Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipes . . .

Here are the successes from the weekend:

Best-loved was the Oreo Triple Layer Chocolate Pie. I made two and both were eaten quickly--and requested again. Also good was the Banana Cream Pie, which I kind of made the easy way, with instant pudding. Here's my recipe:

Banana Cream Pie

1 pkg banana instant pudding (4 serving size)
1 3/4 cups cold milk
1 banana
1 half-pint heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 baked pie crust

Cut banana into thin slices and line the crust with the slices. Mix pudding mix into milk with a wire whisk for two minutes, until smooth. Pour the pudding over the banana slices into the pie shell. In a medium chilled metal bowl, beat cream, sugar and vanilla until light and thick. Spread whipped cream over the pudding and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

My favorite of the sweet potato casseroles was Gourmet Sweet Potato Classic. It was sweeter and the topping added texture that really helped the dish. I also made Candied Sweet Potatoes, which was milder, and just a bit bland for my tastes. One brother-in-law said he preferred it, though.

The one recipe I was really excited about was the Awesome Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing. Never having made stuffing before, I was uncertain about cooking it outside of the turkey (but we weren't cooking it in the turkey for more than one reason). Following reviews, I added extra broth, but I added a bit too much and I think I didn't cook it long enough. So at Shelli and Sybil's suggestion, I spread it on a cookie sheet and broiled it for a few minutes. What it lacked in texture, it made up for in flavor. It all got eaten, and that was the only dish I took home that day.

For our second Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, I made Sweet Dinner Rolls (that I wish I could have let raise a bit longer, but were still good, and came up with my own recipe based on Red Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Here it is:

5 lbs red potatoes
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup butter
1/2 cup half-and-half (I actually used whole milk, but I think this would be better)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Scrub potatoes and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Add 2 tsp garlic and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes (until potatoes are soft); drain. Mash butter into potatoes. Stir in milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I have much to be thankful for this year. We've been prosperous in a time of economic disaster, we live in a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood, we have good friends and loving family, and we (mostly) have our health. But there is something I am more thankful for than anything else today: Adam.

Adam is my whole world, and despite the fact that I thank him multiple times a day for everything he does, it doesn't diminish the fact that he does so much to get me through every day. I can't go more than a couple of hours without having an almost irrisitable urge to talk to him about something (which I'm sure is often annoying to him, but he humors me), and he holds my hand and rescues me through all the most difficult things (breakfast, diaper changes, getting kids into the car--you know the really terrible trials I suffer).

He may not know how much I think of him, that I depend on him because I know how amazing and talented he is, and that his opinion means everything to me. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't know how sexy he is as he snuggles the baby, reads the kids a story, or lights up when he sees just the perfect toy/book/game/clothing article for one or the other of them while shopping. He is my rock, but also my best friend, and the only man I ever wanted to share everything with.

And for that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blah, blah, blah . . .

I really should be writing a gratitude list, or sharing some profound thought about Thanksgiving. But I'm not. Because I am just so tired. I've been on my feet all afternoon making food for tomorrow. Not that I'm complaining, don't get me wrong. I love to cook and eat and Thanksgiving is a giant excuse to cook and eat (maybe that's what I'm thankful for today, that I have a great excuse to try a bunch of new recipes). But I'm still too tired to think coherently. So, I'll post some pictures of what I've been making.

Oreo Triple Layer Pie

Banana Cream Pie
I've also made sausage, apple, and cranberry stuffing, two sweet potato casseroles, and hot dogs and scrambled eggs (for dinner--very gourmet, don't you think?). Pictures and recipes (and gratitude) to follow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Die Trying

Today I was driving behind a businessman talking intently on his cell phone, probably about something very important. In lettering at the top of his rear window was the motto "Die Trying." I thought it was an interesting life motto, and not the worst out there.

It made me wonder if I had to boil my life into a short phrase what it would be. I'm not sure yet. I'll think about it.

