Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two-For-One

I love when my mom stays for a week....she always leaves little notes for us to find after she has gone. A sweet reminder that she will be back and that she misses us very much. I usually find an article of clothing (or bag full this time) and some of her 'fun' magazines. She always buys the ones I wish I did, but don't. Like 'All You'. This usually has a few recipes that are a hit with my gang. (think back to the Meatball Soup)

I like meals that can simplify my life. And that is what I found in this yummy dish I made last night.

Last night's meal was Rigatoni in Creamy Tomato Sauce. It was de-lish. While the sauce was simmering, I gave it a little taste (Ok I took a huge spoonful)

I knew that I had a fantastic Creamy Tomato Soup on my hands. I have made a million pots of Creamy Tomato Basil Soup this past year and I am here to tell you....This sauce (made w/a bit more cream) might just be the winner. It's on the menu for next week.

rigatoni-creamy-tomato-ay-x


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces pepperoni, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • Salt
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Preparation

  • 1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add pepperoni and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
  • 2. Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Season with salt.
  • 3. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add rigatoni and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes or as package label directs. Combine with sauce and basil and serve.
Along with this pasta dish I made some garlic bread we had at a friend's baby's 1st bday party. I had to steal it and make it for my gang...it was that good. The boys went in for 4ths. (I stole some for my leftover lunch today)

What you'll need for the bread...

French Bread
1 stick of melted butter
1 softened block of cream cheese
garlic powder and parsley flakes (I didn't have any fresh on hand)

Slice bread in half.
Melt the butter and stir in your garlic powder and parsley. Pour evenly over halves.
Dollop cream cheese over bread
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Put in preheated 375 oven for about 4 mins...just long enough to melt the cream cheese to spread evenly over melted butter.
Pop back in oven until crispy.
IMG_9376

Monday, August 29, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Head over to my favorite chica every Monday Morning and link up....tell us what's in your head this glorious day....

one. august 27 7:12 pm

gray15

This Saturday my baby boy turned 15. I was really not ready for this...not in the 'I don't have a cake', but in the 'I can't believe my baby is getting one step towards not needing me anymore'. I took this photo at the exact time he was born. I saw this on another bloggy and wish I had started this 15 yrs ago....I can do this with all 5 kids except Kate. She was born at 1 something am. Not gonna happen. Oldest child requested his favorite place for dinner...Babe's Chicken (no complaints from me) and my Texas Sheet Cake for dessert. I thought I posted this recipe before....This is a must make.

Texas Sheet Cake </font></p><div class=

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup water

  • ICING:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 16 ozs confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and then whisk in cocoa to a boil. Remove from the heat. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; stir in sour cream and eggs until smooth. Stir cocoa mixture into sour cream mixture. Pour into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter; add milk and cocoa. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Whisk in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Pour over warm cake. Cool completely on a wire rack.

two. stuffed bellies

We ate like Kings this weekend thanks to his birthday festivities. (sniff sniff) Nothing like a little celebration to add to the rump area. One of the many meals that got polished off this weekend...Vanessa's Make Ahead Beefy Lasagna. Now most of you probably hate the length of making your own lasa, but take the time with this one. It freezes beautifully for those that want to half this in 2 smaller pans and eat 1 and freeze 1 for later.

lasagna

Ingredients

  • 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 (24-oz.) container 4% small-curd smooth-and-creamy cottage cheese
  • 1 (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated pesto
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 (24-oz.) jars tomato-and-basil pasta sauce

Preparation

  • 1. Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare noodles according to package directions.
  • 2. Meanwhile, stir together cottage cheese and next 4 ingredients. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  • 3. Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Stir in pasta sauce.
  • 4. Layer 1 cup beef mixture, 3 noodles, and 2 1/2 cups cottage cheese mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 2 cups beef mixture, and 3 more noodles. Top with remaining cottage cheese mixture, 3 noodles, and beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese.
  • 5. Bake, covered, at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes or until cheese is browned. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
  • Note: Freeze unbaked lasagna up to 3 months. To bake, thaw in refrigerator 24 hours. Let stand 30 minutes; bake as directed.
three. seems like yesterday

