Projects

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Hot me Mama"


One night as I was laying with Joaquin to help him get to sleep and He said "hot me mama". At first I wasn't sure what he was saying and even when I did understand him I wasn't sure what he meant...until he said "I am cold." He wanted me to warm him up :)

A couple of days ago Rodrigo and Joaquin were talking and for some reason Rodrigo had stated that he was a boy (as in male not female). Joaquin promptly responded with, "Uh uh...you are not a boy." Rodrigo responded with, 'Well what am I then?" and Joaquin said, "You're not a boy...you're just a Daddy" Just a Daddy huh? Sounds like being a boy is a privileged state :)

One of Ezekiel's favorite responses to being scolded about wrong doing is a very innocent and sweet, "What happened?" That is until yesterday. I scolded him for getting on my wet kitchen floor as I was mopping and he looked up at me just as innocently and sweetly and said. "What's the pwablem(problem)?





Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Gifts from the other side of the veil...

Just before Christmas I was working on the very last of the boxes that needed unpacking...boxes of books and blankets. As I sorted through the books, trying to get rid of those we don't need or want I stumbled accross a very familiar three ring binder. My Sister Caprece made this notebook for me. At the time she made it I am sure she was thinking this would be a great way for me to travel down memory lane through the years. But now, well now, I know she was following the sweet whisperings of the still small voice. See, one of the things I have struggled with the most as a result of losing her is where I fit in this puzzle. I know it sounds silly but my relationship with her family changed so drastically at her loss that it sent me spinning. People don't often consider the grief a sibling experiences. Maybe we compare it to the loss others are experiencing and think it can't be as consuming or heartbreaking as that of a spouse, a child. or a parent. Now, please don't misunderstand me I am NOT comparing grief! I can never fully understand the grief of another nor would I even begin to try, which I guess is exactly my point. But, this I do know, my Father in Heaven knew of the grief I would experience and he prepared something to help me. Something that would come just when I needed it most. See this little notebook had been packed away in storage for nearly 3 and half years. It was packed away before we lost Precie. It was packed away so long ago that I forgot about it. When I found it I read there on the cover words...her words...words of comfort and love and a reminder of just exactly where I fit in with the old, the new, and the yet to be.

"Karmen...Just as each of these letters are a different design and color so are the many aspects of what you have added and continue to add to our lives. This book is but a small reminder to you that you are loved and cherished more than you could ever know. Thanks for the many colors of beauty, warmth, love and fun that you have made possible."

How thankful I am for the multitude of His tender mercies.

Likewise the spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

He knows my needs and the longings of my heart before even I do. Thanks to this sweet simple little notebook I am reminded again not only of the love my sister has for me but the love my Savior and Father in Heaven have for me. Thank you Precie! I Love You!



Monday, December 28, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIJAH

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1-2-3-4 Potty Trained...At last!


Best Christmas present ever...my newly turned 4 year old POTTY TRAINED! Merry Christmas Mama!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas day at Temple Square

The Curtis family has a tradition of going to Temple Square on Christmas day and this year we were invited. The North Visitor Temple is super cool for the kids and the adults. We love the Book of Mormon displays and Jersulem but best of all is the Christus. Then it was on to the lights and the nativity display with the Choir singing like Angels. What a great tradition! Thanks Curtis Clan :)

Noche Buena 2009

Here is a sampling of our wonderful Christmas thanks to some of our Earth Angels.

Thank you Uncle Matt and Aunt Cayr and family. We love you!

Gracias Tios Anita, Paul, and Fernanda! Gracias Abuelos y Tia Vivi! Los Amamos!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sugar Cookies “Precie” Style


