Sunday, December 21, 2008
Well, Marissa decided that wasn't what she had in mind.
In her words: "Daddy, you need to sleep with your wife."
Unfortunately, I wasn't napping at the time, so that just wasn't an option. Poor Grant had to rest by himself.
Monday, December 15, 2008
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (some whole wheat substituted is fine)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Filling:2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk-chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups pecan halves (optional)
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
Cream butter, peanut butter and white and brown sugars. Mix in eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir the flour mixture into creamed mixture. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Place each ball in one compartment of a mini muffin tin.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately make wells in the center of each using a melon baller or a tablespoon. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then carefully remove to wire racks.
Rare proof of me in the kitchen. Rare because I'm the main photographer around here.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Last year I slaved over the hot stovetop for over an hour making English Toffee, and after all that, the result was rather disappointing. The taste was good, but the texture was less than desirable, in my opinion, and I was too embarrassed to give it away as intended.
This is NOT that recipe! This is so much easier, and while not authentically "toffee", it is amazing and addicting and is sure to add a couple of pounds to your hips. And it's totally worth it. (Grant would not agree, by the way. He's not the biggest fan of toffee in any shape or form. Despite the chocolate, he doesn't even care to eat this stuff. Just keepin' it real, here.)
I got the original idea from Allrecipes and made it as written last year, but this year I made some improvements. I think this is a Christmas candy/cookie staple and WILL make it every year.
1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers (about 6 oz)
1 1/2 cups butter (Yes, that is 3 sticks. I told you this would add the pounds. I really can't remember for sure, but I think I only used 2 1/2 sticks.)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1-1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Line a 10 x 15 inch pan (with sides) with foil and spray generously with non-stick spray.
Arrange crackers in a single layer on the pan.
Bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat (takes awhile, be patient). Stir frequently, and don't worry if the mixture separates. It will come back together.
Boil for 3 minutes. Pour evenly over the crackers. Be careful; it's extremely hot and sticky.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over hot mixture. Wait a few minutes for them to melt, then spread evenly with the back of a spoon. While still hot, spread finely chopped walnuts over the top. Chill until completely set. Break or cut into desired size pieces. Does not have to be refrigerated, but will stay fresh longer if it is.
This is one of the plates of cookies we distributed to our neighbors.
The kids loved helping arranged the crackers. Happy little helpers!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 0z) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
Friday, December 5, 2008
One important thing to know about making roll cakes is to use a towel or napkin that doesn't have fuzzies. I've made that mistake before and ended up with not-so-nice little chunks of fuzz stuck to my cake. This time I used a 100% polyester napkin, coated generously with powdered sugar, and it worked GREAT. Linen would work just as well.
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in white sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Add pumpkin and lemon juice.
In another bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg (and cloves and ginger if using....I recommend it); fold into the pumpkin mixture.
Grease a 15x10x1 inch baking pan; line with waxed paper. Grease and flour the paper. Spread batter into pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in the towel, starting with the short end. Cool.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread filling over cake, almost to the edges. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. (Again, I highly recommend them, but if you have nut-dislikers in your family like I do, it's fine without.) Roll up again. Cover and chill until serving. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar, if desired.
Apparently these freeze really well....although I can't say I've tried it. We'd rather just eat them as soon as possible.
Obviously I didn't take the time to coat it evenly with powdered sugar....we were in too great a rush to eat it. But you get the idea.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I adore pecan pie. I always have. Growing up, my grandma always made them at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and only then. I looked forward to them all year. And in my family, pecan pie is not topped with a dollop, but a mountain of sweetened whipped cream. Ummmmm.
I was doubtful that anything could replace that original pecan pie. But this pretty much has. And plus, Grant likes it, which is more than I can say for the original.
Don't do what I did and make your own pie crust with oil instead of shortening.....I had to try it because it's healthier and it had great reviews on Allrecipes, but it did NOT turn out well for me.
