Monday, March 31, 2008

Thanks to a fellow blogger!

I came across this recipe on The Tow Family Adventures. I was intrigued. It seemed very easy. So, I tried it...

Before adding sauce

Doesn't this look delicious??

Ahhhh....So good!

The family loved it! Hubby has even asked me to make it again this week!
For the recipe go here

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Baker's March Challenge - Perfect Party Cake

I was thrilled to discover the Daring Baker's site. Thinking of all the cakes and breads to be made and shared. Each month they give you a challenge, complete with a recipe and rules to follow. Everyone makes the same recipe, the same way and we all post on the same day. Too fun! And it has been very interesting to see the other entries. This month's challenge was given by Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts. It is Dorie Greenspan's The Perfect Party Cake.
I have to admit when I signed up for this I was feeling confident in my cooking/baking skills. Believe me, I was challenged and even doubted myself a little as this cake took on a life of it's own. We were able to play around with the flavorings. I stuck to the recipe for both the cake batter and buttercream icing. The filling was black raspberry. I did not cover the cake in coconut, because the family doesn't like it. Here are pictures of the production:

The cake batter coming together

Oven ready

The two cakes in their different pans must have schemed together while in the oven. For only one of them rose enough for me to feel comfortable cutting it in half.

Making the buttercream was scary to me, not because it was necessarily hard, but because I had never made a buttercream before. And while it all began well enough, it never seemed to want to stay together. After beating what seemed like a lifetime, I began icing the cake. It iced well enough, but the consistency was not what I would have liked to do any extra decorating.

Then the stacking commenced

Here is the finished product of my first challenge!

It was very tasty, despite the flaws ;)

Thanks to the Daring Baker's for letting me participate!
For more cake entries, go HERE. You will not be disappointed, just inspired!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Friday, March 28, 2008

Kitchen Meme

I came across this kitchen meme and had to play along!

What three kitchen items do you use the most often?
mixer,oven and skillet

What kitchen gadget do you wish you had?
I would love a pasta maker.

What kitchen gadget do you never use/wish you hadn't spent the money for?
silicone cupcake doesn't bake them right!

What is your favorite cookbook? (Link if you can!)
My favorite "cookbook" is actually my magazine subscription to Taste Of Home.
They also have a website

Who is your cooking inspiration?
My hubby and his father. My husband loves food and there isn't much he won't eat. He is always willing to try something new. My father-in-las is some what of a chef himself and we enjoy talking food. Over the years, my father-in-law has bought me cookbooks, a KitchenAid standing mixer, a wok and many interesting imported spices.

What are three recipes that you use all the time?

1. Honey Curried Chicken
2. Pork chops with apples and pears
3. Chicken Spareribs

Can you share a cooking secret?
garlic is good in almost anything!

What is your greatest cleaning secret?
My husband!

What is your favorite thing to clean?
If I clean up, I like cleaning the cake pans.

What is your least favorite thing to clean?
the slow cooker

What is your most embarrassing housekeeping moment?
My in-laws showing up before the house is picked up.

Who do you tag to do this next?
Anyone who wants to play! Let me know you did it, and I will check it out!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pizza Anyone?

This is my pick for the Random Recipes entry for March 28th. For more info and recipes check out Pam's Random Thoughts blog. This is a very light and tasty pizza.

Tomato-Onion Phyllo Pizza
Taste of Home
Servings 28 slices

5 tablespoons butter, melted
14 sheets phyllo dough (14 inches x 9 inches)
7 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 pound plum tomatoes, sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Brush a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with some of the melted butter. Unroll phyllo dough; cut stack into a 10-1/2-in. x 9-in. rectangle. Discard scraps.
Line bottom of prepared pan with two sheets of phyllo dough (sheets will overlap slightly). Brush with butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers 5 times. (Keep dough covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel until ready to use to prevent it from drying out.)
Top with layers of remaining phyllo dough; brush with remaining butter. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; arrange onion and tomatoes over cheese. Sprinkle with oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dinner time, Come and Get It

To take my mind off my pain, I made my family's favorite meatloaf and tried a new potato recipe. It is called "Au Gratin Potatoes". From the "ooohhs" and "ahhs" I heard from the dinner table, I take it they are very good. My daughter even asked for seconds, which is not usual for her.
Making the cheese sauce

Yummy au gratin potatoes

The complete meal. the recipe for individual meatloaves is here.

