navygreen: (CSI: Wolfe - button)
We babysat Miss Emma today for about five hours. She was a doll the whole time. She was awake and playful, and she never fussed or whimpered. I was absolutely gobsmacked at how very PERFECT she behaved for us! It almost felt like stealing to take money when Adam and Tanya tried to pay us: we left the cash behind on their counter. They noticed, however, and ran it over to Jack anyway. *wink*

I began a roast this afternoon, and we had it for dinner tonight. I fixed the leftovers up for stew in a few more nights, too. I will only have to pop it on the stove, and add dumplings to it as it simmers. I'm thinking that will be perfect for Tuesday night's soccer practice schedule.

I finished up one set of cookies this afternoon, and I'll take pictures tomorrow. I'm working on three sets tonight, and one is 75% done right now, but I need to let the last step "set" a bit before I can proceed to the next one. I love when ideas turn out so cute!

It was so crazy-warm today, and I had A.J. shovel a few loads of snow from the yard onto the driveway for fast melting. We did that last spring, and it helped us to be rid of the snow several days before everyone else on our block. It was warm yesterday also, and it should stay this way for the next four days as well. I imagine there will be considerably less snow by the end of this warm spell!
navygreen: (Dr. Horrible: shoulder shimmy)
Philip is becoming addicted to the yard sale feature on Facebook. (I already was.) I've scored a neat apron, several DVDs, some cookie cutters, and I'm currently waiting on a changing table. It's cherry wood, matching my dining room, and I've been looking for one for a while that would work well for all my cookie stuffs. At the moment, however, Philip is out buying a barely used 120gb video iPod for just $60! He is stoked!

Yesterday was a banner "retail therapy" day! I had nothing that needed "therapy," but boy, I sure managed it anyway! While the boys were in school, Philip and I headed to town. We went to the mall first, to Bath & Body Works especially. I'd been all out of wallflowers, and I stocked up big time - I bought 18 scents! I also nabbed two new wallflower units, as well as a couple jar candles.

Then, we headed to Walmart, and I ducked in really quick to return a shirt. Afterwards, we went to Menards. Philip grabbed a wall patch repair kit, and I stocked up on more rods for my second cookie cutter rack. (Yes, I've halfway filled a second rack now. It's a disease, and I'm not looking for a cure.)

Philip then suggested we stop by my favorite kitchen shop, and how could I resist?! I bought a second half-sheet pan and a second Silpat to go with it, and then I picked up just one more cutter. I also bought my fifth set of measuring spoons. I promise I needed them, as it seems that all of mine are constantly dirty. Have I mentioned that I bake quite a bit? *blushes*

When we returned home, I had two boxes waiting for me. The first was a small box of cookie cutters I'd ordered early in the week, and the second was a GIANT box of stuff I ordered from [ profile] ginky's Tastefully Simple party last weekend. Super-quick shipping, both of them! I put all those goodies away, too.

And all of this post is reminding me that I haven't even thought to check the mail today...
navygreen: (Food Porn)
I made these two new recipes for the boys' big sleepover on the 21st, and I definitely want to share them! They were well received by the crowd of boys, and I am already planning when I will make them each again.

Banana Pineapple Bread.
Banana Pineapple Bread.

This sweet bread has just a bit of tangy pop! from the crushed pineapple, and I thought it would be such a nice perk from the heavier winter foods. I wasn't wrong! It made two loaves, and the nine boys here polished off one loaf in just minutes!

Recipe and another picture. )

Cheddar Sausage Muffins.
Cheddar Sausage Muffins.

These hearty muffins were so light and springy in texture, and the golden bits of cheeses throughout made them practically melt in your mouth. You could easily substitute the sausage for another meat of your choice, too!

Recipe. )
navygreen: (Fall: pumpkin)
Friday was a whirlwind of school, running errands, and then A.J.'s parade in town for marching band. I already posted about that, but I have so much to post from the rest of the weekend!

Saturday was crazy-busy cleaning day. We all cleaned together, each of us doing certain chores. We rewarded ourselves with a lovely, planned playdate that afternoon with friends and a very special snack: Banana Crunch Muffins, Peanut Butter Banana Bites, and Harry Potter's Butterbeer!

