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Monday, October 17, 2011

Pasta and Cookies

This is a quick post.  No pictures.  Just me.  And maybe a recipe or two.  So, what's on my mind?  Cookies.  And pasta.  And chicken parmesan.  And my boys.  And baseball.  All things that make me happy.

So, this weekend, MY Rangers, locked up a trip to the World Series.  It is SO awesome!  And exciting!  And one of Caleb's favorite things right now is watching baseball.  And one of his favorite questions right now is "What's he doing?" so we spend a lot of our time explaining double plays and walk off grand slams. 

Also, this weekend I made cookies.  A lot of them.  I made Amish sugar cakes (I already posted that recipe) and chocolate chip cookies.  Are you ready for this recipe???  It's INCREDIBLE which means that it only has four ingredients and amazingly delicious.

Incredible Cookies...
1 box of cake mix
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1.5 c. mix-ins

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine all ingredients and spoon onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cook slightly on pans before transferring to cooling rack.

NOTES:  I prefer to use Betty Crocker cake mixes.  They just bake up better than other brands.  For chocolate chip, I like to use the golden vanilla flavor.  You can use any flavor cake mix and mix-in you like.  It's FUN to come up with new ideas and combinations!  :)

While I was making cookies, Caleb was "helping" me.  He is really good at eating cookie dough out of the bowl and saying "more please...tatou Mommy!"  He also helps out by sitting on the floor in front of the oven and watching the cookies bake.  He sings the cookies songs.  His old stand by is "Old MacDonald".  I'm sure the cookies appreciate it.  It makes me think of when people play music at their plants to help them grow.  I'm sure Caleb's sweet voice helps the cookies be extra delicious. 

After the cookies were out of the oven and tested for quality control, I made dinner.  Our menu? 

Topsy Turvy Lasagna...
1 # ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 # pasta
16 oz. cottage cheese
1/2 c. grated cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Cook pasta and drain.  Brown ground beef, drain, and add sauce.  Grease a 9 x 13" baking dish.  Pour in pasta, top with beef mixture, top with cottage cheese, and sprinkle grated cheese over the top.  Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and yummy looking.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Serve with yummy bread and healthy veggies. 

I am in love with chicken parmesan.  I think it's my favorite thing to order when we go to Italian restaurants.  But it's REALLY easy for a restaurant to screw up.  I CAN make it myself and it turns out super yummy but, holy moly, is it ever an investment of energy, time, and love.  People have been telling me about a restaurant in our area that has awesome chicken parm.  The restaurant is called Oliva's and it's in the Keller area.  We're going to give it a whirl tonight and see if it lives up to the hype.  ;)

Well, that's it.  Hope you love it! 

Emmy  :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Birthdays and Back to School

Well, August, you came and went much too quickly!  August is always hectic but this year it feels like it chewed me up and spit me out.  Sorry, I know that was gross.  Both of our boys have August birthdays.  And we have back to school...for both them and me.  And there is pre-year inservice.  So, between purchasing school supplies, planning a birthday party x 2, preparing my classroom, packing backpacks, and making healthy lunches, I feel like my life passed me by. 

So, let's just tackle this in a chronological fashion....

Caleb's birthday is August 5th.  He turned two.  TWO!  When did this happen???  How did he get so big???  I literally feel like I blinked because I am still SHOCKED...take my breath away, shocked...every time I go into his room to watch him sleep (yes, I still do that) and he is taking up the whole bed.  I know he will need "real" furniture soon.  Not baby furniture.  And I know that this time is sneaking away from me and that he will never wear this size of clothes again or say "where'd it go?" this one certain way for much longer.  So, I still try to hold him like a newborn when he's REALLY sleepy and I sneak into his room in the middle of the night to watch him sleep.  But my heart overflows with joy when I sing him the "I Love You So Much" song and he calms down the same way he did when he was just a few hours old and then snuggles me tight.  Before I had kids, I didn't think I was anybody special.  But when I see how much my sweet boys love me, I know I have to be fairly amazing.  Thank you God, for the amazing gift of my children and their unfailing love.

