Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweet Shot: Kaleigha

The other day Kaleigha looked so cute with her dress and braids that I just had to take her picture...  problem was, she wasn't feeling it right away...

So, I asked her what she wanted me to take a picture of and I made a deal with her (yes, a bribe).  If she would let me take her picture, I would let her pick a picture for me to take...  hmm, what would she pick??

So, after said bribe  deal, I got these pictures:

And, after all that, she got to pick her shot.  She picked for me to take a picture of her.... feet:

And, one more because I thought she was being funny:

Linking up with:  Sweet Shot Tuesday 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kale Chips - OH MY delish!!

Let me just say, I love Kale Chips!  Why I had to wait until I was a mother of three and in my 30's to try these, I do not know.  Josh loved them also :)

Simple ingredients & simply delicious!

See the browned edges?  Pull it out when it looks like this. 

Kale Chips: 
*One bunch Kale
*1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
*Salt, to season

Heat the oven to 350.  Tear the kale into bite size pieces (My pieces were the size of a large potato chip).  Mix the kale with the olive oil and dust with the salt.  Put the kale pieces on a large cookie sheet, so they aren't overlapping.  Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

I have read that the kale can go from being crisp to burnt pretty quickly.  I checked it around 10 minutes and mine was not done.  The key is to pull it out when you see the edges turn a nice brown color.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Heart Shaped Pizza Mini's

We had some little friends over the other day and with Valentines day approaching we decided to make some fun food.  So, we made Heart Shaped Pizza mini's. 


*Pizza dough (store bought works fine in a hurry)
*Pizza Sauce
*mozzerella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 (or package directions).  Roll out pizza dough on floured surface.  Cut out desire shapes.  Put about a tablespoon of pizza sauce on each pizza mini; spread to the edges without going over.  Sprinkle with cheese and desired toppings. 

*If using store bought, the leftover dough is tricky to reshape, so we made it into a little pizza for my husband to eat :)

Savory Pot Roast with Onions

Since I don't follow recipes exactly when I am reading them (for one reason or another) I have trouble sometimes making the item again.  That is what is happening to me now :(  I made a pot roast back in November that tasted really really really good.  Usually if I can find the base recipe, I can remember... but I can't even find this base recipe.  So here goes what I remember with a few changes. 

We loved it!!
Sear the beef and season with salt and rosemary.

Flip the seared beef and it should have a nice brown cast with slight bronze streaks.

Put into dish and put onions around the beef.

Mix together sauces for the gravy.

Place the gravy over the roast and sprinkle with more rosemary

Serve with Roasted Root Vegetables

Savory Pot Roast:

*1 1/2 pound Roast ( I used a beef chuck roast shoulder)
*2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (or butter)
*1 pressed garlic clove
*1/2 teaspoon rosemary

*1 onion chopped lengthwise

*1/4 cup red wine vinegar - or- red wine
*1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
*1/2 jar of Heinz low fat gravy
* 2 Tablespoons water (if double, use 1/4 cup)
*1 teaspoon rosemary
*1/2 teaspoon bay leaf or 3 whole bay leaves (whole to be removed after cooking)

Preheat the oven to 375.  Put the olive oil (or butter) into a skillet & turn on.  I trim the fat off of the meat and then pierce the meat with the fork several times on both sides.  I sprinkle with salt and then I place the meat into the hot skillet.  Put the rosemary and pressed garlic onto the top of the roast.  At this point, the bottom is ready to be flipped.  I look for a nice even brown color with a few carmel streaks.  This locks in the flavor when it is baked in the oven.

Set the meat aside in the dish you will be using.  Put the onion on the sides around the meat.

Combine the gravy, red wine, Worcestershire Sauce and water.  Mix well and pour over the top of the roast.

Cook at 375 for an hour.

Note:  When I make a roast this way, I cook the vegetables separately.  I have found the potatoes get too soggy with this roast.  I use my Roasted Root Vegetable recipe to accompany this dish.

If doubling this for a 3-4lb roast, do not double the vinegar.  If using wine, double :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Roasted Root Vegetables

Before roasting...

