Monday, December 21, 2009

Big News!!!

I got the job that I have been just sure was perfect for me! I won't start until around the first of the year, but it is mine.

I feel this job is the perfect fit! It is for a nonprofit, part time (but a good amount of hours), provides benefits, is right by the boys' schools, and just makes me really happy. I applied for this job a long time ago and eventually decided that if I didn't get it, I'd keep goin' along as a mostly stay at home mom. I am certainly busy enough as is! But I knew this was the RIGHT job, at the RIGHT time. I did my best, prayed about it, and decided that if it were meant to be I'd get it.

I'm happy now!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do NOT make these!

Unless, of course, you have:

a) Superhuman will power abilities

b) An ability to eat WAY too much

c) A party or some event where you can shove some of them off on others and not feel so guilty. Unless you elbow someone in the rib in an attempt to get them to drop the last one. Then you should feel guilty. Sort of.

Sweets & Beets chips
4 sweet potatoes
4 beets
3/4 liter olive oil
salt, cinnamon or ginger if desired as seasoning

Use a mandolin slicer to slice the sweets and beets very thin. Keep the veggies separate.

Heat olive oil in large pot on stove (I had it set to number 7 of 10). Once bubbling, drop in 1/3 of the sweet potato slices. Leave in oil for 4-6 minutes, until the bubbling subsides and well...until they look like chips! Remove from oil with slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with seasoning as desired (I actually preferred the unseasoned kind, but I may be a rare breed). Repeat with the sweet potatoes until all are done.

Once all sweet potatoes are done, repeat with the beets (since they are smaller you can do them in just 2 batches). Beets will need a little less cooking time, probably 3-5 minutes. Remove to a separate paper towel lined cookie sheet, season if desired.

Once chips are cooled (if you haven't eaten them all yet), toss them into a large bowl together. The purpose of keeping them separate this long and doing the sweets first is that done this way, the colors make a very pretty mix of bright orange and purple.

Enjoy! (And don't say I didn't warn you!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Defend the institution of marriage!

Be a good spouse, no matter what your sexual preference is.

Monday, November 23, 2009

From leftovers to "none will be leftover!".

Here come the time of year where we have so many huge meals that we often wonder how we'll eat all the leftovers. Well, here is a way to eat leftover ham: make fake (and easy) chicken cordon blue!

Here we go:

Kid friendly, fairly healthy, fake Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut to have a pocket in the center
1/2 bulb fennel (you could use onion if you didn't have fresh fennel handy)
2 garlic cloves
2-3 slices leftover ham
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2-4 ounces lowfat ricotta cheese
1 egg, 1 egg white- whipped
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (our favorite are EnerG's gluten free bread crumbs)
1/4 cup ground flax (you can sub this for more breadcrumbs if you don't have it, but hopefully if you read my blog I've convinced you to keep them in your fridge by now!)

Preheat oven to 375. Chop fennel and garlic, sautee in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cube leftover ham, add to bowl with ricotta. Sprinkle with pepper and thyme. Add fennel mixture.

Stuff chicken with ricotta mixture, roll in egg, and then bread with breading mix. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The veggie that ALWAYS requires seconds!

I have found the key. The key to yumminess, that is! Dusty, Skyler and I always want seconds of this dish. There is no such thing as "leftover" kale and pancetta. Alex...well, he's been in a not eating phase since I started making it, so no word on his opinion.

Kale & Pancetta

1 bunch fresh cale, chopped in 1" pieces
1 package cubed pancetta
1 leek or onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, slivered
olive oil
freshly grated pepper

Sautee garlic, pepper and leek in olive oil at medium heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic! Add pancetta and cook 3-5 more minutes.

Add kale, sprinkle with more olive oil and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes.

Remove lid and cook for 2-3 more minutes while stirring frequently.

Skyler just called to me from bed and said "MOOOOOM, I'm still hungry even after dinner. Thinking he was trying to scam some ice cream (which he had on the way down the mountain after a day of snowboarding), I asked what he wanted. Imagine my delight when he asked if we had any kale left!

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Christmas goal: $100 for the boys!

So here is my Christmas goal this year: Spend $100 on the boys, for presents from Dusty and I. Both of them- so, $50 each. This doesn't include "Santa gifts", which will vary depending on what they need and how work goes.

I've gotta say...I am kicking butt! Here is the breakdown:

$100 total
-$30 for Crocs. Each boy got 1 pair of Crocs that came with 3 decorative charms, from KidSteals.
-$20 for Wii games. They were buy 2, get 1 free at Target. When Sky saved up his money to buy a game, I offered to pay while he played. Then I picked up 2 games, each $20, got one free- and scored 2 for $20. Sky wasn't any the wiser, as the salesman packaged them separately and Sky didn't check the receipt.
-$13 for PJ's. The Disney Store online today is selling kid's pajama's for $5 each, with $2.95 shipping. Both of the boys get Power Ranger PJs, and I only spent $13!

So there we have it! I've got $37 left and the boys each have 3 awesome presents. Woo hoo! This Christmas, I'm bargain shopping and getting creative.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So much fun!

Dusty and I had such a great time last night. I threw him what SHOULD have been a surprise party. When the day before, he was getting mad because he knew I was hiding something, I wound up spilling the beans in the interest of having my husband speak to me. As it turned out, that was just fine. Surprise or not, it was amazing seeing so many friends and just getting to let loose!

I made an appetizer which is now going on my list of sure-fire things to make. It doesn't have a name...maybe I'll call them parmesan stacks? Yeah, that sounds good. So here goes:

Parmesan Stacks
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan
freshly ground pepper
2-3 tomatoes
olive oil
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
1 package prosciutto

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On an oiled baking pan, place 1/4 inch thick tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly grated pepper.

On a broiling rack, lay prosciutto out after spraying the pan with cooking spray. Put in the oven for 7--9 minutes, until prosciutto is crisp.

Reduce heat to 400 degrees. On an oiled cookie sheet, make little piles of freshly grated parmesan (about the size of a silver dollar). Sprinkles the piles with a little salt, pepper and paprika. Bake for 3-5 minutes- until melted and browned. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

After tomatoes have cooled, cut into quarters and lay on a plate lined with paper towels. Pat the excess oil and moisture from the tomatoes.

Put cooled parmesan crisps on serving platter. Stack with tomatoes, then chopped fresh parley, and finally the crisp prosciutto. Yum-O!

This got great reviews at my party last night and is now a staple on my go-to list!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Best. Chili. Ever!

