Friday, February 26, 2010

Our Valentine's Day - Yes I do realize it's nearly 2 weeks later!

Our Valentine's Day actually started a day early as Grant surprised me with a few gifts from one of my favorite stores, Bed Bath and Beyond! The "family" gift was a Orville Redenbacher's™ Gourmet® Hot Air Popper, which we used right away and have enjoyed several times since. It is amazing how much better fresh popcorn with just real butter and salt on it tastes!

He also got me a kitchen scale, which I have been wanting for awhile. I often see recipes that list measurements in grams or ounces and couldn't make them easily. Now I can!!! My husband is really awesome.

It was a chilly Sunday morning, but I made the kids go out on the deck for a couple of quick shots.


All four of my munchkins. Don't you just love Ellia's slippers? They're little bunnies! Grandma got them for Annika a couple of years ago and now Ellia wears them. I get so many compliments on them!

We started off the day with whole wheat pancakes topped with berry syrup, this time made with strawberries and raspberries, and whipped cream. A BIG hit with the kids!
Grant and I had also made cards for the kids telling them some things we love about them that were on the table with some little candy hearts that they ate as appetizers for breakfast!

We went to church as usual, had a light lunch afterwards and the usual naps for the kids.
Our small group, which normally meets at our home on Sunday evenings, had originally planned to cancel the Valentine's Day meeting. Turned out that we had to cancel the meetings the two weeks before that for various reasons and since some of us don't really make a big deal out of Valentine's dates anyways, we decided to go ahead and meet. Two of the couples couldn't make it, so we had the other two over for dinner.

I made Chicken Parmigiana and our friends brought salad and bread.

I had also made sugar cookies on a stick (and some not) for the kids and as "party favors" for our guests.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake was the finale for the adults. Yum!
We had a great time visiting with our friends and sharing stories of first dates and how we fell in love with our spouses. It was a really wonderful day and I wish Valentine's Day was always on a weekend so we could spend the whole day together as a family.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beef Stew

There are many variations on beef stew out there - some have peas, some green beans, some mushrooms, some rice, etc etc. I make one very similar to what my mom has always made and I considered one of my favorite foods growing up. It still is one of my favorites, especially during the cold winter months.

It isn't hard to prepare, it just takes a little time to cut up everything. My mom usually made it on the stovetop, but I just use my slow cooker. Speaking of which, I'm hoping to get a new one soon. My 6.5 qt. one just isn't big enough anymore. When I make dinner, I like to make enough food for us to have two meals out of it. This recipe of stew actually overflowed my pot. I had to remove some of the liquid and still had a huge mess on my hands.

Anyone have recommendations on good 8+ quart slow cookers?

I'm considering this one.

3-4 lb boneless roast
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. black pepper
2 T. oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb. carrots, chopped
5-6 medium potatoes, chopped
2 (28 oz) cans tomatoes, crushed, diced, however you like them
5 t. (or cubes) beef bouillion
1 (28 oz) can water (use one of the tomato cans) Use less liquid if you have a 6.5 quart or smaller crockpot!!!
salt and pepper to taste - I used 1/2 t. garlic salt and 3/4 t. kosher salt

Trim roast of excess fat and cut into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, mix the flour, garlic salt, onion powder, and pepper. Add the meat pieces and toss to coat thoroughly. In a large stockpot, heat 1 T. oil. Add half the meat and brown on all sides, 1-2 minutes. Remove and repeat with remaining oil and meat. Put chopped vegetables, meat, tomatoes, beef bouillion, water, and salt and pepper in the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

More Funnies

Last night as we were driving home from church and I was reminding the kids of the bedtime routine to be carried out immediately upon returning home, Corban (6) said,

"I wish I could make the rules in our house."

"Oh yeah?" I replied. "What kind of rules would you make?"

"I could play Starcraft (a computer video game) every day, I could play in the backyard whenever I wanted, I would cuddle with Mommy when I went to sleep and I would stay up to watch the Olympics with Mom and Dad every night. As late as I wanted!" he exclaimed.

As I giggled, he went on. "And I would eat my favorite foods EVERY day! Like salmon and pizza!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Funnies from the Kiddos

Marissa (4) has a little Dalmation Webkinz named Penny. Yesterday we were at Target and Corban (6) begged to go look at the Webkinz they had in stock. After I asked why several times, he finally confessed,

"I want to find a husband for Penny so she can have puppies."


Sometimes when Marissa is angry at Annika, she'll yell at her, "You Little Girl" as if it's an insult. We're trying to correct this.

In the meantime, last night I overheard Marissa and Corban arguing in the bathroom as they were supposed to be brushing their teeth.

Marissa was upset and called Corban, "You Little Boy" in an angry tone.

He retorted, "I am NOT little, I'm big!"

Without a second's thought, she replied emphatically, "PEOPLE are little; GOD is big. He is MUCH more powerful and big than you. So Yes, you ARE little."

Guess we're teaching them something right!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Conversation with my 6-year old

A couple of days ago, Corban was running around playing with his monster trucks and stopped in the kitchen to chat with me a moment. He was holding the Predator.

