Well I guess they can't all be winners. And this one, unfortunately, wasn't a winner.
The recipe was found here (via this blog post). It sounded like a good recipe. The picture looked promising. It just didn't come together well. Actually they didn't come together at all. The clusters just fell right apart. More like cereal than clusters, really. The yogurt coating also never set up. It didn't drizzle, just sort of ... plopped. Then remained very soft and gooey. The whole thing is just one big mass in my refrigerator, now. I didn't know what else to do.
Let's hope for better luck next week.
Wednesday, April 30
Tuesday, April 29
It's farmer's market time again! I get so excited anticipating the arrival of farm fresh produce. The opening date has been circled on my calendar for quite some time now.
Luckily we are in the center of a farmer's market triangle - 3 markets in 3 town all about 15 minutes from my house. I do have my favorite, of course.
We discovered one market at the end of the Summer last year. It was somewhat disappointing. Local grown produce, yes. But only two vendors with very little to offer. Of course it was the end of the season so that could be why. I'll make it back again this year - eventually. Another was a big disappointment. Lots of produce but nothing was local. It was nothing more than an outdoor grocery store.
The third, however, was just what I was hoping for! Everything is home grown and lots of variety. In addition to the wide array of vegetables, there is also pecans, cheese, eggs, soaps, baked goods, plants, seafood from the Gulf, grass feed beef and so much more. What bounty!
Saturday mornings are now set aside for a trip to the farmer's market. We spend the week think about what we hope to find and we spend our weekends planning how to best enjoy it all.
I'm still hoping to find a local CSA. The closest that I have found is over an hour away which just isn't going to work for me (especially with rising fuel costs!). I keep checking however, in hopes that something closer will turn up. In the meantime, you can find me early Saturday mornings filling my bags at the local farmer's market.
Monday, April 28
Last week I made Lasagna Primavera from Every Day Food (the latest issue, I think). It was very good. So easy to make and we all really enjoyed it. However, it made so much! Next time I either need to cut the recipe in half or invite the neighbors in for dinner. We can only eat so much of it as leftovers. I've tried freezing much of it so we'll see how that goes. (Usually something like this is best frozen before cooking instead of after)
Anyway, I recommend the recipe.
This week I am excited to have so many fresh vegetables from the farmer's market to incorporate in to my menu planning. There is nothing better than vegetables fresh from the farm. Well, except for maybe fresh vegetables from your own yard.
I'm going to be dressing my greens this week with this dressing. Just reading about it makes my mouth water.
Provencal Tomato and Onion Tart
Marinated Grilled Chicken
Raw Veggie Plate
Whole Wheat Pasta with
Mediterranean Style Greens Sauce
Salmon over Couscous
Grilled Spring Onions
Young Turnip and Apricot Salad
Crispy Pork Cutlets
(Edmund is camping with the Boy Scouts this weekend)
Oven Fried Chicken
Savory Carrot Salad
Cinco de Mayo Festival
Sunday, April 27
Yesterday's plans changed from dinner for 5 at the local family friendly burger joint to dinner for 2 at a more grown up restaurant. Some friends invited all three boys for a sleep over so Chris and I could have a night out. What a treat!
We had a quiet dinner, we talked, we laughed, we walked, we caught up and we recharged. It was unexpected but so appreciated.
It was was very good.
Friday, April 25
Before :: During :: After
Edmund really wanted to let his hair grow long(ish). I happen to be partial to the classic Oliver North haircut but, you know, it's a little thing and I'm willing to compromise. Unfortunately for Edmund, he was not. The only rule I had was that his hair must be kept neat and more importantly, clean. I really don't think that is too much to ask. It seems it was.
Edmund is going through, what I can only hope, is a phase. He does not want to be clean. He fights with us about showering and absolutely refuses to wash his hair unless we threaten him with loss of privileges. Dirty hair was not going to cut it. It had to be cut. Unfortunately his lack of personal hygiene also meant that I had to cut it shorter than I would have liked. Compromises.
To say he was unhappy about the haircut would be an understatement. Chris had to catch him and hold him down for the fist few swipes of the clippers. After that, there was no turning back.
Although he doesn't want to admit it, he is happy with the new do. I know that when the Summer heat hits, he'll be thankful for the shorter hair. I think the cut makes him look older. I'm not sure how I feel about that!
I think I may need a smock for next time.
Thursday, April 24
Yesterday I was able to spend the day touring the Dallas Arboretum with a few ladies from my local women's group. It was the perfect day to be in the gardens! The Arboretum is such an amazing place and very family friendly. I'm already planning a return trip with the rest of the family and a picnic basket. I came home just itching to get out in my own yard.
