Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bon Voyage
mère and père

Hope your trip to France is formidable! 
Am I sounding like a broken record?
Pardon Moi!
I am a broken record! 
Today we said good-bye to my parents.
They'll be visiting my brother's family for the next three weeks.
I'll be here...praying to be content enjoying this beautiful weather!  Yeah!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Little Recap...

Last Wednesday, the boys got to attend a huge Beach Bash with their Cubbies friends at church.
 
Aren't they just the cutest little beach bums?  
They wanted to hold hands for the picture like they did at the ocean last year!

It was such a well-thought out, fun party with a purpose!
The kids all took gently used toys to donate to Children and Families of Iowa.
They listened to a great Bible Story.
Played fun games!

The night was also full of sugary fun!
 
We made Amanda's Amazing Sugar Cookies and turned them into ocean scenes:


YUM!

The children also took a small toy to use in a toy exchange game!
The boys were so excited and proud of their *new* toys!
Carson got a cute little set of blue cookie cutters and kitchen utensils.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Hearts, Stars, and Moons!

McClain got a pack of bracelets and rings.  
He ecstatically told his teacher he had never gotten his own bracelets before and loooooved them!
I was a little concerned with my girly boy....until the next morning, he came to me with a bracelet and said, "Actually Mom, I got this jewelry just for you!  I've never gotten to give you jewelry before!  Don't you just love it 'cuz I love you!"
Ah, melt.my.heart!

Thanks for an awesome beach party Liz, Jessica, and company!
It was great!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Waffles!

Remember conversations in high school?

Do you think he likes me?
Yeah, like totally.  He just looked at you again!  You're sooo going to get married.

Ok,  I don't really remember the specifics of high school conversation, but I can tell you
I'm so glad times change!  

I love my grown-up friends who like to talk about things that are exciting and interesting to me! 
The Bible!  Recipes!  Shopping!  Children!  Gardening!  Reading!

The other day, my good friend Lydia asked if I'd tried the waffle recipe in the new Everyday Food.  
She highly recommended it, so I added it to my "recipes to try" list!

Well, according to our local toy store, yesterday was National Waffle Day!
I'd never miss an opportunity to celebrate *waffles*!
And I had a new healthy recipe waiting to be tried!  
It was a win * win situation! 

Yogurt Waffles
3/4 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1/2 c. rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3/4 tsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. packed light-brown sugar
3 T. melted butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 c. plain, low-fat yogurt

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, oats, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  In another bowl, whisk together brown sugar, butter, eggs, and yogurt until smooth.  Stir egg mixture into flour mixture and mix well to combine.  Let batter sit 15 minutes.

(Hello Kitty Waffles...we're classy like that.  Actually I really needed a new waffle maker and this one was on clearance.  I'm cheap!)
Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions; brush with melted butter.  Pour 1/2 c. batter onto iron and close; cook until waffle is golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack set on a baking sheet and place in low-temperature oven to keep warm, repeat with remaining batter.  Makes 6 waffles.
 Kitties for the kiddies!
 Somewhat normal looking waffles for the grown-ups!

Sweet Mac gave these waffles a thumbs up!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip # 18:  It's spring time!  Watch for the word on the street!


More on this subject later!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Congratulations to H-Mama and her Family Team on their first blogging anniversary!
Check this out...she's hosting a great giveaway!  
Head on over and sign-up!
If you win, can I borrow a piece of your Rachel Ray stone wear set?
Thanks!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome to 1985:


This contraption is an electric wok.  
Let me rephrase that: a vintage electric wok.
It's a hand-me-down from my mom's kitchen, and I love it!
Yes, it is sort of big, awkward to store, and a little hard to clean, but the way it cooks stir-fry is uncomparable!
Well, I suppose if someone were to offer me a new fancy, schmancy stir-fry pan, I could give it a whirl.
However, this is what we have and love!

Tonight we had Chicken Chow Mein.
The recipe says it can be made in the slow cooker, but the vegetables would lose all of the steamed crispness that makes it preferable for our family.  
(If your family likes soft vegetables, this would be a perfect slow-cooker recipe!)

Chicken Chow Mein


1 large boneless skinless chicken breast (about 1-1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T. soy sauce
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ginger
3 large carrots, sliced (1 cup)
3 large stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 large green pepper, diced (you can use larger pieces)
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
Brown rice

Heat oil in wok or large pan.  Add chicken.  Stir in garlic and soy sauce while chicken cooks.  Add broth and ginger; bring to a simmer.  Add vegetables and let cook just until vegetables are steamed.   Serve over hot brown rice.
*Additional soy sauce can be added when served.

"I can't believe I ate it all!"

So, how about you?  
Do you have any vintage appliances that you're holding onto because they just do it best?

Monday, March 22, 2010

In Cloe's Words

This morning, Cloe had some thoughts to share...in her own words:

Well, Mom, Spring Break and all my days off are over.  I have to go back to school today.  And Dad gets today off, but he has to go back to work tomorrow.  But you, mom, get every day off.  You're so lucky.