Served with Savory Pot Roast
Roasted Root Vegetables:

*3 potatoes
*3 medium carrots
*1 large turnip
*1 onion
*3 Tablespoons olive oil
*1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop vegetables into small pieces (nickel and quarter size).  Toss with the olive oil.  Place into roasting pan and season with salt.  Bake for 45 minutes or until vegetables are easily pierced with a fork.

Other items you can add:  turnips, sweet potatoes and any other root vegetable.  This dish even works well on the grill in grill packets.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jillian and the Chopsticks...

Jillian didn't have much success with the chopsticks... but that didn't stop her from eating one of her favorite things - RICE!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweet Shot of: Drew

 I wanted to link up with Sweet Shot Tuesday to share this photo.  The girls had gone to bed and it was around 10pm.  Drew had fallen asleep in my arms and his little lip was so sweet and pouty.  I had Josh grab my camera and I turned off the flash and got some great shots of my sweet babe (and he stayed asleep the whole time too!)

The Cowl - First Crochet Project...

So, day by day & bit by bit I have been working on this cowl neck scarf.  I told Josh last night at the rate I am going when I finish it will be springtime and I won't need it.

About two nights ago, I started wondering what I could make instead of this cowl with this piece I have already completed.  I do that with my cooking sometimes; I begin to make one dish and realize that I don't have the proper ingredients and change it into something else.  Since I have been cooking since the tender age of 8, I can usually do that with success.  So, I look at this piece and wonder what in the world else I could make it into.

Some thoughts I have had:
*a little poncho for our American Girl doll - Kit... but I don't want my first project to be for the doll.
*a hot pad... but I don't want to use such a great yarn for a hot pad.
*hmm... an iPod case?  Stitch the sides together?

Well for now I will keep on crocheting and hope that eventually these tight little stitches and knots turn into something useful.

(why didn't I make a potholder???)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bok Choy and Onion Stirfry (HAPPY Chinese New Year!)

I lived in China for a year back in 2001-02.  I love good Chinese food and I really should make it more often - especially since the Chinese restaurants taste different than what I got used to eating.  This recipe was definitely a keeper.

Bok Choy and Onion
*Baby Bok Choy - sliced into long pieces
*One white onion
*1 Tablespoon olive oil
*1 Tablespoon soy sauce
*1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix the olive oil and soy sauce together and saute/stirfry the bok choy and onion for approximately 5 minutes.  When the leaves are wilted, it is done.

We ate it over a long grain rice mixture.  It was tasty!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My little bruiser

                                                 (Can you just see the sneaky twinkle in her eyes?)

My sweet and extremely energetic little Jillian is intense!  The other day at Sunday school she got a knot on her head because she fell over and banged her head on the metal door frame.  Later that afternoon she fell when she tripped on an imaginary line and got a raspberry on her nose.  The very next day her little fingers got shut in between the door and the frame.  She took a break on Tuesday.  Wednesday, she fell backwards off of a kitchen chair.

We have a boo-boo buddy and I bet we pull this thing out 5 times per week for this little girl :)  I do have to say, Jillian is tough as nails though!

Friday, January 20, 2012


I started making my scones again.  I started selling them two years ago (I can't believe it has been that long!)  A local coffee shop buys them.  It is such a compliment that people buy my baked goods.  I love to eat what I bake, but it's neat that a hobby of mine helps me to earn a little bit extra.  I thought I would include a few pictures of the scones.  I make two main kinds:  Cranberry White Chocolate & Cinnamon Raisin.  I have made a Lemon Blueberry in the summertime - I LOVE this flavor!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Painted Rooms

I have been wanting to paint our sunroom and kitchen for quite awhile.  So, before Christmas Josh asked me what I wanted as a gift.  I suggested having him paint these two rooms for me and he told me to go ahead and pick out the paints.  My dear husband spent half of the week off painting these two rooms for me.

This is our sunroom:

And our kitchen is this light tan color.  They compliment each other well.  And, we don't have much wall space - so not much to be able to see. 

