Tuesday, December 27

Dinners in Pictures

So I left off on Monday with the Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup.

Tuesday's menu was Penne Pasta and Kale. --I've never done anything with kale before, so I used a recipe for Basic Sauteed Kale that I found in the magazine Recipe.com.

Saturday, December 24

Cookies for Santa!

It's Christmas Eve!! Wow! It seems as if Christmas just kind of snuck up on us this year. Crazy how time flies when you are running around everyday. Anyway, with Santa's impending arrival, we were in need of cookies!

And I wanted to do the very traditional--but still not perfected--chocolate chip cookies. These did not disappoint. :)

Chocolate Chippers
recipe adapted from Grandma's Kitchen

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.

Traditional Holiday Goodies--2 Kinds of Fudge

After having so much fun with cookies, I nearly forgot about the usually holiday goodies I make...because it is what my mom used to make. :) So on Christmas eve, I set to work.

First up was the Butterscotch Marshmallow Fudge.

We needed to crush the graham crackers first.
The girls had fun whacking the ziplock bags of graham crackers with pots. :)

 Then Abby took a break to test one of the crackers.

Wednesday, December 21

Soup and Chocolate Orange Cookies!

Monday's planned dinner was a tomato soup. So when the time came to get dinner started, I began with a can of tomato soup and two cans of vegetable broth.

Those went into a large pot over medium heat. Then I pulled out the leftover pureed sweet potatoes I had in my fridge. I also thought the mashed butternut squash would be a nice addition. 

Monday, December 19

Let's Eat! -- One Week at a Time

    Today isn't the busy Monday I had thought it was going to be. I've only gotten about half of the cleaning done and no laundry. And now everything is at a stand-still. My little one fell asleep on the couch next to me while watching 'Rudolph' before her snack and regular naptime. I don't want to disturb her while she sleeps. She never falls asleep on the couch and is good about her naptimes. Being a mom, you recognize signs that something is wrong--this is one of them with my kids. So I'm just going to sit with her and keep watching 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'. :) 

    But since I do have some time on my hands, I wanted to do a different kind of post. Well, different for me anyway.

    Being on a budget, I need to make the most of what we have. One way I do this is to plan out meals for the 2 weeks between paychecks. And it helps to make sure we don't end up eating the same things over and over again. So let's take a look at this week! :)

Monday: Soup-Tomato
     I love making soup! It's one of those things that you can throw a variety of ingredients into the pot and still have it come out delicious and satisfying. Today I'll use either a can of tomato soup or tomato sauce, but I intend to add pureed sweet potatoes and pureed butternut squash. I think I have a little coconut milk leftover too that I could use.

Tuesday: Pasta with red sauce & kale
     I have ziti and bow-tie pasta in the pantry so I'm not sure which I'll go with. Though I do know I will do a red sauce and maybe use some of the ricotta that's in my fridge.  But the more exciting thing (not to mention new) is the kale. Since I've never made it before, I'4m using a recipe I found in Recipe.com magazine for Basic Sauteed Kale.

Wednesday: Breakfast--either M.Y.O. omelets or banana muffins

Thursday: Mac 'n' Cheese Bake

Friday: Pizza of course! 

Saturday: Bacon & Spinach quiche

Sunday, December 18

Weekend Recap: Shopping, Smoothies, Chai Tea, & Brussels Sprouts

    I have finished my Christmas shopping for my girls, Nate, my dad, my sister, and Nate's mom. Woo!! All I have left is my mom, Nate's dad and Nate's brother but we know what we are getting Nate's brother. We had a great idea for Nate's dad but I can't find it anywhere now. How seriously frustrating--hopefully it's Amazon.com to the rescue! haha

    Since I've been away for a bit, let me explain where I've been. 


    Then I did some more shopping. 

    And then, oh yea! I did a little more shopping. :)

    Thursday was the big grocery shopping trip since it was payday. Friday morning was dedicated to Christmas shopping (3 different places at that) that needed to be done before the weekend. Both of those days I needed to be home in time for Abby's naptime--and then to be at the bus stop later. So those days I needed some serious refueling while Abby was sleeping. Don't ask me why, but Thursday I had the idea of an omelet. And it was goooooooooood! 