I can't take credit for this recipe. It came my way via Ashley, who's new in-laws make some great chili. When I decided to make it for Dusty's birthday, though (27! We're both in our "late 20's"- AHH!), I decided to change up a few things. So this is what I wound up with:

1 lb. low sodium bacon, baked and chopped
2 Tbsp. bacon grease
1 leek, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 lb. stew beef (or chicken), cubed
2 lb. ground turkey
salt, pepper or Lowry's seasoning salt to taste
2 cans chili beans in chili sauce
2 cans low sodium, fat free black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
5 cans italian stewed tomatoes- 3 pureed, 2 as is
1 tsp. sugar
1-2 tsp. chili powder
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup beef broth
1 cup hot water
hot sauce, to taste (I only used 4-5 drops)

Serving suggestion:
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
2 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded
Creme fraiche

Sear stew meat at high heat in skillet for 2-3 minutes per side with a small amount of olive oil; set aside. Brown ground beef in stew pot with a small portion of the leek and 1 clove garlic. Drain fat. Add in remaining garlic an leek, cook 2-3 minutes at medium high heat. Add in stew meat, salt, pepper, and seasoning salt. Cook until stew meat it cooked through.

Drain all beans except chili beans. Pour chili beans, sauce included, into ground turkey mixture. Add tomatoes, bacon, bacon grease, sugar, chili powder, cumin, beef broth, water and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn down heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours.

Top with a mix of cheddar and gruyere cheese and a spoonful of creme fraiche.

Yummy, yummy, yummy! Not exactly healthy, but this stuff tastes fantastic!

Just a note: This makes a LOT of chili! It is great for a big group or party, or to freeze part of it. If you're making it with the intent of a small family dinner only, you can get away with halving the recipe!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yummy gluten free pumpkin brownies!

Have you tried Trader Joe's gluten free brownie mix? It is YUMMY! But it tends to fall apart and be really hard to cut, so I doctored it up a bit. I added a 16 oz. can of pumpkin (I could have roasted and pureed an actual pumpkin, but I was in a hurry!), cut the water called for down to just under 1/4 cup. Threw in some nutmeg, cinnamon and about 1/4 cup of baker's sugar and used 2 eggs instead of one. The other ingredients (mix, oil, etc.), I used according to the package.

Then I baked them at the heat recommended for about 35-40 minutes, and wound up with amazing cake-like pumpkin brownies. A yummy gluten free treat- that you'd NEVER know was gluten free!

Honestly- you HAVE to try this if you're lucky enough to have a TJ's near you!

Alex's world came crashing down!

This morning at 6:30, Alex came in to our room crying. Literally, sobbing uncontrollably. After a few minutes (and the abrupt awakening of Dusty and I), we managed to calm him down enough for him to squeeze a few words out. Those words?

"My....(sniffle)....candy....(sob)!...(back to uncontrollable sobbing)"

Haha. Well, at least I know he is my kid!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rules of the kitchen (according to me).

I posted these on a message board, but then I figured they'd do well on here, too. So here they are- the rules of good eatin' according to yours truly:

Thou shalt not eat fried food for dinner more than once a week. (And when you do, it should be pan fried in olive oil)

Thou shalt eat fish at least once a week (preferably non-farmed, high in Omega 3s and low in mercury)

Thou shall eat beef only once a week (and should consider pork a red meat also, so eat that sparingly as well)

Thou shall limit pasta based meals to twice a week (because believe me, without this rule I'd eat it every day!)

Though shalt eat plenty of veggies! (Ok, the rule for ME is to use up my veggie bin every week before a new one arrives)

This is what I attempt to stick to, in order to keep us healthy and happy and all that good stuff!

Buzz Lighyear and Optimus Prime score some candy!

And another Halloween has come and gone. The sugar highs, however, remain. What sugar high, you ask? Well, the one brought on by a 3 year old who discovered the magic of Fun Dip at 6:30AM and a 6 year old who was generously given a normal sized bag of M&Ms.

Yes- I let them eat all the candy they want until it is gone. My hope is that they'll eat it all by 10AM on Nov. 1st, leaving them so sick from sugar consumption that they swear the stuff off for awhile. Or at the very least, I hope they will crash from massive sugar highs and take a nap by mid afternoon.

Alex was Buzz Lightyear, complete with inflatable wings. He was so cute! It amazed me how much his costume actually looked like the cartoon. The wings were a hit! His wing span was about as wide as he is tall, which provided a few obvious complications while trying to walk to and from doors with large groups of children. However, they DID provide a major bonus- If Alex got in front of Skyler, he couldn't get around the wings to ring the doorbell or get the first candy pic. He figured this out quickly and used it for the rest of the night! We all laughed hard when a little boy, convinced Alex really was Buzz (apparently the boy wasn't bothered by the mere fact that "Buzz" was only 3 feet tall), poked the button on Alex's chest, expecting him to do a trick!

Skyler was Optimus Prime. He is still Optimus Prime, actually- the costume went back on at 7AM this morning. Skyler was so excited to walk in and see BumbleBee at our church's party. They played together, saving the world! After trick or treating, Skyler kindly offered me 1/2 of every tootsie roll and a bite of any candy he deemed yummy. What a sweet guy!

So there it is. The Halloween 2009 wrap up. It was a great night! Skyler already has plans for next year's costumes. He wan't to be ObiWan, Alex can be Anakin, Georgia was chosen to be Yoda, and Dillon was assigned Darth Vader. No word yet on who gets to be Jabba The Hutt. :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I may be a bit biased...

...but I think my children are too cute for words. Oh. My. Gosh!

We are having so much fun listening to Alex's preschool songs. He is so proud to sing them and teach us all that he is learning. I am so happy about our decision to enroll him in preschool. He just loves having "his school". He is thriving!

Skyler is getting so creative I am amazed. Since I announced to the kids that I plan to open a restaurant in a few years, Skyler has opened a restaurant in my kitchen. Well, actually the grand opening is planned for tomorrow- today he made the menus and signs and got all prepared.

Even though I often wonder how I long I have until they drive me crazy, I also wonder all the time how I got so freakin' lucky. How do they DO that? I'm so proud of Skyler and Alex.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My 3 year plan.

Here's the plan: I'm opening a cafe. Gresham needs a healthy AND allergy sensitive restaurant. Moms need a place where they can go chat with girlfriends while the kids play, without having to load the children up on saturated fats and chemicals. Families need to be able to go out to eat without having to worry that their gluten free child will get tablescraps in order to stick to the diet. People who have a peanut allergy need to be able to get a birthday cake.