1 9" unbaked pie crust
36 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped, OR an 11 oz bag of Kraft caramel bits
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan over low heat, combine caramels, butter and milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the melted caramel mixture. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool until filling is firm. ( I actually had to bake mine a bit longer....it was very jiggly at 50 minutes)
If you've never baked pecan pies before, it can be hard to tell when they're done. Basically, they puff up while in the oven and settle back down when they cool.....and it's best to take them out while they still have a tiny bit of jiggle, but not much. You don't want a soupy pie, but you don't want it as hard as a rock either. I know, I'm very helpful. What can I say, I've only made four pecan pies in my life, so I'm no expert. But all of mine have turned out wonderfully, except for my lousy oil crust.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
What you are looking at are the 7" and 5" Wusthof Santoku (Asian-style) knives.
Okay, so that's just a stock photo....but you get the idea. I had been seeing knives like this on the Food Network for awhile and thought they would be the perfect addition to my kitchen....but I hadn't mentioned them in quite some time. My father-in-law, however, came with a mission and launched right into his search for the best deal on these knives soon after arriving here.
Before I knew it, I had both these beauties in my possession, along with a J. A. Henckels 6-inch chef's knive and a carving knife with fork to complete our collection. Oh, and a new knife block to hold the larger family. WOW!
It was a fabulous gift and will last for many years......and can I just say, I love those knives?
As soon as I started chopping with one, I knew I had fallen in love. They're magnificent. I never knew I would like chopping so much! Now I'm just looking for an excuse to slice up an onion or mince pecans or whatever.....it's so easy and FUN!!!
And it's not just me......mom-in-law was so thrilled with her experience with the 5" Santoku that they ended up buying the last one from Bed Bath and Beyond for themselves!
If you ever get the chance to try one out, do it. Only your wallet will regret it.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Marissa named her rocking horse Dancer, after Grandma's childhood horse.
Corban received a Razor Scooter....which was something he had been desiring for awhile.
He's already been attempting, and succeeding, at wheelies. (not in this photo, I just thought I'd mention his ability.)
Also on Friday, we had a big first for the whole family. We went Bowling! Actually, Grant and I had a bowling date a few weeks ago that was OUR first time together....but this was the kids' first time in a bowling alley. We went to this really cute alley at Fort Monroe and were the only customers there. Worked out GREAT!
This is serious business.
The lightest ball they had was 6 lbs...requires a lot of effort from a 33 lb girl!
Also in the past 2 weeks, we've had lots of shoulder rides......
And kids bundled up to go outside and play.
Then of course was Thanksgiving........and Uncle Eric came to visit for a couple of days. The kids always look forward to playing with him.....he's the energetic, playful, adoring uncle that any child would be thrilled to have around.
Here he's enjoying seeing the pictures of Grant's chin incident for the first time.
Grandma and Grandpa with the kids.......very happy family.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Marissa: "Yeah, but he poops in the wrong place sometimes." (which is definitely the case...he likes to go next to the kids' swingset instead of his corner of the yard...a habit we are consistently trying to break)
Me: "You know, Marissa, you used to poop in the wrong place sometimes too."
Marissa: (wide-eyed), "Back when I was a dog???"
Thursday, November 20, 2008
1 c. warm water
1/3 c. oil
1/4 c. honey
1 1/2 T. yeast (or 2 packets)
1 t. salt
3-4 c. flour (I use white whole wheat, sometimes part all purpose)
1 T. dough enhancer (optional)
In a large bowl, mix water, oil, honey, and yeast. Add the egg, salt, and flour. Mix until well combined and dough isn't too sticky. Knead (or just use your mixer with dough hook like I do) for about 5 minutes. Dump onto a large cutting board and divide into 16 sections. Form each section into a roll and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Let rise for 10-20 minutes. Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and done.
You can let them rise longer, of course, and you'll end up with larger rolls. But as directed, they still end up great. And I've never seen a roll or bread recipe that is completed this fast. Plus they taste really good!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Grant's chin is healing quite nicely. He took out the stitches a week ago without any problems and is looking quite good. It is a little hard to tell since he still has the beard.....but I really don't think he'll have much of a scar! Pretty amazing, if you ask me.
In other news, Grant's parents will be arriving very late tonight for their Thanksgiving visit. They'll be here for two weeks. We haven't seen them since Christmas, and the kids have changed so much since then. Corban has been counting down the days for several weeks now and is bummed that they'll arrive long after he's asleep. We're looking forward to a great visit and lots of fun activities. Hopefully it won't be too cold....it's hovering in the upper 40s/low 50s for highs during the day, which is a bit limiting in outdoor fun for the kids.