I took so many photos of the gardens - things I found inspiring, color combinations to remember, plants to look up. Loads of new and exciting ideas. There are plenty more pictures that I didn't take but now wish I had. Next time.
Here are just a few of my favorites from the day.
Wednesday, April 23
This week's cookie is a small batch cookie - only 16 2x2 bars. They are filling though. They are also the kind of cookie that is perfect as part of quick on the go breakfast. Don't let the ultra healthy ingredients turn you off. They are solid but not dry. And more importantly, my kids like them. That is the ultimate stamp of approval.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup raisins, finely chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 325º and grease an 8x8 baking pan. Blend the flour, oats, salt and oil. Mix in the raisins, nuts if using and water. Use the larger amount of water only if needed to make the mixture hold together. Press the dough in to the pan, pressing down very well. CUt in to 16 squares before baking. Bake for 30 minutes.
I think these would be good with other dried fruits besides the raisins. Dates, maybe? We leave the nuts out because of allergies but I'm sure they are wonderful with that little bit of crunch.
Tuesday, April 22
We try to make everyday Earth Day. Today, however, we are a little more mindful of our impact on our planet. Sometimes we need that little reminder to make sure we turn off a light when we leave a room or that we don't leave the water running while brushing our teeth. Topher is good at that. He is our budding environmentalist. He checks to make sure that everything makes it out to the recycling bin. He is very concerned right now about the plight of the American Eagles - reading everything he can on them. Are they extinct? Who are their predators? What is being done to protect them? He has also declared himself the keeper of the compost bowl. He loves to take it out back and empty it, checking to see how many worms are working their way through the growing pile. And now that he has discovered this group, he insists I photograph the bowl before he carries it off.
This weekend was spent outside. Digging in the earth and getting dirty. We cleaned up the yard - weeding, trimming and planting. While I generally prefer my shrubs a little more natural, our HOA prefers us to keep them trimmed and shaped. Edmund is now old enough to tackle a few of the more grown up yard care duties and he was happy to jump in. I think the sharp tools were the big draw.
The boys and I also put in some vegetable starts. We currently have a drainage problem in our back yard - the water likes to sit on top of the clay for far too long - so we planted our few vegetables in pots. The boys each picked something for the garden. We have cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. In addition, we also have some pumpkin volunteers that came up in the yard from last year's jack-o-lanterns. We can't wait to see what happens with those.
Monday, April 21
Once again, Monday has snuck up on me. I'm really not sure why. I shows up right on schedule every week. I suppose that means that I am the one that is off schedule. We have a busy week this week and my menu will be my saving grace. What to have for dinner will be one less thing to worry about each day.
Spring is here in full force and last night's dinner really celebrated that. The highlight of the meal was the Cantaloupe Sorbet. Our ice cream maker is going to get a real work out this Summer! (if you have a favorite ice cream/sorbet recipe let me know!)
The boys are ready for dining al fresco. This week we'll have to get the table and chairs cleaned up so we can move our meals to the backyard. That is until the triple digit temperatures of the Summer hit, anyway.
Scallion and Ginger Fried Rice
Sugar Snap Peas
Red Cabbage Slaw
Crockpot Meatloaf with
Potatoes and Carrots
Mixed Green Salad
Curried Lentils and Tomatoes
Out to Dinner!
When the chatter during dinner stops and the bowls and licked sparkly clean, you know it's good!
1 cup simple syrup *
3 cups canteloupe (peeled, seeded and cubed)
Place the syrup and the melon in the food processor or blender and whir until smooth. Poor in the ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's directions. Enjoy!
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a slow boil. When the sugar is completely melted and the syrup is clear again, remove from heat. Allow to cool before using. Store in the refrigerator.
Saturday, April 19
Friday, April 18
1. Camping :: Hiking
2. Camping :: Breakfast for 65
3. Camping :: His Own Tent
Last weekend was our Spring camping trip with the Cub Scouts. What a fun weekend! We headed down to Hill Country which was such a beautiful drive. The bluebonnets are in full bloom and all along the road side. Topher was so excited to see them "Look Bluebonnets!" "Look! LOOK! More Bluebonnets!"
The weekend was perfect. Warm and sunny during the day (Chris got a bit of a sunburn) and cool and crisp at night. (perfect sleeping weather, if you ask me) There was a lot going on. The boys had plenty of Scout activities to keep them busy. We also did plenty of relaxing, too. There is something about camping that I find very peaceful.
