Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recipe Critiques

I have been busy trying some new recipes out and wanted to post my critiques here more for myself than anyone else. (Except for my Back Door friend)

I have to say that I am thrilled with the new additions to my recipe box. I don't really add them to my recipe box much anymore. I can find them here on my blog which is really nice since my recipe box is bursting at the hinges.

We have a Hispanic restaurant that we love to frequent downtown. I usually end up getting the same thing but finally ordered something new a few weeks ago and LOVED it. I loved it so much that I came home and searched online for a recipe. The entree is Chilaquiles Verdes and the recipe I found is EASY and really good. It was not as good as the restaurant version but I will make this again for sure. The restaurant version had more of a vinegar/sour taste that I really liked. I am not sure if it was the salsa verde that I got. I will have to try a different brand next time. You can find the recipe that I used HERE. Next time I wouldn't worry about adding the milk to the sour cream, I would just serve it with regular sour cream.

Today I made the graham crackers and they are awesome. It was definitely more work than popping open a box of store bought ones BUT I can give them to my girls and I know exactly what is in them and I can verify that there is NO HFCS! Awesome! I used THIS RECIPE found on the Martha Stewart website. It calls for untoasted wheat germ but I had toasted. It worked fine! Also I don't think that Wal-Mart honey is considered high-quality but it worked too! The girls have been scarfing them down all day along with Hubby. I baked half of the "sheets" and froze the others to bake in a few days.

I have also made the 4 Weelicious recipes that I blogged about in the previous post. Hubby can't stay out of the avocado dip. I was super surprised at how yummy it was. I love avocados so I had a hunch but it was even better than my hunch.

The Lasagna Roll-Ups were superb too. Everyone loved these and it provided us with left-overs which I love. I used 10 lasagna noodles instead of 8 and a 9x13" dish. I also chopped up fresh mushrooms and added them. Yum!

I can NOT say enough good things about the Veggie Pancakes. The only bad thing I can say is that Pumpkin my 1 year old was less than thrilled but I am having a hard time getting her to eat veggies in general but I AM NOT GIVING UP! These were absolutely delicious, absolutely! I will be making these frequently. I did chop up some green onions that I had on hand and added them to the mix for a little extra pizazz.

Ok, the Spinach Gnocchi...well...yeah. Let me just say...READING THE RECIPE THOROUGHLY while using said recipe helps alot. I used a whole egg and totally missed the 2 T. flour, so when I added the cute little spinach balls to the boiling water, they completely fell apart. YIKES! I ruined the whole batch. I will try again though and let you know how it goes.

My next attempt at homemade versions of things I have bought pre-made will be granola bars and tortillas! Oh, and these Spring Rolls look delectable!

You have checked out the Weelicious site, right? Get over there if you haven't. I'm in love!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Have you seen the documentary Food, Inc.? Did it completely freak you out like it did me? Did it make you mad like it did me? Did it make you think about the stuff you buy at the grocery store or at the restaurant like it did me? Did it make you look at your kids and want the best for them like it did me?

One evening I flipped through our 4 local PBS stations, the only stations we get. I am completely fine with that except for this coming Sunday when I NEED ABC to watch the 5 hours dedicated to the LOST series finale. I am a wreck about not having ABC and trying to figure something out....but that is a completely different topic.

I landed on a station that was talking about food and where it comes from. After a few minutes I began to wonder if this was the documentary I had been hearing so much about. I searched the TV schedule online and sure enough, it was. To be perfectly honest, I could only watch an hour of the movie. It was uncomfortable for me as a mother to watch it. It made me sick to my stomach to think about what is put in my kids' bodies everyday.

I would LOVE to switch my family to only organic and whole foods but honestly that is not in our budget. My grocery trip each week almost kills me as it is and these things are more expensive. Like the movie said, they can make the "yucky" stuff cheap.

I recalled seeing a clip of the Oprah show when the man behind the movie was interviewed. They talked about "leaning into this concept" and that is what I am trying to do. I want to provide the best for my family and give healthy options. I have a 3 year old with a serious sweet tooth for candy which I really try to limit. If it were up to me, we would just throw that stuff out but I want to teach her how to make healthy choices and when we do have sweets that we do so in moderation.