So here's the timeline. Alex is in his first year of pre-school now. Through pre-school (this year and next), I will be researching, cooking and learning what I should cook and what people want. When Alex is in half-day kindergarten, I'll take classes at the college about owning a business and I'll make an "official" business plan. When both kids are in school full time, I am taking some mommy time and starting up a restaurant.

Dad will help me cook. Tricia will be a valuable resource for the "how to's" of allergy sensitive cooking, and I will get to be creative with recipes and enjoy the ride. I am really, really excited about this!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkins and fevers and sisters, oh my!

This has been quite the weekend! Skyler came down with a fever on Thursday night, and has been off and on with it ever since. He missed school on Friday and his Harvest Night dance (which he is still convinced was magically moved to next matter how many times I try to break the bad news). As of this morning (Sunday, Sunday...what song is that?) his fever has come down, but is slowly creeping up as the morning and activity level gets going.

Ashley was SuperAuntie yesterday! I called in a panic when I realized that Sky's temp was over 102 and I was out of all children's fever reducers. On top of that, water wasn't cutting it for the little guy and he was getting dehydrated. So I called on SuperAuntie, who quickly showed up with Tylenol, Motrin, Cherry 7Up, Sprite and Gatorade. To top it off, she brought over some amazing chili for dinner- making my life as the mom of little germ balls MUCH easier!

Alex has been toying with a fever, but has yet to get nearly as sick as Skyler has been. I'm hoping he'll pass on this round...

On Friday I got my vegetable bin from Organics To You (best way to get produce, ever!). It included a recipe that I tried, loved and just had to share! I've made some adjustments to it, based on my aversion to running to the store just to pick up one or two things and my desire to make it a bit healthier. Here it is. Enjoy! (And thank you, Organics To You, for the yummy recipe!)

Tagholini con la zucca (Pumpkin Pasta):

1 lb. fresh pasta or 1 box dried pasta (I used quinoa pasta, my favorite!)
3 lb. pumpkin (roasted and pureed)
4 Tbsp. butter, halved
1 leek, well chopped
1-2 sticks celery, well chopped
1 can low sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper)
grated nutmeg to taste (I used 1/2 tsp.)
ground cinnamon to taste (I used 1 tsp.)
2/3 cup lowfat milk
4 oz. lowfat cream cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Roast the pumpkin. (To roast the pumpkin, put in the microwave for 2-3 minutes to soften skin. Then cut in to quarters, removing stringy fibers and seeds. Place on baking sheet, season with a little sea salt and fresh pepper, drizzle small amount of olive oil on it. Place in a 350 degree oven for approx. 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pushes in to the meaty part of the pumpkin. Once pumpkin is cooled, cut off skin and puree in a food processor.)

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter on medium heat with leek and celery- about 5 minutes, or until celery is tender. Add pumpkin puree and enough chicken broth to keep mixture from drying out. Cover and simmer for approx. 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding broth if needed to keep moist. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture into food processor and puree. Put back in pan on low heat to keep warm.

Cook pasta according to directions. Add any unused chicken broth to water to flavor the pasta. Drain pasta and return to pan. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. butter to milk, melt in microwave. Pour milk/butter mixture, cream cheese and parmesan cheese in to hot pasta, allow to melt. Add pumpkin puree mixture, mix well.

Serve alone or topped with chicken!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mom, it was good to see you!

My mom just made a quick trip through town. It was so nice to see Grandma Marcia- even if it was only for 2 days.

Sunday we had a family dinner with Grandma Marcia, Pappi, Aunt Ashley and Uncle Brian. It was so fun! I'd made stew and pretty much used up all the veggies that I've been meaning to get to- roasted squash, sauteed spinach and kale with pine nuts and sauteed cabbage. YUM! My mom brought pumpkin cheesecake from Costco. Best. Thing. Ever! Seriously dangerous. Fattening and gluten containing foods should NOT be allowed to taste so good!

Monday was nice. Just a family dinner with the four of us, Grandma and Pappi. Pappi bought a salmon out in the gorge, so I experimented with cooking a fish that actually looks like a fish. I learned that it is best to take out the huge bones BEFORE cooking. Apparently you can just cut them out. Oops!

With the baked salmon, I made green beans with pine nuts (have I mentioned that I LOVE pine nuts?) and the best quinoa I've ever made. I'm putting the quinoa recipe up, partly so my mom can see it and partly so that when I forget it I have it written down somewhere. :-)

Balsamic and wine Quinoa

1 cup rinsed quinoa
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts

Combine all ingredients except pine nuts in a saucepan, bring to boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer until liquid is reduced (about 15-20 minutes). Meanwhile, toast pine nuts for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Add toasted pine nuts to quinoa right before serving.

It was nice having Mom in town. I miss my mommy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A pledge to fight poverty.

I'm going all spiritual on y'all. Today's sermon at church was called "The church as a service industry". Our pastor reminded us to help others of all faiths, abilities, incomes, orientations, races...we are ALL people. As a church we said this pledge today, which really struck me:

We are standing now with millions around the world on this symbolic day to show our commitments to the fight against extreme poverty and inequality. We are standing because we refuse to accept more excuses in a world where 50,000 people die every day as a result of extreme poverty and the gap between the rich and poor is getting wider.

We are standing because we want our leaders to honor their promises to meet the Millennium Development Goals and we ask them to exceed these goals.

As a Jubilee people, we are standing because we believe that debt cancellation is essential to bringing economic justice and an end to global poverty. We stand today in the light of God's Jubilee vision of abundant life for all and right relationships between people and nations.

We join in solidarity with people from over 100 countries to say, to the leaders of the wealthy countries, we urge you to keep your promises on poverty- debt relief, more and better aid, trade justice and gender equality.

To the leaders of all countries, make it your first responsibility to save the lives of your most impoverished citizens. We ask you to tackle inequality, to be accountable to your people, to govern fairly and justly, to fight corruption and to uphold human rights.

Today, and every day, we will stand up and take action against poverty. We will continue to fight against poverty and inequality and to hold leaders in every part of the world, faithful to their promises. We are asking not for charity but for justice.

We are millions of voices standing in solidarity to say, no more excuses. End poverty now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Laundry time!

I love making laundry detergent because I feel all domestic and what not. I hate it because it means I really need to get a washin' my threads!

Here is the recipe I use for powdered laundry detergent, which I got at some point from some link on my internet mom's board. Isn't that how the best things work? The solutions just float your way and become ingrained in every day living?