A group was created on Fb for our high school graduating class over the weekend. Our 20 yr reunion is coming up next summer and so it's been so much fun seeing all the faces after all this time. They posted our senior pictures from the yearbook and my kids had a giggle at how young I looked. Odd that I still feel like that little girl on the inside. I told hubs how it just seemed like yesterday looking at all the photos they keep posting. His response...."well if by yesterday you mean 20 yrs then ok". It hit me....20 yrs. Surely I haven't almost been out of high school that long right? Then I look at my 10 th grader and realize it must be true.
Here have a giggle at my memories.

IMG_7544-1

four. sweet sweet clouds

There are fat juicy dark clouds this morning when I walked Kate outside. Then I got hit in the eye (because I was still looking up) with a glorious rain drop. Now it may have only been a sprinkle, but anything to keep the 107' temps at bay.

five. buggy time

In a handful of weeks princess Lily goes from 2 to 3 in a blink. (I'm already tired) She has announced she wants a Bug Party. So I'm jumping on the Pottery Barn idea wagon and gonna start preparing for her "Bug Party/ Hungry Caterpillar" theme. These invitations were the inspiration.

very-hungry-caterpillar-party-invitations

six. hating it

My parents were in town over the weekend and left yesterday. My mom called last night and told me she left all dad's clothes in the guestroom. Good Times. I don't think they will be making the 4.5 hr drive back do you?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Life in a Movie

A few days ago a girlfriend emailed me and asked if I had seen the previews for that new Sarah Jessica Parker movie coming soon? I told her I had no idea. She said it could have been based off of me...(minus the career outside the home) I pulled up the trailer and had a good laugh...

"I Don't Know How She Does It"



My hubs isn't a fan of
SJP, but after seeing this trailer I have to see it. I'd like to learn a few tricks of hers for how she does DO IT ALL.

My friends are always asking how I can do what I do with 5 kids...that they can barely do it with 1 or 2. My answer? I don't do it all. I'm hot mess half the time and look like something out of a ball pit not a magazine cover.

I rarely sit. (In fact I'm standing as I type this)

I rarely have a full conversation...they are usually in parts since my head is going a mile a minute (this drives my husband batty)

I rarely get a full nights sleep. I know sleep is important to keep one healthy, but I think the
dr who said that didn't have 5 kids and a husband to take care of.

When I do sleep I crash in seconds flat....only to be the lightest sleeper in the world. (I can hear footsteps on carpet)

Many times wish I could clone myself so she could do the yuck chores...
ie cleaning johns and laundry...I loathe laundry (again ask my hubs)

I'd need about 3 of everything in my house to make it run efficiently. But alas I haven't been on The Price Is Right show to win an extra oven and dishwasher yet. (I did get my wall of cabinets though...that's a start)

I've learned a few things though being a mom....A facial can happen right in your kitchen...just hold your face over a boiling pot of pasta....a foot soaking can happen in the kids bath water (
eww gross right?) Get the kids out of the bath and leave the water still in it....after you dry them off and dress them...head back to the tub...stick your feet in the now icy cold water....that few seconds of chill can wake you up and revive you in seconds.

Need a quick 5 min nap? Sit your kid in your lap with a sucker and take a snooze (I didn't say it was a healthy trick)

Need a trip to the hair salon? Give your 2 yr old a handful of brushes and tell her to make her mommy beautiful.

Need a workout? Strap a kid to the front of you...push a wild 2 yr old in a buggy and do shopping for 7 hungry
ppl. Have your 10 yr old push a buggy behind you loaded with groceries....and have her clip your heels w/the buggy every so often to keep you on your toes. Load it in the car. Unload the car. Then juggle putting it all up while keeping everyone happy.

Guess I'll wait for the movie for more tips on how to do it all...