I have really been paying attention to High Fructose Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrogenated Oils in our food. They are in almost everything....salad dressing, cereal, graham crackers, bread, juice...on and on. I'm trying to watch and keep things on hand that do not have these horrible things in them. I am also trying to make snacks to keep on hand for the girls and for us. If I make it, I know what goes into it.

I have been making hummus for us (which has been a hard sell for the girls but I won't give up). I currently have a batch of granola in the oven for us to snack on. You can find that recipe HERE on one of my friend's blogs. I am also trying to buy some of our produce from the Farmer's market and can find some things cheaper than at the grocery store and I know it was locally grown and trust that it is free from pesticides. I am also depending on my dad to put out a garden and get some produce from him later this summer. I also watch the sale fliers for things that are better for us that are on sale. We also have a stovetop popcorn popper so we make our popcorn on the stove top and stay far, far away from microwave popcorn.

So we are leaning...we're trying to provide healthier food choices for our girls. I hope one day that my grocery budget can expand a little and I can lean much more.

I've also been diving into the Weelicious site for great, healthy idea for my family. This week I will be making the following from her site.

I have lots more tagged to try also. I'm also going to attempt at some point in the near future making homemade graham crackers from HERE or HERE since my girls love them and the store bought ones have the nasties in them.

So...this is what I'm doing, small changes. Every little bit helps! What are you doing to encourage healthier food choices for your family?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



It is the spring of 1998. It is the middle of the night along a desolate highway as a young engaged couple speed along. The young woman is asleep in the passenger seat dreaming of picking out fabric for her wedding gown with her soon to be mother-in-law the next day. Her seat is laid back. She awakes as the car comes to a stop. The young man looks at her and says, "I need to use the restroom. Keep the doors locked." As he jumps out of the car, the young woman thinks to herself, "He doesn't worry about car doors being locked. That's strange."

She lifts herself up to look around. As she looks out the side window she looks directly into a car parked one space over. In the car is a man and he is looking directly at her and in that moment instinct tells her, "This is not right. He is up to no good." She lays back down immediately, heart pounding as her mind fills with fear. As she pulls the seat up, the man in a long black trench coat is in front of her car walking to the bathroom. He does not take his eyes off of the young woman as he walks past the car. She is frozen with fear because she knows where he is going and fears she knows what he is up to.

She watches him disappear into the men's restroom and while praying over and over in her head, slides into the driver's seat, fumbles with the outdated car phone with shaking hands. She dials 9-1-1 and tells the operator what is happening. The operator asks where she is and she replies, "I was asleep. I know we already passed through Fort Wayne but not quite to Ohio on US 30. " The operator isn't sure she can help but says she will alert the patrols who are out to stop at rest stops in that vicinity to check on things. The young woman knows that help is not quickly on it's way.

The young woman is frantic as the man in the trench coat does indeed come out. He walks to his car, gets in and watches her. The young woman is hysterical as she watches and waits for the young man but he doesn't come. She doesn't know what to do but realizes the safest place is in the car with the doors locked and the key in the ignition not running to the bathroom to look for the young man. She makes a plan in her head. If the man in the trench coat heads for her, she will take matters into her own hands and use her car as a weapon of defense if she must.

After what seems to be an eternity the young man appears and rapidly approaches the car, jumps in and she throws the car into reverse, backs up and speeds off, with tears streaming down her face and hands shaking uncontrollably. It takes almost an hour for her to stop looking in her rear view mirror for headlights following them, but there are none.

The young man tells her he went into the stall in the bathroom, heard the man in the trench coat come in soon after. He went into the stall next to him and things were silent. The young man heard no noises and he was unsure what to do as he felt this stranger was up to no good. He then heard the man in the trench coat leave and all the young man could think of was the young woman alone out in the car. The young man flew out of the bathroom to the car, thankful that they were both safe within the car and it's locked doors.

He apologized to the young woman as he felt that something wasn't right that night on the desolate highway. He vowed to never stop at a rest stop in the middle of the night again.