What about you? Do you have a motto in life? What is it?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Full Monte

Friday night Anne and Jeremiah and I went out for dinner at Copper Creek Pub & Grub. It was very busy, but the food was (mostly) really great. Our reason for going was Anne's craving for a Monte Cristo. I had never had or seen a Monte Cristo, so this was something I wasn't going to miss: turkey, ham, Swiss and American cheeses, battered and fried and served with powdered sugar and raspberry jam.

Anne said it tasted like "breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert in a sandwich," or "savory stuffed French toast." I tasted it, and I have to agree, it was pretty amazing--really delicious in a surprising way.

I had a turkey and avocado sandwich, that was absolutely perfect in every way.

And Jer ordered the special: fish and chips. Unfortunately, when he bit into his fish he was unpleasantly surprised to find salmon under the batter. A weird choice of fish for fish and chips, for sure, and not in a good way when you don't like salmon (like Jer).

It was a fun experience, and interesting to try somewhere (and something) out of the ordinary.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Start the Countdown . . . 5 DAYS TO GO!

One of my favorite holidays isn't a holiday at all (for most people): Black Friday.

No, I'm not crazy. I thought Adam was when he first went after we were married. Then he convinced me to go, and I got hooked. Let me set the scene for you.

We're in my mother-in-law's sitting room, furniture moved back, newspapers and sprawling family spread wall-to-wall Thanksgiving afternoon, everyone calling out items to add to the list. After finding everything we need, we figure out who is going to what store, who will be watching which children, and go home to set our alarms. There is usually a bit of subterfuge going on, since so many of the items are gifts for the shoppers, so it takes quite a bit of organizing to get it all figured out without giving away any potential gifts.

Adam usually wakes up (or stays up) until midnight to get the items online that will be the most difficult to get (it often requires multiple browsers open, with shopping carts already full and ready to click "checkout"), but the rest of us sleep in until about 4 am. Then we call the sleepyheads who miss their alarms and drive around to pick them up and drop each other off at our respective stores.

Finally, we arrive at stores to wait in line and shiver under our warm coats, gloves and chat amiably with the strangers in line all around us. We swap Black Friday lists and war stories, plan our routes to the prospective items and where we'll meet once we find them and then--WAIT! THE DOORS ARE OPEN! Time to run!

About 15 minutes later the items are paid for and we set off for our second-string items and/or choose a store in which to browse the leftovers. By about 7:00 am, the shopping is done and we meet the remainder of the family shoppers for breakfast to gloat or bemoan over the items we found or not, and laugh about all the crazy people who were racing to fill their carts with 12 Barbies, 10 food processors, and 20 RC cars.

So, have I convinced you? If so, here's a great site to get you started: Black Friday Ads. And either way, Black Friday is coming in

5 more days!

See you there! (And please don't laugh at me if I'm still in my pajamas. I promise not to laugh at you. Or even what's in your cart. Unless you have more than 10 of something.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What you can do with some fabric, an old foam mattress and a funnel . . .

. . . and some old pressed leaves, dollar store frames, and a screamin' deal at Kohl's . . .

And this was what it was all for:

This is what I've been doing for the last couple of days: getting ready for Baby Curry. Anne and I have had so much fun decorating the nursery! We had the shower today, so there is very little left to do to prepare for him to come, so we are urging him to hurry on his way here!

Friday, November 20, 2009

(Stuff I've Forgotten to Blog About - Day 5) Ode to Crescent Rolls

One of the things I discovered a couple of years ago was crescent rolls. Once again, I may be late to the party, but do you know how great they are?! There are so many things you can do with them. We actually usually buy the WalMart brand reduced fat rolls, so they aren't quite as expensive or unhealthy. (As much as I love them, I do recognize that they aren't the most healthful of foods, so I try not to use them too often. But they are dang convenient.)

Although I do often make them as directed on the package, as plain old crescent rolls, more often I use them in a recipe. Here are some of my favorite ones:

Cheese Rolls
Thanks to an old friend, Marina Johnson, this is our favorite way to have crescent rolls: I slice cheddar or Colby jack thinly, and roll up inside the crescent rolls, pinching to seal in the cheese as it melts. Cook as directed on the package. When we're having pasta and I've forgotten the garlic bread, I'll sometimes do a variation on this using mozzarella and sprinkling with garlic or Italian seasoning and Parmesan on top.