    A two-egg omelet with feta cheese, green onions, and black olives topped with mozzarella cheese and parsley. Then 2 pieces of buttered whole wheat toast on the side. The pairing of feta cheese and eggs became one of my favorites. Wow. I definitely recommend it. :)

    The second part of my refueling came after Kyleigh came home from school with our snack--fruit smoothies! 

Sunday, December 11

25 Days of Christmas in Cookies--Day 11 Mocha Chip Peanut Butter Cups

    What a weekend. I can safely say that this is one weekend that I am glad is behind me. It's funny how kids not sleeping throws your entire weekend off. But ya know what makes any day better? Playing in the kitchen. :)

    I was trying to explain that to Nate earlier too. Being in the kitchen by myself for just a little bit is therapeutic. Don't get me wrong, I love having the girls help me bake cookies. But when it comes time for me to make dinner, I want them no where near the kitchen. It's something like how an artist feels about his/her studio. I don't know that this is making sense, so let's just say that in order to keep my sanity I need some "alone time" in the kitchen. haha 

    Anyway, so with our weekend lacking in the sleep area Nate gave up control of the television and football games to have the girls sit with him and watch a movie. This was Mommy's time to play in the kitchen. And in the end, the girls were glad of it. Because after dinner, there was a super scrumptious, gooey, moist, and chocolatey dessert waiting. :)

This is the face of a kid who has seen the dessert and is ready to eat dinner. :)

Mocha Chip Peanut Butter Cups
Yield approx. 48 cookies

3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 oz hot water w/ 1 rounded tsp instant espresso
Nestle dark chocolate chips
mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or baking mat and set aside.

Heat up 3 ounces of water and stir in the instant espresso. Let it sit to cool.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is smooth. With the speed on low, add in the granulated sugar. Once the sugar has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed. Beat until light and fluffy. 

Scrape the sides of the bowl down and beat in the eggs one at a time, being sure the first is fully mixed in before adding the second.

Scrape the sides down again and beat in the brown sugar.

With the mixer on low, slowly beat in the cocoa powder. Otherwise you will end up with a cocoa cloud. :)

Alternately beat in the flour mixture and coffee. 

Once both have been fully mixed in, stir in the bag of dark chocolate chips.

Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes.

Pull the baking sheet from the oven. Taking care not to burn yourself, press the peanut butter cups into the middle of each of the cookies. Let them cool a little bit more then transfer to a cooling rack.

While my cookies were cooling, I noticed my Trader Joe's grinder. And I realized that the three things in the grinder were also in my cookies. And there was melty chocolate puddles in the middle of each cookie...waiting for something to be dusted on top. How perfectly perfect! So I topped each cookie with the Trader Joe's Sugar, Chocolate & Coffee Bean Grinder. :)

Friday, December 9

Time Out from Cookies

If I may, I'd like to take a break from the cookie post. I know, I know. I'm behind, so why take a break already? Well, trying to bake 25 different cookie recipes in 25 days is no easy feat. And I'm feeling a little off my game since I was absent from the blogging scene for a couple months. Perhaps I should have cut it down to 12 days this year, just to keep from biting off too much while I "get back in the groove". haha 

    So it's Friday! It doesn't feel like Friday because we didn't do 'Pizza & a Movie Night'. After the kids got off the bus this afternoon (30 minutes late with no explanation--thank you very much. ugh) we walked home with a friend of Kyleigh's since we live in the complex together. It was actually enjoyable. I wasn't sure how this playdate would go because the little girl (who is a year older than Kyleigh) is a little on the hyperactive energetic side. Also, the mom (who I guess you could say I am becoming more-than-acquaintances with) is Polish and very outspoken and has quite an accent. I do find her straightforwardness refreshing in a time where we all watch what we say in fear of offending someone. 

    But back to the point. The kids had fun and 'D' and I sat and talked. It was nice having a big people adult conversation. So we stayed longer than I thought we would, but part of that is also due to the late bus, and by the time we walked home it was after 6 o'clock. Though the girls did not have pizza, they still got quite a treat--McDonald's for dinner! Then when we got home, it was bedtime. And while the girls drifted off to dreamland, I flipped through my new favorite book.