*geeks out*

Oh, it was all so, SO good. The kids were smacking their lips, and we were all on a sugar high - fantastic! The kids continued to play together for a few hours, and then A.J. received an impromptu birthday sleepover invitation for another friend. He left for that, while Philip and Jack went shooting with one of Philip's buddies from work. Jack came home with some shells and the things he'd blown up, and there were tales of the evening. I had made a yummy roast, and we had a cozy dinner with Philip's friend staying for supper.

On Sunday, we woke bright and early and drove down to Bismarck to visit the pumpkin patch. There's a couple small patches more local, but this one was rumored to be the largest around the west side of North Dakota. We were not disappointed! It was super-cheap to get in, and we all had a good time. Even after Jack "broke his butt," we kept on having fun. (That's a story in itself!) We played in the autumn spectacles, had lunch, played some more, had a snack of cookies and cocoa, then picked our pumpkins and headed home. That night, we had a warm beef stew waiting for us from Saturday night's delicious roast - yum!

Yesterday practically continued the weekend, I swear. With the exception of the boys heading to school, it still felt like it to me! Since we had already visited the pumpkin patch, I was in the mood to get full-on decorated for fall. Philip brought in all the bins from the storage room in the garage, and I busied myself putting up my fall pretties while waiting on the maintenance man to come fix my oven. It was such a treat to unpack everything - it had been two years since I last decorated for fall and Halloween (last year, we were moving, so we didn't decorate in that last month). I baked up a batch of cookies for a special order, and by 10:30am, I was STARVING. I think I inhaled my BLT for lunch while Philip played his new birthday video game. Heehee!

When the boys came home, they were amazed to see the transformation inside and outside the house. I had hung lights and put decorations in the yard - it was all complete. It was so fun to turn on my Halloween lights last night and feel really festive. Since it wasn't a "soccer night," I took the boys into town to a beautiful park and took some fall portraits of them. I'll work on them soon. :-)

Today, I finished up the pictures from that sweet, newborn baby boy I photographed last week. His mama was overjoyed with all of them, and I couldn't be happier! I burned a Raspberry-Vanilla three-wick candle on the table most of the day, and I watched Ginny (the cat) nearly try to light herself on fire when she tried to make sense of the dancing flame! I made fried chicken for dinner, and then after the boys went to bed, I settled in and watched the season premiere of GLEE. I saved this week's episode of Parenthood to watch while Philip is off these next two nights.

We're having dinner guests tomorrow night, and I think the day will be fairly busy, too. I need to head to the commissary, as well as prep something for dessert for them. My friend Valeen's husband is deploying to Guam for six months, and we wanted to have a farewell dinner with them before he leaves. Wednesday was the best bet since Jack has another soccer game on Thursday. He's in charge of snacks this week too, so I'll finish those up tomorrow as well.

I have literally TONS of pictures that need to be posted from this weekend. I'll never catch up!
navygreen: (Fall: leaf)
Well, we were supposed to have roast tonight for dinner. I planned it this way so that we could have the resulting leftover beef stew tomorrow night - an easy dinner after Jack's first soccer game of the season. However, when I pulled the chunk of meat out of the fridge at 2pm for searing, it was still a solidly frozen block. Drat.

Instead, it's back in the fridge for more thawing time (though it already had two days!), and tonight I've bumped up a meal from later on in the week: goulash, broccoli, and cottage cheese. Just a bit ago, I was standing in the kitchen, wondering what to do with myself. It was still a little early to prep dinner, but I really wanted to be in there. So... I whipped up a batch of fudge brownies, and now they're in the oven. We'll have them for dessert tonight.

Today, I updated the boys' book lists, paid all our bills, entered all Coke points into the system, cleared my desk and the bar (paper "hot spots" in this house), dropped off a prescription, shopped a short list at the commissary, stopped in and had lunch with Jack at his school, chatted for over an hour with [ profile] bigbrain61 on the phone, filled the prescription, and put away the groceries. Believe it or not, that was ALL before noon! By the time I was done with all of that, I laid down on the couch for a quick nap, and then I woke up when A.J. came in from school. Once Jack was also home, I loaded up the boys and headed to the barber shop. It's payday, as well as the day before Picture Day at the elementary school, so there was quite a lengthy wait. Finally, the boys were sheared, and then we did some birthday shopping for October.

I'm thinking about making some cookies in the next couple days, but they're just "test" subjects, so I haven't fully decided. I have one large order and two small orders to do in the next two weeks, and I still have several cookies I need to post (Facebook seems to get those pictures first, I guess).

