Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chicken Corn Chowder

It finally feels like winter. Okay, so here in Southern California we really don't have to much of a winter, but I would like to at least need a sweater. Yesterday it was cold and rainy so I decided it was a perfect night for a warm, hearty, filling and comforting soup.

I thought about what I had at home and decided on Chicken Corn Chowder and fresh baked beer bread.

I got home threw together some beer bread with fresh Rosemary, Parmesan cheese and garlic and got to work on my chowder. The chowder was done about 10 minutes before the bread so I put a lid on it and it was perfect when the bread was ready to cut.

This chowder is relatively quick and easy. And, it is great way to use some of your left over rotisserie chicken.

CHICKEN CORN CHOWDER

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 to 3 ribs celery, peeled and diced
2 to 3 potatoes, peeled and diced (I used 3 small)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, or 1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried, optional
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk or light cream (I used 1/2 C. half & half with 1/2 C. nonfat milk)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned), optional

Heat vegetable oil in a large pot and stir in the onion and celery, continuing to stir for about 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes,Stirring occasionally. Stir in the herbs. Mix the flour with milk to make a thin paste, then add the milk and broth to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender but not mushy. Stir in the chicken and optional corn, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently 5 minutes; serve hot.

Note: This works really well with left over turkey also.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beer Bread....So Easy

The doctor Nathan has been seeing for ten years is retiring. Nathan decided he wanted to take something to the doctor on his last visit, which was yesterday (Saturday). Friday night I remembered that this is what he wanted to do and having been sick I didn't have a lot of energy to do something big. So, I asked Nathan if beer bread would be alright and he said yes.

On the way home from picking up Tara at play rehearsal I stopped to pick up some beer. Now for those of us not used to doing this it was a little strange to walk into 7-11 and have them put my purchase in a paper bag. I had to laugh at the way it looked. I decided that the next time I made this I would do my buying at the grocery store, at least that way I wasn't walking to my truck looking like a hobo. Aaahhh, my Bishop would be so proud...hahaha.

Anyway, beer bread is great. It is quick, easy and doesn't taste like beer. The yeast and other grains in it give it great flavor and the best part is that the basic bread only takes five ingredients. Oh! and ..... there is no need to let it rise.

I made two loaves, one for the doctor and one for my family. I decided to make Dill Cheddar Beer Bread. It took all of an hour to put together and bake and tasted great!

Give it a try, it makes a nice gift and people will think you spent much longer in the kitchen than you really did.

Basic Beer Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
12 oz. beer (You may use non-alcoholic beer if you prefer)

Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten

Heat oven to 375°. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, herbs and cheese if you are using them, in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8-inch loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: The glaze gives it a beautiful golden color and makes for great presentation.

Flavor variations:

Dill & Cheddar: Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried) and 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese.

Garlic & Herb: Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon garlic flakes) to the basic mix. For fresh herbs, use 1 chopped Tablespoon of each.

Dill & Chive: Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) and 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives to the basic mix.
From Food

From Food

From Food

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and Candied Yams

We spent Thanksgiving at my Dad's and Amy's house. Lisha, Junior, Adam, Marie, Sebastian, Cindy and Jackson were all there. Grandpa W joined as well as a few of Dad's friends. After dinner we were able to talk to Jared on the phone and hear about he and his family were doing, it was really nice to catch up.

There are those in my family (and others I am sure) who believe it is not really Thanksgiving until the candied yams are ready. In fact I know one person who likes a little yams with her marshmallows. I have been asked many times how I do the yams and finally had the forethought to take some pictures as I went.

Here is the thing about my candied yams, I just do them. I have the basics down but there is no measuring in any way, shape or form. Trial and error is the best way to figure it out. How bad can it be with yams, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, maple syrup and marshmallows. Give it a try, it is definitely worth it.

Peel, wash and slice the yams (I used 12).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the sliced yams. Cook until just barely fork tender. You want them to hold their shape, not fall apart (they will be really mushy that way), but definitely cooked through. Drain the yams and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spray a baking pan (I used a 10 x 15 inch pan) with cooking spray. Lay one layer of yams on the bottom of the pan and dot with very small dots of butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and grate fresh nutmeg very sparingly over the layer. You should only taste a hint of the nutmeg when eating the yams.


