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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ding Dong

We made it home before the latest winter storm hit Columbia...darn, we would have loved to have gotten stuck!  Here are a few phone photos (remembered the camera...forgot the card!) from a fun winter weekend.
A book or the piano...it's always a toss up, even in hat and gloves.

Our future Tiger :)!  She walked nearly 4 miles in the snow...snow pants, snow boots and all.  

Sledding in the backyard.  They also ventured out to the park, and Grandpa knew just where to go, perfect hills and no competition!


My friend Kim gave me this recipe and I tweaked it just a little to make it a vegetarian soup.   This recipe makes a lot but we never have trouble finishing the leftovers, and none of us are big fans of leftovers.


Taco Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1(4oz) can chopped green chilis
1 t. salt
1 package taco seasoning
1 package dressing mix
1 (14 ½ oz) can corn, drained
3(14 ½ oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15oz) can pinto beans, drained
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
1 1/2c. water

Cook onion in olive oil for 3 minutes or so.  Add all other ingredients.  Simmer about 30 minutes.  Or you can put all ingredients in the crockpot in the morning and cook on low all day.  Serve with plain yogurt, black olives, shredded cheese and whole grain tortilla chips.

 Taco soup was Monday night's dinner, last night I made quesadillas, I know you don't need a recipe for those.  Here's a wonderful rice though that you should make sometime soon.  It's a great side dish for any Mexican meal.  

Cafe Rio's Cilantro Lime Rice
(adapted from thegirlwhoateeverything.com)
1 ¼ cup uncooked brown rice
juice and zest 1 large or 2 small limes
2 ¼ cups vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin

Put all ingredients in rice cooker.  Follow directions on your rice cooker OR  Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

What's for dinner tonight?  Cheese pizza, delivered right to our door.  It's been one of those days! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Snow Day Cinnamon Rolls

We got our wish, another snow day!

Eleanor is teaching Emma how to play chess.  She is such a good teacher.  

Last night I decided to make cinnamon rolls, in case school wasn't called off and I needed something to lure the kids out of bed.  My mom makes the best cinnamon rolls in the world.  I've tried her recipe and mine do not measure up.  Not even close, I'd rather only have them once a year, when she makes them for Christmas, than keep messing up a good thing.   So over the last few years I've tried several different  recipes and none have been what we were looking for.  While they were easier they were all still somewhat time consuming and required planning ahead.  Last night I found this cinnamon roll recipe and I tried it out this morning.  Bingo!  Here's what I've been searching for.  While they are still not the yummy special occasion cinnamon rolls of my childhood, they are perfectly suited for a middle of the week treat.   They are a quick, non-yeast, 45 minute start to finish cinnamon roll, which requires absolutely no preplanning!

Wish us luck.  We are off on an adventure to find more snow.  We hear Columbia has a foot.  MODOT says I-70 is mostly clear so we're heading west!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

They want more....

snow and snow days, that is.  Mid afternoon they started asking if I thought, maybe, just maybe school would be cancelled again tomorrow.  I don't think it's going to happen but secretly I'm hoping for that call too.  It was a fantastic day until about 3:30 when a little bit of the bickering sisters syndrome hit but all in all I cannot complain.  We cooked, and danced, they built a city with things from the recycling bin.  They built with Legos, and even played outside for a little while.  Now everyone is upstairs in the tub getting ready for a good night's sleep.

For lunch I made fish sandwiches and homemade fries.  Kevin was home working and we had a friend from next door over so it was a full house, so fun!

Oven "Fried" Fish Fillets
From: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

About 1and a half pounds this fish fillets ( I used cod, I'd thawed too much for last night's dinner so it worked out great)
1 and a half cups plain yogurt
Bread crumbs ( I didn't have any so I used some crushed crackers and cornmeal)
Salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

-Soak fillet in yogurt while you heat oven to 450.  Put the bread crumbs on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
-Once the oven is hot, pull the fish from the yogurt and let it drain a bit.  Dredge the fish in the bread crumbs, patting them to make sure they stick.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan, then lay the fillets in the pan.  Drizzle with remaining oil.
-Bake near the top of the oven for 8-15 minutes (mine takes at least 15 minutes, but our oven cooks on the slow side).

Serve with toasted bun.  Add cheese, tartar sauce and/or ketchup (if you are my children).

This was a first time for these fries. Yum!  Why had I never thought to use parchment paper?  Our fries always stuck to the foil before.  I'll use a little less oil next time but otherwise keep things the same.