Years ago Caprece and I began a tradition of making sugar cookies during the holidays. We always involved the girls – Chancey, Lilah, and Livvy. We would roll them out, cut out fun holiday shapes, and bake them. Caprece would whip up a bowl of her specialty frosting and we would decorate them. Of course, we always kept a bit of the frosting and a few undecorated ones just for Matt. They kept fresh longer that way. They made a great late night snack for him thoughout the week. That is if he didn't eat them all at once...they are very hard to resist.
It never seems quite like Christmas until I’ve made a batch. This year is no exception. I was thinking about her and all the fun times we had. How blessed I am to have not only a best sister but a very best friend! I want my boys to grow-up hearing about their Aunt Caprece. So it was decided F.H.E. it would be and this time I involved my boys. They loved it especially my Zeke who is only 22 months. See for yourself. Oh, and although it goes without saying. These cookies are melt in your mouth, can’t stop with just one…good.
video
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies (Nicole White - Precie's friend)
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
5 cups of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp nutmeg
Directions:
Cream butter and sugar; add beaten eggs and sour cream. Beat well. Add dry ingredients. Chill for 30 min to hour. Roll and cut out. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 min or until lightly brown.

Caprece's Cream Cheese frosting
8 oz package of cream cheese (softened)
1 stick of butter (softened)
1 box of confectioners sugar (3 3/4 cup)
cream together

Spaghetti Sauce – Charla Recipe - Caprece Specialty

(you gotta love the fine china - Spider Man Style :)

The first time I ever tasted this sauce was at my Aunt Charla's home. At the time she was living in a mobile home on some property that my grandmother owned in Marianna, Florida. This sauce is just one of the many wonderful Memories I have of my Aunt Charla, affecionately known to me as "Charly". It was splendous, like no spaghetti sauce I had ever before tasted. Granted I was only about five or six at the time but still it was amazing. I think it had a lot to do with all the extras (Which I haven't listed here because I thought it best to stick with the base...you are welcome to dress it up any way you like.) The extras I am specifically referring to are the olives. I was unfamiliar with just what they could do for a meal til that indelible moment. It of course followed that once my sister Caprece married, she called Charla for her spaghetti recipe. It was immediately a favorite and served regulaly at her table. She had it down to a science. I of course lean on her experience and Charly's genius when I create this sauce...



(Please ignore the brown sugar...I took pic in front of my canisters...ooops!)

Ingredients:
© 2lbs fresh ground beef (80/20 works best)
© 1 TBS Olive Oil
© 1 large onion, chopped
© 6 cloves garlic
© 3 teaspoons oregano
© 3 teaspoons garlic salt
© 2- 6oz cans tomato paste
© 1- 15oz can tomato sauce
© 4 cups of water
© 1- 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes (optional)*
© ½ jar of kalamata olives or 4 oz can of sliced black olives (optional)*

*Caprece didn’t use olives because her family doesn’t like them but she added petite diced tomatoes. Charla uses black olives but not petite diced tomatoes. And I use kalamata olives and petite diced tomatoes. This sauce tastes yumilicious whatever way you dress it up.


Directions:
Chop onion and garlic. Drizzle olive oil in skillet and place skillet on burner set to medium high heat. Place onion and garlic in skillet. Add 1 teaspoon of Oregano and 1 teaspoon of garlic salt. Cook onion and garlic until they begin to soften about 3 minutes. Add ground beef, the rest of the Oregano and garlic salt and brown. Place tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, petite diced tomatoes, and olives in dutch oven. Add the ground beef mixture and salt to taste (Please note if you are using kalamata olives DO NOT add any salt! The olives add additional salt.) Cook covered over medium low heat for at least 30 minutes. Serve over your choice of pasta…our’s is Angel hair or as the Italians call it – Capellini with salad and lots of garlic bread.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

3 envelope roast w/sweet potatoes

I first tried this recipe back in April of this year and it quickly, no immediately, became a family favorite. I have tweaked it for our family and just last month my Mom added something that is a must have now with this recipe....Can you guess...yep, sweet potatoes. Who woulda thunk it? Our family likes sweet potatoes on the savory side instead of the sweet (we think they are sweet enough without the added sugar). She just peeled them, cut them in half and added them to the crock pot. They were a surprisingly delicious addition to the meal. I made it for the hubby and he loves it. THANKS MOM!
Adapted from recipe @ Real Mom Kitchen
3 Envelope Roast
  • 3 pound beef roast (such as chuck roast)
  • 1 envelope of dry Italian salad dressing mix
  • 1 envelope of dry ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 envelope of dry brown gravy mix
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes

First - brown the roast in skillet on stove. Using tongs so as NOT to puncture the meat, transfer the meat to the crock pot. Put the water in a measuring cup that is larger then the amount of water you are using. Now add and mix all three envelopes of dry salad dressings to the water. Mix until blended completely. Pour the water and salad dressing mixture over the roast. Cook it on high for about 4 hours on low about 8 hours. Wash, peel and quarter the sweet potatoes. When the roast has about 2 hours left add the sweet potatoes and allow to cook the remaining time. Once the potatoes are tender through (should be about the time the roast is finished) remove and place in serving dish.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

FAMILY HOME EVENING...BUILDING A HOUSE. A HOUSE OF ORDER. EVEN A HOUSE OF GINGER :)


video


We built a gingerbread house this last Monday for Family Home evening. The kids didn't disappoint! As expected they ate way more than they helped...although help they did and enjoyed every moment of it. I put the house together and then grabbed the camera so I could catch the decorating fun! I think it looks pretty good!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A brownie and a kiss


Well, I am finally back. The house is completely unpacked and everything in its rightful place. I am fastidious about everything having its own place. I can't function in chaos. It feels good and I can finally exhale. With the exception of the loss of several of my beloved serving dishes, my spring form pan,, and two bundt pans, the move went quite smoothly. I am not sure where these items could have ended up but I am already saving to replace them...can't live without a spring form pan! Speaking of, did you know they make a mini cheesecake pan that looks something like a muffin pan but the bottoms come off just like a spring form pan? This is definitely on my wish list. I could have used it to bake this next recipe although the muffin pan was fine.

I have been craving this sweet treat from the moment I first saw it on The Picky Palate blog. I love mint with chocolate and I knew this promised to taste as good as it looked. I did however alter this recipe. In fact, I made it from the picture. I didn't even look at her recipe not because I didn't think it would be good but because of pure L.A.Z.I.N.E.S.S! I used Betty Crocker's Triple Chunk Brownie Mix because it is my all time favorite. They turned out super dupper delicious!
Adapted from recipe @ Picky Palate
Ingredients:


  • 1 Box of Betty Crocker's Triple Chunk Brownie mix


  • 1 Bag of Candy Cane Kisses


  • 1 Package of candy canes


  • 1 cup of milk choclolate chip morsels



Directions:


Prepare the brownie mix per directions on box. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray. Place cupcake liners in the tin for each brownie. Unwrap 12 kisses, measure out the chocolate morsels and crush the candy canes(I used the small canes about 2-3 inches tall and crushed one per brownie. The amount you use will depend on how much mint you like and the size of candy cane you purchase. Pour the brownie mix into each liner about 2/3 full. Place a kiss in the center and push into batter. ***DO NOT PUSH KISS TO BOTTOM! You should be able to see the top of the kiss still.

Now continue by pouring enough batter over the top of kiss to cover. You should still have a little space at the top of the liner. This will allow the brownie a little room to rise as it bakes.

Bake according to the directions on brownie box. Once done remove from the oven and place on wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with milk chocolate morsels ( I used about 4-5 morsels per brownie.) and crushed candy canes over top and allow to cool completely. Makes 12 melt in your mouth treats!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bath, Bathe, or Bathing

My yesterday started like any other...get the kids dressed, feed the kids breakfast, read my scriptures, pray, eat my breakfast, plan the day. Well part of those plans included helping my mother bathe my grandmother. We both decided to give her the luxury first and then to take care of ourselves. Mom had everything ready for Grandmama - towels, soap, warmth and clean linen and a change of clothes. She just needed to give her doggeys some water and then we would begin. "Oh the best laid plans of mice and men..." When she turned on the faucet nothing came out. We quickly discovered that the water company was making some repairs so we re-adjusted our plans thinking that the water would be back on in an hour or so. My Mom and Joaquin left to run errands and I laid Zeke down for a nap. When I finished all of this it had been an hour without water. In our modern life of convenience that is a very long time. I waited another half hour - turning the faucets on every 10 minutes or so desperate for water. It was a full 6 hours without water and needless to say Grandmommie's bath had to wait til today. What was I thinking being so desperate for a shower when my Grandmother due to her health is only able to receive a "real shower" once a week...twice a week if she is feeling well. Oh, I wish you could have seen her face when she was through. She sat just a little straighter, smiled a little longer, and thanked us again and again. She just kept saying...."You don't know how much I appreciate that." It is the little things we appreciate the most like bath, bathe, and bathing :)