Caleb LOVES Elmo.  Loves him.  So, I planned an Elmo birthday party.  Here are some pictures of the festivities...
I set out construction paper for the place mats and then used crayons and markers to decorate the table.  
On Etsy I found these DARLING food labels!
I made my "famous" macaroni and cheese.  :)
I tried to make the icy pops look like a package of crayons...did it work???
I had this PRECIOUS t-shirt (of course I ordered it from Etsy!) made for the birthday boy.  I think he likes it...
Love that face!

I made and decorated the cake but purchased the fondant pieces.

Me and my baby now....
and this is what we looked like 2 years ago!

In between the birthdays, we were busy swimming.  

Here is what I like: my pool!  Especially when it's a million degrees outside.  Okay, so it wasn't a million degrees outside.  But, I think it was pretty dang hot.  So, we swam.  We ate FAST  picnics outside.  And we got back in the pool.

And Carter's birthday is August 23rd.  He turned five.  What the heck!  You'd better believe I go in and watch him sleep.  I watch him sleep and I whisper sweet things in his ears.  He has such a sweet and tender heart.  He blesses our life so much.  I am thankful for him everyday.  He is SMART.  I have conversations with him that make me stop and remind myself that he just turned five.  And he is silly.  Because he just turned five.  He recently discovered Star Wars.  I think that Christmas might have a theme.  Last year, the theme was dinosaurs.  I'm afraid dinosaurs are out right now.  Light sabers are in.  We went to a local aquarium and LegoLand for his birthday.  
 I baked and decorated his cake too...
 Cute, right?  :)
 And my baby went to school...

I can't believe how FAST the past five years have gone by.  It's unbelievable...

So, there it is.  Another August under our belt.  Fall is just around the corner.  That means yummy crock pot recipes and cider and Halloween costumes.  I'll try to do a better job of posting recipes.  I really enjoy doing it.  And it makes me keep my kitchen tidy!  :)  I spotted a recipe for pumpkin mousse the other day.  I think that has some serious potential.  

Hope you come back for more!


Emmy  :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Perfect Match

They like to eat.  I like to cook.  It's a good grouping.  And Mighty Joe was out of town for a few days.  Which left me to me own devices.  :)  And when I'm left to my own devices, I notice things.  First on the list, our bananas.  They were, shall I say, a little past their prime.  So when life gives you mushy bananas, make banana bread!  I whipped up a batch of the Bisquick banana quick bread.  Fast, easy, and delightful.  Mmm...

So, that was breakfast.  And then we played, and giggled, and swam, and napped, and read, and played, and then they were hungry again.  I asked Carter what he would like for dinner.  His request: "Dinner S'mores"...Super easy, healthy, minimal clean up.  We have a winner!

What you need:
Whipped Cream Cheese
Banana, sliced

Pretend you're going to make a grilled cheese sandwich and heat up your skillet.  On one slice of bread, smear Nutella.  On the other, smear the cream cheese.  Cover one side with banana slices.  
Top with the other slice.  Smear margarine on the outside of the skillet and then cook it in the hot skillet.  
Let it cool a bit before you dig in.
The next day, we had swim lessons.  Both boys are doing GREAT!  So when we get home, they are ravenous.  On this particular day, Carter requested pizza.  Remember the starving kids???  I don't have time to make pizza!!!  But wait...I found some tortillas in my pantry and left over spaghetti sauce in the fridge.  So, I preheat the oven, use the tortillas for crust, top with sauce and little cheese (I tore up some deli ham and put that on mine) and Voila!!!, pizza for lunch!  
While they were cooking, I sliced up some strawberries.  
Everyone seemed pleased.  Their mouths were full, so I didn't get much feedback.

After lunch, the baby napped.  Yay!!!  And then I decided to make cookies.  MAJOR celebration!!!!  These are not ordinary cookies.  They are better described as "Little Mounds of Heaven" or Amish Sugar Cakes.  Whatever.  I got the recipe while we were in Pennsylvania visiting family.  This recipe is solid gold friends...

Amish Sugar Cakes
Makes about 4 dozen cookies + dough to eat out of the bowl
Preheat oven to 375F.