Au Gratin Potatoes
6-8 servings
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes (about 6 medium)
1/2 cup chopped onion
In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. remove from the heat; stir in cheese until melted. Add potatoes and onion; stir well. Transfer to a greased 2qt baking dish. Cover;bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover; bake 30-40 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Meme about a Book

I have been tagged by the goddess once again of The Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife.

Here are the rules:

Pick up the nearest book of at least 123 pages.
Open the book to page 123.
Find the 5th sentence.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

I have been reading an old favorite.When I get sentimental, this is one of the books that appears by my night table. 'The Wedding' by Nicholas Sparks.

Starting after the 5th sentence:

This was not going well. While trying to figure out what to do next, I suddenly noticed a large swell approaching the shore. Desperate-and without a word to her-I suddenly bolted from her side, surging toward the conch.

Okay, if you haven't read this, I recommend it. It is sappy and romantic. I love it when I am feeling sentimental!

I will tag;
Susan from Artbliss
Debby from Bee in Italy
Melanie from Our Happy Happenings
Pam from Random Thoughts
Nadine from Just Being Me

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

It has been a beautiful day today. We were even able to enjoy an egg hunt outdoors! The kids loved it.

Today I served ham, garlic potatoes, creamed peas**, pasta salad and, of course, dinner rolls.
This picture was taken before the plate was completely filled. Hubby found tonight's dinner to be a two-plater.

I hope all of you had a wonderful day as well ;)
**Thanks to Susan from Artbliss for the wonderful creamed peas recipe!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pineapple Chicken

This was a new recipe and I have to say we were very pleased! Hubby likes pineapple and so do the kids. The water chestnuts were an added bonus in hubby's opinion.

Pineapple Chicken
4 servings

1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
4 cups cubed, cooked chicken
2 cans (5 1/2 oz each) pineapple chunks, drained
1 can (8oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
Hot cooked rice
In a large sauce pan, combine the first six ingredients until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken, pineapple, water chestnuts and ginger, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pork Chops with Apples and Pears

This is another family favorite.
Apples and Pears

Looking very inviting!

Dinner is served!

This recipe is from the cookbook, "Barbarians at the Plate"
Pork Chops with Apples and Pears
4 servings
2 tart apples
2 firm pears
1 tablespoon brown sugar
ground cinnamon
ground ginger
4 thick boneless pork chops (about 1 1/4 pound)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 11x8 baking dish with foil. Place apple and pear slices in pan. sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and ginger to taste. Season both sides of chops with salt and pepper. Nestle chops into the fruit. Scatter butter over the top adn cover the dish with foil. Bake for 40 minutes, remove cover and continue baking for 20-25 minutes. Serve chops with the fruit.

A good laugh over a forgotten memory

It has been a crazy week! Spring Break for Isabella, having my niece visit, attempting to potty train Jaxson (ha!) and all the frustration of family stuff.

Today I had a GOOD laugh. One of those deep belly, face hurts, think my head will pop off laugh.....know what i mean? And I needed it.

My dear friend Lana called me and out of the blue we started talking about the past. She loves to remind me of one particular night. I set her up on a blind date. Before you groan too loudly, it was a double date, so I was with her! The guy I was with, Chris, I had known for a while. But Lana's date was a new friend of his. It started out well enough. Dinner at Kabuki, a japanese steakhouse where they cook in front of you. With the big, whoosh, fire. anyway...
After dinner we decided to go to the movies. The line was massive, not the usual Friday night line, but the Titanic line. Aaron, the new guy, offers his place up for a movie. We go to the video store and rent a VHS...hehehe.
The funny thing (it's funny now) was when we walked through the door of his house. It was a pigsty. Not just run-of-the-mill bachelor living, an actual dump. We couldn't even sit down. We began clearing a space on the sofa and then this turned into cleaning the rest of the living area. Before the "date" was over, Lana and I had borrowed (clean) t-shirts, and cleaned the kitchen, dining room and even the bathroom. In the bathroom was something I had never seen firsthand....a note written in lipstick. Three and half hours later we returned home. We had never cleaned our own houses like that before and we weren't about to tell our moms! And to this day we aren't sure why we did it!
Needless to say Aaron was never heard from, or seen, again.

