Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Shrimp Boil!


I had no idea this grouping of foods could taste so good all boiled up in cajun spices! These are foods that I'm sure to be craving now until next Mardi Gras! Thanks for bringing this southern festivity to our ABF, Chad & Katie! You did a great job with everything!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dinner and Dessert!

I made these two recipes awhile back but never got around to posting them. The sandwiches are just the right amount of sweet and spice and make for a nice comfort food on a cold rainy day!
Don't let the word "carrot" in this cake recipe fool you--it is by no means healthy! But tasty? Yes, indeed!
I know many restaurants pair their foods with wine...I'd pair these sandwiches with a nice cold root beer and the carrot cake with a nice hot cup of Cody's coffee. That's just how my restaurants works! Want to come dine in sometime?
Yum!

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
1 onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups barbecue sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Hot pepper sauce
6 kaiser or French rolls, split
6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a heavy pot with the onion, garlic and just
enough water to cover (about 1 1/2 cups). Add the barbecue sauce, vinegar and a few drops hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the sauce and shred with two forks.
2. Boil the sauce, skimming occasionally, until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the shredded chicken and heat through. Spoon the mixture onto the rolls and top with the cheese.

Carrot Tea Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Martha's Cake

My Cake
(displayed on a deviled egg tray: beat that Martha!)

Carrot Tea Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed grated carrots (from about 2 carrots)
1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 5-by-9-inch (6-cup) loaf pan. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in carrots. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn cake out onto a wire rack, and let cool completely.
  3. Make frosting: Using mixer, beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until fluffy. Frost top of cooled cake.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday Fun!


The kids had their own little King's Cake. Here's Cloe looking for her king or queen!


Found her! (Funny how much excitement a little picture buried in a piece of cake can create!)

Queen for the night!
(Gotta love Burger King!)

My little boy without much of a sweet tooth didn't waste too much time in getting his king out!

My handsome little kings!

Now on to the party at Drake:


Ryan was the lucky king for the night!

Stephanie was the lucky queen for the night!


Ashley and her friend from ISU.

Aaron and Laura...the other "adults"

Steven and Chelsea...these two constantly crack me up!


The couch kids: Lindsey, Stephanie and Ryan.

***Insert here a great study of 1 Peter 3***
Read it--it's full of good stuff!

Really wild Mardi Gras games...tossing the beads!

The End.
(Do you think this piece will make it until breakfast? I hope so!)

Happy Fat Tuesday!

I'm sure you're wondering why the Fat Tuesday well wishes. Traditionally, Fat Tuesday is actually a pretty "bad" day. According to my quick google study, people get all their "sin" out today and the days leading up to now so they can start lent tomorrow in which they will give up a "sin" or something special to them in order to gain merit with God. Even though we don't celebrate Fat Tuesday in that manner, there can be some great lessons learned from the celebration of Fat Tuesday and some true fun can be had in the day as well!
We want to train our children that all "sin" separates us from God and no amount of fasting or giving up of a sinful activity can merit us favor with God. It's only through Christ's death on the cross that we have a remedy for our sin. Christ took the penalty for our sin, and we can have a relationship with God if we accept the gift that Christ offers. I do think lent would be a great time for believers to evaluate their own lives and look for sins or things that we have made as higher priorities than God in our lives. We should be doing this daily, but what a great time to have a witness to others of Christ's power over sin in our lives. So, that will be our conversation topic at dinner tonight as we enjoy some Cajun jambalaya!
One Fat Tuesday tradition we will enjoy purely for fun will be a King's Cake! A King's Cake is a ring of twisted pastry or bread topped with purple and green frosting or colored sugar that contains a plastic doll hidden inside. The person who finds the doll is supposed to have good luck for the year and is crowned the "King of the Feast." I think I'm going to see if Burger King can help us out with a special crown too! We'll have to make an extra one for our Drake kids...everyone needs a chance to find a toy in cake and wear a crown!
Here are my two options for the King's Cake. I'll have to see how brave I'm feeling in a few hours with attempting a simple cake or tricky bread dough. They both look yummy!