It looked light it might rain today, and there was a chance of it, but it never happened. The weather should be nice and warm again tomorrow, though. I'm taking pictures of a newborn baby boy in the morning. (Well, it's scheduled, at least.) He'll be just ten days new, and I hope he's sleepy. His mama was very sweet when I met her at a surprise birthday party for my neighbor last Saturday. I'm excited, and I know she is as well. She understands that this is not really what I do, but she's willing to accept that with good faith!

I hope to pull out my fall decorations soon. I might do it this weekend. We're also discussing which weekends to look at for hanging lights. (When we lived in Alaska, he usually hung white lights on the roof in September. That way, we used them with orange lights for Halloween and later with more white lights for Christmas. Plus, he didn't have to be outside/climb on the roof in the bitter cold once winter and snow had come.) Philip is trying to either get leave or get someone to switch him a shift so that he can have the 24th off next Friday. The boys are out of school that day for inservice, and we're planning to go down to Bismarck for the day. We actually haven't been back to Bismarck since passing through it when we moved here!

Goodness, the brownies are smelling absolutely heavenly at the moment. I just pulled them from the oven, and I can't wait to have a fresh one in a little while! :-)
navygreen: (Darkwing Duck)
I just marinaded my first brisket, and here's hoping it tastes fabulous on Wednesday night. I made a bunch of yeast rolls last night, and I can't wait to have little shredded brisket sandwiches. *fingers crossed*

Also in the kitchen today, I made chocolate chip cookies and the first banana pudding of the year. The boys and I had small bowls of the pudding after dinner tonight, and I also made up two pretty dishes of pudding for my two favorite neighbors. I hope they enjoyed it, too.

In addition, I thought it was super-adorable that both of the afore-mentioned neighbors joined a group on Facebook called, "I ♥ My Neighbor." It's especially heartwarming because I know that both of them only know me on this street. When I saw that, I became all warm & fuzzy inside, and plenty smiley on the outside. :-D

I had a good time at the National Scrapbook Day event on Saturday. I completed nine pages in about 7.5 hours, and that's probably a record for me. (I usually average about 1 page every two hours or so.) Also in that time, I spent half an hour eating lunch and at least a good hour sorting through photos. I'm trying to get an album completed of my own childhood, and it's tough to sort through my baby and toddler photos... I can't remember that time, you know? My parents are coming to visit this summer, and I'm hoping that my mom can look through the album with me. If she's willing to journal some stuff in it, that's great. If not, I plan on taking notes while she "talks" through it. I'm excited to have the finished project!

Jack had an early soccer game Saturday morning, and then the guys dropped me off for scrapbooking while they had a "Dude's Day Out" together. They visited the Dakota Territory Air Museum, then headed to lunch at McDonald's (the one with a large play area), and then they headed to the mall to catch a matinee showing of Iron Man 2. Sometime during their day, they bopped over to the specialty kitchen store, and Philip surprised me with the Beater Blade for my KitchenAid that I've been dreaming about. (I used for the first time in today's cookies, and it worked beautifully!) Then they picked me up at 6pm, and we came home for a dinner of BBQ Chicken Pizza. It was a great day, and I fell into bed by 11pm and was asleep before my head hit the pillow. ZZZzzzzzz...

I mailed several boxes off today, and I'll be mailing one more tomorrow. After that, I'm ready to stay away from the post office for a while - it's so expensive! Meanwhile, I've been waiting on a special something to arrive in *my* mailbox for over a week, and I'm getting antsy...

Jack's soccer practice tonight was really warm. It's been mid-70's and sunny here for the past three days, and it's not set to change anytime soon. In fact, it's supposed to be mid-80's by the end of the week. I'm so glad I got all my flowerbeds planted last week, or I'd be totally burned when trying to do it this week. After the planting, I put it 36 bags of mulch, and it took a good while!

Alrightee, I'm off to do the dishes that just don't ever seem to do themselves. After a day of baking, I've got an entire sink full - eeep!
navygreen: (HP: Snape - worst memory)
I smashed my finger tonight while loading the dishwasher. It was one of those genius-brand of smashings - the kind where I didn't actually drop anything on it, but instead I caught it between the pegs on the rack of the dishwasher. Catching it "alarmed" me, and then I yanked backward on the rack, causing my finger to become fully smashed within the pegs. Yow, the pain! I do this on a regular basis with grocery carts, but this is the first time I've injured myself in the dishwasher.