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beaver Stage

When Lily cut teeth she took it out on her crib. I tried to find something to cover it, but never could. (Now of course I CAN after the fact)

IMG_2671

She pretty much ruined the railing on her crib....we called her the little beaver.

Enter in Mr Dude Friend (take that Aly) ....

reid

He cut his first 2 teeth at around 4 months...started crawling by 5 months and starting pulling up a few weeks ago...first to the knees and then last week to his feet.

reid2

Now he pulls up on everything and anything he can get his hands on. Half the time we are running full blast because we can see he's about to topple over. He's dying to walk. He loves when we take his hands and have him 'chase' Lily around the house. He has that look of triumph on his face when he's standing...like "hey world....look out because here I come"

IMG_5111

He is at the stage where he will stick anything in his mouth. Name it it's there. You can get a bottle of water from the fridge and he will yank your arm so he can grab the bottle. Mad dog style. When I change his diaper upstairs in his room he will grab the blinds and try to eat those. He loves eating faces. I call those 'sloppy Reid kisses' (I may or may not put my cheek on his lips so he'll 'kiss' me) The kids laugh because Reid will spot something on the floor and take of crawling full blast to attack it.

(back tracking...more updates on beaver)

At his 6m check up this month he weighed in at 17 lbs 11oz and 27.5" tall. I was thinking he would weigh more than that considering he was born at weighing nearly 10lbs.

IMG_6056

I just started him on solid foods foods this month too....so far no luck on anything. He takes about 3 bites (if that) and he is totally finished. Not a fan of applesauce, but then I made a batch using Granny Smith apples. I will try a less tart apple this week to see if that was the issue. He loves sweet potatoes, but I found out he's allergic to cinnamon. (blah) Oats too....dr told me to skip cereals....but I did it anyways and realized Oatmeal makes him projectile vomit. Score one for mom of the year.

Things I've learned about Reid.....he has sensitive skin, and is allergic to things. Which is soooo unlike any of the other 5 kids. They have 'tough' skin and can eat tar. (hoping you know I'm kidding)

Reid also is the only of the 5 kids that has a tough time with the teething. Poor sweet baby doesn't do well. The first time he cut teeth he was fussy and had a clear runny nose. Last week he got a runny nose and the first thing I did was look inside his mouth. Sure enough those top 2 honkers were breaking through. Sweet boy was a fussy bucket. Never seen him so miserable. He was up all night and just looked pitiful. I put every toy he loves to chew on in the freezer and got more Hylands Teething Tablets (thanks hyland for bringing them back) and finally broke down and bought baby ibuprofen.

Dude is also following in his sister's footsteps on chewing on the crib. I figure it's already ruined and he can't do much more damage than she did so have at it little beaver.

With his new found standing....I've sadly had to lower the crib to the lowest setting. Made me a bit sad thinking he might be the last baby to ever sleep in this crib and it will never be raised again. (photo when I realized he can stand and mattress needs to be lowered)

6m

He's Lily's best friend (or toy)

IMG_6585

She is constantly wanted to dress him up and play with her....or covers him with blankets b/c she says he's cold (whether he is or not) Tries to play ball with him. Gives him a string to play jump rope with her. And the best part...he loves her to death. His little arms and feet get to pumping when he sees her. He's found a friend for life in her.

I live for this boy....He brightens the room with his gorgeous dimples and smile and blue eyes....

Yep...he's a keeper.


Monday, August 22, 2011

What's that Smell?

Deep inhale....that would be new school supplies for a new school year!

Well today is the day....The day the big kids suck it up and wake up for school. I say suck it up because all I have heard out of the older two were moans and groans and whines of school starting. Mini me? Well she's been itching for school for weeks now. Girls are like that....they love their Bff's and school and teachers and well just about everything at this age.

We had meet the teacher last Thursday and screams of joy could be heard to China b/c Kate and her Bestie (the one in all of her pictures) are in the same Homeroom class and sitting together. (Thank you Thank you) If you remember last year it was sobs since none of her friends were in her class and there were 3 mean girls. (Think back to her bday) I'm so very thankful there were 3 of her 'sweet' friends in her class this year. I hope that means 5th grade will go off smoothly!

