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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gooey & Totally Yummy Crème Brule French Toast


For Christmas morning Mr. Man, Bean & I planned to celebrate as a clan. Since this was a treat, to be just the three of us, I wanted to make something decadent and special. First thing that came to mind was my gooey and totally yummy Crème Brule French Toast recipe.

This recipe is special to us since it was served at my unofficial “first” Mother’s Day brunch. While I was pregnant with Bean, Brett and I hosted our first Mother’s Day at our new house. The original recipe calls for half-and-half, but I use whole milk to slim it down. Not only does it help with the calories, slightly, but this minor change helps with my tummy issues by reducing the richness - - again - - not calories!

Winking smile 

Also, instead of Grand Marnier I use orange juice.

Hope this dish makes a debut on your table when you celebrate a special moment. Don’t forget to plan ahead: the recipe requires that you chill the mixture at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

From our table to yours:



Gooey & Totally Yummy Crème Brule French Toast

(adapted from Gourmet Magazine | July 1998)


Yield: Makes 6 servings


1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 challah

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange juice

1/4 teaspoon salt


In small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13 – by 9 – by 3 – inch pyrex pan. Cut 6 1-inch thick slices from center of challah. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, oj, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat over to 350 degrees and bring bread to room temp.

Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve immediately.


L1020087    L1020091    L1020093L1020105

We have a busy rest of the week and weekend - - -  see you in 2011 Health, Happiness, Hamstrings readers.

Wordless Wednesday: Our Christmas Morning Could Not Have Been ANY Better


Ever since Mr. Man has started his business a full weekend, with him home, is few and far between. Not that I am complaining, since this is the reality of life right now, family time with just the three of us was exactly what I asked Santa for.

Santa, thank you for my Christmas present!!!!!!!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

“Htothe3 And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

The million dollar question is do you know where this title is from?
The picture above describes the ending to “my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,” but I will spare you the gory details. After the drama of the day and seeing the mounds of snow on the streets I knew a pot of chicken soup was calling my name. What better way to clear the troubles of the day and the chill in the air than a warm bowl of broth, simmered with carrots, onions, celery, chicken, and noodles. The aroma itself put a smile on my face.

This recipe is my take on traditional chicken soup when the clock is not on your side. Since, I decided to make this at 4pm broth from scratch and the use of a whole chicken were both out of the question. Therefore, I relied on a high quality chicken broth (my favorite is Pacific Natural Food Organic free rage chicken broth low sodium) and used bone-in chicken skinless thigh to get a from scratch feel. The use of bone-in chicken things gave the flavor of the bones and allowed for the chicken to pull from the bone. A bay leaf and whole peppercorns helped to achieve the traditional flavor. 
I hope you enjoy Htothe3 “Traditional” Chicken Soup.

“Traditional” Chicken Soup

64 FL OZ High Quality Chicken Broth (I prefer Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth Low Sodium)
5 carrots washed and cut into 3
1 1/2 onions cut into quarters
4 celery hearts cut into 3
2 bay leaves
Couple whole black peppercorns
Sea Salt to taste
4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
Pasta of your choice/Amount of pasta to your liking
Bring chicken broth to boil. Add vegetables and spices. Add chicken. Bring to simmer and cover. Cook until chicken falls off of bone. Remove bones.
Bring water to boil and cook pasta to VERY al dente. Drain and add to soup. Cook until pasta is to your liking.
Serve and enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Northeast Ends The Holidays With A Bang! Blizzard of 2010…..


Source for this video is as follows: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/holiday-blizzard-2010-northeast-buried-12483039


Here are some photos I took of our area. While they DO NOT show the true extent of the snow it gives you a taste:


L1020166        L1020169L1020174         L1020177


HOLY MOLY!!!!!!! Too bad Bean has a cough. Today would have been a PERFECT day to play in the snow. East Coasters enjoy your snow day Smile.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mr. Man’s Video Debut: Italian Beef Tutorial



Mr. Man & Lauren-New Year’s Eve Chicago 2004


It is official! Mr. Man makes his video debut with a tutorial on his, ONE and ONLY, culinary specialty. He admits it on the video…..so he can’t get mad at me for saying this. I warn you the video is kind of cheesy, but adorable at the same time.