Tonight we had potato soup and rolls.  I make a half batch of rolls.  They are so easy and delicious.  The only thing is you do need to be around for most of the afternoon since they rise 3 times.  Pretty easy on a snow day!  Also, I bake them on a cookie sheet, not touching and they turn out perfectly.

They also discovered how superior whipped cream is to marshmallows.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hummus

Our entire family loves hummus.  We usually buy Sabra because it comes in a large container for a good price at Sam's.  We've also been known to pick it up the Aldi's and it's ok.  But lately, we've been making our own and it is the best!  The cafeteria ladies at school came into Eleanor's class recently and showed them how easy it is to make your own hummus.  Of course El loved that and so started our hummus making.  We found tahini sauce (not just the paste) at Trader Joe's and depending on what we're making the hummus for we also add lemon, or garlic, or red pepper, or olives....it just depends. 
I have a recipe for fried chickpea burgers (hummus burgers, essentially) which I'd not made for awhile.  I was remembering them as a nice runner up to falafel.   It must have been a really long stretch between a good falafel sandwich and those chickpea burgers when I decided that this recipe was a keeper. They were edible but kind of felt like a waste of some awesome hummus.   So no recipe today.  Unless of course you'd never thought of a hummus sandwich and then let me tell you, you're in for a treat! 

We are really, really hoping for major winter weather in these parts tomorrow.  Snow Day, Snow Day, Snow Day!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A tofu recipe!

Did I actually write that I was going to post every day?  Oh boy, sometimes my ambitions way outrun my abilities!  I have a lot of yummy recipes to share and maybe this week I'll do better?  I can always hope.

Last night we had-

Lemon Tofu  Now, this link will take you to a recipe for lemon chicken.  Replace the chicken with extra firm tofu.  Freeze it if you can, then thaw it, and press quite a lot of water out of it.  If you don't remember/have time to freeze and thaw it, no biggie, it does seem to improve the texture though.   I cut  the tofu chunks pretty small.  Proceed with the recipe just as it is written.  It is perfect served over brown rice.   Kevin started making this dish right after Emma was born...we were real Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal Fans. Whenever we make this meal it brings back some pretty happy memories.

I also made1 frozen bag of broccoli (the steam in the microwave kind) and it was devoured by the kids.  We are now officially a two bags of broccoli family.   Thankfully I also made edamame and Kevin, Christy (who we get to see every Monday, because she graciously babysits for us so that we can go to our Core Group) and I scrambled to get some before the kids ate that up too.

Sunday after church we went bowling on the Loop and had lunch and then ice cream.  By dinner we (me) were kind of lazy and not wanting to cook so Kevin made chickpeas in Marsala sauce from Trader Joe's...you can do better but it's so nice to have a backup meal that doesn't include calling the pizza joint.

Saturday night we had shrimp cocktail, baked potatoes and peas. Kevin gets wonderful shrimp from DOT in (big surprise!) really large quantities.  We were going to have the leftover shrimp for lunch but some silly kid was clearing the table in as few trips as possible and in order to free up her hands for other items, decided that balancing the leftover bowl of shrimp on her head was a great idea.  In her defense she almost made it, however not quite and the shrimp ended up flying into the dishwasher.  Which led to the decision to have lunch out on Sunday.

Many Fridays in Lent we go to a fish fry.  If we don't, we make pizza at home.  This was a pizza at home week.  We had the day off from school on Friday and the girls had a great time getting ready to have some friends over for dinner at "The Baum Family Pizzeria".  Here's the pizza recipe.  We include all kinds of veggie toppings.  This week Kevin and I made one without sauce and put caramelized onions and gorgonzola on top, delicious!  I also made the breadsticks I posted a couple of days ago, which are perfect for dipping in pizza sauce.













Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's the dinner I made for my sweethearts.  It was a hit!

Thanks to my mom, I found out about  this adorable heart shaped parchment wrapped salmon idea.  I used the heart shaped parchment , and the julienne strips of zucchini (also added carrots) but used our favorite Brown Sugar Salmon recipe.  In the past, I've only used brown sugar on the kids pieces, no other spices.  They ate tonight's salmon with the other spices but said they like the plain brown sugar better.

Plus

Brown rice made in the rice cooker with veggie stock

Red Jello in the shape of hearts

and Gigantic Cupcakes from the Cup, compliments of Gram and Grandpa Gordon.  Mine was delicious  and my favorite combo of yellow cake and chocolate icing.  I'm erasing it from my memory right now though, otherwise I'm sure I'll be cursing it tomorrow morning at yoga.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

It's the first day of Lent and this morning we all got our ashes at Starbucks!  Our church staff was stationed at 6 different coffee shops this morning giving out ashes.  I love that our church doesn't only exist within the walls of the sanctuary.