1 bar Ivory soap
1 bar Fels Naptha Soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda

Just grate up the soap in a food processor or blender, shake it all together in a Tupperware container and *poof*! Awesome, economical and low chemical laundry detergent. Use 2 Tbsp. (yep- ONLY 2 Tbsp.!) per load. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse water for softness and smell removal, and there you go- clean, fresh laundry and a happy wallet! Plus, no worries about skin irritation.

Just a tip- Fels Napha, borax and washing soda can all be found at Win-Co. Also, it is best to put the borax and washing soda in with the hard soaps when grating them- they don't need to be grated, but having them in there keeps the bar soaps from clumping in the food processor.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday night rant.

I have to get this off my chest...

It is really hard to believe that everything happens for a reason when there just doesn't seem like any reason to be had. I don't understand. And I've always believed that God has a plan, but how could this be a fair plan? This is not a good plan.

On a day when a family in our community suffered a truly devastating loss- the loss of their child...another family faked the potential loss of their child for publicity. Are you kidding? This isn't fair. You have one family so worried about getting on TV that they had the whole country worried about their little one, while a family is getting the kind of attention that no family wants and they just wish it were all a stunt that they could snap out of.

The entertainment industry has gotten out of control if these are the things we worry about when true, every day tragedies are affecting the lives of people we pass on the street every day.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of a 3rd grade student at Skyler's school, who passed away today. Please hug and kiss your children.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thank you, cousin Laura!

Tonight was Spaghetti Night with Ashley and Brian. I was so excited to use Laura's marinara recipe she shared with me, and I was not disappointed! Here it is:

Fresh Red Pepper Marinara Sauce- Created by somewhere on the net, perfected by Laura!

-2 (28oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes (Laura used one can of chopped tomatoes, drained - I'm not a big chunky tomato person, and it worked wonderfully)
-1 (6oz) can tomato paste (Laura used two small cans tomato sauce)
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (Laura used a bit more, love spicy)
-1/2 tsp sugar
-1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (Laura used dried basil, a bit less than 1/4 c.)
-1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/2 chopped onions
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-2 red bell peppers, seeded, diced into about 1/4" pieces

In mixing bowl, (if using whole tomatoes) crush with fingers to form a course puree. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper flakes, sugar, basil, and parsley. Stir and set aside.

In large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and sautee for two minutes (do not brown garlic). Add the tomato mixture, and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add bell peppers, simmer until the peppers are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

This sauce was awesome. It was easy, and it made a LOT! Had we not had Ash & Brian over, I could have easily used 1/2 the noodles and frozen 1/2 the sauce for later.

The only modifications I made were: I used 2 28 oz. cans of chopped Italian flavored stewed tomatoes, doubled the fresh chopped basil, and added 1/2 cup of red wine. I threw everything but the onion and garlic into my food processor to make it nice and smooth before I added it to the pan.

To go with the spaghetti, I used Giada De Laurentis' Mini Turkey Meatballs recipe to add protein:

I LOVE spaghetti night!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A super easy, really yummy way to eat tomatoes!

Today my "best neighbor in the world world" neighbor lady shared something so yummy with me that I have to pass it on!

She takes tomatoes and slices them, skins on. Then she sprays a cooking sheet with olive oil spray, spreads the tomato slices out, and sprays them again. After that she puts them in the oven on 425 for around 40-45 minutes. That's it!

Out come the sweetest, most flavorful tomato slices in the world! Perfect for snacking on alone, or adding to pizza, name it.

Tonight when I make lasagna, I'll substitute one sauce layer for the tomatoes that Marilyn so kindly shared with me. I can't wait! Thank you, Marilyn!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Apparently, 1/2 tsp. and 2 Tbsp. are VERY different!

So this morning I decided to make stew. Sounds perfect for a Sunday, right? I went to one of my favorite blogs, A Year Of Slowcooking, and found a delicious looking recipe.

Wow, it looked good, and worth making. As I was getting it in the crock pot, Dusty was "watching" a game on the computer (I say that loosely, because watching it online is essentially watching a graph which, apparently, means something that I don't understand). As a result, I was really trying to remember the recipe and only make him flip to it when I really needed help.

By the way- that is not a good idea. After putting in 2 Tbsp. of red pepper flakes, I checked one more time...and realized that the recipe called for only a half teaspoon! I tried to get as much as I could out, and was maybe successful in getting a half a teaspoon removed.

All day I smelled this stew. It smells amazing! Seriously- I'd be so proud to have company right now, since the smell would make them think I'm domestic and what not. I was really excited to eat it. Even though after the first bite I knew it would be hot, I decided to push on through.

After a small bowl, I have come to a few conclusions:

1) That is a seriously great recipe.

2) I put A LOT of pepper flakes in.

3) I can't hang with the big boys on this one- Dusty, Ashley, Brian and any other people with flame resistant taste buds will just have to eat this.

4) I need to try it again...without the extra fire.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You know your kid knows that he doesn't have rich parents when...

...he gives up on a handheld video game system being gifted to him and just decides to make his own!

Skyler has come up with the coolest thing! He takes a sheet of paper and on it he draws some hand held video game (PSP maybe? I forget) 9 times. Each time, the screen shows a different scene from his favorite video games or cartoons.

Tonight, with Alex's help (Alex suggested a few scenes to draw), Skyler made 2 sets of paper video games. Then Alex, Skyler and I took turns playing each other. "Playing" consists of holding the paper- folded to the right scene, of course- moving it like crazy and making the appropriate shooting/flying/running/jumping noises. The person with the "best" noises always wins. For the record, Skyler determines the winner.

Alex and I have yet to ever win a game.

Here's to creativity!

I'm giving up Diet Coke.

For real this time, everyone.

If I call you and beg you to bring me one- tell me to stuff it. If you see me drinking one, please take it away!

In light of the fact that Dusty is quitting smoking, I'm really trying to feel healthy again, and I'm tired of paying for soda, I'm giving it up!

Just wanted to let everyone know, so that I can't go back on my word!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back to school night and a crock pot success!

Tonight was back to school night at Skyler's school. I felt that it was a success. First of all, the principal did an excellent job in addressing the concerns that parents have as a result of budget cuts. I was so impressed that she addressed it head on and acknowledged concerns!