During our pre-Bean days and while we were engaged Mr. Man and I lived in Chicago. As he explains on the video, Chicago was all about the beef. One dish we learned from our friends Jim and Jen was Italian Beef. Basically, it is beef slow cooked in pepperoncini peppers and pepper juice in a crockpot until it is tender and then it is shredded using two forks. The meat is then put back in the liquid and served with rolls and provolone cheese. The whole house if filled up with wonderful aromas and every time he makes it we reminisce on our days in Chicago.

Sorry for the dishes in the sink - “It my be a crazy life, but it’s our life”


Mr. Man’s Version of Italian Beef

(original recipe from jim & Jen)



2-3 lb chuck roast

2 16 oz jars pepperoncini

Provolone cheese slices



Take out slow cooker. Drain jars of pepperoncini peppers. Using kitchen scissors cut up peppers over slow cooker up to seeds and make sure the juice inside the peppers go into the slow cooker. Add meat on top of peppers. Add some of the juice and peppers on top of the meat. Set slow cooker to low for 8 hours.

Once the meat has cooked for 8 hours remove and put in a large bowl. Shred using two forks. Add meat to slow cooker with cooking juice.

Serve with provolone cheese slices and rolls.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Health, Happiness, Hamstrings Readers





Health, Happiness, Hamstrings Readers~


From Our Family To Yours

~Mr. Man, Lauren & Bean~



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Miss Independent


Bean’s realization that her hands are twice as useful as a spoon = quite an interesting mealtime experience in the Health, Happiness, Hamstring home.





Hello Miss Independent!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

“These are a few of my favorite things……”



As a child I have vivid memories of watching The Sound Of Music with my brother and cousins. The song that comes to my mind is  “these are a few of my favorite things.” That being said, I am going to borrow this lyric to start my post.

One afternoon Bean and I went to our local Babies “R” Us to pickup diapers and saw two women, one who was pregnant, searching the aisles, with ,what I would describe as,  a deer in headlights look. What specifically caught my attention was watching them attempt to decipher the differences between the entire, I mean ENTIRE, wall of bottles. I thought to myself, not that I am an expert, I remember those days confused about what to buy and what I REALLY needed.

This motivated me to begin putting together a list. While this list is a work in progress, and will grow as Bean gets older, “these are a few of my favorite things.” I will continue to update it and will make a page on htothe3 for it. This list doesn’t include EVERY little item (for example-choose towels and washcloths that you like) , but ones I found most useful. I have also added items that friends of mine have mentioned that the could not live without.

Health, Happiness, Hamstrings readers, if you have products you would like to add or suggest please email me at htothe3@gmail.com.  I am a firm believer that we learn our best tricks from other parents, therefore please join in the conversation.

I have also included the two lists I found helpful with essentials for the hospital and nursery. Both are from Ariana who blogs over at Becoming Mom. Her blog is one I read frequently and I found these two lists extremely informative.

So moms/moms-to-be and of course dads/dads-to-be: I hope you find this helpful and can add to a few of my favorite things.

The Ultimate Hospital Bag List  compliments of Becoming Mom: Please note, I based my own hospital list off hers, but unlike Ariana I had a C-section.  I adjusted the list accordingly.

Another one from Ariana at Becoming Mom that I really liked .Like she says......Babies need a lot of stuff.

“These are a few of my favorite things……” (although the list will continue to grow):

Dr. Brown's Bottles (You don’t have to get the infant gift set. The size I have linked is a size you are going to use anyways so you might as well get the most out of it.)

Dr. Brown’s Preemie Nipples (Word of caution: I used the preemie nipples with Bean. The flow of the level one nipples, which come with the bottles, ended up being too fast for her. This was a lifesaver for me.)