Lent is one of my favorite times of the year.  Much like Advent it's a time to focus.  Unlike Christmas though there aren't a million other expectations around the season.  Lent truly lends itself to introspection and positive change.  As I was preparing some Lenten things for the kids yesterday I found a writing (from Paige Byre Shortal) that stated-
Lent is a time for giving.
For giving up something- we call that fasting.
For giving our attention to God- that's prayer.
For giving to others-that's called almsgiving.
For giving in- that's called reconciliation, or forgiveness.
What a great way to focus our thinking this season.

Again this year we're giving up eating meat.  Though we're going a step further and eating less fish than last year to cut our grocery budget.  I read about a mom who during Lent worked to decrease her grocery budget and then put a quarter under everyone's dinner plate each night.  Every night the family put those coins into a jar which they donated to a food pantry on Easter.  It was a visual reminder for everyone that their small sacrifice was really adding up.  I'm going to do something similar.

I'm also going to use this blog to post daily (hopefully!) vegetarian recipes that we like.

Tonight we're having minestrone and bread.  It's easy and delicious--I imagine I'll have to work hard not to write that everyday because honestly why would I make a recipe more than once if it were not a.) easy and b.) delicious?   We were supposed to have leftover vegetable fried rice from Sunday for dinner tonight but someone took that for lunch yesterday.  No problem, this dinner really is a cinch.

Minestrone
From: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, peeled and diced  (I'd never heard of peeling celery before this!)
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (you can also use parsnips or turnips)
Salt and Pepper
6 cups veggie broth
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped canned tomatoes in juice
2 cups chopped zucchini, and kale (you can also use green beans and summer squash)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
a Parmesan rind cut into small pieces (Dierberg's sells the rind sans the cheese and if you knew how much parmesan my family uses you'd understand why I do not want to pay for nice parmesan.  I do most of my shopping at Aldi but there are a few things that  go other places for.)

Put 3 tablespoons oil in deep pot, over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot, and celery.  Cook, stirring until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes and Parmesan rind, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add the veggie broth and the tomato, bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles gently.  Cook, stirring every now and them, until the veggies are fairly soft and the tomato is broken up, about 15 minutes.

Add the zucchini, kale and parsley.  Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers.  Cook 15 minutes, or until everything is tender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with Parmesan.

Ordinarily I'd make breadsticks to go with our soup.  But since I was at Dierberg's already getting a parmesan rind I thought why not get a par baked baguette too?  Trust me though these breadsticks are really good!

 Breadsticks (adapted from cookingoncloverlane.blogspot.com)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup oil
3 cups of bread flour
1 tsp. salt
3 TBS brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Put water, oil, brown sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Mix yeast mixture in with bread flour.  Use dough hook on Kitchen Aid and mix on medium for 7 minutes.  Or knead for (??? don't know) if you knead bread dough you probably know :)!

Let rise for an hour and a half.

Butter a rectangular cookie sheet.  Spread dough onto sheet.  Using pizza cutter, cut dough into 24 pieces.  Cover and let rise for an hour.  

Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.

When breadsticks come out of the oven drizzle with melted butter and garlic salt.  



Poor girl has a terrible cold!  Still sweet as can be though.  Last night we watched Charlie Brown's Valentine.  It's all about the "little red headed girl", which of course we all told her, was her.  She agreed, "yes, I'm the little red head girl".

We had some important Valentine's Day business happening tonight.


Monday, February 11, 2013

See you in Vegas 2036

Every single day my kids make me laugh, often so hard that tears roll down my face.  I do love to laugh.   Eleanor has this great big laugh that comes from her toes and makes her head fall back and it makes my whole heart fill up.  Usually she cracks me up without even trying.  Like when she recently said "you don't even need teeth for this broccoli"(it was a smidge overcooked) or last night when she asked me if I'd help her celebrate her golden birthday (which by the way I'd never heard of a golden birthday until Emma was invited to a golden party---if you're as behind the times as I am, a golden birthday is when your age is the same as the day of your birthday.  For example when Kevin turned 15 he had his golden birthday, since his birthday is 1/15).  I told her of course.  She'll be 31 on her golden birthday so she said "Well, I guess we'll go to Las Vegas".  I love that girl.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy New Year!

We've had such a fun weekend but all this fun (which included overeating multiple times) has me ready to hop in bed at 6:50pm.  We ended our weekend with a Chinese New Year dinner and a sweet guest from next door.  I'm leaving this weekend feeling completely blessed with good friends, family and an abundance of happy times.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

She's a pre-tadpole

Today Lucy took my notebook and said "I draw my momma".  And just like that one of my very favorite things began, toddler people drawing.  She's in the pre-tadpole stage.  Isn't it funny and absolutely amazing that there's actually a name for it?  Not that the name is at all important but it is so cool how little brains develop, bit by bit by bit.   Curious about what comes next?  Read this.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ski fail!