Pigs in a Blanket
1 pkg (8) hot dogs
1 pkg (8) crescent rolls
cheddar cheese

I make bite sized pigs by cutting the hot dogs and crescent rolls in half. I layer a small slice of cheddar and then a hot dog on top of a roll, and then roll up large end to point, like a regular crescent. I pinch the dough to keep in the cheese, but the dogs stick out on the ends. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Pizza Pinwheels
Another great appetizer or lunch, I found this recipe at Allrecipes, and used it at a party. The key to this is using a good pizza sauce. (I can't help you there, though, I make mine and it's a "dash of this, dash of that" type recipe. This time it needed a bit more dashes, 'cause it turned out a touch bland.)

Chicken Puffs
Everyone I know loves these--except our family. Well, as usual, I liked them, Adam was okay with them, but the kids vetoed them. So, one to try? As long as your kids aren't as picky as mine.

Breakfast Pizza
This recipe wins the award for most creative use of crescent rolls. This was soooo yummy. I've been trying to come up with an excuse to try it again. Maybe during the holidays.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

(Stuff I've Forgotten to Blog About - Day 4) Shooting

For Christmas in 2007 I bought Adam a rifle. Not just any rifle, but a really sweet rifle. (Were you expecting me to tell you make and model? There is no way I can remember, I hardly know anything about that stuff, but I have it on good authority that it is an awesome gun.) Well, almost two years later, I still hadn't ever shot the gun that is registered in my name. So, in September Adam, Isaiah, and I went shooting.

Adam, shooting a clay pigeon. (He shot a lot of them. He's a pretty great shot.)

Me, aiming at a clay pigeon. Look, I almost have muscles!! (Guns are heavy. I was really sore the next day.) I shot. And shot. And aimed. And shot again. I got one clay pigeon after setting it up in a bush and shooting at it about 30 times. I don't think I was meant to own a gun.

Isaiah shooting at a clay pigeon with a BB gun. He spent his time shooting like this, shooting at a paper target, or . . .

just bashing the heck out of the pigeons. He's a much better aim this way. (I have to admit, it was kind of fun just smashing them, especially after shooting at them forever and never hitting any.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

(Stuff I've Forgotten to Blog About - Day 3) Rock Climbing

Yup, that's me up there. The guy taking tickets said I'd be the first mom to do it. Psh, yeah right. (But I still felt cool.)

(Taken at Swiss Days, September 26, 2009)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

(Stuff I've Forgotten to Blog About - Day 2) R2D2

After months of struggling with cleaning up his Legos, Isaiah came to us with a brilliant idea. "Call Uncle Shane," he said. "He's an engineer, he can design something to clean up my Legos!" (I don't know where this came from, but somehow he understands what Shane does for a living, and insists that anytime Dad can't do something, Uncle Shane must be able to.) So, an email was sent. And a reply was sent. And later that week, Adam and Isaiah came home from the pawn shop with the great solution to all our Lego problems:

It's name is R2D2 (aka Shop Vac) and it does an amazing job of cleaning up Legos.

On the flip side, though, it only took one time to figure out that the hose put on the opposite hole blows Legos out, creating what Isaiah calls "Lego fireworks," and what I call a giant mess.
Good thing we have something to clean all those Legos up.

Monday, November 16, 2009

(Stuff I've Forgotten to Blog About - Day 1) BFF

I'm going to admit something big here: I have lost control of my photo organization. I was doing really well using the same method for years (really, about 5 years) . . . and then Max was born. And for the last year, it has all gotten completely out of hand. I realized how bad it was in June, but it has taken me until last night to get it under control (sort of). I had to let go of my old way of doing things because it was just too time consuming, and in the end I just made sure I could find all the pictures. It's not a perfect way of doing things, but it will have to do.

