Monday, August 31, 2009

Broccoli Salad

This is one of my favorite ways to eat broccoli. It makes a great potluck dish or side dish for a cook-out....and nearly everybody likes it. It is definitely best eaten within a day or so, because the bacon gets soggy and the nuts lose their nice texture. I made it with grapes, but you can certainly use raisins or dried cranberries with good results as well. The original recipe (from Allrecipes) also called for sunflower seeds, but since I couldn't find any already shelled, I used toasted walnuts instead.


8-10 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1 large head fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces (I used 3 small heads)
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup red grapes, cut in halves/quarters OR raisins
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts OR sunflower seeds

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. (I cook turkey bacon on a foil-lined cookie sheet @ 400° until browned)

In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli, onion and grapes. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Pour over broccoli mixture, and toss until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Before serving, toss salad with crumbled bacon and nuts or sunflower seeds.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gingerbread Men

Corban just recently read the story of the Gingerbread Man for school.....and after reading that, the kids wanted to make some gingerbread. I've actually never made gingerbread before, so this was a great idea to me! So yes, in the middle of August, our house smelled like fall/winter and Christmas time...and that was just fine with me! I thought these were fantastic cookies! I wouldn't choose them over chocolate chip cookies, mind you, but they're delightful for something different. We'll certainly be making them again when the weather cools down. The recipe came from Allrecipes.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Frosting/decorations (optional)

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°. On a lightly floured (I used powdered sugar instead of flour) surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (exactly 8 for me) in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

I just made a little glaze of powdered sugar, milk, and a dash of cinnamon and piped on for my frosting. The buttons are raisins, "glued" on with some frosting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pregnancy Photos.....27 Weeks

Just in case anyone was wondering what I look like these days (ahem....MOM.....), here ya go.
Funny story: The day these pictures were taken, we had a gathering with our small group for a cookout. The 20 month old son of our friends was sitting in his high chair waiting to be fed and happened to turn around and see me right behind him. He grinned, pointed right at my belly, and yelled,
Well, I thought it was funny. Especially since just that morning, a friend came up to me in church and said it looked like I was trying to smuggle a basketball into church in my shirt.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On Creation....from a First Grader

Corban has been studying Creation in his Bible lessons for school.
Today as we were talking about the creation of Man, he noticed a picture in his book of Adam and Eve with several animals, including a lion.

Corban: "Why didn't the lions eat Adam and Eve?"

Me: "Before there was sin in the world, I think the animals and the people got along just fine, the lions didn't want to eat Adam and Eve. The Bible isn't really clear about all that."

Corban (very seriously): "Maybe the animals just liked naked people."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CVS--Here I Come!

I've been reading about the great deals to be had at CVS Pharmacy from Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom for quite awhile now.....but since we didn't have CVS around here, I'd just sigh with envy and move on.
A few months ago, however, CVS decided to invade our area (despite the multitude of Rite Aids and Walgreens we have...I many pharmacies can there be in a town, anyways?) and I was delighted! Now I could play the CVS game and score incredible bargains with all these other ladies around the country!
There are actually two CVSs nearby...although the closest one isn't open yet. Should be soon.
I've been perusing their weekly ads for about a month now and pondering if I could muster up the guts to jump in and just do it. It takes a bit of practice to get used to their system of Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) and to figure out all the math to make the most of your money. (Basically, ECBs are CVS store you can come back within a month and spend the credit as cash. Every week they have items that you can essentially get for free.)

Today I took the plunge.

One thing I failed to take into account was how prices are different around the the deals that one lady got in California won't necessarily be the same deals I get here.

I'm sure there could have been more savings somehow for me, but for my first try, I feel pretty decent about how I did.

First, I went here and filled out a short survey to get a $5/25 coupon. Easy breezy.

Then I searched through my coupons and found that I had 2 $3.00 coupons for Huggies diapers.

Armed with these and my ad, I went to CVS, filled out my paperwork for my free ECB card, and got to shopping.

What I got:
2 packs of 150 sheets of filler paper - $.99 each, with $.99 ECB each
2 pencil boxes - $1.99 each, $1.99 ECB each
1 Phillips Earhook headphones - $6.99, $6.99 ECB
2 packs Huggies diapers, $11.99 each (more expensive than I anticipated)
1 set Playtex Insulated cups - $7.99 (not planned purchase...saw them and loved them...we needed them anyways.)