If you like nuts throw them on, I used chopped pecans but almonds or walnuts work well also.

Using your hand sprinkle dark brown sugar over the yams, how much you use depends on how sweet you like them. Then very thinly pour real maple syrup over the yams.


Repeat this for as many layers as you have yams.
Starting my second layer:

And the third layer:


Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes until butter and sugar are bubbling on the bottom of the pan.


Top with marshmallows and bake until puffy and light golden brown (watch them close).


Enjoy!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Apple Cake

Okay, so I have been really bad about updating this blog. Between work, family and planning Young Women in Excellence I have been a little busy. But enough with the excuses! Here we go.......

For Young Women in Excellence we did a garden party (sorta of) theme. One of the desserts we served was an apple cake. I really like this cake. It is not to sweet and full of apples. I made one for family and friends and one for the program.

This cake takes time to make and bake but it is definitely worth it.

Apple Cake


6 apples, I used Braeburn apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Birthday!

Tara had another birthday (we will ignore the fact that did also) and is 17!

Tara decided she wanted to go to Red Robin for her birthday and that she wanted a tres leches cake (three milk cake). I can deal with that, no cooking or baking. I do not make tres leches cakes, at least not yet. I found a very nice cake at a local Mexican bakery with fruit and oreos on top, it was the perfect size for our little get together.

Dad, Amy, Lisha, Junior, Adam, Marie, Sebastian, Luis, Alma and Kristina all joined us at Red Robin.

The server did a great job of catering to all our needs and when it was time to sing Happy Birthday all the servers made a lot of noise, sang a song and did a perfect job of embarrassing Tara.

Dad and Amy gave her some pretty earrings and a matching ring, Lisha and Junior gave her a gift card to Target, Luis and Alma Gave her money and Adam and family did also. Adam put his own spin on the gift giving. He used a dinner napkin, drew pictures and wrote a message on the napkin and tucked the money in the napkin. He told Tara that he could spend $5 on a card or give her $5 more, she decided she liked the way he thinks. Adam of course pointed out that his card had the added bonus of being able to be used as toilet paper in an emergency, leave it to Adam.

Ryan gave her a gift card to Forever 21 with $21 dollars loaded on it and her boy friend Alex gave her a gift card to Forever 21 also, and a new pair of Adidas earlier in the week.

When I asked Tara what she wanted for her birthday she told me cash. Well, there is no way I was going to make it that easy. I knew she had been looking for "Parties and Potions" (the fourth book in a series she likes) and none of the local book stores had it in stock. I ordered it on Amazon and had it delivered to the office. When I went to the bank I asked them for 100 singles and went home and got to work. I put a single dollar bill between the pages about every two or three pages, ten singles in the cover page and rolled up the last five singles into a tube and then tied a small bow around them. I wrapped the book in a wide ribbon, had to keep it closed somehow, and tied a big bow. I tucked the five dollar roll under the big ribbon, put it all in a large Victoria's Secret box with loads of tissue paper to fill it and wrapped the box in one of Tara's favorite papers.

Tara was worried about opening my gift. She was afraid I would do something to make her cry (with joy) or would do something really embarrassing (like I would EVER do that ....hehehe). She carefully unwrapped the box and opened the lid. Now if you know anything about my daughter this next part will not surprise you in any way. She immediately sees the roll of bills and pulls it out and says "Oh Money!" and then there is a pause. Thirty seconds later she realized there was actually something else in the box and said 'and a book!' She took the book out to show everyone and didn't notice anything else. Lisha asked her what book it was because the ribbon was covering the title. As she goes to show Lisha the book, she sees the ten bills placed in the cover page of the book. Without untying the bow she pulls the bills out and says 'more money.' All of a sudden she notices that the book it actually fuller than it should be and unties the bow. As she turns to the middle of the book she starts to see all the money. Needless to say she thought I was crazy and asked how long it took me to do it. In the end she was very happy and had a great birthday.

Thank you everyone for making Tara's birthday so nice!