And to this day Hubby has done no such thing and if he even thinks about it, I quickly remind him that the side of the road is a safer option after our experience 12 years ago.

I honestly with all of my heart know the power of prayer protected both of us that night 12 years ago. Hubby and I had no doubt in our minds that this stranger had awful plans for that night. In fact we scoured the newspaper and news the next day to see if anything had happened but thankfully found nothing.
It was a terrifying thing and to this day, I haven't had a moment like it. I am thankful for that! I do know that my instincts were kicking in high gear and screaming that things were not right. Listen to those instincts. They were given to us for a reason. Sometimes we think we may be assuming too much but I believe it is safer too assume to0 much and be safe, rather than to muffle those instincts and pay an awful price.

My heart is racing again even as I think back on that night.....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The House

I didn't get to sew...yet. I took the girls to the basement sewing area/toy room yesterday and realized that each project I had picked needed something that I didn't have and would need before I could begin sewing. So today I'm off in search of a magnetic closure after a quiet respite at Starbucks.

I begged Hubby to watch the girls after church today so that I could have some time alone. I love those girls so much it makes me ache inside, but I needed some alone time. As said before my personality type needs alone time to be re-energized. I was lacking quite a bit in that area. Do you think they would mind if I curled up in one of the leather chairs and took a nap? That would just be perfecta. Lunch at therls to the basement sewing area/toy room and realized that each project I had picked needed something that I didn't have and would need before I could begin sewing. So today I'm off in search of a magnetic closure after a quiet respite at Starbucks.

I know this is the internet and I know anyone can read this and I know most of my loyal one loyal reader knows who I am, but at this point I don't care. I need you all to join me in prayer if you know me or not. I don't think I had mentioned it here but 2 weeks ago we got word that our house had sold. Hubby was ecstatic. I was so glad but a bit more reserved in my celebratory spirit as somewhere inside me I knew we still had to pass inspections and make it to the closing with nothing amiss.

Yesterday as I dropped Hubby off at work he told me that our house didn't fail the inspection but it didn't pass it either. The realtor didn't know what the buyer would do, if she would proceed, want to discuss how to approach the issues or just back out. So now we wait. The ball is in her court and we are left holding our rackets waiting.

After I dropped Hubby off at work I drove around our town and cried. Pumpkin was asleep in her car seat and Peanut was content watching the sights out the car window. I begged God to show my why it seems that things just don't fall into place. It seems that the past two years have been one hard thing after another. I am ready for easy. I need easy. I need a season of peace. I crave it so much it makes my heart hurt.

Will you please pray with me about this. I am praying that the buyer will not see the "issues" as huge and will continue with the process. Pray that I will hold tightly to faith! I have more swimming in my head about this and a blog post I read a few weeks ago that I know was written for me but it is loud in here and I just can't think. Maybe I will go take a nap in that comfy leather chair now. Haha!

Thank you for praying.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I checked this book out of the library a few weeks ago after reading about it on a blog. I fell in love. It is a great book bursting with fun ideas. I have been in a crafting lull and just not motivated to do anything with my sewing machine or crafting. Like you hadn't noticed due to the lack of posts on projects I've been up to.

This book filled me with excitement as I looked through the patterns and fun things to make. My in-laws were here visting for a day. She leafed through it and I told her how excited I was about this book and that I was hoping to buy it.

Wouldn't you know it....a week later this book showed up in my mailbox! Have I mentioned that I have a sweet Mama-in-law who loves to do little things like this? She is the best!

So today it is cloudy. Today I have no car to tempt me in running around town. Today I have my sewing area ready to go. Today I have a bunch of one yard pieces of fabric stashed away. So the real question is will I GET to sew today? Will my littles let me have some time? We will see. We will try. Hoping to be back with pictures of something that I created.