Do you have a bad date memory that is funny now?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tagged again!

This tag is from the goddess at Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife. One of my first blogging friends. She blogs about life as a wife, mother and anything else she feels we should be informed about. Always fabulous,always funny! When I need a smile, she delivers...

The rules are:
1. Link to your tagger and post these
rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog,
some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names
as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment
on their blog.

Ok, here are 7 things.....

1. I never eat the end of french fries.
2. No one in "my real world" knows about my blogs, except hubby.
3. My ears are not pierced...too chicken
4. I cannot just lay down on a bed. I flop. FLOPPPP! Like when you were a kid and you FLOP down on the mattress without a care in the world. I still do that. Recently, when we visited hubby's sister we stayed up with her and her hubby, after the children were asleep, to play games....and drink. After losing count of drinks, but winning the game, I flopped onto their guest futon and heard CRACK! Yep, I broke their futon. Just a little snapped wood, easily fixable, but still. I was more than humiliated. Did it deter my flopping??? No, but maybe my drinking.
5. I do not like eating outdoors. I share enough food with the children, I do not want to share with the bugs.
6. I have never seen 'Gone With The Wind' despite my best friend's attempts for the past 15 years.
7. I Love coffee, but it has to be HOT. I have never liked the iced coffees, or coffe flavored ice cream.

Now I am going to follow the goddess' footsteps for the tagging. If you are reading this consider yourself TAGGED! Let me know if you play so I can check it out. I am a wee bit nosy, or personable, whatever you want to call it!

Crafty Kids

Today was a funfilled day. At least I tried to make it that way ;)
I set up the table for some arts and crafts. We chose to make puppets out of brown paper sacks. There was laughter and excited chatter in the air. Although the frustration is right under the surface, today reminded me that I am still "cool Aunt Sara". That's what matters. I can't change the situation for this little tyke, but I can make her feel welcome and wanted in my home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A kid's dinner...

the kids requested this dinner in honor of Kristen's visit! Pigs in a blanket, macaroni and cheese, and sweet peas.

I wrapped crescent rolls, torn in small pieces, around beef Lil' Smokies. Baked them for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. The kids love it. I have also taken this in for pot lucks and they alwasy go fast!

You've been tagged!

I completed a meme here and would like to tag the following people:
Reluctant Housewife
Sass E-Mum at One Strangely Lush Mother
Susan at Artbliss
Debby at Bee in Italy
Melanie at Our Happy Happenings

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Dinner tonight was brats slow cooked in beer. Very tasty!
I use 12 oz of beer, 1 onion thinly sliced, 2 tablesppons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Place one pound of brats in the slow cooker, top with onions and pour the sauce over all. Cook on Low for 4-5 hours. Serve on french or Italian rolls.
Here is the red wine vinegar, onion and beer...makes a yummy meal!

Brats in Beer....with Sweet and Sour Salad. the recipe for the salad is here.