It's hours later, and my nailbed is still completely white and throbbing. I'm such a klutz.

I made canned spinach tonight as a side for dinner (meatloaf, corn-on-the-cob). Now, as a child, my Granny made me eat spinach in the summers I lived at her house, and I hated it. (She insisted I drink buttermilk too, but that stopped after I later puked it all over the inside of the car on a hot, Texas afternoon. She also made me eat chunks of avocado - clearly, she was trying to kill me.) I don't remember my mom ever making canned spinach, so I'm going to assume that she must not have liked it, either. Granny's version of canned spinach was very sour - drained, vinegar added, and topped with a bit of salt at serving. I would gag and gag and gag, and I honestly don't recall how I ever got enough of it down to even leave the table.

(Lest you think my Granny only made disgusting food, I assure you that's not the case. For example, she made the best homemade biscuits and chocolate gravy that you would ever, ever have melt on your tongue... but you had to finish your spinach first!)

And so it doesn't make a lot of sense, I'm sure, that I would try serving a vegetable that I detest to my own family. However, even though there are things I don't like, I figure my boys deserve the chance to try new foods. We eat so many, many things, but spinach is something they've only ever had fresh in salads. Recently, I served brussel sprouts alongside a meal, hoping to like them more as an adult (these were a regular favorite of my mom's, and I never came to like them growing up, either). We all cleaned our plates, but I learned the brussel sprouts were definitely not a taste I had "acquired" over time. Even as we ate, we all four discussed how terrible-tasting the sprouts were, discussing how I would never make them again. (But hey, at least the boys tried them, ate them, and then made a decision on them for themselves, right?)

While we'd been looking forward to the meatloaf on the meal plan, there had been much trepidation in talks of the upcoming spinach. I decided to make it differently, hoping to veer from the sour taste. When I dumped the two cans of spinach (actual Popeye® brand!) into the pot, A.J. and I looked over it, uncertainty clear on our faces. Philip walked by and sniffed the pot, declaring, "There's just no way that can be good, honey." I worried, but I soldiered on. I boiled the spinach, then drained it well. I added a bit of butter and a shake of garlic powder. Finally, I served it up.

The rule in our house is, "Eat the things you don't like first." It just saves time, really. Even as I put the plates of food in front of the boys, I reminded them that they should try and eat the spinach first, as it probably wouldn't be their favorite thing. To my surprise, they GOBBLED IT UP. I took a bite... not bad at all! Even Philip didn't mind the spinach. Success!

In the end, I'm glad I gave it a try, for I certainly never would have guessed the outcome. Brussel sprouts will remain a zero in our book, though. *wink*
navygreen: (Food Porn)
For St. Patrick's Day, I tried out a new recipe for homemade rolls. This dough comes together quickly, but then it raises in the refrigerator for a day or so. Because the first rise is out of sight, they seem to be much less tedious than regular double-rise rolls.

Southern Refrigerator Rolls.
Southern Refrigerator Rolls.

Two more pictures, plus recipe. )

I got 49 good-sized rolls, plus a half-dollar sized nugget, out of the dough. We ate about ten of them with the corned beef and cabbage, and then we used a dozen the next night for Burger Sliders. The remaining half of rolls I put in the freezer. I'd pull a handful out and microwave them for 45 seconds or so on a plate, and then serve up with other dinners. They were fresh-tasting, light, and buttery, and I plan to make more soon just to put in the freezer again.

On the 17th, the boys and I feasted on my first-ever corned beef and cabbage. Jack loved it all, but A.J. and I weren't crazy about the cabbage. The meat was seasoned fantastically, however. I couldn't wait to make my first Reuben sandwiches with the leftovers.

Now, I've never had a true Reuben in my life. In fact, just the smell of sauerkraut alone is enough to send me running from a room - ICK. I had also looked around enough to know that a traditional Reuben is served with a Russian dressing. I didn't bother searching to find exactly what a Russian dressing would be closest to, though. Instead, we each dressed up our sandwiches how we felt would be the tastiest. I pan-toasted slices of honey wheat bread in a skillet, and then I topped them with the leftover shredded corn beef and caramelized onions (which I'd been searing in another skillet to warm). I put melty Swiss cheese on mine and drizzled it with a Parmesan Caesar dressing.

OMG, it was to-die-for!

My take on Reubens.
My take on Reubens.