It is hard to believe that my baby girl is almost an adult. Love you honey!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomatoes

All of a sudden had a lot of tomatoes. I had purchased some from the produce people and a day later was lucky to receive another bag full as a gift from someones garden. Nathan and I love tomatoes, we will eat them alone as a snack. Tara will eat them on or in her food but not alone. And Ryan, well, he will eat them but they are not his favorite.

I decided I could not let them go to waste and set about making as many things as possible using tomatoes. One thing I thought would be a nice change and kind of fun was a tomato and cheese tart on filo dough. Being that my head has hurt for four days now it was a slow process but I just couldn't let it go.

The kids and Monte all loved it. I didn't think to get a picture of the tart when it came out of the oven, but it looked great. I did finally take a picture as I put what little was left on plate.
From Goodies
(I really need to stop using my cell phone camera)

Last night I made Bruschetta which the boys put away pretty quickly, so I have used up about half of the tomatoes.

It does take some time to make the tart because of the filo dough but it is definitely worth it. Be sure to slice the tomato and onion very thin so your crust doesn't get soggy.

Filo Tomato Tart

Ingredients
7 sheets filo dough, thawed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
7 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup very thinly sliced onion
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/8-in.-thick slices
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt (optional, I didn't use)
freshly ground black pepper (optional, I didn't use)

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray paper with cooking-oil spray (or brush lightly with vegetable oil). Lay 1 sheet filo on paper and brush lightly with a little melted butter. Sprinkle all over with 1 tbsp. Parmesan. Repeat layering 5 more times (with filo, butter, and Parmesan), pressing each sheet firmly so it sticks to sheet below. Lay the last filo sheet on top, brush with remaining melted butter, and sprinkle on remaining 1 tbsp. Parmesan.
2. Scatter onion across filo, top with mozzarella, and arrange tomato slices in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Bake until filo is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then serve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

This last weekend was pretty relaxed. Payton came to visit from Idaho on the 1st and went to girls camp with Tara.
The girls together in June:

The girls got home from camp on Friday afternoon. I can't believe it was Tara's 6th year already. Both girls came home, napped and of course went out, after all we must not deny the boys the pleasure of our company. Ryan hung out with a friend and Nathan spent the weekend at their father's house.

Ryan, his friend Chris, Tara and Payton went to Six Flags on Saturday. Towards the end of the day Ryan and Chris where stuck on one of the roller coaster for a while but got off safe. They all had a great time and stayed until the park closed.

Sunday after church Tara and Payton had plans, of course, in an effort to make the most the few days they had left together. (Payton went home on Tuesday the 11th)

I made about 7 dozen peanut butter blossom cookies that evening. These are one of the kids favorite cookies. They love the Hershey's kiss on top of the peanut butter cookie.
The original recipe was the Pillsbury Bake Off winner in 1957. Since then different versions have appeared in many cookbooks, including "The Joy of Cooking."

This is the recipe I use.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

When making these cookies always make sure you have the kisses unwrapped before you take the cookies out of the oven. Quickly put a kiss on each cookie before the cookie crusts up.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable solid shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
4 Tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar for rolling
60-70 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with vegetable oil.
3. In a large bowl, blend flour, salt and baking soda together and set aside.
4. Beat shortening and white and brown sugar on high together.
5. Add eggs one at a time beating after each one. Mix in milk and vanilla and scrape down sides of bowl. Add peanut butter and beat again, scraping one more time.
6. On low speed, add flour, salt and baking soda one cup at a time until the dough is mixed well and no dry spots remain. Give the bowl a final scrape.
7. With a cookie scoop or Tablespoon, measure out balls of dough, then roll in sugar.8. Place peanut butter cookie dough on the prepared baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned and firm around the edges. Don't over bake.
9. While the cookies are still on pans, and immediately out of the oven, place one unwrapped Hershey Kiss in the center, pressing the Kiss down just a little so that it gets stuck partially in the cookie. Don't press too hard!
10. Remove to wire racks and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
11. Makes 70 deliciously warm and chewy Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies!

Monday, August 3, 2009

It buckles!