Total: $44.92 + tax

Coupons Total: $11.00

I Paid: $35.92

ECBs - $13.00 (printed on my receipt and I have until 9/17 to spend it)

Final: $22.92

Not great.....but not too shabby either. Upon reflection, I could have done 2 transactions, getting the ECBs to print on the first one and using them to help purchase the diapers on the second one. Then my out of pocket would have been less....but I wouldn't have the ECBs to spend next time, so I guess it all evens out. The idea is to use those ECBs to buy more things that earn you ECBs and therefore you end up spending very little out of pocket, once you get into it.

We'll see how I do next week. Hopefully the ads will be good, and I'll get some more good coupons to help lower my costs.

Conversation with a 5.5 year old

A few nights ago, as Grant and I were putting Corban to bed, one of us made some comment about his little Army men set up in battle around his room.

"Boys sure are different than girls!"

Corban: "Why are boys different from girls?"

Me: "Because God made them that way.....they have different strengths and abilities."

Grant: "Yeah, there are some things that Mommy does SO much better than I do."

Me: "And you know there are many things that Daddy does that I could never do."

Corban (with a little smirk): "And there are some things that Mommy and Daddy neither ONE can do, that I can do."

We got a good laugh out of that one. He's not wrong, by the way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Another favorite of Grant's and mine....this is a recipe I adapted from one on Allrecipes. The original had lots of cream and butter and a whopping 80 grams of fat per serving! I couldn't stand to make it that way, so I lightened it up and added more veggies. I also now use a homemade Cajun seasoning, since I couldn't find any in the store anymore. Probably cheaper and healthier that way anyways. Give this one a won't be sorry.


1 (13.25) box whole wheat rotini
1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T. olive oil
1 T. Cajun seasoning (recipe to follow)
1 lb. bag green, yellow, and red pepper strips (I get this from Trader Joes....if you don't have that available, use whatever fresh peppers you like)
2 t. dried minced onion
12 oz. evaporated milk (fat free is fine)
3/4 cup milk
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. black pepper
14-16 oz frozen broccoli florets, or use fresh if desired
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded or grated)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook as directed on package. Drain.
Dice the chicken into bite-sized cubes and saute in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Cajun seasoning and cook until almost tender. Add the pepper strips and minced onion and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the evaporated milk, then whisk the cornstarch into the regular milk until dissolved and add that as well. Add all remaining seasonings and broccoli and simmer until broccoli is tender. Sprinkle in Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. If mixture seems too thin, let it simmer uncovered a little while longer. (or add a little more cornstarch if you want.)
Return pasta to the large pot. Pour chicken mixture over pasta and stir. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese and garlic toast, if desired.

Cajun Seasoning:

2-1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a ziplock bag or empty spice container and shake well to combine.
Makes 6-1/2 Tablespoons, enough to make this pasta dish 6 times!!!

Linked to Finding Joy in my Kitchen

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Slow-Cooker Ham

This is such a great stand-by favorite....and couldn't be easier. The hardest part is getting the ham into the crockpot, actually. So be aware of your crockpot size and the size of your ham or you could have problems! I have done this several times and have even cut the ham into pieces to get it in there and it turns out just fine. Resist the urge to add extra liquid....I promise you won't need it. The pineapple is nice, but the ham is great without it.


1-2 cups brown sugar, packed
7-9 lb. ham (spiral cut, cured, bone-in) - if a seasoning/glaze packet is included, toss it.
1 can pineapple rings (optional)

Spread about a cup of brown sugar in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place ham on it, however you can get it in there. Spread remaining brown sugar all over ham. If using pineapple, place the rings around the ham.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 8 hours. I've never tried the longer version...but I know that with my slow cooker, I use the High 6 Hour setting but really only leave it in there for 3-4 hours. You don't want it dried out or tough.

I made this for our small group and it was very popular. The leftovers were great on sandwiches, and I saved the meaty hock for making ham and beans. Yum!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Potato Bundles

The Pioneer Woman has done it again. When I saw these on her website, I knew I had to make them. I love potatoes in so many forms....and this was a new one. I tried them out on guests over the weekend....and after everyone got done joking about what the "surprise" in the foil on their plates could possibly be, there was nothing but raves and compliments. I even made them again this week to serve with beans and ham and cornbread (as pictured above).