I pan-fried the rest of the potatoes and caramelized onions from the CrockPot together and served them up as chunky home fries with the sandwiches. The entire meal was wonderfully delicious, and I can't wait to make it again. I'll forgo the cabbage entirely this time, just roasting up a nice corned beef in the same seasonings. YUM!

One more picture. )

For Christmas, my dad had bought us one of those Burger Sliders patty-making grill presses - the kind you see advertised on TV. They make tiny burgers - one pound of ground meat makes 14 burgers - so we needed tiny buns, too. The leftover Refrigerator Rolls were perfect!

Sliders and Potato Bacon Salad.
Sliders and Potato Bacon Salad.

Please forgive the end, chunky slice of tomato on my burger. I won't waste the ends, even if they don't make for a pretty picture. *wink* Also, this potato salad is my go-to recipe. I love that is has bacon, carrots, and egg in it - the taste is a winner every time.

Potato Bacon Salad recipe. )
navygreen: (Jack: soccer)
I made Alfredo Chicken Primavera tonight, but I didn't take any pictures of it. This is an older recipe from my Recipe Basket™, and I've really only been documenting the newer stuff. As if it didn't have enough veggies already (carrots, red peppers, broccoli), I still served it up with green beans. I didn't, however, get my hind end in gear early enough to pull off the Fudge Berry Pie that was to be dessert. It will have to be some other day.

Oh my, but it feels busy around here lately. We got the call late last week of Jack's assignment to the orange team for spring soccer season, and it's been go-go-go ever since. The 'Orange Suns' had a Meet-and-Greet event with their coach on Sunday evening. We were already in town, buying more landscaping supplies, so we hung out for an extra 45 minutes instead of driving home to the base, and then all the way back out to town again.

Last night (Monday), we had a Jamboree to attend for the entire soccer association. We went extra-early, having been warned that there were 502 registered players this season. Wow, but it was crowded! It was well-organized, and the soccer club took a giant picture of all the players together in their team shirts. Then they ran skills and drills for the next couple hours. We had arrived at 4:50 to secure parking (the event didn't start until 6pm, but Jack's coach had all the players arriving at 5:45 to group together), so we'd not eaten dinner first. I brought water bottles for each of us, and I was so glad! To run many of the drills, parents were needed, and I was out there tossing and kicking soccer balls around for a few hours. A.J. stood close by and tinkered with my camera (I'll have to check out what he shot later on - maybe he got some great pics!).

Jack has practice on Monday nights for the next month, as well as games every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. His first game is two days from now, and the team hasn't practiced yet. In fact, they have TWO games before the first practice (Thursday and Saturday). I've never heard of such a thing, but he's excited about it nonetheless.

Also this Thursday, Jack chose Earth Day to have his birthday celebration at school. See, in Nebraska, the school year started after his birthday (August 9th). We were already here in North Dakota by his half-birthday (February 9th), but the teacher made the records at the beginning of the school year, and she didn't even think about it. During parent-teacher conferences last month, she told him to pick a day to celebrate and let her know. Now, in their old school, birthdays weren't a big deal - students weren't allowed to bring in treats or snacks at all. At their new school, there are no rules. As such, Jack is very excited for Thursday!

I wish I'd thought to take 'before' pictures of the yard, but alas. This house had been vacant for at least a couple years before we moved in, so the yard is completely bare. There's weeds, but that's about it. Philip and I built retaining walls for three, large raised flowerbeds using these pavers, and then we've been lining around our bushes/trees in the backyard with black edging, filling it with white rock. We also yanked up the ugly concrete things under the eave spouts, replacing them with discreet, bendable hoses. Now that we have the flowerbeds established, we can focus on the grass repair.

I've also been editing up a storm! At some point in the future, I'll have a "Marathon Posting Day," using so many of my pictures. Man, am I ever behind on that! However, it is so rewarding each night to clean up and file away more folders of pictures onto the harddrive. I swear, there's hardly anything on this computer since I upped to Windows 7, and it feels so nice.

I'm off to be a kitchen tornado for a few hours tonight. I'm prepping and freezing a few meals, hoping it will help with the soccer-induced chaos of the next month!
navygreen: (Cruel Intentions: Sebastian - ugh)
I hate pop-open! types of breads and rolls. They always scare the poop out of me!

Also, my stromboli tonight is going to be seriously ugly, as the french bread would NOT come out of the tube easily. :-/
navygreen: (HP: Fred - *wink*)
I couldn't wait to make this for dinner in our menu plan, and it absolutely didn't disappoint!