Cinnamon-Swirl Coffee Ring

Cinnamon-Swirl Coffee Ring Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • FILLING:
  • 1/2 cup 4% cottage cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Confectioners' sugar

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. gradually add to dry ingredients, beating until combined. For filling, combine cottage cheese, sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Spoon half of the batter into a greased 10-in. fluted tube pan; top with filling and remaining batter. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar or colored frosting if desired.

Cinnamon Pecan Ring

Cinnamon Pecan Ring Recipe


Ingredients:
  • 2-3/4 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecan, toasted
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • ICING:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fat-free milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, yeast, salt and baking soda. In a saucepan, heat the yogurt, milk, water and 2 tablespoons butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl coated with cooking spray; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Roll into a 14-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Melt remaining butter; brush over dough. Combine pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle evenly over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam.
Line a baking sheet with foil; coat well with cooking spray. Place dough seam side down on prepared pan; pinch ends together to form a ring. With scissors, cut from the outside edge two-thirds of the way toward center of ring at 1-in. intervals. Separate strips slightly and twist. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Brush with egg white. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan to wire rack. Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over warm ring.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick!

Get your free Quizno's sandwich HERE!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Seven

What a great week! I have no idea where it went so quickly, but it apparently was so packed with fun that it went by in a wink! Not only was the week packed with great quality family and friends time, it was also packed with many great lessons learned and reviewed in a new light from God's Word! These seven things are in no particular chronological order...just how they come to mind!
#1. I am so thankful for Ceceilia, our mentor mom at MOPS. God is just continuously using her to encourage and challenge me as a mom. One of quotes she used on Friday said, "The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it." Investing into my children's lives and making sure they know Christ as their Savior is so important! At MOPS, we also had a panel of experienced moms who answered a lot of our questions and gave great advice. One of the things we talked about was appropriateness of playdates. I don't have a great sense of peace about dropping Cloe off and leaving her at a friend's house--especially for overnighters. Ceceilia so wisely advised us to not downplay the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and that the sense of hesitation we feel could be that of the Holy Spirit. I am so confident that my hestitancy is just that--not the feelings of an overprotective mom, but that of the Holy Spirit encouraging me to maintain that hedge of protection around Cloe. I don't have to live up to the expectations of other parents who have playdates and overnighters--I do have a responsibility to protect and take care of Cloe--and I only get one shot at it! (I'm speaking of playdates with unsaved friends from school...not church friends or family...clarification!)
#2. I am so thankful for patient friends who still love me when I fail (especially at sewing) and help me when I'm in a bind (especially at MOPS)!
#3. This week, my Wednesday night ladies small group studied forgiveness. The book is called Key Truths for Women: Essentials for Spiritual Growth. It is a "must study" that I would totally highly recommend! I am so thankful for Christ's forgiveness and also for the strength God provides for me to forgive and be forgiven by others. The author says, "Forgiveness for us is giving up the right to be upset with the offender and losing the desire to strike back." The author writes a threefold promise to make when forgiving an offender: I will not remind you of this affront; I will not report this offense to others; I will not review this wrong over and over to myself. Colossians 3:13 "Make allowance for each other's faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others." How much stronger would our relationships be if we would opening ask for forgiveness and readily forgive or make allowances for each other's faults.
#4. I am so thankful for my friend Caitlin! She has worked her tail off this week helping me cook a zillion things, clean our house (I know--how awesome is she! She even mopped our bathroom floor!), and lined up all the food for a surprise birthday party! She's a gem!
#5. I am really thankful for a husband who likes to make my life easier! Cody bought me this lovely Dirt Devil Kurv--it's even this beautiful deep shade of red! Messes are so fun now! (Ok, I was just kidding about that apart. They do clean up pretty quickly, though!)
#6. I am thankful for two awesome grandmas who came and babysat so we could go out Friday night and Saturday night! Now I just need a sitter so I can take a nap and rest up from all that fun!
#7. Lastly, I am thankful for a great time tonight with our Acts 2:42 small group. We had a great time of fellowship and prayer. It never ceases to amaze me how the bond of Christ can unite us with others and make us feel like total family!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here are some of the facebook statuses I could have today but have chosen not to join in the status updating circus for real...
Londa is anxiously waiting for the coffee to be done!
Londa is blah! All three kids wet the bed last night. Gross. Gross. Gross. (How does that happen!?!)
Londa will be doing laundry...all day!
Londa had a great night with cool friends who have February Birthdays!
Londa loves lettuce wraps!!!
Londa should not drink coffee at 10:00 pm and expect to sleep well.
Londa is getting ready to make a few fluffy, sugary salads at the request of a diabetic friend...scary!
Londa needs to get groceries really bad but is whimping out of taking all three kids along.
Londa is ready to garden!
Londa did finally get the sewing machine to work...and then made her mom do the work!
Londa hears the coffee pot gurgling that it's ready!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Big Day!