So I was looking in the refrigerator the other day and noticed the kids were not eating the nectarines as quickly as I thought they would. I decided to use them in something baked and change things up a little so the kids interest in the fruit would be renewed. I thought about it for a few hours and looked through my recipes and decided to make Buckle.

Buckle is a coffee cake with fruit and a crumble topping. It is called buckle because the cake buckles arounds the fruit.

I had some blackberries also so I went to work. The nectarines were sweet and juicy, I sliced them up and prepared the batter. I love fresh ground nugmet so I use it a little heavily, and I choose almond extract instead of vanilla. The result was great! Moist, sweet and a little spicy.

Of course I took pictues (the kids think I am insane).


NECTARINE BLACKBERRY BUCKLE CAKE

For the Batter:

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick (4 Tbls.) of butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (I used evaporated milk)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Almond or vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used some that I froze recently and put them in frozen)
1 cup nectarines, sliced

For the Streusel:

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
5-1/2 tablespoons butter, softened

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease and line, with parchment paper, a nine inch square pan or grease and flour either a nine inch square or a round pan.

First make the batter. Cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the egg and mix at medium speed for about one minute. Add all of your dry ingredients and mix well. Mix in the milk and the almond extract. Scrape down the bowl while you are mixing these together.

Now make the streusel. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, almond extract and salt. Add your butter, mixing until you have medium sized crumbs.

Spread about half of the batter in your prepared pan. Then layer the nectarine slices on top of the batter. Fold the blackberries into the remaining batter, and place dollops of the batter on top of the nectarines. Then sprinkle the streusel over the batter.

Bake the buckle for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the pan.

ENJOY!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A good day

In May Nathan turned fourteen and shortly after was interviewed by the Bishop in preparation for becoming a Teacher. At the end of the interview Bishop asked Nathan if he wanted his grandfather to ordain him. Nathan asked if his brother could do it and the Bishop told him absolutely.

My father instructed Ryan as to what needed to be said and Ryan spent this week preparing.

Today Dad, Amy, Sebastian, Grandma W and Grandpa W came to our ward. After Sacrament meeting we all met in the Bishops office and Ryan, along with Dad and Bishop, ordained Nathan as a Teacher in the Aaronic priesthood. Ryan did very well and he even got in a little blessing for his brother. I am very proud of him. It is so nice to see him turning into such a good man (as I pat myself on the back).

The best part is.......(drum roll).......I didn't cry! I am sure the kids are thankful.

Ryan's Birthday celebration

On Tuesday the 21st my oldest son, Ryan will be 19. About two weeks ago I asked Ryan what he wanted to do for his birthday and he said that he wanted to go to dinner with the family at BJ's Restaurant.

Ryan wanted a pen tablet for his laptop to use with his graphic designs. He has been looking at the different types for months and finally decided on the Bamboo by Wacom. Once I knew exactly what he wanted I ordered it and had it sent to the office. As you know I have this habit of playing tricks on the kids, so having it delivered to the office was important to that he would not know I had gotten him something. I recruited Tara and Nathan and we allowed Ryan to hear a conversation with us discussing his gift and the fact that he could return it if he didn't like it. He said something and Nathan told him that he didn't think he would like what I got but at least Mom said he could exchange it.

Tara and I went to the mall Friday and bought Ryan a shirt at Pacsun to give him as his gift, after all I needed to have a something to give him to convince him he wasn't getting the tablet. I packed the shirt into a small slightly feminine box and made sure he saw that is all we were taking with us to the restaurant. Tara thankfully carries very large purses and was able to just fit the real gift in her purse to keep it hidden.

Dad, Amy, Lisha, Junior, Monte, Adam, Marie and Sebastian met us at the restaurant and we had a good time talking and enjoying each others company. The waiter brought us Ryan a Pazookie (big warm cookie with ice cream on top) and we sang Happy Birthday. Ryan then opened his gifts. He got some really cute cards from Monte and Adam and Marie, Dad and Amy gave him a Brookstone in door remote control helicopter (I think Dad wants one too), Lisha & Junior gave him a shirt and of course it my "gift' was the shirt. After opening all his gifts he thank us all and being the good son didn't show any disappointment in not getting what he really wanted.