Inspiration from fellow bloggers

There was situation on our Road Trip that I have not mentioned, until now. I was waiting to see if anything would be resolved. Now that it has come to a close, I will reveal my Hotel experience that will stay with me forever. If the front desk clerk had only known the trials of the Don Mills Diva
and Reluctant Housewife and the inspiration they gave me, she would not have crossed me.
I am a hotel snob. I admit it. We are all snobs about something, food, clothes, hotels, music, shoes, toilet paper...whatever. We all have things we like a certain way. I like nice hotels. Not outrageously overpriced ones, but nice. I like the hotels that you have to have a door key to get into the building. I don't like my room door opening to the highway.
That said, my hubby tries to accommodate me. Even though he would be happy pitching a tent somewhere. My idea of roughing it is a Motel6. We found a room at a "newly remodeled" hotel for 80 dollars. Indoor pool, game room, complimentary breakfast of biscuits, sausage and eggs included. Sounds good right? We checked in, paid for two nights adn went off to visit friends and family.
About 10:20pm I realized that the pool crowd had been properly herded to their rooms but the gameroom was full of unsupervised children. They were yelling, playing video games, banging the gym equipment around...ugh, we were soooooo tired! I called the front desk and the girl, Jamie, told me she would be right up. 15 minutes later I am seriously irritated. I called again. Jamie informed me that she had to attend to the customers checking in. She also told me, "it doesn't help that you keep calling." Okay, so that was tacky. I inform her that we will be getting our money back for the second night and going somewhere else because she was rude. Jamie's rude retort,"You can't get your money back. There is always noise at a hotel. You will not get your money back" and hung up! HUNG UP ON ME. By midnight I am so furious, yes the kids are still in the gameroom which is less than 6 feet from us. It is midnight, let's forget about the hotel staff and the fact the game room closes at 10pm, where are these parents? There were 6-7 kids ranging in ages from 7-10 yelling and banging around.
There were no adults, no babysitter types hanging about. I would not let my child go off to a gameroom in a hotel. That's just me. We have traveled all day, spent the evening house hopping from family members to friends. The next day was so full we had a schedule to fit everyone in, plus the baby shower.
I called her back and gave her a piece of mind. I gave her a reason to hangup on me. Furthermore, we did check out the next morning (after 4 hours of sleep), we did get our money back on the second night that we did not stay there. You can't charge someone for a room they don't use! People check out early all the time... I spoke to the manager and was apologized to profusely. (blah,blah,blah) Received a free night stay certificate which will go to my brother because he can sleep through anything and he visits Amarillo too. (I will never use that hotel again, free or not) And I learned a very important lesson, if there is a pool, gameroom, or anything with bright lights that attracts children and/or teenagers in a hotel, I will ask to be put on the opposite end.
Where did we go? Motel6. I gave in to hubby. I told him we had a bad night in a nice hotel, it cannot be worse at the Motel6. And you know what, we slept like babies for 8 hours. Go figure. This hotel snob is going to do some reevaluating.

Life Lessons

I know, I know. A little heavy for Tuesday morning, but hey, what can I say?

I am 29 and I have been through many, many, many 'drama' moments. I like to blame my mom (whom I love very much) because she is some what of a crisis junkie. She always has to be in the middle of something. She always finds herself in these situations that are, at first appearance, impossible and sometimes frightening. As a kid I was around this all the time and thought it was normal. Following my mother's path in my young adulthood, I found myself in some situations of my own that were less than desireable. Now as an adult, and after meeting my husband, I find that this is not normal. (BTW-What is "normal"?) Life doesn't have to be about the next crisis to fix or drama to live through. Life can be pretty simple if you let it.

Things I have learned in 29 years:

1. Being the oldest sucks. You are a guinea pig in a parenting lab. God Bless

2. No matter how much you love someone, you can't change them. That is a hard lesson to learn.

3. The 'bad boys' are called that for a reason.

4. Don't beat yourself up, use the energy to become the person you want to be.

5. Never stay in the hotel room across from the indoor pool and/or gameroom.

6. Never say, "I would never let my child do that."

7. Day care is not for me. No matter how much you pay them, they still could lose your child.

8. This too shall pass...this is something my mother says. It usually annoys me at the time she says it, but she is usually right.

9. You have that "gut feeling" for a reason. It's called a woman's intuition. Use it!

10. It always rains when the kids are out of school!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Roast Beef and Potatoes!

Tonight I made a big meal for the family to devour! Roast beef with roasted potatoes, green bean casserole and on the side, carrots and corn. It was very tasty.
the ROAST before

the succulent ROAST when finished

the green bean casserole

I went for total comfrot food tonight....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Time for Key Lime

Key Lime Pie is my hubby's favorite. I searched for the right recipe and finally found this one. It is smooth, sweet and just the right amount of tart. I love making it for him, just to see his eyes light up while I whip fresh cream to top it with.
He is a good provider and a wonderful helpmate. I often think of ways to show my appreciation and,so far, this is his favorite way for me to do it!
This is also going to be my submission for Sugar High Friday. They are having a round up of desserts that are sure to be outstanding. All entries will be posted March 28th. If you would like to enter a dessert please go here by Monday March 24th.

***sorry,not the best picture ;)

Key Lime Pie
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh or bottled key lime juice or lime juice
2 Tablespoons water
1-2 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Key lime slices oe lime slices for garnish

in a large bowl, beat eggs and yolk with wire whisk until combined. Gradually add milk, beating until combined. Add lime juice,water,food coloring (if using),and lime peel. Whisk until well mixed. Pour into crust and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until almost set in center. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Chill mixing bowl and beaters of electric mixer in freezer* In chilled bowl beat cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Top pie and garnish with lime slices.
*the cream will whip faster in chilled bowl

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Patty's Day

I know St. Patrick's Day isn't until Monday, however, I made a dinner in it's honor tonight. I made a Blarney Breakfast Bake, O'Larry's Skillet Potatoes and Irisha Soda Muffins. It was scrumptious!
Here are the freshly baked Irish Soda Muffins which will be my submission for breadmakingday.