If you are a sewer you really should take a peek at this book. It is so fun and you only need ONE YARD OF FABRIC for all of the projects. That is what appealed to me so much. Fabric is so expensive but one yard, I can swing that. So grab a copy and take a peek or mention it to a loved one and maybe it will show up in your mailbox too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Swagger Wagon

You have seen this, right? I think I am the last one to see it. I've seen it posted everywhere and didn't give it a look. Today was the day. The stars aligned, I had a few minutes and I watched...AND I LAUGHED LIKE CRAZY! This is just too stinky funny and cute. LOVE IT! If you haven't seen it, you must indulge and take a peek especially if you are the proud owner of a mini-van. Someday I will be....I want to be, especially now.
(Remember to pause my playlist at the bottom of the page to hear the video.)

By the way...I do realize that the full video is not being displayed on the right side. I don't want to change my template to make it fit, so if you feel like seeing the whole thing you can go to youtube and see it HERE.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Banana Bites

I stumbled on the coolest website a few weeks ago. A friend of mine became a fan of the site on Facebook so I checked it out. It is a fabulous site filled with recipes for kids of all ages. The creator focuses on healthy foods and all types of them. If you have a school aged child and need some creative, healthy ideas for lunches to pack she has TONS!

The website is Weelicious. I am so excited to dig through her posts and try some of the things for my family especially snacks. Snacks are a hard thing. It's so easy to pop open a bag of goldfish crackers and call it a snack. I desperately want to give my kids a foundation of healthy eating habits and Weelicious offers some excellent ideas for these.

My girls LOVE pancakes so yesterday I tried making Banana Bites. I have to admit that I only made them for Pumpkin, the toddler. The reason being was the toddler having a fit at my feet and Daddy was on the couch suffering from a bad case of Gout so I had to HURRY. I made a banana's worth of Banana Bites and then just plain pancakes.

I will definitely be making these again. They were warm and gooey and YUMMY! Pumpkin scarfed them down and begged for more. Ha! Make sure you slice the bananas thinly or the pancake batter won't cook on the edges.

Be sure to stop by and check out the Weelicious site. I know you will find some great, healthy ideas!

Frosted Rhubarb Cookies

The rhubarb in my fridge has been screaming my name for a few days so today I quieted down and made Frosted Rhubarb Cookies. This is a recipe that I found in a Taste of Home magazine a few years ago and it is scrumptious!

I am happy to say I have enough rhubarb left for one more recipe! YEAH! That is even better to me than eating the cookies. Ha! I have to make something for my Mom's group on Thursday so I will definitely be making some rhubarb muffins to take with me.

Frosted Rhubarb Cookies
1 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. diced fresh rhubarb
3/4. flaked coconut

Cream shortening and brown sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, baking soda, salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in rhubarb and coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
(I have never used the coconut. I never have any on hand and they are superb without.)

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 T. butter
3 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually add in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies. Store in fridge.

Yield: 5 dozen

These do freeze well. It is also best to use tender stalks of rhubarb.

Friday, May 7, 2010



Why is there no rhubarb festival that I know of? Why? Rhubarb is wonderful. I do know that it is something you either LOVE or HATE. I LOVE it.

While I was up north I raided my dad's rhubarb patch. I used part of the treasure to make the following recipe and it was simply divine. DIVINE! I even cheated and used a store bought pie crust and it was still awesome!

Homemade Rhubarb Custard Pie
1 1/2 c. rhubarb, diced
2 T. flour
2 eggs
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. cream

In a large bowl stir together all of the ingredients except the rhubarb. Beat well. Add rhubarb and pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.

This is my new favorite rhubarb recipe.
I will be back with more rhubarb bliss though.
I have more in my fridge.

Stocking the Fridge

Last week I headed north to have a visit with my in-laws who were in town and my dad. It was a great time and went way too fast. Before leaving I knew I had one big task ahead of me...stocking the fridge, freezer and pantry for Hubby. Eating out every meal is just not a choice in our budget (although I did notice several fast food sacks in the car that were quickly thrown away when I got home).

It became an even bigger task as our youngest got the flu and gave it to me the day I was supposed to be preparing all of this food. I worked like a mad woman the morning before I left. I was utterly exhausted but it felt so good to know Hubby had good, home-cooked meals for the week I was gone.