We sat and talked for a few minutes and I casually placed the other gift in front of Ryan. He then knew mom was up to something. Needless to say he was very happy.

Here are some pictures of our evening.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cherry Browned Butter Bars

So those of you who know me well understand my need, yes I said need, to try new recipes. I love to try different things and my children, as well as the rest of the family, are always good about humoring me. Recently the smitten kitchen posted a recipe for Cherry Browned Butter bars and I knew immediately I had to do something with it.

On Friday I set out to pit the cherries and discovered, once again, that I don't own a pitter. How is it I can't seem to remember to get one? Me, the queen of the kitchen (I only hold that title in my demented mind), doesn't own a cherry pitter? It just doesn't seem right. Oh well, so I get to work with a paring knife and and meat thermometer. After pitting two pounds of cherries I am ready to get to work. I make the crust and discover I have forgotten to buy more parchment paper....aaagghh, foil it is then, and bake it to a nice golden color.
(Please excuse the pictures, the teenagers ran down the battery in my camera and I had to use my phone)
From Goodies

After the crust has cooled I carefully lined up the cherries. The kids had a great time teasing me about this. I, of course, wanted the cherries lined up in perfectly straight rows. Note to self; cherries are round and therefore will roll. I rolled, straightened and nudged (as the kids laughed and teased me) and finally decided that it was as straight as I was going to get without nailing the cherries down.

Now the filling. I cook the butter to a beautiful nutty color (Nathan was amazed to learn that butter browns) and mix together the rest of the ingredients. I CAREFULLY pour the filling over the cherries as Ryan says "Hey mom, that cherry moved," and "watch out they are rolling." Needless to say I then convinced most of the cherries that moved to behave and got them back in to place. All ready to go in the oven!
Ignore the cherries that disobeyed and got out of line. :)
From Goodies

So the house starts to smell really good and after 40 minutes I pull my prize from the oven. After allowing it to cool I cut it into squares ready to be eaten by the masses.
From Goodies
From Goodies
They are a hit!

I doubled the recipe found here and made it in my 10 x 15 Pyrex pan.

July 4th!

Let me start by saying thank you to all of those who have served this country and made the freedoms we have possible.

This year I combined a vacation day with the long holiday weekend. I spent time doing things around the house, spending time with my kids and family and cooking of course.

Tara and I started the 4th by getting our hair done by the great and wonderful Jen.

The family got together in our yard to celebrate, except for Adam and his family who we missed. We also had a few friends join us. Amy made chicken skewers, Grandma made baked beans and salad, Tina and James brought the potato salad and drinks, Lisha did a great job on the watermelon and I made (perfect party) potatoes, brownies, strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting and cherry browned butter bars. Needless to say we had plenty of food as usual.

We spent time talking and enjoying each others company and when it got dark the kids lit fireworks. My street usually has so many it looks like a fireworks factory caught fire, but this year it was pretty mild.

Lisha, Junior and Monte hung around for a while after everyone else left and the kids all finally came in about 1 a.m.



I hope everyone had a good holiday.

The Graduate

On June 11th Nathan graduated from 8th grade. He has been growing so much (3 inches since January) this year it is hard to believe. It was a nice ceremony held at, where else, Almansor Court. He is very happy to be moving on the high school. Now the question is will I live through it?

Toga! Toga!

The last dance of the year for the high school is a Toga dance, it was on June 5th. Tara went to the dance with Lenny. Here they are being goofy before the dance.

Since then they are just friends, but I hope they have a lot of good memories of the time they spent together.

Nathan's Graduation Dinner & Dance

On June 5th, Nathan's school had the dinner & dance for all the graduating 8th graders. The event was held at Almansor court, in Alhambra. Nathan said he had the best time ever.

It is hard to believe that my little, not quite three pound, baby is now old enough to be moving on the high school. Of course, what may be the most amazing part of it is that I have allowed him to live long enough :) In all seriousness, I am very proud of him. He worked hard to get his grades up this year and is doing his best to be a little (sometimes very, very, very little) more responsible.