Incredibly delicious. The recipe doesn't list specific amounts, as you can just eyeball everything. For 6 potatoes, I used half an onion, but more would certainly be fine.


Russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
Yellow or white onion, cut into chunks
Butter (regular, salted)
Heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley or a couple teaspoons of dried parsley

Pile one potato and some chunks of onion on a square of foil. Add 1 tablespoon butter (cut into small pieces), splash on some cream, then sprinkle on salt, paprika, black pepper, and parsley. Wrap bundle tightly and repeat with remaining potatoes. Put all the bundles on a baking sheet with rims and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until extremely tender.
Serve foil bundles right on the plate!

Unbaked bundles...waiting to be wrapped up

Fresh out of the oven, tender and bursting with flavor.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

This recipe was taken straight from Smitten Kitchen, one of my new favorite food blogs.

Grant has officially declared this his new favorite cheesecake. That's a pretty big deal. He has not wavered from his devotion to my White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake in years. Truth be told, I don't believe he would know which to choose if both were sitting in front of him and he could only have one, but the fact that he even said this one even compares is monumental.

Our guests loved it too...even the guy who doesn't like cheesecakes thought it was awesome.

So, despite the extra steps it takes to make, it is so totally worth it. And you'll only use half of the brownies, so there are lots of leftovers to nibble on discretely. Ha.


Part One: One Bowl Brownies
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s chocolate, optional of course)
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
1-3/4cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.
Cool brownies, then cut* them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will have more than the two cups of cubes, loosely measured, than you will need, and I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to decide for yourself what to do with the extra. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.
*using a pizza cutter to cut the cool brownies worked great!

Part Two: Crumb Crust
1-1/2 cups or 5 ounces finely ground cookies such as Chocolate Teddy Grahams or chocolate chip Teddy Grahams. (I used the latter, only one available. It was delicious.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie cubes (from recipe above)

Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.
Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
2 ounces butter (personally, I think this could do just fine with 1 oz. butter.)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Scald the butter and cream in a saucepan (or in a Pyrex cup in the microwave). Pour the chocolate in and stir until melted and completely smooth. Add the extract and sugar and stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spicy Turkey Sausage Gravy

I had been wanting to try this recipe from Tammy's Recipes for a long time and finally decided to just go for it. I was hesitant because I had no idea how my family would respond to it....I rarely make gravy sort of things. Fortunately, it was a big hit......Grant, Corban and I loved it and the girls ate it without too much trouble. Obviously, I served it over mashed potatoes, although I'm sure it would be good over pasta or rice also. Me.....I'll probably stick with the potatoes. Just a family preference. Give this one a try.....despite its non-impressive appearance, it's delicious.


1 lb ground turkey (or beef) - I actually used a 1.3 lb package and upped everything a bit
1 onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons course-ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper, optional
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
3 T. flour
1-1/2 cups milk
Mashed potatoes, cooked rice, pasta, or biscuits - for serving

Brown the ground turkey with onion, garlic, and all spices. Drain and return to pan. Add butter and stir around until melted; then add the flour and mix until well combined.

Whisk in milk and continue whisking or stirring until mixture boils and thickens (about a minute or two after it boils). Serve as desired.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

Let me introduce you to one of the absolute favorite dinners of Grant's and mine......something we could seriously eat every week and not get tired of it. The kids.....not so much.....we can't figure out why. I guess that's why I don't make these too often. But when I do, I have a VERY happy husband. The original recipe came from Allrecipes, but I have tweaked it quite a bit. This recipe makes about 8-10 enchiladas...depending on how full you fill them. I doubled it the other day (making dinner for 2 friends who had babies) and ended up with 18 hearty enchiladas.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 T. olive oil
1 small-med. onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup or homemade equivalent
1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes OR 1 (9 0z) can green chiles OR 1-1/2 cups salsa, divided
2-3 cups cheese (I use Colby-Jack or cheddar)
10 8" tortillas

If you're starting with raw chicken, as I always am, cover with water in a large pot and boil until done. Remove from pot, cool a bit, and shred.

While chicken is cooking, chop up veggies and saute in olive oil with spices until tender. Add shredded chicken to veggies and stir well to combine. Add in half of rotel tomatoes.