We went of several hikes through the woods. The boys were on a scavenger hunt of sorts. Picking up trash along the trail and searching for different signs of nature to observe. We did find a small snake, a few little lizards, and plenty of bugs.
We ate well which is no small feat considering there were 65 of us to feed. However, in true Scout fashion, the mess tent ran like clockwork. We all had our duties and that kept it all flowing well.
Edmund was thrilled to sleep in his own tent. He scoped out his spot, cleared it of rocks and sticks and set up his little tent (with some help from Dad). He's a Boy Scout now and feeling very grown up and independent.
The highlight of the weekend is the Dutch Oven Dessert Cook Off. This is such a big deal for many of the dads in the Pack. They take this very seriously and are very protective and some what secretive about their cooking. Saturday night, around the camp fire, all the desserts are presented for judging. The entry with the most used spoons, is the winner. This year there was a bit of an upset in the contest. A newcomer came in and swept the competition. It was a big upset. This winner was not just new, but also a mom. It was a land slide. My boys were so proud. Yep, it was me. I'll be the first to admit, however, that I probably won because I made something different than everyone else. My winning dessert was beignet while the rest of the entries were various forms of dump cake. The competition will be that much more difficult in the Fall. For now, though, I'm happy to hang on to the "Golden" Lid Lifter and savor the victory!
Thursday, April 17
The kids have a certain amount of "free" time during the day at school when they can work on projects of their own choosing. Topher worked on a book. He loves to make little books so this was no surprise. What did come as a surprise, though, was that he also chose to submit his book to the school's publishing company.
The PTA runs a little publishing company at the school for the students and will turn some of their work in to a hard bound book. The students are given a copy and the school's library gets a copy. Then, towards the end of the school year, all the published authors are recognized at a reception hosted by the PTA. Tonight was that night.
Topher was presented with a certificate and a ribbon as well as his copy of his book. There was a slide presentation showing a photo of each author along side a copy of the cover illustration of their book. Then cake was served (for many, my kids included, the cake was the highlight!) Unfortunately it was crowded and I was unable to get any pictures of Topher at the reception. He was up on the stage and then off again in the blink of an eye.
We did get a private reading when we got home though.
Wednesday, April 16
This week's cookie is, hands down, my dad's favorite. I can't eat them with out thinking of him. They are classic Peanut Butter Cookies. I like to use crunchy peanut butter for a little extra umm... crunch. They are so good. I think I can probably count them as my favorite cookie, too.
Growing up, I used to hate it when people said I was like my dad because I thought he was pretty strict and kind of stubborn. (and I'm sure these are the traits they were referring to.) Now I realize that I AM like my dad in those ways and that is ok with me. But am also like my dad in other ways, good ways -- and we can share a love of peanut butter cookies, too.
Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunch, whichever makes you happy)
3 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350º and prepare your cookie sheets (I use parchment). Cream the shortening, vanilla and both sugars. Add in the eggs and beat well. Stir in the peanut butter. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add to the peanut butter mixture and combine well. Form in to little balls and place on your cookie sheets (sometimes I roll the balls in white sugar. This time I didn't). Using a fork, press the tines in to the balls to make the crisscross pattern. Bake 8-10 minutes.
Tuesday, April 15
Sadly, we had gotten out of the habit of saying grace at dinner. We had a little grace that we would say but I never really felt "connected" to it. With the thee and the thou, the boys didn't really "get it" either. We just sort of stopped and for awhile I let it go.
But I missed this little dinner time ritual.
So the search began and you know, it didn't really take much time to find a couple of blessings that we all really liked. I wrote each of them out on some cards on which the boys had been experimenting with watercolors. (we were seeing how the paints flowed on wet paper)
The boys love saying grace again. They get excited each night at the prospect of choosing exactly the right one for our meal. The cards sit on a little tray in the center of the table and sometimes one of the boys will sit and look at them during the day. Just reflecting, I suppose.
I love the little bit of calm this simple ritual brings to our dinner table.
Monday, April 14
Sometimes Monday gets here before I am ready for it. This was one of those weeks. It doesn't help that we spent the weekend camping so I was a little extra tired when the alarm went off this morning. Whether I am ready for it or not, however, the week has started. I can't let it get too far ahead of me!
Chris and the boys have decided that they would like to eat this week and since I am a good scouting mom, I like to Be Prepared. This means a menu and a grocery list. With a weekly menu posted on the refrigerator, my days run just that much more smoothly. Always a good thing!