Then we headed to Sky's classroom. Alex and Dusty had stayed home, and Tyson joined Skyler and I at the school. Tyson was so trilled to see Skyler's journal! We both went "Ahh" when we saw that Skyler had written "I am so excited for back to school night because my dad"....then we both cracked up when we realized that the rest of the sentence was "is bringing my bakkugan toys". Haha. So much for Dad being SOOOO cool! Skyler's teacher had good things to say about him, and West has a great sense of community. Tyson and I let Skyler play with all his buddies on the playground until the boredom of standing on a playground got the best of us, then we headed to my house for some dinner.

Now, dinner was cool. It was an experiment, to say the least- but it worked! At about 2 PM I realized that I hadn't planned dinner out too well. I hadn't thought of a vegetable! Since Dusty was staying home because he didn't feel well enough to go, I certainly didn't want him to cook. So I made corn on the cob and beets in the crock pot.

Corn on the Cob & beets- crockpot style:
1/4 cup chopped leeks
10 garlic cloves, smashed, divided
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 stick butter, divided
4 ears corn, broken in 1/2
4 beets, quartered and peeled
1 cup water
salt & pepper to taste

Spread 1/2 5 smashed garlic cloves and chopped leeks on the bottom of the crock pot. Pour in 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Put 1/4 stick of butter, broken in to pieces, in crock pot. Layer corn on the cobb into the crock pot, then add beets where space permits. Sprinkle with remaining butter, olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper. Pour water in before putting lid on.

Cook 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

Dinner went well. The men and Skyler loved the beets, and Alex at least gave them a try before giving up in favor of just the corn. And Skyler was just so happy to have his dad, mom, brother and step dad to hang out with at the same time!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Really, really good zucchini bread! (And it is gluten free!)

I wasn't going to post this, since they are not my recipes at all...but it is so good that I cannot help it.

I figure, seeing as how nobody really reads this and I certainly don't make money off of it, I'm ok, right?

So here is the zucchini bread recipe I used. I am in love!

From Better Homes and Garden's cook book (you know, the red checked one that takes you back to the days of high heels and aprons and apple pies made from scratch!).

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used a gluten free flour mix)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I probably used at least 2 tsp., I'm a cinnamon freak!)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 beaten egg
1 cup sugar (see my note on this!)
1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1/4 cup cooking oil (I used EVOO and it tastes great)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted (I skip the nuts, but that's just me)

(I shortened the directions- look in the book for the longer ones!)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease the sides and bottom of a bread pan- set aside.

In one medium bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and nutmeg. Set aside. In another medium bowl (or mixer) combine egg, sugar, zucchini and oil. Combine dry and wet mix, fold in nuts if desired. Pour in to bread pans.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Now here are MY notes:

About the sugar- I started using baker's sugar a few months back. At first I bought it because a recipe called for it and I didn't realize that it was just a finer version of regular sugar (LOL...I'm new to this cooking stuff!). But, wow! It makes a huge difference, if you ask me, in the texture of baked goods. It gives the food a much smoother texture. So if you're all about taste, use regular sugar. If you want the extra wow factor, get yourself some baker's sugar!

About the gluten free flour mix- At first I was using Pamela's baking mix as a flour substitute. Then a helpful New Seasons employee explained that they sell everything I'd need to make my own mix, and it is much less expensive. So Dusty googled a recipe for me and I am really happy with my savings AND the finished result. Here is the recipe:

New Seasons had both brown rice flour and tapioca flour in the bulk section, and the other ingredients are made by Bob's Red Mill. *Just a reminder that we are gluten free for ADD management- if you were going to bake for a person with Celiac, you wouldn't want to get stuff out of the bulk section because of the possibility of cross-contamination!*

And lastly- The bread came out pretty crumbly. To avoid this, I could have added a little more xanthan gum. But I don't want to! The crumbly texture made it even better to my taste buds! But if you're going for cleanliness and making this gluten free, it is something to consider.

Go ahead and double the recipe- it's THAT good!

Dusty is on the road to recovery!

Dusty had a check up today, a week after being in the hospital for pneumonia. Good news! His lungs are clearing up, he still hasn't smoked, and his pain has gotten a bit better. Right now his biggest challenge is exhaustion, which the Dr. says will be around for about another month to month and a half.

But at least he's better. We are so glad! He went and scared us all! He has been working 4-5 hours a day. He is not ready to step up to full time yet, but is working hard to get there.

For the moment, everyone in the house is healthy! Woo hoo! Even Georgia is over her cold.

Right now I am watching Georgia and Dillon have an argument...I think. It's what I gather from the fact that they are 2 feet away from each other, barking in turn. The kids think this is hilarious, and are encouraging it by coaxing Dillon to "speak". Not that my children would ever do ANYTHING to disrupt peace and quiet, right?

They have tried to get Georgia to speak, but she just looks at them like they are nuts. Georgia, like me, doesn't understand a boy's need for loudness!

I love the fall!

It is so nice to sit and drink my coffee and stare out at the backyard these days! The leaves are changing colors, the air is crisp, and the wind makes everything feel fresh.

Soon I suppose I'll be frustrated with having to rake all those leaves and the wind will be bitterly cold...but at least now it is beautiful!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Turnip & Radish chips- the verdict!

Ok, here is the good, bad, and ugly about my turnip and radish chip experiment-

The good: YUMMY!!!!

The bad: I didn't cook them at a high enough temp. and they didn't quite as crispy as I'd hoped

The ugly: I didn't stop eating until every one was gone. >:-O

I took turnips and radishes from my veggie bin this week and, after eating some awesome chips Ashley bought, decided to make chips out of them. I peeled the turnips but left the skins on the radish, and sliced them up with Mom's food king (seriously, thing EVER!).

After I sliced them, I steamed them with really hot steam for 3 minutes. Then I threw them in a bowl and mixed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, ginger and cayenne pepper.

I put them on a baking sheet and baked them at 350 for about 35 minutes, turning them ever 7-8 minutes. I put them on 450 for the last 5 minutes and quickly discovered that I should have had it there the whole time.

Next time, I'll cook them on the top rack at 450, turning them every 7 minutes or so, and I'm guessing it'll take no more than 20 minutes. And I'll put a little less salt, since they are so addictive!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Great vegetable service and even better soup!

I'm in love with Organics 2 You! I've probably told most of you all about it ( that I mean my mom, since I'm pretty sure that mom is the only one who reads my blog!) by now. If I haven't, here is the scoop: every week (or at intervals that you want), they deliver a bin of produce to my door. These produce are all organic (and, for me, all veggies because it's what I wanted), and most are farm fresh and local. And the best part is that financially it makes sense! I'm afraid to tell them for fear that they'll change it...but they provide a really good value!