This is the sauasage and onion cooking for the breakfast bake.

The Blarney Breakfast Bake...Yum!!!

The very pretty onion and red bell pepper for the skillet potatoes.

The meal:

All three recipes can be found at Taste of Home.
Irish Soda Muffins
6 muffins
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons beaten egg
1/3 cup raisins
In a small bowl, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, oil and egg; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in raisins.
Fill six greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 400° for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Serve warm

Chile Con Queso

I love queso! When we have Mexican dishes this is a must. When we go out for Mexican, I always order the largest bowl they have. I love it with chips and I usually put some on my entree. I know, I know...not the healthiest. This recipe is a good one. This is my entry for Random Recipes. Check it out, they have some very good food going on over there!

Chile con Queso
Prep: 15 min.; Cook: 1 hr., 30 min.

Diced green chiles can be substituted for roasted green chiles.
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 (4oz.) jar diced pimiento, undrained
2 (4oz.) cans roasted diced green chiles
1 cup cottage cheese
2 (16oz.) loaves pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed
1(5oz.) can evaporated milk
Assorted tortilla and corn chips
Toppings: grape tomato halves, pickled jalapeño slices

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onion, and sauté until tender. Stir in diced pimiento and roasted green chiles, and sauté 1 minute. Set aside.
2. Process 1 cup cottage cheese in blender until creamy.
3. Place onion mixture, cottage cheese, and cubed cheese in a 4-qt. slow cooker; stir in evaporated milk. Cover and cook on LOW 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring gently every 20 minutes. Stir before serving. Serve with assorted tortilla and corn chips and desired toppings.
Makes about 8 cups

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dinner is served....

Tonight we had Honey Curried Chicken..Yum! I serve it with steamed rice and broccoli. I have posted the recipe here.

Cheating is Complimentary?

If you think I am wrong, please comment!!!!!!!

Last night we had a teacher-parent conference at Isabella's school. They do this twice a year just to show you what your child is doing and how well they are progressing. I took the opportunity to let the teacher know that Isabella is having issues with a classmate, who we will call Goober for the post. Goober is very aggressive and has a very strong personality. Pushy, obnoxious and down right mean at times. Isabella, while not perfect, is not an agressive personality type. She would rather everyone get along than fight. Goober has been cheating off of Isabella's math worksheets. She told Isabella that she would make something up for the teacher to get Isabella in trouble, if she did't let her cheat.
The teacher responded, with a sigh, that yes Goober has been a problem all year. She has moved her 5, yes 5, times this year. She assured us that Goober would be moved when the kids came back from Spring Break. She also stated that Isabella had told her about it once and she had told Isabella that is was a compliment that someone who has trouble with math would want to copy off of her.
This is the part I am having trouble with. I am all about someone getting help if they need it. But isn't that the teacher's job? Or the parent's? What about a tutor? I do not want my daughter to go through her school years letting people cheat and thinking it is a compliment to her brain. They need to use their own brain! What happens when Goober goes to second grade and Isabella isn't in that class and she doesn't know anything when the math is handed out? What happens later in Isabella's life when she and the other person are caught and they BOTH get in trouble? Am I wrong to be upset? I told the teacher that I would appreciate her moving Goober. In front of Isabella, I told her that it is okay to help someone but cheating is not exceptable.
Do you agree or disagree?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Final Road Trip Post

I have taken pictures of my two favorite breakfast places in Amarillo

Back home!

Stating the obvious...the park will burn flat...Am I the only one who finds this funny???

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Meatball Night!

The kids love Meatballs! Here they are before being baked....


After simmering in a sauce I throw together for an hour, they are very tasty!

Third Road Trip Post

The Texas State Line...We made it!

At a reststop about 25 minutes from Amarillo

It is very flat out here!!!

The Big Texan...where you get your meal free if you eat a 72oz steak in an hour! Seriously.