Boppy Pillow (Used for nursing and propping up Bean)

MAM Pacifiers

Gerber Thermal Blanket (I used for swaddling)

PeaPod™ Plus Travel Bed in Red by KidCo

Goodnight Moon

Stay-Dry™ Bath Apron & Towel – Neutral

Bath Luve™ Green Frog and Buddy

Happiest Baby on the Block

Halo Swaddling Sacks

Halo Sleep Slacks

ERGObaby® Sport Baby Carrier & Accessories

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

City Mini Stroller

City Mini Car Seat Adapter for Chicco

JJcole Infant Bundle Me

JJcole Toddler Bundle Me

Baby Trend Snap n Go

Dexa Baby Sound Machine

Summer Infant Monitor

Medela Pump In Style

Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair


Munchkin Mighty Grip Trainer Cups (first transition cup from bottle)

Playtex Trainer Sipster Trainer (transitioned to these after Munchkin cups)

Munchkin Snack Catcher

Munchkin Spoons (started with these)

Munchkin Bowls (started with these)

Tommee Tippee mat & bowls (moved to these)

Gerber Safety Spoon & Fork (moved to these)

Here is a start…….Stay tuned for more. Now I think it is time for bed.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Quiet & Blanket + Coffee & Weekly Paper = DYI Inspiration


While sadly a rarity, one of my favorite things to do is wake up before Mr. Man and Bean, cuddle under a blanket with a cup of coffee, and read the paper. Fortunately for your sake, this phenomenon happened recently. Specifically one rainy morning.                                                                                                               Smile

Christmas is almost a week away and I will safely assume many of you, still need some last-minute gift ideas. If it is for your child’s babysitter, a teacher, or even a co-worker there must be someone on your list you have NO idea what to get them. That takes me to the paper and my rare moment to enjoy some peace and quiet.

In the Life&Style section of our daily paper there was a syndicated article by Sharon Ghag (of McClatchy Newspapers) that immediately peeked my interest. As a foodie, which many of you know by reading my blog, the title of “Try sweet gifts from the kitchen” would be something that excited me. This article not only talks about how jarred ingredients can be a personal gift, one easy on your wallet, but it goes one step further and gives you a method on HOW to make them. Over the years I have come across many DIY holiday projects that have sparked my interest, but after reading the steps I was unmotivated to make the effort. Trust me, this article is worth the effort and serves as a tutorial. To read the entire article please click here.

Here is an except of the directions as well as instructions for the Truly Gooey Chocolate and Walnut Cookies. Sharon’s article details other recipes you can use.

Getting started

Here are a few things to keep in mind when putting together dry mixes:

• Any kind of jar will do, but wide-mouth canning jars work best.

• Blend the flour, baking powder and soda or salt in a bowl before adding to the jar.

• Pack ingredients in as tightly as possible. Place the ingredients in the jar and press down wit a utensil with a fairly wide, flat bottom so the ingredients lose some volume and the ingredients fit in the jar.

• Careful packing is key, but if you can't get all the ingredients into the jar, put them in a zip-close bag and attach them to the jar as if they're part of the decoration.

• The layers will stand out most if you pack the highly contrasting items next to each other.

• White sugar will seep down, so it is better to put white sugar below other ingredients. All-purpose flour and cocoa also have the same seeping problem.

• Include a card listing the recipe's ingredients and baking/cooking instructions, and another card with the entire recipe.

• Start with fresh ingredients. That way, the person receiving the gift can wait a few months to use them. These mixes, if stored in a dry and dark place, should last six months or longer.

• If the mix contains nuts, it should be used sooner, ideally within three months.


Following instructions

We've assembled the recipes, and each has two sets of instructions. The "Jar" instructions are for the giver, and the "Card" instructions are for the recipient and should be attached to the gift jar.

Clip the entire recipe and include it with your filled gift jar.