I just found this post that I began on 11-04-09. Today is 12-9-09 and it has been almost 2 weeks since Grandmommie passed on to the other side of the veil. Though I find great comfort in knowing she is with loved ones and free to teach and serve to her hearts desire....I miss her terribly. What a blessing my month in Kentucky turned out to be. I spent countless hours talking with her, holding her hand, hugging her and telling her over and over how much I loved her. The tender mercies of the Lord once again graced my life. Those days with her have brought me a great deal of comfort and peace. I am left once again with the overwhelming desire to state just how grateful I am for the wondrous plan of happiness and for the Savior and His role in it. He lives and because He lives I know she lives and that we will one day spend countless more hours, days...eternity talking, holding hands, hugging and sharing our love for one another.
Love you so much Grandmommie!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time Marches On...


In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.-- Alex Haley

This is a photograph of my Great-Grandmother (Mildred) and Great-Grandfather (Doc) Benningfield with my Grandmother (Frances - still living). I, like Nephi, know I was born of goodly parents. What a thrill and a blessing it is to have family. What a comfort it is to know these "great and noble" individuals on the other side of the veil are cheering and lifting and leading me along. Their lives have pointed my way back to Father in Heaven and even now I feel them near. What a beautiful plan the plan of happiness is...and I am ever so grateful for my knowledge and understanding of it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Words to live by...for a 3yr old

"Mommy, can I play outside?" "Yes, of course but put your shoes on first" "No, Mommy. I just want to wear my feet on!"

"Mommy, I'm hungry" "OK, we are almost home." "But Mommy, what about the hungry place?" As we pass the golden arches :)

As he is getting out of the bathtub and Mom is wrapping him in his towel..."Jacqi (this is what he calls my Mom...short for Grandmommie Jacqi)....Jacqi, I have a penie" You have to pee pee? No, I just have a penie. Oh, you just pee peed in the the bathtub? NO! I have a penie as he flashes her and points down there :)! Oh, yes you do?!!! She replies That is nice. " I mean what else could, should she have said? I guess boys are just born being proud of their bodies...every last bit of it :) Oh the innocence of childhood.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A little of everything good - POTATO SALAD

This salad is something I crave. I never thought of potato salad as a way to get your veggies but with this recipe you can definitely start working on your 4-6 servings a day! It has corn, green beans, peppers, carrots and onion. I'm sure I could have worked a few more in as well, right? It makes a great side to hamburgers or just about any grilled meat like carne asada hmmm! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I also serve it with barbecue.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
  • 8-10 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 bag of frozen green beans
  • 1/2 bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 medium red/purple onion
  • 1 bell pepper - I like a red bell pepper for variety of color
  • 1 Large carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mayonaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • jalapeno (optional)
  • fresh cilantro or parsley (depends on what I am serving it with)
Instructions:
Cook the potatoes in a large pot with plenty of water and salt!!! The best time to season the potato is while it is cooking. Bring to a boil cover and cook until just tender - NOT SOFT.

While the potatoes are cooking chop the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and cilantro or parsley (whichever you are using). Shred the carrot and defrost the corn and the green beans on the counter (don't worry if they are a little frozen still when you mix the hot potatoes with them they will be just fine).

In a small bowl mix the mayonaise and 1/2 of the lemon juice with the onion powder, salt, garlic powder and the parsley/cilantro and set to the side.

When the potatoes are done drain them and place in a large serving bowl. Pour in all veggies and cover with other half of lemon juice. Toss. Pour mayo mixture over all veggies and toss until all veggies are moist with mixture. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. This allows the all the flavors to marry. (love that term...flavors...marry :)



Friday, September 11, 2009

HIIIIYAAAHH!!! The Karate Kids


Last night Zeke and Joaquin began playing on the bed. We had just finished family prayer and Zeke began attacking Joaquin. I was so blown away but the height he was getting with his leg that I just had to take a picture. I was laughing so hard watching them that it is a wonder I was able to get anything at all. What do you think...does Zeke have a future in martial arts?:) He is obviously quite flexible!