One of the side effects of going through all the pictures was finding all the things I've meant to blog about but have forgotten completely. So, lucky for you, I'm spending this week catching up! Here goes . . .


Katie's best friend is her cousin, Keirra. There couldn't be two closer girls. Although they are a year apart in age, they get along so well and are interested in all the same things. It is fun to hear them singing "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie, playing babies or tea party, or just giggling themselves silly. I am so grateful that we live close enough that they can spend so much time together.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


This is Titus.

Many of you who are friends with me on Facebook have already "met" Titus, but he deserved a blog post regardless.

Titus is a 17-week-old cairn/Yorkie mix. My friend, Enjoli, needed to find him a good home, and since we'd been looking for a new pet after finding a new home for our guinea pigs, we decided to "try him out" over Halloween weekend. We liked him, so he came to live with us.

Yesterday was his first day of puppy training class. He had a bit of a rocky start (he was pretty freaked out by Ashley, the full-grown lab who was the demo dog for the class), but by the end, he was jumping around, tussling with his new friends, Princess and Tucker. This week we're working on him learning his name, walking on a loose leash, and the command "Look." Adam has already taught him to sit, and we're making great strides in house training (usually only one-two accidents in the day, and we're learning his cues for needing to go out). He's still jumpy, nippy, and barks at unfamiliar noises and people. Hopefully puppy class and consistent training will help with all these things.

Titus, caught mid-run, playing fetch in the tunnel.

Despite the work that is required in caring for a puppy (and the accidents!), we love Titus and are glad that he's come to live at our house.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicken-Fried Chicken

If you know us well at all, and have ever eaten at our house, chances are you've had our Chicken-Fried Chicken. Well, the secret recipe is being unveiled tonight! (Okay, not so secret, but we like it!) Since I was returning to favorite recipes after my dinner challenge, I had to include this one in our dinners this week. Here's how we make it. (I say we because Adam makes it at least as often as I do, and it is also a dinner we cook as a team when we have company.)

Chicken-Fried Chicken
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine's Chicken Fried Steak recipe

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
38 saltine crackers, crushed
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
peanut oil

1. Using a sharp, long knife fillet the chicken breasts in half, making 4 thin pieces. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over meat.
2. Combine cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and red pepper.
3. Whisk together milk and eggs. Dredge chicken in crumb mixture, dip in milk mixture, and dredge in cracker mixture again. (Repeat once more if there is remaining mixture, if desired.)
4. In a large skillet, pour oil to about 1/2 inch height; heat to 360 degrees (med high). Fry about 5-8 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Turn and fry about 3-5 minutes more, being careful not to overcook. (Cooking times vary greatly--last night it only took about 8 minutes total, maybe less. Other times it has taken 15-20 minutes.)
5. Drain on paper towels. Serve with country gravy and mashed potatoes. Serves 4.

My recommendation on country gravy: buy the packet. We've tried three different recipes and failed; the packet just always comes out foolproof and delicious. As for the mashed potatoes, I've found that a little cream cheese, milk and butter whipped in with a hand beater makes lovely, creamy potatoes. Adam prefers his peels on, chunky, so when I make them "his way" it is only mashing with the masher and with just a touch of milk and extra butter, salt and pepper. Traditionally, we serve this meal with canned corn, but corn on the cob when it is in season is an extra special touch.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Favorites - NPR

It's time I come clean. I really, really, really love listening to NPR. I don't know why, but I just feel smarter listening, despite the fact that I absorb very little of it. And actually, my favorite NPR show, Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!, is really a comedy quiz show and not informational (necessarily). But still, they talk about politics! And current events! And insane celebrities!

I don't know when it started, sometime between nearly going crazy listening to children's music and falling asleep listening to Christian stations in the car, but one day Adam had it on, and I never went back. I think something snapped in me several months ago, some part of me that used to be intelligent, that had been squelched after years of changing diapers and wiping noses, was screaming to be nourished with something more . . . shall we say, intellectually stimulating . . . than Kidz Bop.