    The Cleaner Plate Club, by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin. I have a confession to make. From time to time, I like to read cookbooks like it is a novel. And this one has me keeping on coming back for more. Sadly, it is only a library book so it will have to go back. But for now, it's mine! muahaha 
    So I do cook dinner each night. I put thought and love into what I serve up. I even go as far as planning out my meals 2 weeks at a time and have it written out on a dry erase board. But ya know, despite my best efforts, I am more-often-than-not thwarted by a stubborn picky opinionated 5 year old who lassos in a 2 year old cohort. It sure is enough to make someone throw up their hands. 

Mini rant Quick side note:
    And now we just finished watching 'Four Christmases' on TBS. So funny. I find I am becoming quite a Vince Vaughn fan. I think he is hilarious. 
    But now there is silence--well, except for the heat going--because Nate is flipping through Netflix on his PS3. He takes soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long to find anything to watch on there. I usually throw in the towel after the first 10 or 15 minutes and go to bed. haha Yea, I'm not a fan of silence. It's nice after a particularly long bout of yelling and screaming from the kids, but usually, I like to have some sort of white noise in the background. 
    Niiice. After settling on episodes of 'White Collar' the stupid Netflix and PS3 and Internet crapped out. Good thing I wasn't getting into it. <---major sarcasm going on
Back to the old stand by of DVR'ed Chopped.

    Okay, back to the frustrating 5 year old food critic. 
    My aim is to serve healthy, budget-friendly food without a whole lot of repeats. But how to achieve the healthy rainbow of food? I usually like checking cookbooks out of the library, but only as inspiration. Until this awesome book! 
    The Cleaner Plate Club has some of the most realistic down-to-earth food I've come across in any cookbook. Usually, while the food looks good, I'm thinking to myself that there is no way I would make that or that it would turn out looking like the professionally photographed pages. I'm going to take this opportunity to mention that there aren't any photos of impossible standards anywhere in this book--there aren't any pictures at all. haha I'm enjoying the breakfast ideas, lunches, lunchbox ideas, and mostly the soups from scratch. It also explains some of the questions I'm sure a lot of us have. For example, the difference between 'organic', 'pastured', 'grass-fed', 'free range', well, you get the idea. 
    I think I'm going to buy this book after the holidays (and thus after all the Christmas shopping) and use it to hopefully stick with my New Year's resolution. So be sure to look out for those! I'm excited to try the recipes and share them!

Sunday, December 4

25 Days of Christmas in Cookies--Day 4 Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

The girls were glad to have a distraction from the football-laden television. :)

Here is our creation for the day. You won't be able to have just one. I promise! ;)

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
Yield...a lot :)

Saturday, December 3

25 Days of Christmas in Cookies--Day 3 Chocolate Peppermint Cookie Cups

    Saturday. *whew* Who knew the weekend would be busier than the weekdays. haha I guess the closer Christmas gets the busier the weekends are going to get. That's the way it is. I find it fun, though. :)

    As another day of my 25 Days of Cookies, I needed to bake these cookies in between shopping, the library, cleaning, doing laundry, well, you get the point. :)

    Today's cookie was inspired by last year's cookie Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies, from Sweet Pea's Kitchen--I really enjoy her blog, and a cookie I found on Foodbuzz.com this year, Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies from Love From the Oven

Friday, December 2

25 Days of Christmas in Cookies--Day 2

    Ahh Friday. Today seems a little off though. Kyleigh has only a half-day today. That throws the schedule Abby and I have a little off because Kyleigh gets off the bus in the middle of Abby's naptime. So we have to adjust and always end up with cranky kids. 

    Anyway, I had forgotten how tough it is to keep up with the 25 days of cookies. What makes it so tough is that I bake each cookie everyday, as well as sharing it with you guys. But it sure is a tasty endeavor. :)

For today, I wanted to make a cookie using my super yummy maple syrup from Canada--the REAL stuff. 
Mmmmm REAL maple syrup--at about $8 a can...
And, with the help of my girls, 
My helpers.
here is what I came up with:

Thursday, December 1

2nd Annual 25 Days of Christmas in Cookies

It's funny. I don't know where to begin. Can you believe the last time I posted anything was September 2nd?? 

I feel like I'm re-uniting with an old high school friend and things are awkward because so much time has passed. But in this instance, I don't come empty-handed. 

Today is the first of December. Know what that means? For the second year, it means 25 Days of Christmas in Cookies! (On a side note, I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to be able to do this for a second year.) 

