Thursday, September 25, 2008
Enter my mommy friends. What I love about mommy friends is that we are all dealing with the same whiny, crazed, clingy short people while we're trying to get dinner together (or gasp! Take a potty break!). Recently, some friends from my MOMS Club have started getting together for late afternoon playgroups - the kids get to wear each other out, the moms get to take turns in the bathroom alone and chat over coffee (or wine...). Someone suggested a potluck dinner and badda boom - supper club began! We've done them as a straight potluck, we've done them where we all bring ingredients and help cook the meal, we've done the thing where we feed only the kids in hopes to get them to bed early so that we can all enjoy some relaxation with our husbands (after all, isn't that what husbands are for?!). I've known these ladies for years...their kids all call me Mommy Allie, their babies hold their arms out to all of us when they are crying, and likewise, my kids go to them for comfort (especially while I'm getting two minutes of peace in the bathroom ALONE). It's nice to know that my normally well behaved 3 year old isn't the only one who has a complete meltdown at 4 pm because her sister ate the last red grape (especially when under normal circumstances, said 3 year old doesn't even like red grapes). Safety in numbers!
Recently, we made the following for one of our supper clubs and it received really good reviews:
Maple-Orange Chicken with Acorn Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Recipe by Robin Miller from Quick Fix Meals
1 small to medium acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 leeks, rinsed and chopped
5 (5-ounce) skinless chicken breast halves (with or without bone)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
For the garnish: 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Place squash and sweet potatoes and leeks in the slow cooker. Season chicken all over with salt and black pepper and place on top of vegetables in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine orange marmalade and remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
Serve the chicken breast halves with squash and potatoes on the side and extra sauce spooned over top Top with parsley and rosemary just before serving.
And, on a wine note, I've finally found a cheap Trader Joe's wine that I can stomach: Tres Rojas Table Red - it's a blend of several reds and is only $4.99 a bottle. Not too shabby! Perfect for book club (or as Joel calls it, wine club), supper groups, nap time, well...you get the picture...
Monday, September 22, 2008
the girls at the tea shop:
The octopus in the tube:
The fish in the ceiling:
the girls being silly:
Me and my mommy (and sleeping Emily):
A very, very happy birthday to my mom. I hope my skin looks half that good when I'm 60!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Specifically, the best flippin' chocolate cake on the planet. It's been that kind of day...I feel like I've been hit by a truck, the children are on some sort of diabolical stimulant, the bill for my recent unelective surgery is way more than should be allowed, and to top it off, I definitely feel a migraine coming on.
My mommy always told me that the best cure for the whinies was chocolate and you know the drill...Mama is always right!
Luckily, tonight is bunco (AKA dunko), so I won't end up eating the entire pan myself...
I only wish that my camera skills were as mad as PW's so I could share some of the ooey-gooey-ness with you.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
It's been a hectic month...here are some highlights:
We've been to the beach, played at some fun parks, hosted a few play dates, and done way too much laundry in the past week. And for those who are keeping score, I kicked the butt of a certain fellow fantasy football league member, whom I also happen to share a bed with. Ava has been adjusting to school pretty well, and since they are nut free in her class, I am somewhat relaxed about leaving her. Emily and I have been enjoying our time together. She is such a different baby when she doesn't need to worry about her sister tackling her at any given moment! We hit up baby story time the other day at the library and she had the best time.
Ava has gotten to the point where she can whip up an entire batch of something without my assistance (well, aside from showing her which measuring cup to use...but she's even getting the hang of that!). I am amazed at how well she bakes. We made some muffins yesterday before our play group came over and she did everything except pouring the milk into the measuring cup all by herself. I expect her to be on the Next Food Network Star next season...she's going to take the preschool market by storm.
French Breakfast Puffs
1 1/2 cups plus 2 T flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup butter, melted
Combine first five ingredients. Add milk, egg and 1/3 cup melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Grease and flour small muffin tins. Fill 1/2 full and bake at 400º for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan immediately and dip in remaining 1/3 cup melted butter and roll in a mixture of the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Serve warm.
Makes 24 mini-muffins
Note: Only fill the muffin tin halfway, so that the muffins don’t develop a “crown”. Start checking for doneness at about 12 minutes (original recipe says 20 minutes, but there’s no way!). I used applesauce for the melted butter and half of the sugar, and I used 1/2 AP flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour.