ELEVEN years ago today, Cody and I got engaged! I still remember it like it was yesterday! We went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse and went to the mall for awhile...just another date, right? (I even bought khaki bib overalls...nice style, huh!)
On the drive home, Cody "claimed" he needed to stop and use the restroom...glad to know that? It didn't seem odd at the time for some reason. We drove to the Simon Estes amphitheater by Embassy Suites, and Cody thought I should come with him...He grabbed a basket out of his trunk (yeah!) and we headed to a little bench by the river. He lit a candle--which actually stayed lit even though it was pretty windy! Then he got done on one knee and proposed! Of course, I said YES!!! Then I made him do it again so I could take a picture! We had a little homeless man come over and take our picture together! I'll try to scan it in soon...we were a pretty cute, frozen looking couple! The girls in my dorm had been tipped off to the night's big event, so the entryway was all decorated when I got back.
It's hard to believe eleven years has passed...I don't feel that much older! Cody did an awesome job of planning out the whole night and making it special! I love him!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ooey Gooey Goodness!

Cloe's school has parent teacher conferences coming up, and I signed up to bring a jumbo tray of cookies and bars for the teachers. Seems easy...but it actually feels like this stressful display of my baking ability! Seriously, if you make something good, you get this little glow of fame in the school with the teachers. Who doesn't want to be loved by teachers? Yes, you guessed it: I always tried to be the teacher's favorites and it's still there!
Here's a recipe I found yesterday. Does this sound good to you? Let me know if you have any knock 'em out good recipes for cookies and bars!


Ooey-Gooey Turtle Bars


INGREDIENTS:
1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
3 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 jar (12.25 oz) Caramel Ice Cream Topping
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (16 squares)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Press cookie dough evenly in bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch pan.
2. Sprinkle 1 cup of the chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups of the pecans over dough; lightly press into dough. Set aside.
3. In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, caramel topping and graham cracker crumbs. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Pour over crust in pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups pecans.
4. Bake 25 to 32 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown and pecans are lightly toasted. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes; loosen sides from pan, but do not cut. Cool completely, about 3 hours longer. (For firmer bars, let stand an additional 2 hours.) For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Seven