Use the "For jar" ingredient list to fill the jar.

Write the name of the recipe, the "For card" ingredients and the "Card instructions" on a card and attach it to the jar neck with ribbon or to the body of the jar with colored string.

Use the "Jar instructions" to layer the ingredients.

To decorate, use scissors to cut a 9-inch-diameter circle from calico. Place over lid and secure with a rubber band. Tie on a raffia or ribbon bow to cover the rubber band.


Truley Gooey Chocolate and Walnut Cookies

This recipe is adapted from "Green & Blacks Organic Ultimate Chocolate Recipes: The New Collection," edited by Micah Carr-Hill (Kyle Books, $24.95). We substituted walnuts for the hazelnuts and used whatever chocolate was handy in the pantry. The cookies were delicious, leading us to conclude that you just can't go wrong with this recipe.

Makes 16 cookies

For jar:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

3 1/2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

3 1/2 ounces walnuts

9 ounces (70 percent cocoa solids) chocolate

For card:

2 large free-range eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk

Jar instructions: In pint jar, layer flour, baking powder, sugar, milk and white chocolates and walnuts. Attach the 9 ounces of chocolate to jar.

Card instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put contents of jar into a medium bowl. Melt the 9 ounces of chocolate and set aside. Whisk the eggs and yolk. Add to the dry ingredients. Add melted chocolate a little at a time. Stir to combine. Spoon heaping tablespoons of mixture onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. No longer.

I would LOVE to see what you come up with. Please share with us your recipes and who you gave them to. Please include a picture. Once you have sent them I will do a post including your recipes and a picture of the gift. Also, don’t forget to visit


to buy some great gift tags.

Have a wonderful weekend blog friends!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Congrats to our 77kids Wish-4-Snow $50 77kids Gift Card Giveaway Winner



Congrats to Anne in NY who won our 77kids Wish-4-Snow $50 gift card winner.

 Anne said...

I created a snowflake, Flakey.

I also wanted to share her response when I contacted her about winning. In an email she wrote:

Great!  We got a foot of snow last night, so I guess wishing for snow worked here.

LOVE it!!!! Congratulations Anne and happy shopping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Have a wonderful and productive day Htothe3 readers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

She’s Back!!!!!!!!!!


Good afternoon Health, Happiness, Hamstrings readers. If you are doing a double take, confirming you are at the right site, I promise you are Smile. Htoth3 is going through some design changes, so bear with me through the adjustments. It is all for some exciting things happening in 2011.

Now that I have gotten this out of the way, today is the LAST day to enter the 77kids $50 gift card giveaway. A winner will be chosen tomorrow morning so check your Facebook or blogger accounts to see if you are the lucky one. Just a reminder, you can enter win by:

1) Following 77kids on Facebook

2) Following 77kids on Twitter and tweet why you love their store using the hashtag #77kids

You can visit my post on the Wish-4-Snow 77kids charity event here to get more details on the event.

After all the craziness from last week: rushing bean to the doctor (instead of the ER) with 105 fever, a diagnosis of pneumonia, a rash that could have been an allergic reaction to the antibiotic or rosiolla (I guess medicine isn’t an exact science), it is safe to say Mr. Man, Bean and I are all in one piece. If not one piece, we are in a better place then last week. We finally have our cheerful, witty, playful toddler with a VERY strong personality. While I didn’t miss her “attitude” (I am in trouble!!! She isn’t even 2.) she is back:


Since my little lady is in full force, keeping me on my toes I decided to make a family favorite. This easy weeknight meal has been adopted as a regular in my in-laws as well as sister-in-law’s house. My sister-in-law has even coaxed her husband, Mr. Man’s brother, home from work to promise to have this on the table when he got home. It is one from Catherine McCord of weelicious her Moroccan Chicken.

