combine until mixture just comes together.

7. Drop dumpling batter into the simmering stew by heaping teaspoonfuls, over the surface of the stew. Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

This recipe was 100% child-approved! Lydia loved it!

Food Challenge Day 2: Make a meal with products from 3 different animals.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Hearts

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Hearts


  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • 24 Hershey's Kisses
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • sprinkle of coarse salt

1. Combine almond butter, powdered sugar, and honey (it helped to soften the almond butter in the microwave about 30 seconds). 
2. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and press each portion into a heart-shaped silicone muffin pan. 
3. Melt chocolate and heavy cream. 
4. Pour chocolate mixture over almond butter mixture. Tap on the counter to even out.
5. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Place in the freezer about 1 hour.

Makes 6 hearts. 

Wordless Wednesday ~ Best Friends

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

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