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Fish Tacos with Salsa Verde
Romaine Salad with Corn and Pepitas
Seared Beef Soup
Ham and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes
Green Bean and Tomato Salad
Apricot Chicken Melts
Apple, Grape and Celery Salad
Family Movie/Game Night!
Veggies and Dip
Friday, April 11
1. At the Library:: Searching
2. At the Library:: Browsing
3. At the Library:: Sharing
Week 3 for the Six One Way Project.
Chaz, Topher and I spent a recent afternoon at the library. Oh how much do we love the library! We each have own little rituals when we go to the library. I like to do an online search at home for books I know I want to find. I write the call numbers down and then look for them when I get there. I don't always do an online request because I like to browse the stacks while looking for the book I want.
Chaz always does a card catalog search once he gets to the library. Even if he knows exactly where to find the books he wants in our little library, he still does a search. I think he just loves using the computer!
Topher always goes straight to the non-fiction books. Never the fiction books and never the picture books. He always has one subject in mind that he is interested in and those are the only books he will look at. He pulls as many as he can, browses to see if they have what ever bits of information he is looking for, and then comes home with 5-6 books on the topic. This week it's bald eagles. He's very interested to know what their predators are. Usually he will stick with one subject until he has made his way through ALL the books on the topic at least once.
Then we sit and read. We save the books we are checking out to read at home. At the library we read other books that have caught our eye but didn't make the cut this visit. I keep a little notebook for library visits. I jot titles and authors that catch my eye; books I want to remember for next time; books I've checked out and want to remember to find again. It's part of the ritual.
Just before we leave, I grab a few children's books that look promising. Sometimes it's an old favorite, sometimes it's a book that has been recommended, and sometimes it's just something that catches my eye. Topher always protests but he ends up reading them anyway - and liking them.
This time there was an added treat. They had a popcorn trolley in the outside lobby and there were little bags of popcorn for the taking. Anyone who knows us, knows that of course we took some popcorn. And anyone who knows us knows that of course we were quickly wishing we could have taken two - each!
A quiet afternoon of books and popcorn. That's a good way to spend an afternoon.
Thursday, April 10
Wednesday, April 9
This week's cookie is Chocolate Snappers. They are like a crispy little brownie cookie. Great with a cold glass of milk! (I'm still looking for a great fudgy brownie recipe recipe, by the way. If you've got one, please let me know!)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar (reserved)
Cream the butter, brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Blend in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 350º. Roll chilled dough in to 1 inch balls and then roll the balls in the reserved sugar. Place on a prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-12 minutes depending on how crispy you like them.
Tuesday, April 8
It's voting time! The book club I belong to runs from August through May. Now is the time to pick our books for next year. We have to pick 6 nonfiction books, 2 fiction books, 1 classic, and 1 award winner. 73 books made the ballot and many more were nominated. Narrowing that down to 10 is a big task! There are some interesting books on the ballot. Some I am just not interested in, some that I think "um, ok", and some I am really keen to read. I can't wait to see what the finally selections end up being. For now though, I need to pour through the list and make my own selections - I only have until Thursday!
(Oh and that book, The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory, is for another book club. Unfortunately I never get to go to those meetings. They always seem to conflict with family things. This month, however, I think I'll get there!)
2007-2008 Book Club List
Aug: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Sept: The Memory Keeper's daughter by Kim Edwards
Oct: Measure of a Man by Sidney Poiter
Nov: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Dec: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Jan: March by Geraldine Brooks
Feb: The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
March: Cane River by Lalita Tademy
April: Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakruni
May: Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Monday, April 7
I had a few inquiries about my stuffed bread from last week so I'll include my recipe (of sorts) at the end. It's so easy!
This week, we are eating from the freezer and the pantry. We are pretty well stocked with the staples so it was relatively easy to plan a well rounded menu for the week. I even have plenty of frozen veggies on hand from a big sale last month. I love when I can do this! I'm hoping that I only need to shop for things like milk, eggs and fresh fruit.
Spinach with Caramelized Onions
Pasta with Sweet Peas and Toasted Garlic
Yeast Risen Corn Bread
Honey Mustard Chicken
Fish with Lemon Butter
Quinoa Salad with Green Beans,
Corn and Tomatoes
Family Camping with the Cub Scouts!
This is a recipe 'of sorts'. Meaning that is not an exact recipe but more of my method for making stuffed bread. It's really pretty simple and so easy to customize. Stuffed bread is sort of like a calzone or stromboli.
This time I made pepperoni and cheese stuffed bread because that was what the kids wanted (as always!) and I already had the ingredients on hand.