I have been doing some "research" and found an overwhelming number of cookie recipes for this event. But in addition to finding already created recipes, what about ones I will make as I go? And then the classics need to be taken into consideration. And then there are the hits from last year I'd like to bring back. Whew. Kind of sends the head reeling, doesn't it?

The phrase "one day at a time" comes to mind. So let's focus on today. 

Oh, and by the way. While we were on our trip in Canada, Abby accidentally broke my camera and I am now adjusting to a new one from my Mom....please bear with me while I figure it out. haha It may mean either no pictures or blurry pictures. I'll get the hang of it before the month is out...I hope. :)

I'm calling them Chocolate Covered Oranges because they really remind me of those chocolate "oranges" in the candy aisle. And this year I have a new assistant in the kitchen. You'll recall my lil helper last year.

Well somehow she ended up in Kindergarten this year. Seriously, how does time go by this quickly??? So I enlisted the help of another lil one. :)

While looking through my cupboards for inspiration, my eyes came upon a rather large container of Nutella. And then I saw the oranges sitting in a basket on my counter. And voila!

Chocolate Covered Oranges

Friday, September 2

Friday's Pizza & a Movie Night

    After last week's lack of planning for Pizza & a Movie Night, I wanted to make sure I was prepared for this week. Since I seem to run short on time some nights (with Kyleigh being in school and all) I figured this was a great reason to try out Trader Joe's ready-to-bake pizza doughs. 

    They have a white crust and a whole wheat crust--I picked up two whole wheat doughs. Abby and I did pretty good walking around Trader Joe's without flinging too much into the cart. :) We did decide to pick up some cheese--as we really didn't have any at home. 

    The first thing we picked up, since Abby pointed it out, was cave-aged Gruyere. 

    Yea, this seems pretty random for a 2-year-old to point out. 

    I completely agree. 

    But I'll let ya in on her reasoning--it was pink. Yes, pink cheese. 

    You'd think it was a lock to make it in our cart. But as I kept scanning the cheese fridge, I found something a little more enticing: smoked Gouda. I also picked up some crumbled Feta, which happens to be my absolute favorite cheese. At home I also had black olives, green olives, fresh mushrooms (at Kyleigh's request if you can believe it), fresh minced garlic, fresh chopped purple bell peppers, fresh chopped white bell peppers, and sliced fresh grape tomatoes. If your mouth isn't watering by now, it should be. :)

    So I had picked up two ready-to-bake packages of whole wheat pizza crust for all four of us. One got divided into two unequal parts for the girls' pizzas--the reason being so they could top their own pizzas themselves. 
Kyleigh's Pizza
Abby's Pizza

Then Nate and I shared the second. 

 You can tell which half is mine. haha

Let's break it down.

    I know I usually make a fun dessert, but somehow making the pizzas took way longer than had I made the pizza dough on my own. Go figure.

    The movie of the week? Nate recorded a movie for the girls on our DVR earlier this week. Anyone ever seen 'Hoodwinked'? It's a super cute movie and I definitely recommend it. My favorites are probably the 'Fletch' references. (You remember 'Fletch' and 'Fletch Lives' don't you? With Chevy Chase? Okay, well, if not, that's something for another time.) It's like a spoof off of a lot of popular grown-up movies with a fun story-line of its own. You should check it out.

    So I didn't have any spare time for dessert. But there were no complaints coming from the living room. I mean, seriously, who doesn't love Oreos?? And it also works for me that we rarely have Oreos in the house--so it is quite a treat when they can be found in our pantry. 

    Cupcakes are coming soon! I promise!!

Tuesday, August 30

Scraping the Bottom

    I don't know about everyone else, but my family lives on a budget. When the limit is hit on groceries, gas, etc, that's it until next paycheck. Well, I've been countin' down the days until the next payday. Since I haven't been able to go to the grocery to supplement my pantry, it has forced me to get creative. Just opening the door come dinner-time and looking at the shelves, there is not much that meets the eye. It's left me feeling as if I'm scraping the bottom for those last few tasty morsels. 