I made 4 meals that I was able to split up and freeze for him. I wanted to share the recipes with you as they turned out really good.

Bean and Cheese Burritos
Hubby loves those CHEAP-O frozen bean burritos. I on the other-hand do not and wanted to give him a healthier version so I made my own. I used this recipe for Bean and Cheese Burritos. I didn't bake them in a 9x13 pan with salsa over the top, though. I just wrapped them up and baked them individually on a cookie sheet. After they had cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and froze them so Hubby could throw them in the microwave at work or home.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes
I found this recipe on a friend's blog and knew I wanted to try it as we really do like lentils. The recipe for can be found here and is actually from The Barefoot Contessa. I love her show but haven't been able to see it in months as my in-laws were my source for The Food Network. Ha! I am anxious to try this out tonight for supper. There is one container left in the freezer and I have claimed it.

I had made a batch of these hand-held pizza pockets before for Hubby from a different recipe but wasn't crazy about them so I improvised and did my own thing. They turned out much better. I used a recipe for pizza dough that I have and divided it into a bunch of little balls of dough. I then rolled each out into a small circle, spread half of the circle with pizza sauce and topped with olives, pepperoni, mushrooms and cheese. I baked them, let them cool, and wrapped them up in plastic wrap to freeze for Hubby. Yum!

White Chicken Chili
Hubby ADORES soup so I had to make one good soup for him while I was away. He did comment that it was a bit spicy so I would cut back on the cayenne pepper next time for us. After making the soup and letting it cool, I just ladled it into small plastic containers (that do not contain BPA) and froze them. I did the same with the lentil recipe.

White Chicken Chili
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mince
1 T. olive oil
4 cooked, boneless skinless chicken breast halves, chopped
2 cans (14 oz. each) chicken broth
1 can chopped green chilies
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano
1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
(I will cut back to 1 t. next time.)
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) great northern beans, drained, divided

In large saucepan over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic in oil for 10 min. or until onions are tender. Add chicken, chicken broth, green chilies, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low. With a potato masher, mash one can of beans until smooth. Add to saucepan. Add remaining beans also. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Yield: 10 servings

So hubby was well stocked with food and the girls and I had a great visit with family. Now I am back to the reality of cooking, cleaning, and all other Mama duties. That's ok though. It's my favorite job in the world.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Better Than a Hallelujah

I have been an Amy Grant fan since the beginning of my junior high years. I sang all of her songs into my hairbrush. I went to her concerts. I sported her concert t-shirts with pride. I haven't followed her much in the recent years but I caught her newest song on the radio and loved it. It is so simple, so real just like many of her lyrics. She can hammer the nail on it's head pretty well. I read her new book Mosaic also this past winter and it was really well done. I was inspired by her honesty.
The lyrics to this new song are so simple but so insightful. This is just how God wants us to come to Him in a simple way. He doesn't want us to be fake. He longs for us to be real, authentic right where we are, whatever moment we are in.

The first two lines are what really caught my attention and spoke right to me.

"God loves a lullaby in a mother's tears in the dead of night.
Better than a hallelujah sometimes."

I had some very rough days with my littlest girl. She has such extreme moods either the happiest, funniest little thing or really unhappy.

Tonight my oldest daughter chose a Mother Goose book before bed and we read the following nursery rhyme.
"Once there was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good,
She was very good,
But when she was bad,
She was horrid."
When Life Gives You Lemons
This had to be written for my curly headed sweetie! I'm telling you, it had to be.

She was in a very grumpy mood this past week and this mommy was at the end of her rope. It didn't help that we were away from home without Hubby and out of our routine. We were staying with my dad and bless his heart, he kept both girls one day so I could sneak off and get refreshed over a lunch with my best friend.

All that being said, the way that I choose to react to Miss Grumpy Pants is a way of worshiping Him. When I react out of love and patience, He honors that. And He did. We got through the rough days. We are back home and had a DELIGHTFUL day together today. Can I tell you that when she is in a good's just THEE best thing ever. Her joy is contagious. It is better than a hallelujah!

(Remember to pause my playlist at the bottom of this page to hear the video.)