In a separate bowl, stir together sour cream, cream of chicken soup, and remaining rotel. Put a couple of spoonfuls into the chicken just to moisten it and stir well. Spread a thin layer of cream mixture on the bottom of a 13 x 9" pan + an 8 x 8" pan. (I usually need both pans to hold 9-10 enchiladas).

Top tortillas with about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in pan. Spread remaining sauce on top of tortillas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350°, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

I had started eating this one when I realized I had forgotten to take photos. Hence the ragged appearance.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bunkbeds and busyness

This has been a crazy busy week! First, last Friday night we moved the girls into a bunk bed. We had purchased it off of Craigslist the week before and spent part of the weekend sanding and painting it. It dried for the week while Grant was out of town for work, and then we put it up on Friday. Annika (almost 2) has slept in a crib until now, in her own room. Marissa (3.5) has been sleeping in a train toddler bed that was Corban's, also in her own room. So this was a big change for both of them.

Big change.

Can you tell she's excited to be trying out her new bed?

The first night I don't think either one of them went to sleep before 10:45....after being put to bed at 8:00. Ridiculous.

It has gotten better, now they're usually asleep by 9:30......but that's still not really acceptable. Hopefully once it starts getting dark outside earlier, that will help them settle down faster. Annika has been crying when I leave her in there for naps in the afternoon....since Marissa rarely sleeps, she's not allowed in there for naptime and I guess Annika was a little freaked out by being alone in the new room. Today she did just fine, thankfully.

Moving on.

We started homeschool this week, with Corban in 1st grade and Marissa doing some pre-K stuff. Annika loves to sit and color so she feels involved. It's been a light week, kind of easing into the routine. Easy and good. No stress.

I also had a midwife appointment this week.....things are going along just fine. I'm so happy about that birthing of my friends gave birth there in June and had an amazing experience. Very encouraging!

Some notes about my pregnancy:
  • I'm having a girl! We found out 4 weeks ago and I neglected to post about it...what was I thinking? Corban was dreadfully disappointed, but he's gotten used to the idea. Marissa was jubilant. Annika has no idea, but currently enjoys waving at my belly and saying "Bye, Baby Girl!" Why she says "Bye" and not "Hi", I don't know.
  • We do not have a name picked out. Both of us are exceedingly picky about names and not necessarily about the same things, so coming to an agreement is always....."interesting".
  • For supplements, I take Supermom Vitamins, flaxseed oil pills, calcium/magnesium pills, and Vitamin D (since I had a deficiency). My midwife had recommended taking fish oil, but when I talked to the owner of the health food store about it, she recommended the flaxseed oil for Omega-3's and DHA for me instead, because I have type A blood. Apparently Type A blood people tend to burp up fishy tastes all day when they take any fish oils, even the flavored kinds. I had certainly experienced that in the past, and had no idea it had anything to do with my blood type.
  • I'm also drinking about 12 oz of Red Raspberry Leaf tea a day. I make a couple of quarts every few days and keep in the fridge. It's pretty tasty and from what I've read, extremely beneficial for women of all ages, but especially pregnant and post-partum women.
  • I feel really pretty good, with the exception of occasional round ligament pain.
  • I'm exercising 3-4 days a week....with the goal being 4 days. I either walk 2 miles in 30 minutes at varying inclines on the treadmill or do a prenatal workout video. This week I've started getting up around 6:00 to exercise before the kids are up. I really don't like getting up that early.....but I feel so good when I do.

This week I've also spent one morning working at our church building helping clean and organize the nurseries and another morning at a friend's house for a Bible study (after homeschooling).

We're having guests for the weekend, friends we haven't seen in 5 years! I'm very excited to see them. I made a special dessert for the occasion....brownie mosaic cheesecake....can't WAIT to try it! I'm sure it will be making its way onto the blog when I get the time. I already have 3 dinner recipes to post. I'm so behind!

So that's it for now. Peace out!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Comment from a 3.5 year old

Being of a fair complexion, I have pale eyelashes that make mascara my make-up item of necessity. I never leave home without it!

This morning at breakfast, I hadn't showered or put on make-up for the day yet.

Marissa looked over at me and remarked,

"Mommy, your eyes look different without any ketchup on them."

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