 Lately we've been thinking about a family ski trip to Colorado.   We're a little commitment leary though.  So yesterday rather than drive 950 miles and spend a boat load of money we drove 30 miles and gave skiing a try at Hidden Valley.  It was just Kevin, me and the older girls.  It was warm and sunny and a fantastic day to be outside.   While the girls took lessons Kevin and I ventured out on our own. What a blast we had!  We were giddy that after a 10 year hiatus we could still make it down the big hills that Hidden Valley calls slopes.  By the time we returned to pick the girls up from ski school we'd all but packed the van for  Colorado.  I think we were even contemplating buying a cabin we can't afford.   For Pete's sake we were envisioning Lucy cruising down black diamonds with Emma and Eleanor deep in training for Sochi 2014.   Clearly the two of us need to get out more.   Now, if we'd had a crystal ball into the future we'd have headed right to the car as soon as we picked the girls up.  But no, Kevin and I were on a high from a little sun and exercise and we couldn't wait to see what our future Olympians could do.  We spent the next hour using the rope tow with a hefty amount of trouble, but our girls came down those bunny hills beautifully-- I'm telling you, natural skiers.  I knew it would be a challenge but I also believed that they could do a blue slope.  So, in what turned out to be one of my worst ideas ever we got on the ski lift and headed to a blue. The girls were tired and cranky and Kevin, who had been a a real picture of patience all afternoon was sort of done with being patient.  It was bad, bad, bad from the start.  Emma fell coming off the lift and was furious.  My response was "You did it, you got off, you did just great!"  Her response was "I DID NOT DO GREAT, I FELL, FALLING IS NOT GREAT!".  And that's when things really took a turn for the worst, that's when they saw the slope.   Ear piercing screaming and crying began, "I can't do that, I'll never make it, it's too hard, I'll fall" Picture two little girls laying in the snow kicking and screaming. Literally kicking.  Literally screaming.   I couldn't quite figure out what to do.   I tried encouraging them but it had zero effect.  They were convinced they'd never make it down alive.  Kevin started shouting about getting the ski patrol to take them down, and where was their work ethic, and what the heck was wrong with them.  That tactic didn't really work either.  Finally,  Eleanor got up and tried to ski but she was such a mess that she couldn't remember a thing she had learned in ski school.  She began shooting down the hill straight toward the trees.  My heart sank and I started racing after her shouting "Just fall!".  Thank God she did, but in my excitement to save her, I ran her over.   She was face down in the snow, legs a tangled mess, with my skis all twisted up around her and sobbing hysterically.   Kevin skied down to us.  He started yelling and screaming, something about a waste of money, getting a grip, how in the world did this happen.   And then I started laughing, it's a real character flaw, this laughing when everything is wrong.  I just had absolutely no idea of what to do.  Nobody was acting the way I'd thought they would.  Ellie and I all tangled up, her crying like she'd lost a limb, Emma up at the top of the hill howling and thrashing about, Kevin screaming and yelling and telling us he was not out of control.  Everything was out of control, it had all gone wrong.  Eventually we got untangled and Eleanor slid the rest of the way down on her bottom.  Emma took her skis off and walked down.  It was horrible and humiliating.  I was just hoping we didn't run into the girls' instructor as we slunk in to return our skis.   Nobody talked.  Thankfully we had two cars, Kevin took his, and we took the van, it gave him time to cool off.  When we got into the car the girls said they had a really great time, until the end,  and of course, I'm sorry momma.   We talked about failure, because that blue slope was a great big fail.  I wasn't mad, I was disappointed, we'd handled that failure just horribly. All 4 of us.  I don't believe it's a coincidence that right now our sermon series at church is about failure.  It gave me perspective for our mess.  Today I've laughed so hard over what happened, but I've also seen all kinds of little signs that we need to make some changes.   I saw all of us in a really clear light when we were faced with failure.   I've been doing some thinking and planning, and well, I'm certain that this is not the end of the story.



Sunday, February 3, 2013

What a view


I love Sunday mornings.  We don't have church until 10:45 which means we have a whole long morning to lazy around the house.   And after most weeks we (I!) really need it.  

My view this morning was absolutely perfect.  See that blinding light?  There's snow outside our windows!  It was such an unexpected treat this morning.


And just when I thought my view couldn't improve, it did!