I love the new painted rooms, thank you Josh!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baked Mac & Cheese

I think the only time I ever follow a recipe exactly is when I am baking.  Here is yet another example of me not following the recipe as written.  I found this recipe through Pinterest, which had people claiming it was the worlds best mac and cheese.  I had to try it (and change it, so it really is something pretty different I am sure.

*8 oz. small Penne pasta
* Sauce:
  •  3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups of milk
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of flour
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 Tablespoon white cheddar popcorn seasoning
*1/2 Cup of Cheddar Cheese

Set oven temperature to 350.
Directions for making the sauce: 
  1. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes.
  2. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, chile powder, and garlic powder. Stir until cheese has melted and all ingredients are well incorporated, about 3 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days.
Add the sauce to the cooked penne pasta and coat.   Put mixture into 8x8 ungreased pan and place into oven for 20 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before eating.

Sadly, I couldn't eat it because of the dairy - but my family LOVED it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My girls wanted to have a slumber party and they had been bugging us for about a month.  We finally caved and set them up in their sleeping bags together in Jillian's room over the weekend/

At about 11:30pm, we heard knocking on the door and our oldest said she was done with the slumber party and was ready to go back to her room.

Well, we thought that didn't last long!  And, we haven't another peep about doing a slumber party again.  At least they looked SOOOO cute snuggled up in their little sleeping bags!

My sweet little girls, I love them so much and I pray that they grow up to be best friends!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Makeover Oreo Cake Balls!

I love desserts!  I love sweets!  And, I love to eat a lot :)  But, I don't want to gain - so I love when I can modify a recipe (lose some calories) and still get rave results!  I found the original recipe here:  Oreo Truffles and I am so glad that I found this recipe on her site!

Here is my updated version:

*half package of reduced fat Oreos
*3 ounces of neufchatel cheese softened (like cream cheese)
* 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips

Chope Oreos up finely in a food processor.  Save a Tablespoon of the crushed Oreos to decorate the tops later; set aside.

Combine the softened cheese and crushed Oreos until well combined. Roll into balls and place on wax covered cookie sheet (I used aluminum foil instead of wax).  Place sheet into freezer for 15 minutes to set the Oreo balls.

Melt chips in microwave by heating for approximately a minute.  I find that if the chips have retained their shape but are glossy on the outside, they are ready to begin mixing. I mix until it becomes a smooth dip.

Take the Oreo cake balls out of the freezer and dip into chocolate.  Dust with the leftover Oreo crumbs before the white chocolate hardens.  Let the chocolate harden and store in the fridge.

Warning:  Be prepared to keep eating these!  :)  I made these for two separate parties and didn't have any to bring home either time!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My First ACTUAL Crochet Project

I got advice (from where I don't remember) that when learning how to knit or crochet, to make something that you would actually like and use.  It can help to keep you motivated and excited about your project.  So, when I was looking through the Lion catalog, I decided that I would make this cowl.  It said it was for a beginner and I figured it would suit me.

I picked out this great cozy, fluffy brown yarn.  If it is going to be close to my face, I want to love it.

I started working on it the other day and I basically have been crocheting until my wrist begin to hurt (carpel tunnel post baby).  Here is how much I have done...  2 rows.

I am really looking forward to completing it.  Confession:  I am having a hard time reading the crochet directions and since this is a simple piece; the directions are simple too.  Yet, that doesn't stop my confusion.  I think this is why I usually don't like to read directions.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kale Soup

Winter has surely set in - no more odd 60 degree January days here.  It snowed this week, which my girls loved and my oldest said, "It's finally Christmastime."  Uh.  Nope, Christmas is past.  She had made these window clings this summer and I thought the little astronaut looked so cute against the snow.

One of my most favorite things in the winter time is soup.  A family favorite soup that I make several times every winter is Kale Soup.  My mom always made it and I have heard she learned to make it from my Great Aunt Ethel (who passed away this past year at 101yrs old).  I LOVE Kale Soup!!