We're planning a trip to nearby Jamestown on Friday, but it is supposed to be pretty chilly and a lot of the fun stuff (Indian village, ships to explore, etc) is outside. So we'll see how that all works out.
My friend Ellen had her 5th baby last week, by emergency C-section. It's a complicated story, but God was watching over her and little Daniel in a miraculous way that stunned even the doctors. I love seeing the hand of God move. They're doing well and are home...I got to spend an hour with her on Saturday and held Daniel the whole time. He is just darling, a perfect precious baby. I'm looking forward to seeing what special plans God has for his life.
That's about it for now, I've got hungry kiddos and a crying baby.
12 cups frozen corn
3 cups water
1/2 cup butter or margarine, cubed
2 T. minced fresh parsley OR 1 t. dried parsley
2 scant t. salt
1 t. dill weed
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. Italian seasoning
1/4 t. dried thyme (good, but I've made it without and it's just as nice)
In a large saucepan, combine corn and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 4-6 minutes or until corn is tender. Drain; stir in remaining ingredients. Yield: 10-12 servings (and those are big servings!).
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I did pretty well, by the way. I did miss one, the last one actually. If you take the quiz, let me know how you did!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
1. Do you like blue cheese? NO, NO, and again I say NO. Blech.
2. Have you ever smoked? Not even once. Blech.
3. Do you own a gun? Not personally, but Grant has three pistols, a shotgun, a rifle, and is about to get 2 or 3 more weapons from his dad. Don't worry, we have a gun safe. I've only been shooting (the Beretta) three times.
4. What flavor Kool-Aid was your favorite? My mom never bought kool-aid. And I'm not sorry about that. I won't buy such garbage either! :)
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Depends. If it's because I'm sick, no. If it's one of those lovely OB appointments, yeah.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Used to hate them.....now I'll eat them occasionally. Kids will do that to you.
7.Favorite Christmas movie? It's a Wonderful Life, I make Grant watch it with me every year!
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? orange juice or water.
9.Can you do push ups? Well, maybe. I have a really weak wrist right now and that hampers me a lot. I can do a few on my fists. Don't really like to. :)
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My engagement ring and two wedding rings. Grant got me a beautiful diamond-topped wedding band for our 5th anniversary, so I wear my original simple band on my right hand.
11. Favorite hobby? Baking cheesecakes! Probably because I love to eat them.
12. Do you have A.D.D.? No, but I can multi-task!
13. What's one trait you dislike about yourself? Physical? My hair. Other? I'm not so great at driving a stick shift and get terrified to even try.
14. Middle name? Sue, after my Mom's middle name.
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment: I'm looking forward to our date tonight (we're going bowling together for the first time!), sleep is a wonderful thing, especially when it's the children sleeping!, I'd sure like a piece of cheesecake :)
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Water, orange juice, skim milk.
17. What is your current worry? Will Grant's stitches come out okay?
18. Current hate right now? Gaping holes in my husband's chin come to mind.....
19. Favorite place to be? With Grant and my kiddos
20. How did you bring in the New Year? Ummmm....that was months ago. I can't remember. Oh yeah, Grant's parents were here, we were planning Grant's birthday party. I made brown beans and ham, fried potatoes, and cornbread. Grant's dad liked the beans so much, he ate them for breakfast the next day!
21. Where would you like to go? Switzerland, Italy, Costa Rica, Prague, South Africa, Hawaii (for Grant), back to Glacier National Park, Prince Edward Island, lots of places!
22. Do you own slippers? Yes -- I get cold feet.
23. What shirt are you wearing? A blue t-shirt. Not dressed for the date yet, that's for sure!
24. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? HA! Satin sheets are Grant's ideal (so he thinks), but we've never gotten them yet. I think they'd be too slippery. That's why he wants them.
25. Can you whistle? yes
26. Favorite color? blue
27. Would you be a pirate? Are you kidding? A pillaging, murdering, evil-minded robber? Not if my life depended on it.
28. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't sing in the shower often, when I do, it's just whatever comes to mind. I like Christmas music a lot, actually.
