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 Friday...no 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!