Monday, June 28, 2010

A Few More Recent Happenings....

Annika got her first haircut while Grandma and Grandpa were still here. She was such a good girl.

This was her expression the entire time. She wouldn't answer the hairdresser's questions or speak at all. At least she followed directions well!

The end result - isn't she cute? Her hair looks SO much healthier and is just adorable on her.

Family photo at a local restaurant by a marina.

Family at the beach on a Friday night. Perfect weather and perfect company!

Corban and Marissa

Grandpa taught Corban how to fish......they practiced on a pier at a nearby park with a small lake.

A few days later, Grant joined them on a rowboat and Corban caught his first fish! It was a largemouth bass (catch and release)....they were ALL so proud!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs, Anyone???

My friend Lyndsay had a birthday recently, and I really wanted to do something special for her. Her husband is deployed to Afghanistan, six months into his year-long tour. She has two young children and no family in the area. I really wanted to take her out to dinner, but that didn't work out, so I settled for the next best thing.

I invited her over.

Grant was out of town for the weekend, for his grandpa's 95th birthday party in Las Vegas. The kids and I were super excited to have some company and celebrate Lyndsay's birthday a little bit late.

I made Chicken Parmigiana for dinner, which turned out nicely.

Then, I made a quick exit to the garage fridge, where I was hiding the dessert.

Spaghetti and meatballs! As I told Lyndsay, "I figured it wasn't enough to have pasta for dinner, we should have it for dessert too!"

Isn't this great????

It really couldn't be easier. I had a ton of fun making it, and even more fun seeing Lyndsay's reaction. Priceless!

So here's how you do it.

You'll need:

10-12 white cupcakes, made from 1 white cake mix, prepared according to package directions (or from scratch)
White frosting (I used 1 c. butter, 4 c. powdered sugar, 2 t. vanilla - blended until light and fluffy)
1 t. cocoa powder (sifted)
dab of yellow food coloring
3/4 cup strawberry jam
7-10 Ferrero Rocher chocolates
white chocolate, for grating (I used almond bark)

Mix cocoa powder and food coloring into frosting.
Lightly frost 10-12 cupcakes and set on a platter.
Using a piping bag with a fine tip or a ziplock bag with a small hole cut in one corner, pipe spaghetti strands all over, covering amply. This is great fun! The messier, the better! Be sure to pipe over all the spaces between the cupcakes.
Melt the jam in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, until soupy. Toss the chocolates in it until coated. Spread on top of cupcakes.
Grate white chocolate on top (for parmesan cheese).

Source: adapted slightly from Hello, Cupcake

Linked to Birthday Cake Round-Up

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grandparents Visit - May-June 2010

The past 3-1/2 weeks, Grant's parents have been visiting us. We've done quite a few fun things and had a great time, and they just couldn't believe how much the children changed over a month's time, especially Ellia.

Ellia took quite a liking to Grandpa.

Grandma and Annika

Dancing together (to a live band) at the pool/beach

It was breezy and a bit chilly that evening.

Annika was less than happy with the cold.

We took a trip to DC to see Grant's brother and visit the National Zoo. What fun!
The lions were one of the highlights.

Marissa was happy to get a ride from Uncle Eric.

Annika was even more happy to get a great view from Grant's shoulders.

The tiger was really cool.

I loved seeing the mama gorilla with her baby. So cute!

But the favorite of all was the panda. We had just about given up hope of getting to see her when she came strolling out of the bushes.

She found a nice sunny spot and plopped down with a stalk of bamboo for a snack.

It was funny to hear the whole multi-cultural crowd simultaneously say "Awwwww" as she started to eat.

Ellia got a bath in Uncle Eric's sink.

Ellia is completely uninterested in eating solid food, but she likes playing with the spoon. Corban declared it her "light saber".


I bought a butterfly kit a few weeks before the grandparents arrived. We watched the caterpillars grow and grow, build their chrysalises, and then emerge as lovely Painted Lady butterflies over a couple of weeks. We kept them a few days and then released them at a nearby park.
One of the butterflies landed on my arm for several seconds as we released it. I managed to snap this photo with my other hand.

I think they were happy to have real flowers instead of just sugar water.

We spotted a box turtle along the path as we walked.

Grandma and Ellia.

She's finally big enough for the ducky tub. She loves it!

Smooching on the beach.....awww.

There will be some more pictures coming.....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

I tried this recipe a few weeks ago and it was really delicious. It is definitely faster to just open some bottled barbecue sauce and pour it over the chicken for a similar dish, but this sauce is not hard to make and it tasted amazing. Not to mention it's nice to have control over the ingredients in your barbecue sauce, since some of those in bottled varieties are a bit questionable.
Be sure your ketchup is a high-fructose-corn-syrup-FREE version, if such a thing matters to you. We like Trader Joe's ketchup, but Hunts has now also come out with a pretty tasty one that meets our criteria.

The whole family enjoyed this meal, even the kiddos who normally turn up their noses at barbecue sauce, so that makes it a keeper.

Meg's Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Family Favorites
(adapted from Taste and Tell blog)

makes 8 servings


Barbecue Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used bottled)
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

2-3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs - I used breasts
8 sandwich rolls or buns

Make the barbecue sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until sizzling, then add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, red pepper flakes, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and salt; stir well to combine.

Coat the inside of the crock with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken in the crock and pour the barbecue sauce over. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and is no longer pink inside.

Using two forks, shred the chicken right in the crock, then stir the mixture to thoroughly combine the sauce and the chicken. Cover and continue to cook on low for another hour.

Serve the chicken spooned onto the sandwich rolls.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Parmesan Tilapia

We don't eat much fish around here. Oh, we love salmon once or twice a month, and once in a while a can of tuna gets mixed with a boiled egg and some mayo for a quick sandwich, but for the most part, fish isn't part of the menu. Now that we've tried this delightful recipe, I think it will make an appearance more often. I got it from Dine and Dish (via foodgawker). Our whole family gobbled it up and wanted more, which is always nice to see.


1 lb (3-4) tilapia fillets
1/4 cup breadcrumbs or crushed Ritz cracker (I used homemade whole wheat breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
garlic powder
olive oil

Thaw and wash tilapia fillets if frozen. Pat dry on paper towels.
Combine crumbs, parmesan, italian seasoning and garlic powder on a plate, mixing well.
On a different plate, pour 1 tbsp lemon juice.
Working 1 at a time, place a fillet on the plate in the lemon juice, sprinkle with desired amount of kosher salt (be careful about how much salt is in your parmesan, crumbs, and other seasonings), black pepper, and garlic powder. Turn the fillet over in the lemon juice and sprinkle seasoning on the other side.
Dredge fillet in the parmesan mixture patting it all over to coat.
Place in an oiled baking dish, repeat with remaining fillets.
Sprinkle a little lemon juice over fillets and drizzle or spray them lightly with olive oil.
Bake at 425ºF for about 20 minutes or until they easily flake with a fork and edges are browning (you can sprinkle some more parmesan on top if desired). You can also bake these faster at 450ºF.
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