1 lb of your favorite pizza dough
approx. 1 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
approx. 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
a few handfuls of pepperoni
Cut the dough in half, form 2 balls, cover and let rise for about 45 minutes.
Roll one ball into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread with half of the pizza sauce leaving a 1/2 border around the edges. Sprinkle with half the cheese and then top with half the pepperoni. Carefully roll jellyroll style, starting at the long edge. Wet the edge with water and seal. Place the seam underneath the roll. Brush with olive oil. Let sit 15 min. Repeat with second ball of dough.
Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450º. Sprinkle the pizza stone with cornmeal. Slide bread on to the hot stone and cook for 20 min or until top is golden and sounds done when you tap it.
Slice and eat!
There are so many different things you can fill your bread with. Adjust the amounts to suit your family's tastes. I like broccoli or spinach cooked with garlic. Ham and cheese is good. Cooked, chopped chicken with sauteed peppers and onions or browned ground beef and cheese, or well, the combinations are limitless!
Enjoy, it just as good the next day as it is fresh from the oven.
Friday, April 4
1. Boys Night:: Making Pizza
2. Boys Night:: Playing Games
3. Boys Night:: The Morning After
This week's mosaic for the Six One Way group.
Last weekend we had a few extra boys over for a sleepover. With 5 energetic boys in the house, it was a real 'boys night'! (For a while there were 6 boys as another friend came by for a visit) The boys were good and they all really had a great time.
1. I gave them each a ball of dough and let them create their own pizzas. They loved this and it was fun too see how differently they each shaped their pizzas.
2. They played lots of games - both inside and out.
3. The morning after. There is not much to say about the morning after a sleepover! Blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and clothes EVERYWHERE! The beignets were a huge hit.
They are planning their next night together!
Thursday, April 3
Topher loves to pull out his little set of watercolors. He's so meticulous with them. He really wants them to last. His paintings are so careful and thought out. He'll sit and study his inspiration for quite awhile before putting the brush in the paints. He's got quite the delicate hand too, when it suits him. He puts just as much care in to the paper towelling as he does in his paintings. Carefully thinking about where he will dab his brush and whether he will just dap or if he should swipe.
And then, suddenly he is done. He finishes what he has set out to paint and is ready to move on to something else. He just needs to get that painting out of his head and on to the paper. Once he is done, he is done until the next inspiration strikes. Quite the little artist.
Wednesday, April 2
C is for cookie!
This week's cookie was chosen by Chaz. He really loves The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, so when I came across this recipe for Lemony Snickets I knew I had to bookmark it for him. The recipe can be found here. I'm not sure how I found this recipe - probably a link to a link sort of a thing.
The recipe was pretty easy to whip up. The frosting part was a bit messy but things like that usually are. The cookies alone are kind of plain. I thought they would have a bit more lemony flavor. I think next time I'll use lemon juice instead of the vanilla extract. I'm not normally much of a frosting person but in this case, the frosting really makes the cookie. It tastes a little like lemonade and really adds a (much needed) lemony flavor to the cookies. Of course, this is all personal preference, I realize. My personal preference is for a really lemony taste. I just love lemons! Since Chaz is a fan of lemons too, these cookies were very well received.
Tuesday, April 1
March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. Mostly.
Lion: Our month started with a snow storm. (Actually 2!) Schools dismissed early and started late and snowmen popped up all through out the neighborhood.
Lamb: Warm Spring weather. Our weekend was in the 80's and most of the month was in the 70's. The trees are budding and the grass is starting to turn green again. If there were any flowers planted in my yard, I'm sure they would be popping up now, too. (Note to self: plant bulbs! Hmmm now that I think about it, no one on my street has flowers planted in their yards. Interesting)
I say mostly, though, because Monday brought some very interesting weather. 80º weather and fairly humid most of the day. The afternoon turned dark, though. The rain started pouring - really pouring! There was thunder and lightening and a weird sort of rumbling in the air. Suddenly the hail came. Marble sized hail at first. I've never seen so much of it so fast. Then it turned to golf ball sized hail with some baseball sized pieces thrown in just to be scary. Our yard was flooded, the road was flooded and looked more like a raging river than a street. The tornado sirens went off and they spotted tornado like clouds in the area. I don't have pictures of all the rain and hail because the boys and I were sitting in the laundry room - just in case.
Then it was gone. Luckily there was no damage from the hail or the tornado other than some small branches and lots of leaves littering the yard. We do have a bowl full of large hail stones in the freezer. The kids brought them in. A little reminder, I guess.
Now we have normal Spring weather again.