He said, "Mom, this is my favorite monster truck. Do you know why?"

"Why?" I asked, already having a pretty good idea.

"Well", he started, "It's blue".

"'s the one I got to see in real life". (We had happened to be driving by an arena where a monster truck rally was going to be held on Feb. 16, 2008 and saw this one out in the parking lot for some maintenance....we had to stop and let Corban get an up-close look at it!)

Yeah, I saw that answer coming.

"And...." he continued, "It's the one that was on my birthday cake." (For his 5th birthday, I made this cake and put the Predator on top.)

Yep, I saw that one coming too.

But then he gave the real kicker.

"But you know why I like it the most, Mom? Because I got it from YOU, my wonderful mommy."

Almost brought tears to my eyes. I was not expecting that one.

Have I mentioned how much I love this kid? Just look at him adoring his baby sister. Makes a mother's heart nearly burst.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Potato Soup

Now this is what I call comfort food. Perfect for lunch on a cold winter day. I was actually surprised at how well my kids liked it.....they ALL wanted leftovers for lunch the next day!
The amount of potatoes isn't exact....I'm really not sure how many I used. But you get the general idea. It's just a great simple recipe that pleases just about anyone. It does thicken up quite a bit by the next day, so I just added some extra milk when heating it.


2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. chicken bouillon granules
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 to 2 cups milk, or as desired
pinch of dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
grated Cheddar cheese (optional)
chopped green onions or chives (optional)
cooked bacon, chopped (optional)

Place potatoes in a dutch oven or large soup pan and barely cover with water. Add bouillon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop onion, celery, and garlic. Melt butter in a skillet and add vegetables. Saute until tender. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat until potatoes are cooked. Add to potatoes (do NOT drain potatoes) and then add milk and thyme. Cook over low heat until heated through. Add Parmesan cheese and more milk to desired consistency.

Taste to see if you need salt and pepper and add as necessary.

Serve warm with shredded cheese, green onions, and bacon!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Clone of a Cinnabon

We love these cinnamon rolls! I found the recipe on Allrecipes and it has become our Christmas morning breakfast tradition, along with an egg casserole. The dough is incredibly easy to work with and the final texture is soft, slightly sweet, and just fabulous. The cream cheese frosting really takes them over the top. A bit indulgent, perhaps, but it's fun to have something special for Christmas. This year I increased the recipe by 1/2 because we had Grant's parents and brother here and I wanted to be sure there would be enough for seconds for we had 18 rolls. Although we certainly didn't eat all of them Christmas morning, none went to waste, I assure you. They're delicious reheated!

I make the rolls on Christmas Eve, refrigerate the unbaked rolls (eliminating the second rise time) overnight, and set them out on the counter to rise/come to room temperature on Christmas morning for an hour or so while we open gifts and the egg casserole is baking. When it's finished, I stick them in the oven. They bake in just 15 minutes or so. Makes Christmas brunch a breeze!

Recipe: (yields 12 large rolls)

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 packet yeast (or 2-1/2 t. bulk yeast)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups flour (can use some whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar (can use a little less)

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Dissolve yeast in milk. Add eggs, butter, salt, sugar, and gradually add flour until well blended. Knead for 5-6 minutes, or until dough is smooth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. I use unflavored dental floss to cut the dough - smooth and easy! Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Alternative: After cutting the rolls and putting in the pan, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before baking (an hour is even better!). Bake as directed above.

This recipe is linked to Finding Joy in my Kitchen - Countdown to 2011: Breakfast, where you can find lots of bloggers' favorite breakfast recipes from the year.  Check it out!

Photo from 2009

Monday, February 1, 2010

Barbecue Meatballs

I made these as an hors d'oeuvres (okay, I'll admit, I had to look up the correct spelling for that)
for my small group. Everyone loved them, but I had made a huge batch (double this recipe) and we had a lot leftover, so my family ate them for dinner the next night, with sweet potato fries and green beans. They work really well as an appetizer or dinner. They take a little time to prepare, but I much prefer homemade meatballs to the storebought ones. Plus, they're much cheaper to make.
I think they'd be equally good with breadcrumbs instead of the oats, and the sauce could definitely still be tasty if you decreased the sugar by 1/2 a cup or even more. As is, they were a big hit.....everyone complimented me on them and my husband loved them. What more could you ask for?


1-1/2 pounds ground beef (I used part ground turkey)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup quick cooking oats (I used old fashioned)
4 ounces evaporated milk (or regular milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring

Preheat oven to 350°.
In a bowl, mix beef, egg, oats, evaporated milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and 1/2 cup onion. Form into 1-1/2 inch balls and arrange in a single layer in a greased baking dish or foil lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn meatballs over and bake 10-15 more minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.
While meatballs are baking, combine sauce ingredients and simmer on the stove.
Remove baked meatballs from pan and place in a slow cooker. Pour sauce over meatballs and stir gently to cover evenly.
Cook on low heat for 1-3 hours, or until ready to serve.
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