I did this for a few reasons: 1) to increase the amount of organic foods in our diet to help Sky's ADD and our general health; 2) to try new vegetables by just getting the box, seeing what it contains, and learning how to cook it; 3) because I'm lazy. Well, not lazy, per se, but I'd prefer to avoid the grocery store if at all possible.

So today my bin of vegetables contained italian kale. I've never actually made kale, though I've seen it used on the Food Network a lot. Woo hoo! The bin also contained a recipe for soup, which looks intriguing but wasn't totally my cup of soup. So with that recipe and another that someone online shared, I had some ideas and set out to make my own Kale-Bacon soup.

Here goes:

Kale-Bacon soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced
6 potatoes, roughly chopped
1 quart water
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups white wine
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups bacon (some fat removed)
1 bunch kale, chopped

In soup pot, saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes at medium heat- do not burn garlic!

Add potatoes and saute for 5 minutes more.

Add water, chicken broth, wine, bay leaves, italian seasoning, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to low boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

In skillet, fry bacon until browned over medium high heat. Do not burn! Reduce heat to medium. Add kale, salt and pepper to skillet. Turn kale in skillet, allowing it to become tender and a more vibrant green, 5-8 minutes.

Add bacon and kale to potato mixture, let simmer 20 more minutes.


School, swine flu and a new family member!

Whew! What a week!

Skyler began 1st grade with a great attitude and a lot of excitement. Though the school was a madhouse, we were thrilled to walk Skyler in to school and see him off on his first day. His teacher seems very nice, some of his best friends are in his class, and I think everyone (himself included) is excited to see how well he'll do with the ADD under control. Skyler had to choose 3 things to present to the class this week in order to explain "who he is". He chose a golf ball, to represent his love of golf. And a small car, to represent the Hot Wheels collection which is always spilling over in his room. And the third item? Was it a picture of his mommy? Nope. He wanted a picture of Georgia, to talk about his wonderful dog.

Alex started Tuesday morning just thrilled to be going to school. Then I told him that kids may not play video games before school. It's amazing how quickly he reconsidered his enthusiasm! After awhile, though, he had forgotten his school boycott and became excited again. He was so excited, in fact, that he insisted on wearing his backpack in to Skyler's school- you know, just in case the principle decided to reconsider the age limits. I bet there were a lot of people thinking "I knew kindergarteners were small, but isn't that pushing it?". While Alex was at the park today, he got 3 bee stings. Poor guy! My mom said that he took it like a champ and was soon irritated that Grandma was bothering to check out his wounds. So, pretty much- the bees didn't change him one bit!

Fast forward to Wednesday- they day before Dusty was to return to work from vacation. Dusty had begun feeling under the weather Tuesday night. Figuring it was exhaustion, he went to bed at 5:30. On Wednesday, not only had he NOT improved, but he was worse. Grandma Marcia picked up the kids from school in order to help him rest. By Wednesday evening, it was downright scary. I took him to urgent care where he was very quickly diagnosed with H1N1. The swine flu. work for Dusty. I'd say vacation was extended a week, but this is no vacation! No doubt he'd rather be working at the moment. Through some amazing family generosity, the kids have been gone since. While I miss them like crazy, this seems to be the best way to keep them healthy and give Dusty time to recover. I am on Tamiflu to prevent H1N1, so aside from boredom, I'm going just fine. But I sure can't wait to see Dusty happy again!

Today (Friday) my boredom got the best of me. I HAD to get out. So I grabbed a soda (which I'd sworn off 2 weeks ago- bad me) and started driving. Not the most economical thing to do, but considering my car gets good gas mileage, I thought it was a small price to pay for sanity. Well, on that drive I somehow found myself looking at dogs. This weekend is National Adopt A Pet weekend, and all the shelters are doing outreach programs at local pet stores. One such outreach that I happened upon had a dog named Dillon.

Dillon is 7-9 years old, male, and sweet as can be. Dillon pretty much looks like a thin but taller version of Georgia- with a bleached white hair do. Dillon stood out to me as "the dog". Now, we've seen dogs that we love in the past, but the problem has been Georgia. Georgia has what I like to call a princess syndrome. As in, any person or animal who doesn't treat her like a princess is immediately on the naughty list. For this reason, she has a real problem with dogs trying to assert their dominance, hit on her when she isn't interested, or act annoyingly energetic. Dusty, the kids and I watched not too long ago as she knocked a dog her size up in to the air (fortunately, a wall stopped him) for sniffing her butt. She thought he was moving too fast. So though I loved Dillon, I kind of assumed that Georgia would tell me, once again, that she didn't feel Dillon was her type.

The minute Georgia and Dillon saw each other, it was clear that he was not just "any other dog". She loves him. After seeing how happy they were together, I filled out the paperwork and paid $25 (it makes me sad that they have to practically give away an awesome dog because he is 7 years old) to make Dillon the newest Bigham. Dillon happily jumped into the back seat of my car, next to Georgia, and never looked back.

So here we are- Friday, September 11th (a day which always gives me pause...). The end of our first week of school. The kids love school, Dusty hates pigs, and Dusty and I (and the kids, once they meet him- it's a surprise!) love Dillon. And Georgia!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fashion shows, seafood and family!

Tonight was our 3rd annual "back to school dinner". Because we just got back from the coast, we had fresh clams and oysters to eat! Ashley, Brian and Grandma Marcia came over- Ashley brought an amazing dessert, by the way! Sure is nice to have Dusty around today. We love vacation time!

After dinner, the boys got to do their fashion show. Because I am a super mean mom who keeps all their new school clothes tucked away until school, this was huge. They got to show off their new goods and choose their 1st day outfits. Alex is thrilled- he gets to wear a t-shirt tomorrow with "TWO TARS" (a.k.a. guitars) and an orange sweater- his favorite color. Skyler, as always, is going a bit more formal- cords, a button up collared shirt and and argyle sweater vest. Both boys enjoyed the cheers and compliments that Ashley, Brian, Dusty and Grandma were happy to shower them with (I was the behind the scenes cheerleader).

I am so excited! They are so excited! We'll be out the door by 7:50 tomorrow morning, and hopefully it all goes as smooth as I envision it.

Here is the chowder recipe I used, a hybrid of this one:, the recipe used by Pacific Coast Seafood, and the realities of not having all that was called for!

1/4 cup butter
6 oz. pancetta
4 cloves garlic
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel

I sauteed these ingredients for about 5-10 minutes at medium heat.