You'll need:
2 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
3 eggs
4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla

Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Add eggs and buttermilk.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add that to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.  
Place dough by the tablespoon (I used a cookie scoop) about 2" apart on greased cookie sheets and sprinkle with sugar. 
Bake about 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown.  
I learned that it helps to put the dough in the fridge in between batches.  The cookies just turn out prettier if the dough is slightly chilled (they taste the same).  Oh, and don't put them in a cookie jar...they'll get smooshed.  And then you'll be sad.  And then you'll have to put them in your Tupperware cookie keeper with wax paper between the layers.  But eating the dough that's left in the mixer bowl will make you happy again.
I mean, just look at Caleb...

he's SOOO happy Mommy made cookies!!!  :)

And on a side note, I love my stand mixer.  But I don't think I would use it if I didn't have this contraption...
It's a paddle attachment that scrapes the sides of the bowl as it's mixing.  Brilliant.  The Mr. got it for me for Christmas a couple of years ago.  So he's officially brilliant for paying attention to the post-it notes I put in catalogs that say "Buy this!".

Those are my recent culinary accomplishments.  And now if you'll excuse me, I need to get things organized so that somebody can have an Elmo birthday party.  

Emmy  :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Getting Started...

Well, here it goes!!!  :) I've decided to start blogging because I hate to scrapbook.  But what I hate even more is not being able to hand my kids documentation of all of the memories we're making.  So, here we are.  I hope you enjoy watching this little adventure that I like to call "Thursday".  

My kids are funny.  Strike that.  They're FUNNY.  Yup, funny with a capital "F".  They make me laugh out loud every single day.  Usually so hard that it make me bend over and my sides start to hurt.  And I love it.  

Most of our days are super ordinary.  And super busy.  And super crazy.  But in a great way!  

Today, we sent Daddy to work, had breakfast, and then Mommy had an idea.  Uh oh...I'll let you know when it's time to shield your eyes.  "Let's go outside and finger paint," I said, "we can can blow bubbles too!"  The offspring rejoiced!!!  But I didn't grab just regular bubbles.  Nope, I decided to up the ante and pull out the colored bubbles (thank you Crayola!).  Holy mess, Batman!!!  That stuff is CRAZY!!!  It literally looked like green paint had been splattered all over my two kids and myself.  It was everywhere...feet, arms, hands, faces, backs of shirts.  HOW did that happen???  Anyway, that stuff went in the trash, we busted out the water hose, and got clean enough to finger paint.   Here are some pictures of my sweet babies from that part of the morning.  I warn you, they're precious.  You're going to want to squeeze 'em.  

 And then the baby wanted to play on the slide...

And Brudder wanted to swim.  DESPERATELY.  He pushed his face against the pool fence.  Sad.

Then we got everything cleaned up, changed clothes, and went to buy school supplies because somebody is starting Kindergarten.  GASP!  Had some lunch, played on a play gym, and came home and napped.  GREAT day!  Oh, and I made crazy easy enchiladas for dinner.  They are SO yummy!!!

Enchiladas Fantastica!
(I know it's a geeky name but everyone has them and says "Wow, these enchiladas are FANTASTIC!" so I decided to roll with it.)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

1# ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
garlic, salt, and pepper

In a skillet, over medium heat, brown the meat and add the onion.  Cook until the onions are tender. Add garlic, salt, and pepper until you're happy.  Drain off any excess grease.

0.5# velveeta, cubed (mmm....)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 sm. can evaporated milk
1 sm. can chopped green chiles

In a medium saucepan, combine all of these ingredients until the cheese is melted and it's creamy.  My hubster doesn't like chunky sauces so I just took my immersion blender for a ride.  It's tasty either way.

1.5 - 2 c. grated cheese

Now, time to construct....take a tortilla (I use flour but again, whatever works for you), add some grated cheese to the middle (I usually use Monterrey Jack but whatever you have or like will be perfect!), add some ground beef, roll it up and put it in a pan.  I like to use aluminum disposables for this kind of dish.  Don't forget to spray it with Pam first.  Repeat the construction until your pan is full.  Top the rolls with the sauce, add more cheese, and bake until golden and bubbly...usually about 30-45 minutes. 


And since my kids are picky, I made them quesadillas.

AND, the other day at my grocery, I found chunks of fresh mango already to rock n roll.  So, I made a fruit salad.  It looks good, it was good!  :)

There you go....that was our day!  Hope you come back for more....we always do!

Emmy  :)