    The result? I think I've gotten more heartfelt comments from the hubby than usual. Yay! :)

Monday was a soup & grilled cheese. This may not sound like much, but it was hearty and stick-to-your-ribs good.  Just take a look:

    Into a large pot, over medium heat, went a can of cream of potato and a can of cream of mushroom soups. Then whisked in was a can of vegetable broth. While that started coming to a simmer, I diced up half of the white-turned-red bell pepper and half of the purple bell pepper. I also minced up a few cloves of garlic. I heated some olive oil in a pan and when it was ready, the garlic got tossed in. Tossed it around a bit until it started turning golden then the bell peppers joined in. After a few minutes of tossing it all together, I scraped the pan into the soup pot. I also stirred in about a cup or so of pureed sweet potato. I almost forgot to mention the spices! I believe (I didn't write it down so I don't remember exactly) that I stirred in ground nutmeg, ground allspice, onion powder, and white pepper. For the sandwiches, I didn't want to use the usual Velveeta. I sliced up some block mozzarella and block sharp cheddar. We each had a sandwich with mustard, mozzarella slices, and cheddar slices. Abby and I had sliced tomatoes in ours. Then the sammies went into the pan. Then I plated it all up. Surprisingly DE-lish!
Purple bell pepper
Sliced fresh tomato
Two Potato Soup with Grilled Cheese & Tomato Sammies

Tuesday was a little different--a little more involved. But definitely well worth the effort! 

    So I finally finished the cooking process for my chickpeas today. By the way, shelling those suckers is a major pain! It takes forever and it seems impossible to get them all. Anyway, these were finished cooking and so were sitting off to the side. 
    Using my rice cooker, I cooked a half & half mixture of brown rice and medium-grained white rice. This is a double purpose tool that allows me to steam a veggie at the same time. So while the rice was cooking, I had an acorn squash (previously peeled and chopped) steaming up. While those were cooking, I diced up the last of both bell peppers from Monday along with a few cloves of fresh garlic. 
    I sauteed the garlic in a pot with olive oil until golden brown before adding the diced peppers. These sauteed up for a few more minutes, then was taken off the heat. By now, the rice and squash had finished cooking. So now, with the main players sitting around, I took out my food processor. 
    I added a few handfuls of the cooked & cooling chickpeas, along with a healthy dose of olive oil. 
    Then pulsed for a bit. 
    Then added more olive oil and some cilantro. 
    Then continued to process. It seemed pasty so I added probably about 1/2 a cup total of vegetable broth, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and black pepper. After processing some more, taste to make sure you are happy with it. 
    Then I added about half of the acorn squash and a couple tablespoons of the sauteed garlic & bell pepper mixture. 
    Then processed some more. Nice and smooth. 
    I added about 3/4 of the rice to the pot holding the garlic and bell pepper mixture and stirred it all together. 
    Then added in the chickpea "sauce" followed by the remaining acorn squash. Stir it all up. 
    Then when plating, top with a small dollop of sour cream (yes, a deviation from my usual Greek yogurt) and a small shred of my remaining sharp cheddar and mozzarella block cheeses. 
    Oh my goodness! If you having nothing else on hand but this, your family will never know you didn't plan it! I promise! ;) 
    The peppers add a nice crisp sweetness to it that radiates throughout the whole dish, with the rice creating the basis for it all. When you get a chunk of the acorn squash, you taste a subtle sweetness that pairs really well with the peppers. 

It's definitely a happy dance going on in your mouth. :)

White-turned-red bell pepper
Purple bell pepper

Squashed Chickpea Rice

    I realized that I told you that I added only 3/4 of the rice, so what happens to the rest? My plan is to use it in a soup that  I'm planning on making later this week. It's going to use some homemade baked beans I whipped up last week--from scratch, using dried beans. Oh yeaaaaaa. 

So if there's one thing I hope to have imparted to you is that even though the pantry may seem bare (or really really bare), you can always pull something delicious together for the family!

Sunday, August 28

Friday's Pizza & a Movie Night

Mini Pizzas using refrigerated biscuits and brownies with salty pretzels nestled inside!

Thursday, August 25

Weekday Mornings

    Here in my neck of the woods, school is back in full swing and I have suddenly become very aware of what my family is putting in their bellies first thing in the morning. Is that cereal going to stay with my kindergartner all morning? Is my hubby really going to eat something when he gets to work? Most likely he'll get too busy and forget to eat until about lunch. As for my bundle of energy, well, I need to make sure her breakfast really counts. Of course without anyone getting bored with what is being served up. I admit, I am bored with the cereal-for-breakfast routine. So let's keep it interesting...