When the fennel was cooked a bit, I added:
2 cups heavy cream
6 cups clam juice
7 diced potatoes (skins ON! Don't remove the nutrition)
5 sprigs thyme
3 lbs steamer clams, steamed in garlic and butter, shelled & chopped
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper
4 Tbsp. corn starch dissolved in 4 Tbsp. cold water

I brought those ingredients to a boil, reduced heat to low, covered and let simmer for 25 minutes. YUMMY!

To go with the chowder, I made gluten free bread with Bob's Red Mill's gluten free bread mix, a salad with some amazing tomatoes from my neighbor's garden (and freshly ground parmesan, as always!) and oysters in wine sauce for an appetizer.

The best part of the evening was for sure when my mom did the clean-up! Thanks, Mom!

Happy school year, everyone!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A (crazy) weekend at the beach!

Saturday morning at 9:30, we set out towards Lincoln City with plans of a grand Oregon Coast tour. Plans were to pick Skyler up from his dad's and hit the beach by noon. By the time we fell in love with Tyson's new puppy, had to stop 3 times for potty and forgotten item emergencies, and sat in holiday weekend beach traffic, we pulled in to Lincoln City by 2 or so.

After going out for a meal that reminded my why I don't like to eat out anymore (in a nutshell, I could make way better food and not pay for someone else's overpriced ****), we came out of the restaurant to find our tire flat. We figured it was a fluke, aired the tire up and headed for the outlet malls.

Did you know that the Saturday before school starts is the busiest day at the outlet mall, according to the employees? Huh. I didn't know that. One look at the place clued us in, though. After shopping as fast as humanly possible, we were all happy. Skyler got a really cool watch (he's been saving for one for a long time), Alex got a hat he adores, Dusty got some work clothes, and I got a good bottle of wine. Personally, I think I am the lucky one. :-) On the way out of the outlet mall, we saw a man on a really cool Harley Davidson just pulling in to the spot. When we apologized to him for the fact that Alex was staring at/stalking him, he offered to let Alex on the bike. Pretty much, Alex was in heaven. He got to sit on a "real motocycy" AND honk the horn!

Next up was our hotel. We were so excited to see that our $100 on a holiday weekend room was right across the ocean with an ocean view! We were a little less excited when we got in to the room and realized that $99 of that rate paid for the view, and roughly $1 of it paid for the atmosphere. Ah, well. It was inexpensive and still a treat. Luckily we got out of the room immediately to go play on the beach. I say luckily because after 15 minutes of beach play, the sky got dark, the wind picked up, and a storm quickly made itself known! At least we got our sand time! The boys were thrilled until Alex took a face plant in a stream right as the storm was really getting cold.

After dinner at a place that was super gluten free friendly but incredibly overpriced and tasteless, we were ready to go to bed. And that's when we walked out to find our tire flat. Again. Again, we aired it up, discovered a screw had recently declared our tire it's home, then looked up every tire shop around only to realize that they'd be closed through Monday due to the weekend and holiday. Dusty asked a gas station attendant where we'd get a tire fixed on a Sunday, and he responded with a hearty laugh before telling us "east".

This morning Dusty woke up and played SuperHusband by putting the spare tire on. This changed our plan, though, since we couldn't really drive too far on it. So rather than breakfast and sightseeing in Depot Bay before heading up to Seaside...we grabbed coffee by the hotel and drove up to the Tillamook Chesse Factory, after breaking the news to the kids that the Seaside arcade would have to wait. On the way to Tillamook, we decided to take a detour and show the kids Pacific City. The weather was stormy and we wanted to show them the beauty of the huge waves hitting the cliffs. Sounds great, right?

At Pacific City, you can drive your car on to the beach. Note: don't try this in a Civic on really wet sand. Not only did the car get stuck- it got stuck so close to the water that a wave broke really close, sending water rushing under the entire car and sinking our little hybrid even deeper. After frantically trying to dig, push and drive the car out, a guy with an SUV towed us out. Aside from some embarrassment and hurt pride, it turned out ok.

The cheese factory was great, though by the time we got there Dusty and I could have been happy fast forwarding to bedtime. Why does Tillamook Ice Cream taste so much better at the factory? It is just fabulous. Almost made up for the face that we almost lost our new car to the Pacific.

All in all, it was a good trip. Although we feel like perhaps we have had better luck on other vacations! We are looking forward to clam chowder and oysters in the next few days after stopping by a local seafood company.

And that's all, folks! Now if we can only get the tire fixed...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ok, I give in. Camping isn't so bad!

Now that I know I have your attention...we are home from camping! Dusty, Skyler, Alex, Georgia and I hit up Trillium Lake this week. We had a blast! The weather was ok. Actually, at night we froze, but we had so much fun during the day that we didn't care.

Alex "caught" a fish with a fishing pole fashioned out of a stick, fishing line and a sinker. A lady who was fishing next to us watched happily while Alex squealed "I GOT SOMETHING!" every time he pulled up a piece of seaweed. After awhile the lady pulled up a fish who was in shock from just recently being dumped in to the lake (the boys got to watch the lake being stocked with 4000 trout!), and decided to make good use of the fact that the little guy wasn't putting up a fight. She asked me to distract Alex, and while I did she slipped the fish onto his line. Alex is so proud of the fish that he caught! Ask him and he'll tell you all about it! Alex also really enjoyed bike riding. And marshmallows. He wasn't so thrilled about sleeping in a tent, but he had big brother to encourage him on that front.

Skyler is just a joy to watch fish. He rarely catches anything. I, personally, would be frustrated as heck. But his never ending enthusiasm is just contagious. It doesn't matter if he's been out there 3 hours and hasn't had a bite- who knows? In the next 5 minutes, he just may catch a trophy fish! He spent hours at the lake, just happy to be there. He enjoyed riding his bike until one of the pedals fell off, and says that sitting by the campfire is his favorite activity. When Alex had a hard time falling asleep because he was scared in the tent, we heard Skyler singing country songs to Alex until little brother was asleep. Skyler went with my on the 2 mile lake loop, and although we had to stop and rest more times than I can count, he really was a trooper.

Dusty, I think, could spend eternity standing in waist deep water with a fishing pole. He seems to really be enjoying his vacation, and we are so happy he is ours for the week!

I thought camping was fun! I pre-cooked all of our meals, so the only things required for cooking were a dutch oven and grill tools. Super easy to clean up, super easy to make! I'm still not thrilled about tent sleeping, but the air mattress we borrowed from Val and Bruce made it manageable. I loved sitting in a chair by the lake, watching all the boys fish. It was just perfect.