Here are some pictures of Nathan and his friends celebrating

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mother's Day

Okay, so this is a little out of order but what else would you expect from me?

On Mother's day Tara woke up early (at noon) and made a wonderful breakfast (brunch) for me. She made blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup. They were nice and fluffy and full of berries. She topped the pancakes with some fresh berries also, they were beautiful. The kids all got me a card that played the song "To be loved by you." Nathan spent the night before at his friend Chris' house and said that his gift to me was coming home. He is darn lucky I love him so much. Ryan was of course the errand runner and did the shopping for anything needed for the brunch and my card. He is such a good son.

The day before I was able to take some time to play made some cards for my sister, sister-in-law, step mother, grandmother, and friends. I am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. I needed to make more cards but with only 24 hours in a day and so much to do I always seem to run out of time. Here is what I came up with, simple but I thought they were sweet. I made 2 or 3 of each card.

From Cards

Tara - prom 2009

On May 30th, a week after the prom Ryan attended, Tara went to her prom with Lenny. It was held at the Queen Mary. Lenny asked her to the prom in a big way, with clues and and small gifts and then jumped out of a big box in front of half the school during lunch.

They went with a group of friends and took a lot of pictures. Thank goodness they are both photogenic. :)

Here are the beautiful people.

Ryan - prom 2009

On May 22nd, Ryan took Phoebe, a girl from Mayfield school, to her prom. They went with Humberto and Kimberly, Ryan and Phoebe's friends. It was Phoebe's birthday so they celebrated after the prom. I know I am his mom, but look, don't they look good?

Memorial Day weekend

I have been very neglectful about keeping current with my posts recently. We have had a crazy and busy couple of months. When I have had the time, I didn't have the energy. So today there will be several posts.

On Memorial day weekend we went back to the desert. Lisha and Junior joined us and learned how to ride the quads.

Ryan had been to the prom the night before we left (that is the next post) so he was pretty tired. Plus, he had a large art project to do and he was worried about getting his car repaired because it kept overheating. His dad decided to take care of the car and while we were gone had the thermostat housing ordered and then installed it a few days later when it came in.

We all had a good time but definitely were happy to be home in our own beds by the end of the weekend. Of course there were plenty of pictures taken........

Nathan's Awards Ceremony

Nathan won 3rd prize in the school science fair. He received a trophy, certificate, ribbon and a $50.00 savings bond! Here is video of him receiving his award at school.
I used my cell phone to take the video so you may need to turn your sound up quite a bit.
This is the first part with the science teacher explaining the award and the principal standing by ready to hand out the awards.

This is the second half taken after the students who received honorable mention were announced. This part begins with the introduction of the two students who tied for 5th place.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nathan's 14th Birthday!

Well he made it another year. Nathan is now 14! Hard to believe my 2 lb. 13 oz. baby is almost looking me in the eye.

We had family and friends over to help celebrate. It is always nice to be able to spend time with the family and visit. The kids spent a lot of time playing guitar hero and other games. When it was time for opening gifts Nathan started putting any cash he received under his party hat.

Thank you everyone for celebrating with us.

Fun with cards

I was invited to a bridal shower recently and was excited to have a reason to force myself to find the time to make a card. This is what I came up with, I have decided I really like it.
 

For mother's day I made cards for my grandma, step mother, sister, sister in law, two friends and my kids step mother. I usually try to individualize the cards a little more but I thought these were cute so I just kept making them.
 

I need to find the time to do these things more often, it is always nice to have a reason but just for fun is great also.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just remembered to post

I made this card and for my daughter's friend's birthday a few weeks ago and completely forgot to post it. I know, so few care but it makes me HAPPY, and when Mom is happy....well you know the rest. I really need to find some time to make something. I am sure i can find an excuse.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Teenagers in motion!

video

video

video

video

Good times!