Tuesday, August 23

A Taste of What's to Come!

    Headed out to Kyleigh's bus stop this morning, I noticed something before I had even closed the door behind me. It was cool. I don't mean 'awesome' or 'neat' or 'nifty'. I mean, the temperature was actually cool! I thought Abby was going to tell me she was cold when the breeze blew. It felt AMAZING!

    On the way back home, Abby and I decided it was perfect weather for opening some windows--that's just how awesome it feels. So we get back and the windows are open and I've got my cuppa joe and the news is on in the background. (Shocking, I know. Since when do I get to watch the news?!?! :) ) I'm thinking to myself, "man, I love that it smells like fall...I can smell cinnamon in the air" then I stopped.

Sniffed again.

I really did smell cinnamon hanging in the air. Wait a sec, it's quiet.

Where is my kid?

In the kitchen, with my dog, and the cinnamon bottle in her hand and my kitchen floor is now patchy brown.

I just started laughing--it really DID smell like fall this morning! :)  In the fall kinda mood, I decided Abby and I needed to take a trip to the Farmer's Market. Off we went!

Friday, August 19

A Little Out of Touch...You Would Be Too!

I was a bit absent from the blogging world this week. I actually took Thing 1 and Thing 2 to the beach. It was kind of our way of saying good-bye to my step-father's place at the beach. (He's not selling it...but it's not really a story to be shared as it's not my story to tell.) And what's nice about this place is that it is so disconnected from the world. 

    There's a tv, but no cable. Outlets (of course) to plug in my laptop, but no Internet. A kitchen, but no working oven. A bathroom, but a shower outside that you use instead. Paved roads, but you'd rather ride a bike. It's a place to go to slip out of the bonds that tie us down day-to-day. 

    It's on North Carolina's Crystal Coast. Hidden off of the main road, there is no way you could ever tell there is a small little street lined with double-wides that provide people an escape from the world. Standing on the beach with your back to the ocean, you still wouldn't be able to know about this street as it is hidden behind large dunes. Sound like a good place to escape?

Thursday, August 18

Eggs Benedict Mini-Series--Week 4

This is it! The culmination of the first mini series! Hard to believe this is the fourth week already. 

So let's rewind a bit.

    The first week we learned that eggs Benedict is a specialty dish served for breakfast, or lunch, or even brunch. The dish starts with a toasted English muffin half that is then topped with a slice of ham, or Canadian bacon, followed by a poached egg, and finally topped with a healthy dollop of hollandaise sauce. 
    While the construction of the dish is pretty straightforward, the history behind it is not. And we'll leave it at that for the "sum up". 

    After learning about the components that make up the dish, it became time to examine the pieces. The second week we delved into the poached egg layer. We discovered a few different approaches, but all-in-all, it boiled (no pun intended, seriously) down to the same way. 
There were a few missteps but my egg poaching will improve the more I do it--as is the truth with anything. 

Friday, August 12

Pictures and a Coupon Offer!!

    There's a saying I'm sure we are all familiar with: You eat with your eyes. It is because of this that pictures are so important when writing about food--from blogs to cookbooks. But let's move away from food for a minute post. Pictures capture moments in our lives and are vital to remembering where we've been.

    Time flies since I've had my girls--my oldest is already 5 years old and in kindergarten with my "baby" already 2 years old! While I'm in the moment, I think that I'll always be able to remember exactly what is going on...but so much happens in life that we can't always remember everything without pictures. Luckily, I have more pictures than I know what to do with that chronicle the growth and experiences of my family.

    As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with KODAK Gallery, I was selected to create a FREE Quickstart Photo Book. How exciting! A new way to bring my pictures together in a way that everyone can enjoy--and that doesn't take weeks to put together like other projects, such as scrapbooks. 

Kodak Gallery - Celebrate your KODAK MOMENTS

    Making a Photo Book with Kodak Gallery, I was able to use the cool new Quickstart Photo Book features. I was in complete control of my photos and my project by being able to resize, move, rotate, and even overlay my photo images and text. All at the tips of my fingers with someone else putting it together for me!