Chicken Broccoli Shells.
Chicken Broccoli Shells, served with yams and fruit cocktail.

I didn't quite double the recipe, but I used more broccoli and chicken than called for, so I upped the amount of pasta shells, too. I didn't up the cheeses, so I'm sure ours wasn't quite as cheesy as it should have been, but it was still so scrumptious. :-)

Recipe, and two more pictures. )
navygreen: (Cheshire cat)

Tomato-Orange Beef Patties.
Tomato-Orange Beef Patties, served over a bed of egg noodles, and paired with peas and cottage cheese.

This was a new recipe for a recent menu plan (in fact, over half of the recipes in that plan were new!), and this is definitely a keeper! The taste combination is not one I would have paired myself, but it was wonderfully tangy on the tongue.

I'll change things up *just* a smidge the next time I make it, but I'll include some prep pictures and the recipe behind a cut.

Recipe and more. )


Chocolate Marble Gooey Butter Cake.
Chocolate Marble Gooey Butter Cake.

This was a tasty, VERY BUTTERY new cake shared on FaceBook by an old friend of mine, Char Scheuermann. She didn't have a picture, but her description sounded too yummy not to test it out. I'm so glad I did, and it was the perfect complement to our meal!

Recipe. )
navygreen: (GLEE: Rachel - slushie wince)
The Corned Beef and Cabbage verdict:

Me - eh, not so much
A.J. - edible, but loved the brisket

I don't think I did anything wrong, I just wasn't really in the mood for it after smelling it cook all day long. Since I'd never made it before, I didn't know how that might affect me. In addition, I haven't had a good appetite all week either, and that might have been part of it.

The rolls and the mint chocolate cheesecake were phenomenal. Even the cheesecake, though, I only ate three bites of and put the rest of the slice in the fridge for later. My tummy's just not quite right. I do have pics, but they'll be posted some other time.

I fell asleep while A.J. was in the shower tonight, and then again the second Jack was done with his bath and had given me a kiss goodnight. I napped for almost two hours on the couch before I woke up. Then I was all, "ACK! I have to do the dishes and start that load of laundry!" *zing!*

Now it's time for a chapter or two of my book (The Last Song) and bed for reals.
navygreen: (Fourth of July)
The Refrigerator Rolls are doing the second rise, and I'm very pleased with them so far. The recipe was to make 50 2.5" rolls, and I used the very closest round cutter I had (I figured the shamrocks would be much too difficult for rolls!), and I cut 49. I figure I must have done several things correctly to be at nearly the same point as the author.

(Please forgive me, I still consider myself to be a newbie when it comes to making breads from scratch. Beyond my cinnamon rolls, which I only began making about a year and a half ago, I don't make yeast breads from scratch, really. I'm hoping to change that, though, as I get better at doing it.)

** insert the National Anthem over the base's loud speakers **

Which reminds me, this is the first base we've lived on that plays the anthem base-wide at 5:00pm instead of 4:30. I wonder why that is? I've always thought 5:00 was the "correct" time (it's when we took our flags down when we had a large outside flag), but the anthem played a half hour earlier.

It's sad, really, that I don't even know if we have a flag insert on this house. What with it being so cold and snowy since the moment we arrived, I'd not even thought to look! Today, my neighbor brought a piece of my mail to the door, and while we were chatting, a large squirrel scuttled out of a massive hole in my would-be flowerbed. I'd not known the hole was there, as it's only *just* become unearthed from the snow! I do fear that this yard (and all those on this street, sadly) is not good-looking under this snow. We'll have to really work to turn it around again. For once, I was hoping not to have to resurrect a yard from the dead - hehe!