Valentine's Day is one of my most favorite holidays to celebrate! It's a holiday that everyone observes regardless of their religion, but it presents a huge open door to share the most important love that anyone could experience: the love of Christ!
This Valentine's Day, I'm so thankful to be loved! Here are just a few...
#1. I am most thankful to be loved by my Savior. I can't imagine giving my only son to take the penalty for my sins and the sins of the world! I'm so thankful that He chose me to be one of His children.
#2. I am incredibly thankful to be loved by an amazing husband! Cody does an awesome job of leading our family in a way that honors God. I can't imagine ever wanting to spend the rest of my life with anyone else!
#3. I am thankful for the love of my three children! Nothing in the world beats hearing a little voice say, "Love you Mommy!"
#4. I am so thankful to be loved by my family. I have great parents who literally drop everything to come be with our kids and help us out!
#5. I'm thankful to be loved by an awesome group of gal friends! Can you believe one of them brought me this yummy treat last week! This Red Velvet Cake was deeeelicious!#6. I'm so thankful to still have a grandma that's living and loves me to pieces! Someday I know Jesus will call her home and I'll miss her terribly! She is always so loving and kind and full of little nuggets of wisdom (some great and some a little nutty, but I love it!).
#7. I am thankful to be loved by the best siblings in the world! I pray that my children will stay close and have the kind of relationships that I have with my brother and sister!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Our little trip was FABULOUS!!! This place is a must for a quick, super family friendly get-away!
It was so needed, too! Do you ever have those days where you completely feel like a loser mom? That was my Thursday! Several quirky things happened, but the one incident that made me feel completely horrible was an older email I checked at 11:30...please send a valentine's bag to school on Thursday for your child's valentines. I had sent Cloe to school with beautiful Valentines in a grungy green recycled grocery bag. All I could envision was her entire class with beautiful shiny red heart bags and Cloe with a big frumpy grocery bag. I flew downstairs to my stash of gift bags, grabbed one, loaded the boys up and tore off to Cloe's school. I knew I was too late for the passing out of cards, but I thought at least we could transfer them into the pretty bag for the big party. Thankfully, to my embarrassment, Cloe was all smiles as she showed me the beautiful gift bag her teacher had provided for her. The teacher had brought an extra just in case someone forgot. Augh! I hate being that mom who "forgot"!
So, back to the trip...the time at the hotel and water park was so refreshing! (I actually remembered everything that we needed plus a few surprises!) The kids were super, extra loving and giggly! Even though they didn't get a lot of sleep, it was priceless to see them all lined up snuggling in the big bed. They had a great time playing in the water, too!After more swimming this morning, a yummy brunch, and a quick tour of the Amana Colonies, we headed to the outlets! All I can say is Yeeee-hawwww! I love President's Day sales! There were some pretty amazing deals going on! I won't bore you with the details...but I'm still grinning from ear to ear from the oober good deals!
The ride home was a little intense with slippery, snow packed roads, but we enjoyed the peace and quiet of sleeping and movie watching children which allowed a good amount of time for grown-up conversation...something I miss terribly some days! I also have to say, if we're going to have to give up the beautiful weather for a silly snow storm, these are the kind of storms I like! The snow was absolutely beautiful on all the trees--especially those framing the rivers. Now if it will just melt and go away soon so we can get back to playing outside...
Tomorrow is the big heart day! We're having a special little dinner here...hopefully all will turn out well! Happy Valentine's Day! XOXOXO

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Cookies!

One of my favorite treats in the world to enjoy is a nice cut-out sugar cookie with butter cream frosting! I think I've finally found a recipe that will become a keeper! Another one of my "favorites" is to take cookies to special people. The only problem with this is that I develop this huge list of people to take cookies to, feel overwhelmed by it, and then decide to forget the whole idea. Well, I've developed a plan so I can deliver the cookies and not feel too overwhelmed! At Christmas, we took cookies to all of our doctors, dentists, etc. For Valentine's day, I came up with four people or places that I think are just full of the nicest people in the world. For St. Patrick's Day, I'll pick a few people that I'm "lucky to know". Got any ideas for other holidays?
One of the things we've been studying in Bible Study is striving to make our lives look like and show Christ is such a way that would make people wonder about the HOPE that lives inside us. Sharing cookies is one way I'm trying to achieve sharing God's love, my joy and the hope I have from Christ with others. You're going to laugh when you hear who these cookies went to--our pediatrician's wife and his nurse (they are just the nicest ladies in the world!), our bank teller Donna (always full of tootsie rolls!), and Gymboree and Gap at Jordan Creek. I know those last two seem silly, but these gals are so sweet and always put up with me trucking in with the huge stroller digging for bargains. They are so kind!
Here are our goodie bags full of cookies:


They say, "Thank You for being the nicest people in the world! Happy Valentine's Day!"