Thursday, August 11

Eggs Benedict Mini-Series--Week 3

It's Thursday, and you know what that means! The next installment of the Eggs Benedict Series. 

This week features the hollandaise sauce. I imagine that, with time, the sauce becomes easier to prepare--much like poaching the eggs. Another component to getting it right is having a recipe you are comfortable with. Don't fret, there are many to choose from.

Wednesday, August 10

Surprise Package!

    Do you remember way back in the day when you used to get a letter in the mail? Not a bill ('cause those still come in the mailbox), not junk mail, but a hand-written letter for YOU waiting in your mailbox--the one ya have to walk to, and not the one sitting in your desktop. And how about when it arrives out of the blue? You aren't expecting anything and then BAM! An envelope that has your name written across the front is hidden amid, well, everything else! It's like you just got a warm hug. 

    Now while I didn't find a letter, a package did arrive today. Getting a package delivered evokes the same feeling as receiving a hand-written letter, don't you agree? Even when you know a package is on its way it's still fun when there's a knock on the door and a box with goodies is on the other side. It's like Christmas--sort of.

So I had an unexpected knock on my door this morning! 

Perhaps the hubby bought something online I forgot about?  No. 

Maybe he ordered M&M's for me again. (Oh yes, he's ordered special personalized M&M's for me before.)  Still no. 

Then I get it onto the kitchen table and tear it open.

Monday, August 8

Muffins with a Side of Mondays

    Last fall toward the end of pumpkin season, I bought up some of the last pumpkins I could find at the farmer's market. I took 'em home, steamed them, pureed them, and then froze them so I could break out the fresh pumpkin during the summer--when most pumpkins are unavailable since they are still growing. 

    The first container out in order to thaw was the white pumpkin puree. (Sometimes called Cinderella pumpkins.) I placed it in the fridge on a Tuesday, and on Thursday we had nachos and quesadillas for dinner. Seeing the now-thawed pumpkin, I used some of it in the cheese sauce (along with pureed peas) to increase the nutritional value of probably the one thing my girls would devour. :) They didn't suspect a thing. ::Insert evil laugh here::

    Coming back into the kitchen ready to make muffins, the remaining puree was looking out at me asking to be picked.....so I obliged. :) 

And we came up with---

White Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Thursday, August 4

Eggs Benedict Mini Series--Week 2 Poaching

I would say 'Ah, Thursday already' but it's one of those weeks where it is almost shocking that it is only Thursday.  

During this last week, I've been compiling egg poaching recipes, how-to's, tips, and techniques. 

Then I tried them out, took pictures, and noted the result of each. May seem tedious, but I've actually had a lot of fun--I ever mention I'm a closet nerdy-type? I totally love learning new things and learning to poach an egg is no exception. 

I've got my steno pad, eggs, small bowls, vinegar and a tablespoon. 
Bring 'em on!

Monday, August 1

Giant Breakfast Muffins--Avocado Banana!

Do I smell a Muffin Monday in the air? Perhaps.

Today it is more of an Avocado Banana Muffin aroma. And these are GIANT muffins! :)

Thursday, July 28

Eggs Benedict Mini-Series--Week 1

I am super excited to announce the introduction of mini-series on HomeBaked Goodness!

Each week there will be a new "installment" of the series.

For my first adventure--Eggs Benedict.

Picture from Wizard Recipes.

Friday, July 22

A Different Kind of Movie Night

Let's pick up where I left off--waiting for Kyleigh at the bus stop. Remember how I said it was oppressively hot? I totally have proof now! 

Yep, that's right. The thermometer in my car on the dashboard reads 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Like I said, oppressively hot.

And I decided to take a picture of my solar-powered dancing flower on my dashboard. :)

Anyhow, after Kyleigh got off the bus we headed out to Target. Note to self: Never EVER go to the store after Kyleigh gets home from school again. Both girls are just too tired and cranky after their days and they need snacks before I start making dinner.Okay, note over.

We had a change of plans due to the fact that time got away from us when we got home. Kyleigh and I put the finishing touches on her chart. (Not so much a chore chart as it is a reminder of what she needs to do each day--she has a little trouble focusing.) 

And then Nate walked in the door! At 6 o'clock on a Friday. That is unheard of!!! 

We decided to do something quick for dinner and then we wanted to go to the liquor store for ingredients to make butterbeer. :)

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