So, when I'm in the car by myself (and sometimes with the kids when they let me, I'll admit), I'll listen to Morning Edition, The Diane Rehm Show, or Fresh Air. And I've been known to be found laughing out loud as I listen to a podcast of Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! on my iPod while folding laundry or making dinner.

Now you know.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday - Loving Parents

Adam and I are very blessed to have wonderful parents who love us and our children unconditionally. Through the circumstances of life, we have many parents. Though there have been divorces and remarriages, all parties have remained a part of our lives to an important degree. Today I want to share my gratitude that we have such amazing parents who helped shape our lives for the better.

On a related note, I am so thankful for the institution of marriage. Because both Adam and I come from a background of divorce and remarriage, I am doubly grateful for our strong marriage and the commitment we share. And here is my wish: that each of you, my friends and loved ones, may be as blessed.

Here is a great clip from Mormon Messages about Marriage & Divorce.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This post is brought to you by the letter E

I don't know a single person who has not been influenced by Sesame Street, but like everyone else who grew up watching it as a child, I have a special love for the muppet-filled educational show. Happy 40th birthday to the show that changed children's programming forever!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday

Cafe Mom brought back an old favorite to a new customer today:

(l-r, t-b) strawberry yogurt, diced hard boiled egg, cheerios, peas, cheddar cheese slices, and mandarin oranges

It lasted for about 5 minutes as Max tried yogurt with each of the other choices (including peas, which he kept trying and spitting out, repeatedly), and then, this:
I think seeing the dog "sharing" Max's lunch makes the picture.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - A Very Special Sealing

This is my beautiful niece who was sealed to her parents yesterday in the Sacramento Temple. I am so happy for my brother and his wife, and grateful that I could be present for such a sacred, special occasion. Congratulations!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

(My 200th post!) And for dessert . . . a recap

Well, my Real Simple Easy Dinner Challenge has come to an end. Thanks for sticking with me for a whole month as I experimented. Especially thanks to my sweet family for their devotion and perseverance. There were definitely some weird (and yucky) things in these recipes, but there were also lots of new and exotic things we tried that we will try again. Here are the things that I will take from this experience:

  • If it's 4:00 and you don't know what you're having for dinner, the battle is already lost. Having a menu planned out ahead makes cooking every day so much more doable. I knew this before, but it's been probably two years since I did monthly or weekly menus. I am going back to that.

  • It's not only the planning, it's the shopping that counts. How many times do I have something all planned out, the meat thawed or even half-cooked when I realize I'm missing something essential? Well, that was probably the thing I enjoyed about this month's dinners the most: I put in the time at the beginning of the week, so dinner prep was pretty much a no-brainer each night.

  • Trying something new won't kill you, even if you're six and Mom is feeding you green slime from the Black Lagoon. Ah, Calvin has nothing on Isaiah. But, we came through it so well. Katie found a bunch of things she liked, and for that matter so did we all. Plus, there's just something thrilling about shopping in the produce section nowadays. Maybe it's all the hunting for chard and parsnips, but I've learned so much about what certain vegetables look like, how they're cooked, and what they taste like. I'm really looking forward to exploring the farmers' market next spring.

  • I have the most supportive, amazing husband, ever. I'm sure he wishes I'd never started this project, even now that it's over. But he's been so enthusiastic, interested, helpful and cheerful through the whole thing. And Honey, just wait! I've got some of your favorites slated for the next several days. You'll be enjoying dinner again sometime soon ;)

And here are the dishes or parts of dishes I will make again:

  • Beef and Bok Choy Stir-Fry. We love Chinese food, so this was just another great dish to add to the recipe box. I may make it with broccoli next time, though I'll have to experiment a little to get the cooking time figured out.

  • Spicy Orange-Glazed Drumsticks With Green Beans. This whole dinner was awesome, but I can't wait to make fresh green beans again. And barbecue the chicken. Mmmm . . .