We went camping this weekend and the kids spent most of the time riding the quads. The kids (including Tara's friend Lenny) and I went with Monte to Johnson valley. He took up his trailer and quads and let the kids have a blast. Tara had never ridden but took to it very quickly. Nathan has ridden a dirt bike and had no problems with the quad. Ryan having ridden his dirt bike for years now also had no problems. Lenny had ridden before and was very enthusiastic. They all came home dirty and tired but said they had a great time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blueberry-Walnut Muffins

My family enjoys fresh baked goodies. These muffins have become a favorite with not only my family but with friends also. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Ingredients:
2 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Cup milk
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/3 Cups blueberries (I like to use frozen, I love how juicy they are when baked from frozen)
2/3 Cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to combine and make a well in the center. In another medium bowl, whisk the mild, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix well and pour into the well. Stir just until blended. Fold in the berries. Spoon equal amounts of the batter into the muffin cups, filling them about three-fourths full.

Evenly distribute topping over muffins (recipe below). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the muffins and serve warm or cool on a wrack.

Topping:
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 T. cold butter, cut into squares

Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender (or fork) cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

As you can see Ryan has already helped himself to a muffin.
 

 
Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pay it forward!

Saw this on Jared and Coralee's blog and thought it could be fun. I was the third on thier blog to comment so it should be interesting to see what he comes up with.

So now I will "Pay it forward"

Here are the rules:

1.Be one of the first THREE bloggers to leave a comment on this post, which then entitles you to a handmade item from me - something crafty or yummy, who knows?!

2. Winners must post this challenge on your blog, meaning that you will Pay It Forward, creating a handmade gift -anything!- for the first THREE bloggers who leave a comment on YOUR post about this giveaway!

3. The gift that you send to your 3 Friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. Remember: It’s the Spirit and the Thought That Count!

4. When you receive your gift, please feel free to blog about it! If you are not one of the Top Three Commenters on this post, you can still play along. Go ahead and start your own Pay It Forward chain, and encourage your blogging friends to do the same! SO, REMEMBER...Pay it forward!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Philippe's

On Saturday I took Nathan to the eye doctor for his follow up visit on his new contacts. The night before he was feeling sorry for himself and I told him that after his appointment we would do something together. As we drove away from the doctor's office he turned to me and asked "Can we go to Philippe's?" I looked at the time and realized it was time for the lunch rush but agreed because he had never seen Philippe's during a rush.

When we arrived we had to wait for parking and then made our way in. Needless to say the line was to the door and a few minutes later was out the door. Nathan was shocked to see so many people there and enjoyed watching everyone. As you can see Philippe's is still going strong after 100 years.
 

 
Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

If you haven't figured it out yet, we like to cook and bake at our house. Any holiday that gives us a reason to do something fun we are ready to go.

Last month I found a silicone heart shaped pan and silicone heart shaped cup cake pan at Target for only $2.50. Tara wanted to do something for her friends at school and decided on a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting would be perfect along with some cupcakes. She frosted just the tops of them and used some sprinkles. I am sure her friends will enjoy it.

I decided to go with the office's newest favorite and made pineapple upside down cake. I used pineapple tidbits instead of the usual rings and made both the larger heart and cupcakes. Everything came out very nicely. The wonderful thing about using silicone pans is they clean up easy and the cakes come out very easily.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
 

 

 
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Boys and Dirt Bikes

This last weekend the boys went with Luis to Ensenada, Mexico, to visit with Alma's family. Although it was raining they took the dirt bikes with them. Ryan has not been riding for quite a while and was really looking forward to getting out there and having some fun. Nathan was hoping to learn how to ride and finally getting participate in all of the fun.

They had some rain but not enough to deter them from riding. Ryan helped Nathan learn to ride with Luis' help. I am told he took right to it and was going "pretty fast." Here are some pictures of the boys being boys. I will load video as soon as I recieve it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thirteen and the birthday cake

As you know I have 3 wonderful children. I say wonderful because I love each of them very much and enjoy spending time with them, most of the time.

However, thirteen seems to be the age my children think they need to discover just how much they can push me and argue with me. I am on my third go around with this age and have come to the conclusion that thirteen is an evil age. It is no fun being thirteen, I remember, but must they be so difficult?

Lately, it seems that at some point in our conversations my thirteen year old finds something that he must disagree with about or he must prove me wrong. Then there is the always fun and exciting time he decides to out and out just say "no."