Chicken Broccoli Braid


As I promised yesterday I am posting my Broccoli/Chicken or Chicken/Broccoli which ever you want to call it :) I have since made it again for my family. It is sooooo easy and sooooo yummilicous and soooooo pretty! You gotta add this one to your "tried and trues". The veggies are so colorful and that creamy chicken mixture looks hard to resist. What about that flaky buttery crust? As my Zeke would say...YUM! YUM!

Adapted from "Pampered Chef" recipe

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

12 oz. cooked chicken, chopped (2 cups - about
3 cooked boneless skinless chicken breast halves)
1 C. broccoli, chopped
1/2 C. red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
4 oz. swiss, shredded (1 cup)
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dillweed
1/4 tsp. salt
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 T. slivered almonds (optional)

**I also added 1tsp of onion powder

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

To cook the chicken I placed the breasts in a large soup kettle with plenty of water and one whole onion and 4-5 cloves of garlic. Salt the water well. Place on stove and cook over medium heat until tender and done. About 1 hour.

Chop chicken and broccoli and place in bowl. Add chopped red bell pepper. Press garlic(I used the nice soft garlic from my chicken stock) over mixture and shred cheese over mixture. Add mayonnaise, dillwee and salt. Mix well. I refrigerated this mixture overnight to allow all of the spices and seasonings to marry well.

Unroll package of crescent rolls. Do not separate. Arrange longest sides of dough across width of 12 x 15-inch pan and repeat with remaining package of dough. Roll out(I just pressed all seams together with my hands.) dough to seal perforations. On long side of pan, cut dough into strips 1 1/2 inches apart, 3 inches deep leaving approximately 6 inches in the center of dough for filling. Spread filling evenly over middle of dough.

To braid: lift strips of dough across mixture to meet in center, twisting each strip one turn. Continue alternating strips to form braid (This part was confusing to me so I just braided the dough the same way I would hair). Tuck ends under to seal at ends. The tricky part is the overlapping. You don't want to overlap too many strips as they won't cook all the way through at the same rate. Brush egg white over dough and sprinkle with almonds. Baked 25-28 minutes or until deep golden brown.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Could Just Eat These!!

Aren't babies legs and feet soooo cute. I love those little rolls of fat...I just want to eat them up:) I was taking a few pictures of Joaquin and Ezekiel watching a movie together on my bed when I was overcome with a wave of "these things are toooo cute". I had to take a picture. It's not just the legs either I want to eat those toes too :) Oh how I love babies. I was at a birthday party on Saturday and a friend had her 8 month old there and wouldn't you know another wave hit me and I just had to hold him and squeeze and kiss those chubby legs and cute feet. I know one day I will be so sad when my last baby has lost all the baby fat and there are no more chubby legs and cute feet to love on...til then watch out Zeke I feel a wave comin on! :)

Blueberry Key Lime Cheesecake


A few weeks ago I had a luncheon for the sisters that I visit teach. I really wanted to do something to let them know how much I love and appreciate them. I was looking for a menu that was yummy and pretty. I found just that on the Woman’s Day Website and a few other places. Here is our menu:

  • Broccoli Cheese Braid
  • Spinach Salad
  • Blueberry Key Lime Cheesecake
  • Sparkling Grape Juice

We didn’t start with dessert at our luncheon but I am going to with my menuJ. Doesn’t it just get your taste buds a salivatin? I didn’t get pictures of my decorations L so sad.

I just got so excited when the sisters came that I forgot. I will be posting the Broccoli Chicken Braid tomorrow. Needless to say we all left with full tummies and full hearts!