29. Favorite Girl's Name? Marissa and Annika!
30. Favorite boy's name? Corban, Daniel, David
31. What's in your pocket right now? No pockets in my yoga pants. Oh, and I don't do yoga.
32. Last thing that made you laugh? A real hearty laugh? Has to be "The Office" on Thursday, when Kelly said, "Dwight, get out of my nook" and Pam shouted over the bluetooth in Jim's ear, "That's what she said! That's what she said!" (sorry, you non-Office fans....that probably made no sense whatsoever.)
33. What vehicle do you drive? Honda Odyssey, Blue of course
34. Worst injury you've ever had? Hmmmm.....probably my knee going out just before my junior year of high school. Torn cartilage, chipped bone....still gives me issues sometimes.
35. Do you love where you live? I love our home....I wish it was closer to family.
36. How many TVs do you have in your house? 2
37. Who is your loudest friend? Loudest talker? Maybe Lakesha. Loudest singer? Sarah takes the cake!
38. Do you have any pets? Monty, our black lab/boxer
39. Does someone have a crush on you? I don't know if I'd consider Grant's love for me a "crush". It's so much more and better than that!
40. Your favorite book? I like lots of books, but don't like any as much as the Bible.
41. Do you collect anything? Used to collect postcards, don't anymore. Now I guess I'm collecting children! :)
42. Favorite Sports Team? Not that I watch them, but I still root for the Ark Razorbacks!
43. What song do you want played at your funeral? I don't plan on having a funeral....maybe a cremation. I guess there might still be some sort of service. I'd really prefer to not plan that right now!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I was an accomplice to a medical procedure that should never be attempted at home. Against my wishes, I might add.
Grant walked in the door (home from a two day trip to DC) as I was busy getting dinner with a screaming baby on my hip and calmly announced that he needed stitches....for an accidental self-inflicted wound on his chin. Don't ask me what happened, I can't tell you.
Like his new beard? He's only been growing it about 5 days.
Yes, that is a thread going through his skin, strung there by one of my sewing needles. I shot this photo while he took a little break, all the while trying to keep myself from getting sick. I may have gotten the highest grade in my First Responder class in college, but that doesn't mean I can handle real wounds.
Oh, you're wondering why on earth he's stitching up his own chin? Because he didn't want to pay $75 to go to the ER. Yep, he'd rather spend that money on ammunition for one of his weapons. This was all against my counsel, for the record.
Monday, November 3, 2008
- Preheat oven to 350. Mix sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla, combining well.
- Sift dry ingredients, then add to wet, mixing until combined.
- Stir in chips and nuts.
- Spread in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan; bake for 22-28 minutes, or until toothpick tests clean.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
We have some house guests for a couple of weeks; some friends (a 4 person family) who needed a place to stay between when their lease was up on their rental home and the closing date on their new home. They've been staying with us since Tuesday and are scheduled to close on their home on Nov. 10. Anyways, we made sure to give them house keys, one of which Grant said was a spare one we keep in the garage.
Back to the story. It was about 11:30 am, the other family was away, Grant had left about 30 minutes earlier to go to a gun show in VA Beach with a friend, and I was home with the kids. Corban and Marissa were playing out back while I was doing a little housework with Annika playing in the living room.
I heard Corban and Marissa yelling loudly at Monty (which they do if he's trying to go potty in the wrong spot in the yard), so I went out there to see what was going on. I made sure to close the door behind me, so Annika wouldn't crawl out.
When I turned to go back in, the door knob was locked. Obviously, I hadn't locked it. Someone had probably inadvertently turned the button to the locked position, which only prevents you from coming into the house, not out.
Instantly, I freaked out. Annika was in there all alone, blissfully unaware at the moment, but who knew how long that would last. I had a sinking feeling that all of the other doors were also locked. And it's not like I carry my house key around with me. I darted through the yard, around to the front door. Yep, it was locked. Okay. I opened the garage door with the keypad (praise God for those things!) and tried that interior door. Yep, also locked. I like the house to feel secure when I'm home alone.
At this point, I really began to panic, because I distinctly remembered Grant getting out that key we keep in the garage to give to our guests. My mind was racing a thousand miles a second. What could I do? I'd have to run to a neighbor, use their phone to call Grant on his cell, and wait for him to get home with the key, a process that would probably take about an hour. And poor little Annika!
I rummaged around on Grant's workbench, hoping and praying that somehow there was a key there. In just about 20 seconds, I found it. Hallelujah! I don't know why it was there, why Grant had put it back, or what, but it was there, just when I needed it.