It's a good thing these are just for giving away...they are tooo yummy!

White Velvet Cutouts
2 c. butter, softened
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 c. flour

Butter Cream Frosting
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar, divided
3 T. butter, softened
1 T. shortening
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 to 4 T. milk, divided

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4 in. thickness. Cut into shapes; place 1 in. apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set, not browned. Cool 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.
For frosting, combine 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla and 3 T. milk in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Gradually add remaining sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add enough remaining milk and food coloring if desired until frosting reaches desired consistency. Frost cookies. *I use a plastic squeeze bottle like a mustard bottle and it works amazingly well!


I also threw some of these into the bags. Lydia brought these to MOPS and they are super delicious and pretty low in calories. They are a Martha Stewart special recipe!

Chocolate Sweet Hearts

1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, place chocolate, butter, and brown sugar; stir frequently until almost completely melted. Remove from heat, and stir until completely melted; let cool slightly.

Add egg to chocolate mixture. With a mixer on low, beat until well blended. Gradually stir in flour mixture (dough will form a ball).

Divide dough in half; roll out each half on a sheet of parchment paper to a 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer each half (still on paper) to a baking sheet; freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Working with one half at a time, flip dough onto a work surface; peel off paper. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies; place, 1/2 inch apart, on two baking sheets. Bake until firm and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.


My Valentines!

We are off for a couple of days! Cloe doesn't have school tomorrow, so in just a few minutes we are taking off for the Wasserbahn Holiday Inn near Williamsburg. They have a great looking water park which we are all excited to hit! The best part for me is included in the room rate comes a gift card for the outlets! Woo-hoo!
Have a Happy Valentine's Day with your Sweethearts!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So, this morning, I found some new
hanging out on my head.

Guess that's the glam of being
Lovely.

Of course, having Carson ask me, "since you had a birthday are you now three, too?" and being able to answer, "why yes, I am!" has added to the fun of ages at our house.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Some things I especially like in life are free things! Birthdays are a great time to enjoy treats from all sorts of places that want to help you celebrate. Here are links to the places that send out great freebies for your birthday! We don't use them all, but it is especially fun to enjoy a free coffee drink, an ice cream treat, and a free meal here and there!

Birthday Freebies:

Stores
Border Rewards – free dessert and 15% coupon
DSW Rewards – $10 off $10 when you join, plus birthday coupon
Sephora - vanilla cupcake bath & shower bubbles
The Children's Place - coupon for 15 or 20% off
GAP, Victoria Secret, Banana Republic, & Ann Taylor Loft all send $15 gift cards for birthdays if you have a credit card for their store.

Sweet Treats
Baskin Robbins Birthday Club – free ice cream
Caribou Coffee - free drink on the day of your birthday
Cold Stone Creamery Birthday Club – free ice cream
Culver's - free sundae
Dairy Queen- free Blizzard when you buy one


Restaurants
Applebee's - free dessert (no sign-up)
Arby's Extras - free food w/purchase
Biaggi's - free dessert
Buffalo Wild Wings - free dessert
Famous Daves P.I.G. Club – free food, kids included
Fuddruckers - free shake w/purchase
Great American Cookie Company - free slice of cookie
Joe's Crabshack - free appetizer w/purchase
Lone Star Steakhouse - $15 gift card
Macaroni Grill- free dessert w/purchase
Mimi's Cafe - free food, free breakfast with sign-up

On The Border - free food
Outback Steakhouse - free dessert on your birthday, no sign-up
Qdoba Mexican Grill - free burrito w/entree purchase
Quizno's - free cookie

Red Robin – free burger
Subway - free meal w/purchase
T.G.I.Friday's - coupon

Birthday freebies for kids:

Applebee's - free meal for child, fill out postcard at restaurant
Chuck E. Cheese's - free tokens (12 & younger)
Geoffrey’s Birthday Club – free toy with $3 or $5 coupon (ages 2 to 10)
Michael’s The Knack Kids Club - coupons all year long (12 & younger)
Sonic Wacky Pack Birthday Club – free meal (13 & younger)
Target Birthday Club - sign-up to get some treats

A recipe from a friend!