We rented too many movies from NetFlix this month (who's happy that fall TV is back on?), so I am going to try this with Ava this afternoon. And since she's been saying more funny things that I can keep track of, I'm going to start one of these. Is this not the most adorable idea ever? I just don't have the time or energy to scrapbook these days, so perhaps this will be a nice stand in.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I won't bore you with the details of the weekend and the week thusfar, except to say that it was and has been, as usual, crazy. I am in serious need of a vacation! My camera's battery died on the way to Seattle (for dear Dashka's wedding!), and I haven't had a chance to charge it, so no pictures to share.
However, I do have a recipe (shocker!). I am addicted to Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. Seriously, I need a twelve step (does the Betty cover that?! Because when I go in for my wine habbit, it would be a nice one-two punch...). Two years ago, a friend sent me the following and I have been making them at home ever since. Try these and you will never go to the drive thru again (or, even worse, buy that yucky creamer...horror of horrors!!):
Amy’s Version of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte
2 cups milk
1 cup very strong coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons sugar (or one packet of Splenda)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus extra for dusting)
2 heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin
Pour all of the ingredients into a pot and heat over medium-high heat until the coffee is steaming hot. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream & cinnamon. Enjoy!
Amy suggests making your own milk with powdered milk, but I can't bring myself to do that (plus, there's no organic powdered milk out there!), so I just use regular old skim or 1% (or if I'm feeling a little naughty, some of Emily's whole milk). Yummy...
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Emily has a nasty viral infection, plus 2 incisors coming through, so we stayed home (aside from a trip to Le Target...how does one get out of there for less than $100?! Suggestions?). Ava is only distracted by art and baking and I didn't want to deal with the mess of several art projects, so we baked. All. Day. Long.
First, we made some pearsauce. The girls and Joel picked a ton of pears over the weekend that really were to small and underripe to eat. Ava and I threw them into a dutch oven with some cinnamon and a 1/4 cup of water and let them simmer for about an hour. Tonight before bed, I will toss the pears into my crock pot with the following to make Pear Butter:
Makes 9-10 pints
8 quarts of pearsauce
1.5 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel (just the surface, not the spongy white part)
1 cup orange juice
Sugar, to taste
Place half of the pearsauce and all of the remaining ingredients in crock pot, set on low, cook for 6 to 12 hours, or overnight, until the volume is reduced by half. Add remaining pearsauce, let cook for 2 to 3 more hours. Pour into jars or consume immediately (on toast, pancakes, waffles, fingers, etc.)
I had some cherries that we weren't going through fast enough, so while the pearsauce simmered away, Ava and I pitted some cherries for a cherry cobbler/clafouti type of dessert. I basically combined 2 recipes to go with what I had on hand and here's what I got:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups self-rising flour (Or 2 cups AP flour, 1 T baking powder, 1 t salt)
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
3 cups cherries, pitted
While that was baking, Ava decided that she wanted to make cookies too...so we started on a recipe that I've had for a while, but haven't made yet, Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles. I think that Ava wanted to make them because she thought the word "snickerdoodle" was silly, and I wanted to make them for Joel, because Snickerdoodles are his favorite. If you try these, be sure to use whole wheat pastry flour or the texture will be wacky. This only made about 20 cookies...plenty for Joel and Ava to each have one or two, leftovers to take with me to book club tonight.
Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a drinking glass.
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.
I usually like to take pictures of how things turn out but today I felt a bit lazy, plus I had Emily in the Ergo all day and it was hard to concentrate. So...no pictures, but let me just say that I taste tested everything and it's all yummy!
Of course, I am making something completely healthy for dinner...bowls of black beans, brown rice, and red sauce. I plan on adding some sour cream to mine but...I also carried a baby on my back all day AND walked to the library and back, so I deserve it :P.
After this crazy day (which as of me typing still has two hours left...Joel won't be home until at least then!), I'm looking forward to escaping to my book club this evening (the book is Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors and I think we actually will get to conference call with the author!). A few glasses of wine and some nibbles with friends sounds like the perfect way to end such a hectic day!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Sheryl Crow (none of my pictures from up close really turned out):
Today feels like fall...it's sunny and cool, a few kids at the upper school where Ava's preschool is had apples for their teachers. NFL football starts on Thursday, I have dinner bubbling away in the crockpot, and a ginger-citrus candle burning on my desk. I wish that my body was more round with my baby, but my life is full of other things.