I really hate those panicked moments. I never need to have another one.
On another note, we took the big kids for their annual check-ups today. Here are their stats:
Height: 48 inches (over 100th percentile) -Is anyone surprised?
Weight: 47.5 lbs (90th percentile)
Height: 37.5 inches (55th percentile)
Weight: 32.5 lbs (75th percentile)
Both have great iron levels, Corban's vision and hearing came out perfect (they didn't test Marissa), they both are doing great in everything. Hurray!
Friday, October 31, 2008
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
5-6 potatoes, peeled (if desired) and cut into pieces
1 large onion, sliced
1 whole chicken (whatever size you want, I like to use at least 5 lbs)
lemon pepper seasoning
Place the veggies in the crockpot (you need a pretty large one; don't ask me specifics, I don't know!). Remove chicken from package and rinse; pat dry with a paper towel. Put the chicken in the crockpot on top of vegetables breast-side up and liberally sprinkle with each of the seasonings. Don't be shy, this will end up seasoning the veggies also. Then turn the chicken over (breast-side down) and season this side just like the first. (I would guess I use at least 2 tsp of each seasoning on each side. But that is just a guess, I've never measured. Just sprinkle until you think it looks good!)
Pour in a tiny bit of water if you want, it's not necessary. Turn crockpot on to low for 8 hours, and walk away.
The result will be a mouthwatering, tender chicken, flavorful vegetables, and a delicious broth. Hey, if all of my kids love it, it must be a wonderful thing!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Also, on a completely random note, I thought I'd share one of my favorite photos of Grant and me, taken September 8, 2002, at the wedding of some friends. We had been married exactly 14 months, Grant had been home from Afghanistan just one month, and I was three days away from donating bone marrow for my brother.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Today my first daughter turns three. I can scarcely believe it. I posted her birth story recently, so I won't delve into all that. I'll just write a little about her now.
Marissa is very vivacious and quite the talker. Several of my friends have recently commented on how well she talks and how much older she sounds by her conversations. She's dramatic, affectionate, has an incredibly loud scream (especially when being pestered by a sibling), loves babies and dolls and all things girly, adores swirly dresses, hates jeans, likes to be sung to while going potty (and every time we're in a public restroom together and I have to go, she immediately bursts into song as soon as I'm on the toilet....thanks, Marissa.....I really don't need the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to pee), she has a contagious laugh, her daddy wrapped around her finger, doesn't like most vegetables but loves fruit, rarely goes to sleep before 10:00 pm, despite being put to bed at 8:00, has figured out that if she "helps" mommy bake, she'll get to lick the beaters, has a major sweet tooth, and insists that PINK is the best color ever.
Yep, she's a treasure of a daughter. We are so blessed to have her in our lives.
This was a few hours after she was born, actually Oct 29, since she was born around 11:00 pm.
On her first birthday, 10-28-06
Another shot of her around her first birthday...what a goofy face!
Second birthday, 10-28-07
Another impossibly cute picture around her 2nd birthday.
This was last night, as she and Annika put dollies to bed in the new cradle.
I couldn't resist posting this one of Annika from last night.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Her friends arrived soon after and the kids got quickly to work making edible necklaces with Fruit Loops and yarn. I think they ate more than they strung, but they all ended up with really cute necklaces....until they started nibbling on them, anyways!
We played a couple more games and had lunch. I had made a cheesy spaghetti casserole, salad, pink fluff, and grapes, and then there was the cake and ice-cream and tiny sugar cookies. I don't think anyone left hungry! Ha.
Blowing out the candles
Gotta get that last stubborn one!
And now to lick the frosting off the candles. Ummmm.
Opening gifts, with little friend Maddie beside her. Maddie is one week younger than Annika.
Annika enjoyed hiding under the table and sporadically attempting to pull the tablecloth off.
Lydia (20 months), Natalee (3), Marissa (almost 3), Corban (5), Evie (4.5), and Morgan (3.5) - with the blue balloon. Isn't it cute how all the girls came wearing pink? I loved it! There were three other one-year-olds also, Michael (15 months), Maddie (13 months), and Annika (13 months).
It was a lovely party and the girls were delightful. Marissa couldn't have been happier. We saved some of her gifts for her actual birthday, the 28th. So there will be more pictures forthcoming!