  • Pork Tenderloin (Roasted Pork With Brussels Sprouts and Apricots). Although I liked the Brussels sprouts with the apricots, I think I was the only one. However, we all loved the pork tenderloin, it was so juicy and had such a great flavor, I think we'll try roasting that cut of meat again.

  • Sweet Potatoes (Spaghetti With Sweet Potatoes and Ricotta). I am excited to try cooking the sweet potatoes with this method as a side for another dinner!

  • Pork Chops with Garlicky Broccoli. What can I say, I just love broccoli! And our family loves pork chops, so there you go.

  • Goat Cheese Omelet. I may have to wait a while for the right occasion, but I'm looking forward to a chance to make this for a brunch for just me and Adam sometime.

  • Creamy Rice (Creamy Rice With Roasted Shrimp). I have actually already made this again! I really like it, although next time I'm going to experiment with the liquids a bit because Adam thinks it's a bit mushy and doesn't like the texture.

  • Sweet Meatballs (Meatballs With Sauteed Chard). I think I'll make these again with rice and/or broccoli.

  • Shrimp Pot Pie With Fennel. I am interested to try this with chicken. It was so creamy and tasty!

  • Ravioli With Apples and Walnuts. I'm putting this in my "Surprise! Dinner guests!" arsenal. Impressive but quick and easy.

  • Salmon With Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette. This may be the first recipe to go into my box under "seafood." I'll make it with rice next time, though, since we're not couscous lovers.

  • Gnocchi With Roasted Cauliflower. I think I'll roast cauliflower again (as a side dish), because it's the first time I've really liked cauliflower. But if I cook with gnocchi again, it will be in a soup or some such thing because it's pretty bland on it's own.

Thanks for following along with me on this amazing adventure! If you've read, post a comment and let me know what you thought of it. (And tell me what you think of the dinners: the ones that sounded the most tasty, or the most disgusting, etc.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 4, Friday: Sausage and White Bean Casserole

The last dinner!! And this one was a good one to end on because it was tasty.

Week 4, Friday: Sausage and White Bean Casserole

Adam said it was almost like premium wieners and beans. I don't know about that, but it was pretty good. The Swiss chard actually really made this dinner, so it was disappointing to find that out after I had already reduced it by half (I just thought all the limp green stuff would turn the rest of the family off, and maybe it would have, but it would have been better anyway).

Final thoughts:
Don't know if I'll make it again, but it was tasty for tonight!

Friday Favorites - From my littlest bookworm . . .

It's been a while so I thought I'd post another installment of Friday Favorites: Max's Favorite Books. Now, Max is not a big book baby. Isaiah and Katie loved reading and would look at books on their own as young as 9 months, just enjoying turning the pages and looking at the pictures. Max thinks they are more fun to bend, step on, wedge into or under things, or, his personal favorite, hit people or things with. So his favorites (to actually read) are very engaging in one way or another. (The pictures are linked to Amazon, if you want to see more of the books.)

I read this to Max only because he kept bringing it to me, and Katie insisted he wanted to read it. I thought, he's never going to sit still for this--he only reads with me with touch and feel books, because they're tactile. But I'm so glad I did! It is hands down his favorite book. He loves music and a good beat, so I'm assuming it's because of the catchy cadence of the words. It makes him smiley and happy every time! The bright colors and geometric illustrations are great for his age and development, as well.

I mentioned Max's love for touch-and-feel, and this one is especially fun because it's also lift-the-flap. Max loves turning pages, so lift-the-flap is so fun to him. His favorite game is peekaboo, so he gets a thrill every time he lifts the flap and I exclaim, "Peekaboo!" And there is nothing quite like baby faces for babies; they're just so engaging. Max has recently started trying to skip pages to get to the mirror at the end--so cute!