Georgia loves camping. Well...she actually likes anything her family is doing. She is not a fan of riding in a car. My goodness, I've never seen a dog shake so bad! But she made it, had a good time, and is now lounging about exhausted.

Next up is the Oregon Coast! We'll only be gone two days, but we are all excited!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

A heavenly salad. Yum!

Organics 2 You delivered me some amazing fresh veggies yesterday. In the delivery came 5 beets. I've never eaten beets before- but the main point of using Organics 2 You, for me, is to try new stuff!

So I looked it up on the Food Network. Apparently you can roast beets. Seemed simple enough! I roasted them, cooled them...then thought "now what?".

So I made up this little concoction. I wish you all could taste it through the blog. YUM!

After roasting the beets, I toasted some pine nuts. As it turns out, I have some random greenery that needed to be eaten, so my dinner tonight became a salad. After throwing some green onion and all the above mentioned ingredients in a bowl, I added gruyere cheese and cinnamon. I tossed in some pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and the heavens parted.

I'm in love. This is my new favorite salad ever!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Big day today!

Today was so great!

Dusty and I took the kids to see Up at the Mt. Hood Theater. I LOVE that place. If that theater ever closes down, I don't know what I'll do. Who cares if most of the movies are a week away from being on DVD? It is comfy and inexpensive. Up was a great movie! The kids were entertained by the humor, and Dusty and I were both heartbroken and uplifted by the story. Both boys actually watched the whole thing! (No, that isn't a typo! They sat and watched the movie!)

After the movie, Skyler got to go have alone time with Grandma, Brian and Ashley. That is pretty much heaven for him! During this time, Dusty and I took Alex to his preschool orientation. Talk about an excited kiddo! He cannot wait to start school, and within five minutes had met friends, fallen in love with the toys, and showed off what a kid on a sugar high looks like.

Dusty and I have big plans for September 8th! We are going to wake up and enjoy a big family breakfast with the boys before helping them get all ready for their first day of school. Then we will drive Skyler to school, drive Alex to school...and then look at each other and scream "WOOOO-HOOOO!" as we drive off for a morning date.

One last thing- another recipe! Hope you all don't mind a little self promotion, but I made this last night and thought it was pretty spectacular myself (and so did Grandpa Mike, who flattered me by asking me to write up a recipe!).

Cheesy Pesto Chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. Pesto sauce

2 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)

2 oz. goat cheese (room temperature- if you don't have goat cheese, you can use parmesan or extra cream cheese)

1 egg

1 cup plain bread crumbs

1/4 cup ground flax (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pesto and cheeses together in small bowl. In separate bowl, beat eggs- set aside. In a shallow bowl, pour bread crumbs (mix in flax if desired).

Cut pockets in the chicken breast and stuff with 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken to taste. Dip chicken in egg, then roll in breadcrumbs. Set on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cranberry & Pine Nut Crusted Salmon

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, mix:

1/4 cup Craisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 clove garlic
2 oz. gruyere cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Process until mix is fine and crumbly, dump into shallow bowl.

In another bowl, beat one egg. Add about 2 Tbsp. water.

Take 4 salmon thawed salmon fillets, dip in egg mixture, then in cranberry mixture.

Put filets in a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle any remaining cranberry mixture onto the salmon. Bake for 20 minutes & enjoy!

This is the first recipe I ever came up with all by myself, and since Mom likes it I thought it was worth sharing!

Friday, August 21, 2009

And it's been 4 years!

Dusty and I celebrated our 4th anniversary last night!

Here is a run-down:

The night began with me getting stuck in my dress. Seriously. I had used a gift card I'd saved to buy a special dress just for my anniversary. I was so excited! It was perfect.

I put it on right before Dusty walked in from work and couldn't get it to zip. So I asked Dusty to try it when he walked in. He did. The zipper pull broke off. So he ran out to get pliers to zip it the rest of the way (at this point I'm wondering how I'll get it off at the end of the night, but we were late so there wasn't time to worry about it). He got it to a seam on the dress where the zipper's teeth were bent, where it got stuck. So we spend about 10 minutes trying to get this dress zipped despite the fact that the zipper is clearly not in good condition. Keep in mind that I'm in 4 inch heels, we're all dressed up and ready to go, and our reservation is in 30 minutes.

Finally we look at the clock and realize we have to go. I give up my hopes of wearing this perfect dress, and decide I'll wear the back up "little black dress" that I have in my closet. So I go to take the not-going-to-happen dress off. But the zipper now won't go DOWN, either. Again, Dusty tries to come to my no avail. After trying for a good ten minutes, we got desperate. Dusty had to actually CUT the brand new dress off of me.

Who has to be cut out of their dress on their anniversary? Haha. Me, apparently.

Luckily El Gaucho bumped our reservation back a half hour and we had a fabulous night. Now...anyone know how to replace zippers in dresses?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I have become obsessed with food.

Really. It is absurd. I love to cook. I REALLY love to cook in the summer when I have fresh produce available and my mom is around to do dishes.

That's all.

Ok, I'm getting back on this blog thing!

I know I have taken quite the break from blogging. But I'm ready to hop back on the horse (figuratively, of course- I'd probably fall off a real one)!

We are coming to a close of our summer. Skyler is preparing for 1st grade, Alex is hardly able to contain his excitement about pre-school (picture this: "I am going to go to SCHOOOOOOOW with my BACKPACK just like SKYYYYYYYER!"). Dusty and I are about to celebrate our fourth anniversary and have been pretty pleased with life lately.

Skyler is on a gluten free diet which has been a bit of a challenge to adjust to, but has been a great thing for us! The whole family is paying more attention to what we put in our body, and there is no question that Skyler's ADD symptoms seem to have improved since removing gluten and processed foods. Every once in awhile Skyler will tell me "I want gluten", which makes me laugh because he really doesn't even have a clue what it is!

Skyler has also started martial arts classes. He loves it! He has been busy this summer golfing, fishing, riding his bike, cooking and building things.

Alex is just aching to be on a sports team- any team- and just does not understand why he isn't considered big enough to play for the Atlanta Braves. He spends his days jumping off of things that I'd personally never see fit to jump off of, playing his guitar (that he bought with a gift card so that he could "be a ROCKSTAR!"), running around in the back yard and reciting theme songs to various preschool cartoons.

Both boys took swim lessons this summer and LOVED it! They also enjoyed camping and cannot wait for one last trip to Trillium Lake before school begins. I'm still not sure wether it is the camping or the marshmallows that have them hooked...

I'll be writing more often now, but that is all I've got for today!