Last night he decided, as he often does, to take his time going to bed. At 10:23 pm I tell him that because he can't seem to be IN bed by 10:00 pm he would have to got to bed at 9:00 pm tonight. Here is the conversation from that point on:

Nathan: No
Mom: Excuse me?
Nathan: No
Mom: Yes. You will be in bed at 9:00 tomorrow night
Nathan: No I won't
Mom: Should we make it 8:00 then?
Nathan: No
Mom: Then you will be in bed at 9:00, and if I have to drag you into the shower, clean you myself, dress you and put you to bed physically I will. Understood?
Nathan: Sigh (rolls eyes and goes to bed)

What is the most common word in my son's vocabulary? "NO"

Don't get me wrong. I love this boy with all my heart. He has the sweetest heart and is very loving. He is creative and talented and extremely smart. And, I know he is just trying to exert some independence, which is what he is supposed to do at this age. But does it really need to go on for so long?

And then there is my lovely daughter Tara. Her best friend (and I am sure BF on some level) had a birthday yesterday. She wanted to make him a vanilla cake with strawberry flavored frosting. She also wanted the top to be a piece sign and to say happy birthday. She played with the canned frosting and tried different colored of food dye to find exactly the colors she wanted. Here is what she came up with:


I think it came out cute (not that I am biased in any way) especially for a first try. Tara disagrees and called it the "ugliest cake ever" but Jackie of course loved it. As you can see she had some of the gel frosting left over and decided to play a little.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake!

I have been wanting Pineapple upside down cake for several weeks but have just not had the energy/time/inclination to make one, even if I was using a cake mix. Last night I finally got work and made not only dinner but this wonderful cake.

I love making the cake in my 12 inch cast iron skillet. Using my skillet allows me to get nice even baking and allows the sugars to caramelize nicely during baking.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) can sliced pineapple, reserve juice
10 maraschino cherries
1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix

Melt the butter over medium high heat in the iron skillet. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly to cover the butter. Next, arrange pineapple rings around the bottom of the pan, one layer deep. Place a maraschino cherry into the center of each pineapple ring. Prepare the cake mix as directed by the manufacturer, substitute the pineapple juice for some of the liquid (add water if more liquid is needed)in the directions. Pour the batter over the pineapple layer.

Bake as directed by the cake mix directions (I bake it for 50 minutes @ 325 degrees). Cool for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a plate. Do not let the cake cool too much or it will be stuck to the pan.
 
Posted by Picasa
YUM!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mixed Berry Rustic Tart

Yes, I actually made dinner last night. I finally settled on chicken soft tacos and the kids, needless to say, were very happy to have something to eat that didn't come straight out of the freezer.

While I was getting things out of the refrigerator for dinner I noticed the kids had not eaten many of the berries I bought on Friday. I decided to make a dessert with a combination of berries. Deciding to make a rustic tart I pulled out the pie crust I had in the freezer to defrost while I made dinner. I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. This is what I came up with:

Unbaked tart
From Goodies


Baked tart with juices leaking
From Goodies


As you can see from the pictures my pizza stone is well used and seasoned.

I learned a few things. I need to make sure my pastry is a little thicker so that it doesn't tear. Any liquid at the bottom of the bowl after the fruit is placed on the pastry, needs to stay in the bowl. And, next time line the bottom self with foil to catch the dripping juices, should I still have any.

All in all it came out well (although I do need to clean the oven tonight) and the kids said it was very good.

I will post a recipe once I work out the kinks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It is just sad

My kids are beggining to wonder if I will ever get back to making dinner on a regular basis. I have made dinner two times in about two and half weeks and one of those dinners was frozen fish fillets with macaroni and cheese. The saddest part is that the kids were THRILLED about frozen fish.....says alot.

Here is the thing. I have been sick for about six weeks. It seems my body has decided to try all the available viruses to see which one it likes best. And I, just wish it would just stop sampling viruses and get better for a change. Okay I will stop complaining.

So dinner tonight will actually be homemade, or at least semi-homemade. I just wish I knew what it was going to be. This should be interesting.

Hhhhmmm....tacos....... crescent chicken........ pasta...aaahhh if I only had a brain.