Jack's been jogging around the house for the past two days now. The new Pokemon games that he and A.J. bought on Sunday came with little Pokemon pedometers. The more steps they accrue on their "Poke-walkers," the more experience points they can add to their games. It's a clever marketing ploy, I must admit, for the game-makers to also get the kids to exercise. So Jack runs laps around the house - he did it last night for a full hour, and I finally made him stop. Today, as soon as he arrived home from school, he finished his homework sheet, then changed into a t-shirt and went jogging around the block for half an hour or so. That's dedication!
navygreen: (St. Patrick's Day: dragon)
My very first ever corned beef is cooking away in the CrockPot right now. I'm so anxious to see how it turns out for dinner! I've also got dough rising for Refrigerator Rolls, and I made a mint chocolate cheesecake ahead of time last night. I'm thinking about making some lemonade and tinting it green, too. :-)

I must say, I always feel a bit bad for an orange when I grate away the peel for a recipe. It always looks so very sad and disheveled afterward. Once I had finished grating what I needed for the beef syrup, I patted the orange on its... head? ... and promised that I would eat the rest of it with love. In fact, I decided that the poor orange wouldn't want to be alone in my tummy, so I peeled up another one to go with it. Now my taste buds are singing the praise of yummy oranges (they are SO good right now - go buy some!), and the oranges are having a party in my tummy.

That's win-win, I say. *wink*

Chef Jack.

Mar. 16th, 2010 12:06 am
navygreen: (Jack: pirate)
Jack helped with dinner tonight. It wasn't planned, but right as I entered the kitchen, he be-bopped in, asking, "Mom, can I help make dinner tonight?" Now how could I say no to that? :-)

Tonight's menu was Stuffed Zucchini, so we set to work. I taught him how to light our gas burners, and he began browning the hamburger. He wanted to stir it constantly, so I explained that it needed to be still just a moment to actually brown - hehe. Then I chopped onions and bell pepper for him, but he scraped them off the cutting board into the beef with the sharp knife. He pressed the garlic cloves and slowly - with the *point* of the knife, that is - scraped them off the board into the mixture as well. He measured and boiled the water for rice, watched it and added the rice once it was ready. He made sure to switch the drain to closed, too (anything with switches is fun in the kitchen, right?). Then he poured the tomato soup into the meat and stirred it up well.

I showed him how to cut the three zucchini into quarters, and he did that. Those were some tiny zucchini, too; I can't wait until it's back in season fully. I showed him how to scoop out the seedy innards, and he worked away at that while the rice set up and the meat mixture heated. Finally, he turned the oven on for preheating, and then we formed an assembly line to stuff the zucchini shells: I dumped a heaping spoonful into the shells, and he topped them with cheddar cheese, stealing several bits while he worked. *wink*

Success! He had a lot of fun, and he was much more confident about the tasks than he has been in the past. This was the first time I let him use a super-sharp knife, so he was very slow, very careful. I was quite proud of him. :-)

Jack's Stuffed Zucchini.
Jack's Stuffed Zucchini.
navygreen: (PotC: Quote - pieces of eight)
How much yeast is in a "packet," I wonder? See, I use enough yeast that I buy it in little brown-glass bottles, but I'm going to have to figure this out before tomorrow. I'm making Refrigerator Rolls, and the recipe calls for 2 packets. ETA: 2-1/4 tsp. = 1 packet. Thank you, Google.

I made the prettiest cookies today. Well, I actually made the sugar cookies yesterday, but I iced them this afternoon. My cutter was a bit larger than I realized it to be, so I didn't get as many cookies as I'd imagined (and I made two batches of dough to start with). I'm toying with the idea of making another batch early tomorrow, but we'll see. I already do have a lovely dessert planned for Wednesday anyway.

Also, my neighbor and friend asked if I'd be willing to make either a cake or cupcakes for her baby shower this weekend. I'm waiting on one gift in the mail, but I have the others ready and have the perfect wrapping papers to match. I'd already RSVP'ed and was very excited for her shower... to now be asked to craft some goodies is just, well, icing on the cake! (Forgive the intended pun, as it is rather late.)

I received a cute package in the mail yesterday from [ profile] sdaisyk. She sent me a handful of Coke caps, but she included TONS of little goodies, too. Everything is so sweet and thoughtful - thank you, Sarah!

The boys were out of school this past Thursday and Friday for a break, and it has thrown me all off schedule. It just seemed like yesterday should really have been Monday, you know? As we were passing the base theatre last night, I saw the marquee and read, The Toothfairy, getting all excited. On our way back, I told the boys to try and read for the showtime, but right as we passed it, I realized that it the showing was for Saturday night... and it *was* Saturday night. (The base theatre only shows each movie once.) Gah. In my head, it had felt like Friday all day. Bummer, too, as that's one I had really wanted to see in the theatres.