I managed to roll myself out of bed early and make Chocolate Chip Pancakes for the bunch. (pats on back) The boys were all smiles (for once today)

I snapped a photo of the gang as they were heading out. Here is proof the boys do exist......

Grayson is heading off to 10th grade...with yes....his hair like a girl. He might have said I could take him for a trim, but it never happened. Jake is heading to 7th grade...

9

Mini me was happy for her photo....she is carting off teacher gifts this morning. Her fav teacher from last year moved up a grade with them, but she didn't get him....he's got a sweet tooth and is getting some Cherry Jam that I made the other day. That stuff was like candy. Her new Homeroom teacher is getting a School Bus cookie for a 'happy school year' gift....

6

Lily had to run for a photo carting the syrup from the table. She's yelling for the boys to get in the photo....they refused to step outside and be seen by friends getting their photo

7

Even the nasty ducks had to welcome the first day

8

and leave a gift behind

1

Yesterday I spent the day decorating these bad boys for the kids 1st Day of School treat....

3

4

5

The kids have already picked out their cookies and set them aside. The buses and schoolhouses are HUGE. 6" I ended up not selling any this time b/c of the size of these suckers.

I hope everyone got their little chick a dee's off to school with ease this morning.

To all my teacher friends....GOOD LUCK today and have a terrific year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wall Makeover...B/c I've got Time on my Hands

Yes...I did create more hours in the day so I can accomplish many projects....
(care to join me?)
from canning, to cookie decorating....to ice cream making .....to now painting walls

Oddly enough it was almost a year ago today that I painted other walls in the house. I realized I had some leftover paints and glazes from last year and thought....heck let's go for it.

Hubs and I are adding some extra cabinets in the kitchen for extra storage space and I thought I might as well make the wall behind it look bea-u-ti-ful first.

Base coat "corkboard"
glaze "mocha"

First do a couple of coats of your base coat. Sadly there goes my menu board and Lily's new chalk wall

wall

Finished base coat. Hubs actually would like this color on the wall, but a bit darker. (we love the rustic theme)

IMG_9064

Now on to your glaze. I like to sponge it on in sections
IMG_9069

and then wipe off with a paper towel to the desired look you are looking for
IMG_9073

(love my blue gloves? I use them for everything from cutting chicken...onions...trash can clean up...to glazing)

IMG_9075

and then viola....
1

Cabinets are being installed as I type.....




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Can Can...Addiction in the Making

successfulcanning
A month back I posted about how I wanted to learn to can.....and can I did. Thanks to winning LeAnna's giveaway...I got started off on the right foot.
I am a sucker for La Madeleine's Strawberry Rhubarb so I knew that is the first jam I had to give a whirl at. Now mind you I don't have any experience....or the correct pots....but anyone can improvise with what they have in the house and make some precious yummy jams.
My giveaway included the best cookbook in the world.
ball book
Filled with terrific easy recipes that all look de-lic-ious
I had been scouring the net and picking poor LeAnna's brain for weeks reading up on all the ways to can...the Do's and Don'ts of canning. Canning is a lot like sewing or baking or decorating. Most people have their own way to do it....so all tricks seem to vary....You just have to do a little trial and error in order to find what works for you.
The only chance I knew I would have to can would be with the little babies went to bed at night....The whole process from start to clean up took me about 2.5 hrs. It wouldn't have taken so long if I had all my supplies ready from the the get go and all my jars washed...now I know.
I decided to follow the Ball recipe for the Strawberry Rhubarb to a T...I mean after all they are the Ball people. (grins)
1

Directions:


  1. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice and pectin in a large saucepot.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil.
  4. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Skim foam if necessary. (I skipped this part)
  7. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  8. Adjust two-piece caps.
  9. Process 10 minutes in water bath.
Mini Me was terrified the whole process. I guess she was worried about it being the first time I tried it...she was afraid I would mess up...me too, but I was so excited she could see me radiating happiness and finally joined in with me.
First I started washing all my jars and lids and rings. Next I filled a shallow pan with water and got it warm for my lids and rings to sit waiting.
(Ok I just realized I need a bigger stove top)
Next, I got my 2 big pots out ...1 for cooking the jam...the other filled with hot water for keeping my jars hot and to process in.
Now off to prepping my fruit.... I started inspecting, washing, and hulling my berries....then it was crushing time.
On to the infamous Rhubarb...I've never worked with this before and no idea how to prepare it...so I just inspected, washed, skinned and chopped. It smelled so clean and fresh when I was chopping it up.
(I think I may have even talked to it telling it how excited I was to finally eat it)
I was unsure of how my jam was supposed to look after the 1 min of hard boiling...I've heard of the spoon test...so instead i just counted to 20 and then took it off the heat.
(that's how I roll)
Kate was busy licking the spoon shouting how it tasted like strawberry candy.....
(now she's getting into it)
Again...I am so happy to have won this giveaway starter package for canning b/c my tongs and funnel came in handy.
(I seem to have lost all my funnels in the house thanks to Lily and her mysterious ways)
Ball-Utensil-Set-four-piece__64886_zoom
My only issue with the whole process was the rack in the bottom of my pan. I didn't have anything to fit ....I "racked" my brain
(get it 'racked' ...oh deep sigh)
I racked my brain coming up with something to work to keep the jars off the bottom of the heat...the whole towel in the bottom wigged me out....so I ended up using the stainer insert that comes with the stock pots for pasta cooking.
It was great ...EXCEPT for the fact that the more jars were added filled with jam...the higher the water got. Since you need at least 1-2" water covering the jars for processing.....I was getting worried.
Sure enough my water began boiling...boiling right out of the pot....it put the flame out of my gas stove and 2 of my burners weren't working. All that would work was my small burner. You ever boiled a big pot on your small burner? Well...thankfully the water was already hot...so it didn't take AS long as I thought.
When the processing time was up....and all my jars were sitting on the counter .......I had a little "awww how cute are they" moment.
2
Kate was still freaking out about the water splashing over and putting the flame out....
(she hates gas stoves....I told her I will remember this when she is a wife/mommy one day and loves her gas stove top)
The next morning my kids dove into a gorgeous jar of strawberry rhubarb jam...
(this one I dolled up for Kate's teacher for the first day of school)
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The kids have gone through 3 jars already....Guess I'm off to the store for more fruits. I am so excited to try more flavors out.
If you have a recipe of jams or other canning goodness please send them my way.
Also...I would love to hear any tips you have for canning...I'm compiling a list ...
Thanks...and happy canning.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flip Flop'n in the Kitchen

We had the pleasure of having our nieces for Sunday and Monday. My oldest niece asked if we could make a fun recipe I'm always posting about and decorate cookies.

Cookies you say? Well heck yes....so off I went in search of a cookie cutter idea...and came up with flip flops...

flip

what a perfect way to end the summer. I went to my favorite cookie cutter/decorating site and bought a cutter and some vibrant dye colors. Can't have muted flips flops can we?

The girls helped me make the cookies...(they lost steam by the cutting out and baking part...) and I baked up 3 dz or so flip flops.

Later that day we had fun making the icing and creating masterpieces. I showed the girls how to outline and flood the cookies. Then I sat back and watched their creative minds flow.

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I love this photo of my "just weeks shy of turning 13" niece. Notice how her cell phone is never far away.

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Here's the girls creations....

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Yes...I even stole a few cookies to decorate myself.

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For dinner my oldest niece was also supposed to help me fix dinner for everyone...more teaching in the kitchen. Funny enough...she was too busy checking her emails online...ohhh to be a teen again.

She did watch me though....I made 2 of my yummy enchilada rings for dinner...served with a little queso on the side for dipping.

Love having my nieces visit in the summer....and having a house full of giggling girls

Countdown to school....6 days...

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