This little book is so simple and short, I wouldn't have thought it would be such a hit. My sister, Anne, gave it to Isaiah when he was a baby, and he loved it then. It has miraculously lasted through all three kids (so far, anyway), and it is one of Max's favorites. Something about that fuzz to touch, even though it's the same all the way through, he just loves it. (To be honest, I love it, too. It's just one of those special books that I've read to all the kids, and have memorized now. And I love the excuse to give them a kiss at the end!)
Happy reading!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Week 4, Thursday: Gnocchi With Roasted Cauliflower

Something very different:

Week 4, Thursday: Gnocchi With Roasted Cauliflower

I had no idea what gnocchi was, so I had to look it up before I went grocery shopping. I learned that gnocchi is potato dumplings and FYI, it's in the freezer section, near the ravioli. We all liked the taste of them, but they were pretty bland. So I think they might be good in a soup, maybe instead of potatoes. What I really liked about this dinner was the cauliflower. I generally really dislike cauliflower, but it was so yummy roasted. I think I will try that again as a side dish.

(I know, not much color, eh? Adam went so far as to exclaim, "Slugs?!" when he saw the picture.)

Bottom line:
A good dinner that everyone ate. I will use the components again, but maybe not in the same dish.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Halloween

First came the parades:

Then the parties:

(The award for the best costume goes to the Dahls and the Laytons!)

And, finally, the trick-or-treating!

(The award for the best decorations goes to the Whiteheads and the . . . shoot! who lives in this house?! I'm sure I'll remember tomorrow!)

Mmmmm . . . candy!

Week 4, Wednesday: Quick Beef Tacos

Week 4, Wednesday: Quick Beef Tacos

Okay, this was a good, familiar, loved dinner. But I do have to say, who the heck eats tacos without any cheese?! Besides omitting the avocado because the one I bought turned out to be totally rotten inside, this was the only thing I changed. Here's the picture without the cheese:

But I ate them with shredded cheddar cheese.

Final Review:
Very much enjoyed by the family, but when I make tacos again I will probably cook the meat the way I usually do: with my homemade taco seasoning. The cumin was a nice kick, however, so maybe I'll add that. And for heaven's sake, tacos have to have cheese!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Here we go, a new adventure! Look for a lot of blog posts over the next month.

Week 4, Tuesday: Chicken With Spinach and Mushrooms

This dinner was so awful that when I asked Adam what he thought of it, he plead the 5th. And when I teased him for only picking at it, he teased back about how "filling" it was: like Elvish bread, one bite fills you for a day. Sure, Honey. But I love that he is so kind as to not complain about it, especially in front of the kids. With that glowing review, here is the recipe:

All I could think about as I was cooking was "Don't crowd the mushrooms!" If you've seen Julie & Julia you know what I mean. It does look better than it tasted, and it doesn't look all that great in the picture. (It looked amazing in the pan, as long as you ignored the smoke smell from scorching the chicken.)

Final thoughts:

I think it's clear I won't make this again. The chicken was too bland (not to mention burnt, but that's not the recipe's fault), the vegetables (and fungi) were probably some of our least favorites, so there you go.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 4, Monday: Salmon With Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette

Another new favorite:

I've told you before that we're not a fishy family, so here was another really novel experience: salmon. Went over very well, especially considering that we have tried couscous, and not with much success. I found the butcher to be especially helpful with getting a good cut of meat (too bad I didn't realize it was supposed to be skinless, and had to skin the fillet at home-yuck!), and was pleased with how easy it was to season and cook the salmon. It did cook quickly, so that is something to remember when I'm looking for something fast.

Here's the delicious dish:

And my final thoughts:
I will cook the salmon again (when it's on sale--it was $8 a lb!), and the vinaigrette was a good complement. However, we have already established a dislike for couscous in our family, so I will probably pair it with rice next time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 3, Friday: Ravioli With Apples and Walnuts

Can I say-yum?!

Week 3, Friday: Ravioli With Apples and Walnuts

This was one of the two dinners on the cover of the issue of Real Simple that made me decide to do this whole challenge. And there's a reason why. It is beautiful! Even my picture, which doesn't even do it justice, looks delicious (and it was, oh, it was!):

Bottom line:

Make it! You'll love it! (My favorite so far. I was even looking forward to eating the leftovers.)