For a long time, I have been wanting to post a recipe from a guest blogger. Here it is! This recipe comes from Lauren, a friend from church. Everything she makes always looks beautiful and tastes like a million bucks! I can't wait to try this one! Thank you Lauren!!!

Penne with Chicken, Asparagus, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts


12 oz. chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp + 2 Tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes (sliced)
1 c chicken stock
2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp chopped thyme leaves
12 oz penne
About 8 medium asparagus (6 oz) peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1inch lengths
1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (plus more for garnish)
1/2 c pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
1. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil, Toss to combine and let the chicken marinate for 10-15 minutes.
2. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add a little salt into water.
3. Heat a 12-inch saute pan and then add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and, over medium heat, sear on both sides. Add the garlic and cook one minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes, add the stock, butter,asparagus, and thyme and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cool until the sauce has reduced slightly.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is al dente. Drain the pasta nd immediately combine it with the sauce. Stir in the parsley and pine nuts. Toss thoroughly to combine the ingredients.
5. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the pasta, and toss to combine. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can also drizzle a bit of olive oil over the pasta to give it a shine.
6. To serve, divide the pasta among 4 to 6 large heated bowls. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and pass additional Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
*Lauren note!*
It serves way more than 4-6 I think! Unless you're having over the biggest loser contestants before the show starts :). Also, Drew and I agreed that more sun-dried tomatoes would make it even better! The recipe says you really can't do anything except maranate the chicken ahead of time, but maybe you can figure something out. We had tons of left-overs and it tastes great heated up the second day! Hope you enjoy!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Seven

Today was my birthday! While celebrating with family and friends and having so many well-wishers on this day are special moments, the clicking away of years is somewhat depressing! I love my life and all the blessings God has filled it with. If this earthly life has been so amazing, I shouldn't be depressed with age, I guess! It does bring me just that much closer to an incredible eternity to be spent with Christ!
So, here are my seven things for this week:
I am really thankful for Cloe, McClain, and Carson! If someone would have told me I would have three kids this stinkin' cute (yes, I'm biased!) and this ridiculously funny, I wouldn't have believed them! They are truly the biggest blessings in our lives! By the way, I'll just apologize in advance if you've been asked about what body parts you have by our littlest monkey...we're working on that!
Today, I am especially thankful for my own brother and sister. I have the best ones of these, too! My sister is so incredibly encouraging and helpful! I can honestly say I have never had a fight with my sister...she's the best! I love her to pieces! Now fighting with my brother...maybe I could say I have never won a fight with my brother! I love him to pieces, too!
I'm thankful for a super fun date night spent with my super husband and some super cool friends! It was...super!
Saturday, I went to a get-together with other women who are involved with women's ministry at their church. It was refreshing to be with the ladies I knew and hear how they were serving the Lord. It also filled me with great joy about the ladies' ministries we already have at Willow Creek! I'm also thankful for being introduced to the mocha-mex...super yummy! You should try it!
I'm thankful for the fun-filled week we have in store! Cloe has the day off on Friday, so we're going to try to head somewhere fun with the whole family! (unless the person who sat behind me in church this morning happens to get their wish fulfilled for one last knock-out, drag down 50 mph wind, a foot of snow, shut the town down storm...I won't tell you who it was for fear of his life :)!)
Lastly, I'm thankful for all the cool people around me who were born in February! They are the best bunch of kids around! I'm thankful God placed me in this month so I could have a special commonous with you!
Have a great week! Stay tuned...I may have a guest blogger sharing an extraordinarry recipe!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jambalaya

We're mixing things up a bit at the C house! Usually we eat our food mild and follow pretty traditional recipes...not tonight! This is a super easy crock-pot recipe and everyone loved it!
Jambalaya