Yes, that's right:  I get every day off.  Cloe said so.  Better run and enjoy a few bon-bons with my feet kicked up on the couch!

In all seriousness, I'm glad I get every day off...to care for my family, to show them love, to meet their needs...nothing more I'd rather do on my days off!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Surviving

I'm a survivor
I'm not gonna give up
I'm not gon' stop
I'm gonna work harder
I'm a survivor
I'm gonna make it
I will survive
Keep on survivin'

Surviving
Cody has been gone since Thursday on a trip with our college kids from church. 
They went to Wisconsin to volunteer at Shepherd's Ministries
Thankfully, he's almost home!

We've survived.
We survived Carson taking a tumbling fall down steep cement stairs.
Ouch!

We survived more snow.

We survived all sleeping together in the same room...with the door locked.
(I'm such a scaredy cat!)

 We survived a fun outing to get donuts for breakfast...
...and survived some super icy roads!

We survived a trip to the mall restrooms with a little embarrassment...
I was with the boys in a stall and heard some enormous juicy gas noises. 
I asked Cloe if she was doing okay. 
She yelled back, "MOM,  THAT was NOT me!!!!"  Oops!
(sorry no picture of that one!)

We survived yet another injury to Carson's poor little face...barely!
McClain's knee met Carson's lip = lots of blood!

Only an hour to go...I'll think we'll
SURVIVE!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #17:  Buying a family membership to local children's venues can provide hours of family fun at a fraction of the cost of regular admission!

This thrifty tip is coming in almost late because we spent the day having a blast at The Science Center!
For the last several years, we have received a family membership to the Science Center and Blank Park Zoo as a Christmas gift.  
We love it!  Just two visits to the Science Center and Zoo pay for this membership.  
It's totally worth the cost for all of the fun activities and entertainment these places provide for our family.
Today we learned all about Stuffy...here's Cloe pulling out his small intestine!  
So interesting!
Everyone took their turn giving the weather forecast in front of the green screen.
Cloe also figured out some headless little guy tricks!
One of our very favorite spots was the BuBbLe BaY!

Where's your favorite place to take your children?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We've had a lot of fun at our house celebrating this special
Irish day!  
Everyone is wearing green to avoid little pinchers!  
We made green shamrock cookies yesterday...
...so much sugar and oh.so.good!
We've also enjoyed trying a new-to-us Irish dish:  Shepherd's Pie!  
It got a raving two thumbs up and requests for more from the boys!
(Cloe got to go on a special lunch date with Cody.
They caught part of the St. Patty's Day Parade and enjoyed fish and chips downtown!) 

We made a sugar cookie recipe called  
One Hundred Sugar Cookies.  
The recipe does not lie...we've still got dough left to prove it!  
Thankfully, Cloe is home on spring break and masterfully took over the shamrock cookie making!


One Hundred Sugar Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter, sugar, oil, and vanilla.  Add eggs.  Sift flour, soda, and cream of tartar together and add to sugar mixture.  Roll dough into small balls, dip in sugar and flatten tops slightly.  Bake at 375 degrees until slightly golden (about 8-10 minutes).



St. Patrick originally used the shamrock to teach about the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
 Mmmm...


Shepherd's Pie

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. peas
1 c. corn
2 c. beef stock
1 tsp. thyme
1 small sprig rosemary (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. cornstarch + milk
8-10 small to medium size potatoes + milk

Peel potatoes and place in boiling water.
In another pan, brown ground beef and drain any fat.  Add beef stock, carrots, and seasoning.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
Drain potatoes, add milk.
Mash potatoes.

To meat mixture, add corn and peas.  Mix cornstarch and milk in a small cup.  Add to meat mixture, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken.


Pour meat mixture into bottom of a large deep dish pie plate.  Top with mashed potatoes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.




Happy St. Patrick's Day!

How did you celebrate?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some Sneaky Baking For Your Monday

In the morning, I love to hear my kids say, "Wow Mom! What treat did you bake us for breakfast?"

I also love to have a delicious homemade treat with a cup of Cody's magnificent coffee for breakfast.

However, I don't love all the oily, buttery fats that normally go into those baked goods.

My Deceptively Delicious Cookbook has come to the rescue again.

This banana bread is so super easy and healthful!  Every time I make it, the results are always amazing!

The recipe is especially conducive to letting the kids get involved.

Plus, they'll love it!  Our kids want to eat this banana bread for breakfast, lunch, snacks...and so do I!


Banana Bread

3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all purpose flour (unbleached)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 egg whites (I just used one whole egg)
1/4 c canola oil
1 1/2 c well mashed bananas
1/2 c cauliflower puree  (I promise you can't taste it!)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.
In a baggie, mix flours with baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In large bowl, mix the sugar and oil with a wooden spoon til well combined. Mix in egg whites, banana, cauliflower puree, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Pour batter into pan.  Sprinkle top with a little demerara sugar.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean...55-60 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool before serving.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Bon Voyage


belle-mère and beau-père


Hope your trip to France is formidable!