Speaking of theatres, Philip took the boys last weekend to see Percy Jackson & The Olympians, and they all really enjoyed it. A.J. had received the first two books of the series for Christmas, so when he mentioned wanting to see the movie, I told him he needed to read his book first. He then read it in two days, and then he read the second book in three days. We'll have to look for the other books for him to finish, and now Jack wants to read them, too. I wanted to read the book before seeing the film, and I hadn't gotten a chance, so I told Philip to take them instead. I'll catch it on DVD later. :-)

And then Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes out this coming Friday, and both boys have been stoked about that one for a few months. They both love the book series, and I'm sure the movie will be fun. I can get behind that heartily, especially as I'm hoping it will direct their interest completely away from Alice in Wonderland. Jack wants to see it, but I think it just looks... off? I love most of J. Depp's movies, but I have no desire to see this one (though I've previewed the soundtrack, and it is lovely). In this case, Jack's just going to have to "keep wanting," and that's as close as he'll get. *wink*

The boys used their monies a few weeks ago to reserve copies of the two new Pokemon games at GameStop, and they've been reminding us for the past several days that today was the pick-up date. I thought that was odd; don't games usually come out on Tuesdays, like music and movies? At any rate, we got an automated reminder call yesterday even, and I took them to the BX GameStop today to pay for the rest and pick-up their games. One bought the silver, and one bought the gold (that's as far as this Mom goes into the "geek-speak," heh!), and they both received little boxes with commemorative figurines, too. It was hard for them to buckle up seatbelts a few minutes later, due to how over-the-moon they were feeling. Ha!

It's been hours, and I am still SO stuffed from dinner. I made Pineapple Veggie Chicken (a favorite of ours for years), but I tossed in tons of extra amounts of veggies. I only put in half as much chicken as usual, so we gorged ourselves on mushrooms, snow peas, red and green peppers, and onions. Afterward, the boys made tonight's dessert: Tutti-Frutti Smoothies, and those were full of strawberries, bananas, and orange juice. Jack drained his large glass in seconds, I swear. I feel like I'm going to float away on fruits and veggies in my dreams!
navygreen: (Me: Nicole - egg)
I truly could get lost all day long in cookbooks and cooking blogs. Watching Julie & Julia for the second time last night has done nothing to help with this; rather, I could only do it longer now.

I love that movie.

I'm currently reading a book on chocolate. I say 'reading' because it is less recipes, but more tips and tricks for working with chocolates. I've gotten lots of great ideas, but there are still so many techniques that are just either too tedious or too time-consuming I know I won't be likely to try myself anytime soon.

Chef A.J.

Mar. 12th, 2010 04:57 pm
navygreen: (A.J.)
A.J. made dinner and dessert for us last night. He did it all on his own, and he did a wonderful job. Everything was very, very tasty, and he and Jack gobbled up the leftovers today for lunch, too!

Meatball Soup.

Recipe and more. )

In addition to making the soup, A.J. also heated the oven and threw in a few crusty sourdough rolls. He was very attentive to the timer, and he did a great job with the potholders in retrieving the stone once they were golden-brown. Yummy!

Fried Banana Sundaes.
Fried Banana Sundaes.

Recipes and progress pictures. )
navygreen: (Me: flake)
Tonight was A.J.'s choice in the meal plan. (Well, he didn't pick it tonight, but he chose it back when I was planning, and today was his slot in the menu.) He chose a new recipe for us all to try, based on a picture in a cookbook.

Curried Honey Barbecue Chicken.
Curried Honey Barbecue Chicken.

I served it over brown rice, pairing it with sugar snap peas and mandarin oranges. I thought it was super-tasty, and I will definitely be adding the recipe to our permanent collection! I'll share it, in case anyone else is interested.

Recipe, plus one more snap. )

We had dessert tonight as well, though it wasn't planned ahead of time. I had a few apples I needed to use up, and I thought it would be nice to make fresh cookies to welcome our next-door neighbors back home. (We've been their 'Quarters Watch' for the last two weeks or so.) One of my old faves - Apple Spice Drops - fit both bills nicely. I generally use Granny Smith apples for baking, but in this case, I used up the Braeburns I had in the fruit bowl. It worked just as beautifully!

Apple Spice Drops.
Apple Spice Drops.

They are a light, fluffy apple cookie frosted in an apple buttercream. Oh, but I could eat a dozen of these at one time, I swear!

And the cookie recipe, plus one more picture. )

I need to make myself an icon for all these "Food Porn" posts. I love baking (and cooking, occasionally), and I find it so fun to take pictures of the creations!


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