1 medium-size onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound light kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more for a spicier flavor)
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt

Hot cooked brown rice

1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir onion, celery, tomatoes, broth, chicken, kielbasa salt, and cayenne together. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5 hours.
2. Stir in the green pepper, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and Cajun seasoning and cook for 1 hour.
3. Serve over rice.
*I served the kids and then added another teaspoon of cayenne pepper to kick up the heat for us.Mmmm...double fistin' it! McClain was on cloud nine when Carson pushed his little piece of cake over and said McClain could finish it. This is why the boy is always so full of sweet sugar lovin'!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Seven

It seems like this week's seven are coming together a bit sluggish...yes, it's Monday, but I titled this last night so it would have the appearance of being on time. Guess it's a slight view of my perfectionist side meeting up with the real lagging behind side of me! I'm also feeling more like writing a list of seven things I'm not so thankful for...I'm not thankful that the boys had their 3 year check up today; I'm not happy that Cloe is more than half way through kindergarten...I'm not happy it's going to be freezing cold again, I'm not thankful for dumb groundhogs who see their shadows...these are rolling off too quickly!
Then I'm reminded of a verse that God just keeps weaving into my life--I don't mean just bringing it to mind, I mean literally throwing it at me in ALL conversations, Bible Studies, emails, testimonies, books...Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
SO, I'm going to stuff those pessimistic, ungrateful thoughts away and turn them over to what I should be thinking on...
1. I am so thankful that our kids kept it together at the Super Bowl party last night. I love my children to death but sometimes get a paralyzing fear of taking them to other people's houses. I want them to be *perfect* and that's not usually the path a toddler takes. Thankfully, God did provide them with sweetness and self control...a little crazy once but that was egged on...
2. Strep throat is a very awful thing to have but thankfully God has given intelligence to create medicine which is quick and effective! Our family doesn't really catch a lot of colds or stomach bugs, but strep always comes knocking around this time of year...thankfully it's going away!
3. I am really thankful for some sunshine and warmer temperatures over the weekend! It was wonderful to be outside! We are getting a big itch for some spring weather!
4. This week, I was reminded of Cody's heart to see people come to Christ! I am so thankful God has not only given him a heart for the lost but also is giving him so many open doors! Two people he had been praying for and meeting with came to Christ this past week and one more started a Bible Study with him! Please don't take this as bragging--I'm deeply humbled at the lack of opportunities I have taken to share Christ, but so thankful for and challenged by Cody!!
5. I'm thankful for blueberries! Yes, that's random, but seriously, there's a reason they are called super foods! Yeah for sales at Fareway!
6. This one is going to seem like a "no way, that's crazy" one, but on Friday I was getting a little overwhelmed in the grocery store as I noticed how much the price of meat had gone up. It's not a huge necessity, but hamburger does certainly make fixing meals easier once in a while. We were completely out and I left the store a little defeated and quite determined not to pay those prices. I said a quick plea/prayer that God would provide a sale sometime soon and that I'd wait and trust Him. Well, He answered in a matter of five minutes. My mom called; they were shopping in another town and ran across five pounds of hamburger for $4...would I like some? Thank you Lord! "His eye is on the sparrow...and I know He watches me."
7. I'm really thankful for an old hymn with a new tune...the words of this hymn are pretty deep. I love how we are chosen to be His Church...I love the part that talks about the Church prevailing victoriously! I can't wait to be the Church united before Christ in eternity! That will be awesome!
(read these words slowing...let their meanings roll around...I love it!)

The church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation, Yet one over all the earth;
Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder, Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder, By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping; Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping; Shall be the morn of song.

The church shall never perish, Her dear Lord to defend
To guide, sustain and cherish, Is with her to the end
Though there be those that hate her, And false sons in her pale
Against a foe or traitor, She ever shall prevail

Mid toil and tribulation, And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation, Of peace forevermore;
’Til, with the vision glorious, Her longing eyes are blessed,
And the great church victorious; Shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!, Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly, On high may dwell with Thee.