Say hi to mon frere...
...and the rest of the famille.
Please remind him...Mon frère est un dingue.

Your belle-fille will be home trying not to be jealous taking care of your beau-fils and our belle-famille.

See you soon! 

*A special thanks to une autre mere for the French tutorial! 
Check out her blog today for another fabulous French lesson!  
I'm sure I'll be fluent in no time at all!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #16:  Joining consumer panels is a great way to get freebies and coupons for your favorite products in your mailbox!

I'll admit it:  I'm a mailbox junky.  I love love love hearing the rhythmic buzz of the mailtruck dropping off daily surprises in my mailbox!  When I hear that mailtruck sound, I lurk at my front window just long enough to see him drive off to the next mailbox (don't want to seem too eager!) and then dash out to find what surprises have arrived for the day!  It's okay if you're laughing at me right now...Cody thinks my obsession with the mail is hilarious.  I get it from my dad, seriously.  The uncanny sense that the mail carrier is close by just runs in our family genes.

Joining consumer panels has filled my mailbox with great surprises!  I was reminded of how much I love these consumer panels when a sample box of Kashi cereal arrived today with a coupon for a FREE box of cereal and four other $1.50 off coupons!  I heart Kashi...not so much the price, so these coupons are greatly appreciated!

Here are my three favorite consumer panels:


Vocalpoint:  A community of moms who participate in forums for new products, health and beauty tips, food and recipes, children and family...  I don't spend a lot of time on this forum, but I do enjoy the many items I receive in the mail!

KRAFT First Taste: Be the first to find out about new KRAFT products.  Coupons are sent out for free products and surveys are done to share your opinions.  It's fun to receive coupons for items we wouldn't normally buy...Double Stuff Oreo Cakesters.  Going to need to share these!


Kashi:  This forum helps individuals take another step toward healthy living with exclusive coupons, recipes, discussions, and insider news and events.  As I said, we love Kashi products.  However, the cost often deters us from buying them.  By using the coupons they send often and watching for sales at Target, I can stock up on Kashi cereal, crackers, and cereal bars for about $1.00 - $1.50 a box!



Hope you'll join in the fun of consumer panels!  
See you at the mailbox!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Sign of Spring!

Daffodils!

What signs of spring have you seen?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Need breakfast?

The pig and the chicken were on their way to breakfast, trying to decide what to have. 

When chicken said, ''Let's have ham and eggs.'' 

The pig then replied, ''That's fine for you, it's a small donation on your part, but it's a total sacrifice for me.''


Oh my, I know that was a horrible joke. If it were up to my children, every morning, breakfast would consist of bacon, dip eggs (sunny-side up), and toast.  However, I have a small problem: I love sleep.  Cooking elaborate breakfasts would require me to get up much earlier than I wish.  So, we save fun breakfast foods for Saturday brunches and occasional suppers.
I like to have nourishing breakfast items that can be made ahead of time and enjoyed at the table or on the go.  These granola bars completely fit the bill!   They are packed with nutritional goodness.  I don't even have to be sneaky about the healthy ingredients because the taste is so delicious, the kids eat them right up!

This recipe is courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen --she is a genius!

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars

Adapted from King Arthur Flour
 This is probably the most flexible recipe I’ve posted. When it comes to granola, what you’re looking for is a basic proportion of chunky (nuts, dried fruit) to sticky (syrups, sugar, butter or oils) and from there, you can really go to town. The vanilla is optional. The cinnamon is optional. You can use no dried fruit or you can use all dried fruit in your 2 to 3 cup mix. You can toss in things like puffed rice cereal or flax seeds. In the comments, I’d love to hear what mix you came up with and how you liked it. I can only imagine the possibilities.
Of note: The original recipe calls for something called “sticky bun sugar” which can be made at home with sugar, butter and corn syrup. It is for this reason that corn syrup is listed within one ingredient but also separately, and I used all butter rather than two different fats. Whether the corn syrup can be entirely replaced with honey or maple syrup or the butter can be entirely replaced with a healthier oil is worth auditioning, I just didn’t. Yet. I can tell you this: as is, this is the best granola bar I’ve ever eaten.

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (*I used 1/2 c. organic dehydrated cane juice)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (*I used 1 tsp)
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (*I used dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, coconut, and pecans)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (*I used almond butter) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, namely because I was not convinced that the flavor came through)
6 tablespoons melted butter (*I used 4 tablespoons of butter)
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (*I used honey)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (see Note above)
1 tablespoon water
(*I also added 1/2 c. flaxseed)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

*changes I made
Yum!  These also go perfectly with a nice cup of hot coffee!

What do you like to eat for breakfast?