5 Potatoes cut 
15 Baby carrots diced
1 cup of fast Oatmeal (plain!)
3 bunches of Kale
2 links of Polish Kielbasa 
8 cups water
salt to taste

Boil the water and add the potatoes and carrots.  I usually simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft and a fork can pierce them.  During this time, I shred the Kale into small pieces that are as large as my palm or smaller.  Add the kielbasa and oatmeal when the potatoes are soft.  Then add the kale.  Allow to continue to simmer for 5-10 more minutes.  I prefer my Kale to lose the bright green color and become limp; and I use this as my guide to when the soup is complete.  Salt to taste.  

If your soup gets too thick, you can always add more water, a cup at a time until it is the desired consistency.  This soup is packed with wonderful nutrients!  Let me know if you try our family recipe!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Our new normal...

Now that Drew is 3 months old life has settled into our new normal.  It is pretty crazy for me.  Every night before going to bed, I rush around and set out everything that we will need for the next morning.  Check backpacks and diaper bags.  Lay out clothes for kids and me to wear.  Remember to take my vitamin.  Get the coffee maker ready for the morning.  Nurse Drew one last time before bed. 

Life is crazy.  And, I am weary. 

I read a blog - An Inch of Gray:  http://aninchofgray.blogspot.com/.  Earlier this year her 12 year old son died in a freak accident.  In a post about a month after his death she writes how before his death she would've wished for: 1.  To lose weight   2.  Less laundry  3.  Less running around.  She says somehow she got all three and would rather have her old life back. 

So, I look around at my crazy life that is my new normal and instead of stressing out, I have to remind myself how blessed I am.  But, I will say... working with three kids is kicking my rear!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Crochet, take 2...

So, I guess I am able to learn :)  I tried again with crocheting.  Someone had told me that she used Youtube for figuring out tricky stitches.  Well, I thought maybe I could use it to learn how to do the basic  ones...  I watched this video:  http://youtu.be/eqca00LdmAc  
The one in green is my first chain stitch.  
The one in blue is my second attempt.
I was SO relieved when I saw that what I was doing actually looked like it was supposed to!  So, I am working on practicing in this small piece below.  I think I have done about five rows.  It is interesting trying to figure it out.  The piece I am working on is pretty hole-y right now.  Not sure why, so I am trying to figure this out.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

I have to cut out dairy due to Drew having a dairy intolerance.  Trying to find things that lack dairy is challenging!  So, I decided to make some homemade granola bars.  I haven't made them before; they taste super!!!

  • 2 cups instant oatmeal
  • 1 cup ground nuts - I used 1/2 pecans and 1/2 pistachios
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ground dried fruit - I used a mixture


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 8x12 pan with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat bran.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the olive oil, honey, brown sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Mix the fruit, nut and toasted mixture.  Cook sauce and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Modified from Barefoot Contessa's orginal recipe:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-granola-bars-recipe/index.html

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Model Magic Lacing Beads

Cold snowy day with my little birds!  My girls of course wanted to play outside in the snow, but since it was just a dusting we had to come up with an inside project.  I was messing around with my yarn and my oldest was telling me how she could knit some necklaces for her sister.  Her {cute} idea of knitting was to tie it into a know and let Jillian wear it.

The teacher in me thought, if we could make some beads it would be a perfect activity for their little fingers.  Making the beads strengthens little muscles and lacing is a great preschool/kindergarten activity.  So off we went.

First we pulled out some model magic I had left over from an old project.  Our Model Magic was a little dry and spongy...  
Break off a small piece and roll into a ball with your hands.  This was a great activity for my 5 year old!  I would even do this with a group of kids in my class!

Then take a plastic needle, I suppose even a paperclip stretched out (or anything skinny) would work.  And puncture through the ball you rolled.  Then wiggle the needle around in the hole to create the perfect size for your lacing.  The smaller the child, the larger the hole I would suggest. 

The examples to the left show varying sizes.  If you are using a plastic needle your older child can help with this step also.  My 2 1/2 year old had lost interest in the project by this point.  But, she loved getting to bead them when they dried.  Lay the beads out to dry for 24 hours.  And, we used pipe cleaners for lacing.  It makes a great tactile activity!  Enjoy!