The thing I like best about this recipe is that the ingredients are staples in my kitchen. So, when I do my weekly shopping I just make sure I replace the tomatoes and garbanzo beans when I make the dish so I know have them on hand for next time. The only ingredient you do have to obviously plan on is the chicken. One thing I do want to note, for some reason I never see chopped tomatoes in my local grocery store so I use diced tomatoes instead.

By the way…….this is Bean’s FAVORITE meal. Smile

Don’t believe me: just ask her Francia.Winking smile


Health, Happiness, Hamstrings Makes Moroccan Chicken.


Moroccan Chicken (Serves 4)- - -  from weelicious

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, sliced thin
1 Tsp Paprika
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Cumin
1/4 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Salt
1 15 Oz Can Chopped Tomatoes
1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Lb Chicken Thighs, skinless

1. In a large saute pan heat the oil over medium heat.
2. Saute the onions for 5 minutes or until translucent.
3. Add the spices and tomatoes, bring to a boil.
4. Add the garbanzo beans and chicken to the sauce mixture and stir to coat.
5. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
6. Serve.

Monday, December 13, 2010

the blog Guidebook A Candy Store For Bloggers

196600f8                      Candy2-300x225
As a child, Penny Auntie 5 &10 was my favorite candy store. I have wonderful memories of my driving into the center of town, with my mother, making the turn towards the dry cleaner and seeing a clear shot of the candy store. When I was a little older my mom used to give my bother and me money while she picked up the dry cleaning and the two of us would run to pick out our treat. My bother always knew which he wanted. I on the other hand took my time and analyzed what I was going to spend my money on this time.

Fast forward many years, when I came across the blog Guidebook yesterday I felt like I entered a time machine and went back to my Penny Auntie days. The blog Guidebook is seriously a candy store for bloggers. It is a beautifully constructed website that is clear and full of VERY USEFUL information. As a new blogger I come a come across information all the time and most of of the time I leave utterly confused. I have to admit I spent HOURS on this website yesterday and it excited me. It was like I was a kid in a candy store I couldn’t get enough and I just wanted more.

That being said, if you are a veteran blogger or a newbie like myself please visit the blog Guidebook. I promise you will take something away from it. If anything you will get hooked like I did yesterday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

77kids Gives Us a GREAT Reason to: Wish-4-Snow

In November, Bean and I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a charity initiative with both 77kids and TheMotherhood called Wish-4-Snow. Which is a cause that directly benefits local hospitals including one in a neighboring town to where we live.
At the 77kids store, located at the Danbury Fair Mall, we decorated snowflakes, viewed the Holiday Magical Window (which you can see part of above), and hung out with other bloggers--all in order to raise awareness for the Wish-4-Snow charity program. By visiting the Wish-4-Snow website site you can play the "catch the snowflake" game and most importantly, make your VERY OWN digital snowflake. By making a snowflake, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same, we will help 77kids reach their goal of 100,000 snowflakes. Once this goal is met, $25,000 will donated, to the Children's Health and Wellness Center at Danbury Hospital. Other hospitals that will benefit from similar initiatives throughout the country include:
  • Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
  • Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Children's Regional Hospital at Cooper
  • University Hospital (Cherry Hill/Philadelphia)
  • Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital (Syracuse)
  • WakeMed Children's Hospital (Raleigh)
  • Connecticut Children's Medical Center (Hartford)
  • Children' Memorial Hospital (Chicago)

For those of you who have a 77kids store nearby, you can check the store locator by clicking here, you can also donate 77 cents when making holiday purchases to a participating hospital.

That being said, as a way of thanking you for your commitment in helping them with their mission 77kids has donated a $50 gift card to one lucky Health, Happiness, Hamstrings reader.
To be entered please follow these steps:
1) Visit Wishes-4-Snow and design a digital snowflake
2) Follow 77kids on Facebook
3) For an extra entry follow 77kids on Twitter and tweet why you love their store using the hashtag #77kids
4) Contest runs until Wednesday, December 15th at 11:59 pm ET
Disclaimer: I was compensated to attend this program by 77kids and The Motherhood
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