BLUEBERRY KEY LIME CHEESECAKE

INGREDIENTS

    Crust

    • 10 shortbread cookies (we used Keebler Sandies Simply Shortbread)
    • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

    Filling

    • 3 bricks (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1⁄2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
    • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1 Tbsp grated lime zest
    • 1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 drop liquid green food color (optional)

    Blueberry Topping
    1⁄4 cup sugar
    11⁄2 tsp cornstarch
    3 Tbsp water
    3 cups blueberries
    1 Tbsp lime juice

PREPARATION

    1. Heat oven to 325°F. Spray an 8 x 3-in. springform pan with nonstick spray.

    2. Crust: Process cookies in food processor to make fine crumbs. Add butter; pulse to blend. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack.

    3. Filling: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and sour cream. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 2 minutes until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl and beater once or twice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth and creamy; pour over crust.

    4. Bake 60 minutes or until cake is almost set and center still jiggles slightly when touched. Remove to a rack; cut around outside edge of cake to loosen from sides. Cool on rack 3 hours (cake will sink as it cools). Cover and refrigerate up to several days.

    5. Topping: In small saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and water until blended. Add 1 cup blueberries; mash berries well with a potato masher. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Stir in lime juice and another 1⁄2 cup blueberries. Spread on top of cheesecake; top cheesecake with remaining 11⁄2 cups blueberries. Refrigerate until serving.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nothing like a good book and comfy bed to read it in!

I have a wonderful legacy of reading in my family. I
remember my grandmother reading to me everynight as a child. My mother tells me of times when they were too poor to buy books for themselves but that didn't stop my grandmother...she made up wonderfully delicious stories for her children. I was the benefactor of her story telling as well...I'll always remember "The Little Pink Bear" and "The Black Lamb". It was only natural for me to continue this tradition with my own children. We take a weekly trip to the library where the boys pick out books they want to read for the week. Although we have plenty of books to choose from there are some nights I am too tired to read and so the story telling begins. I am not the tale weaver that my grandmother is but my children are quite pleased with what I produce. So far we have had "The Cave Dwellers", :The little boy who always tried to do what is right", "Sharks", and of course my versions of the traditional "Little Pink Bear", "The Black Lamb", Hansel & Gretel, "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Little Red riding hood", and "Goldilocks and the three bears" just to name a few. I hope to instill in my own children the same love of the written word that I hold. And from the looks of these pictures I'd say I am on the right track!



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lime-Balsamic Tomato Salad

(Please Note** I had eaten half the tomatoes before I took the picture :)

Who doesn't like a ripe juicy summer tomato? Oh, I know plenty of people who don't but, I am most certainly not one of them. I planted tomatoes myself this year and waited in anticipation for the yummy fruit only to be terribly disappointed. I found that my sweet little Zeke loved pulling the green fruit off the plants. We are in a condo so I did a container garden on my balcony. I often left the sliding glass door open to allow the boys to play and to enjoy the fresh air. How sad I was one day when I found several of the green tomato fruit rolling around on the balcony. I quickly scolded him and told him not to bother my fruit. However, I am not sure if it was a case of yearning for "the forbidden fruit" or what but, he continued to pull the fruit off throughout the summer so no tomatoes from my garden. Boo Hoo! I did get lucky last week and received about a bushel from a local farm. I love, love, love tomatos. My mom said that as a child I would eat them like candy. I couldn't get enough. And just to let you know...I believe my tomato appetite is insatiable because 40 years later I still can't get enough!

This salad is my most favorite way to eat them well, next to a good ole tomato sandwich. It is simple yet bursting with flavor and goes well with almost anything. MM MM! I think I am gonna go get me some now!

PS And it doesn't hurt that they are considered a "super food"

Ingredients:
  • 4 whole tomatoes sliced - nice hearty slices. (you can use the beef steak or roma it depends on the season. When tomatoes are in season I use what I have grown in the garden or the local farmers market.)
  • 8 slices of red onion - sliced very thinly
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBS of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium lime
  • salt
  • 1 tsp parsley or cilantro (depends on what I am serving the salad with)
You can make this salad one of two ways:

1 - make a vinegrette with the liquids and then pour over the sliced tomatoes and onion. Then season with salt and sprinkle the parsley over or

2. lay out the sliced tomatoes and onions in a dish and pour each ingredient over one at a time. This is how I make it. But, whatever works for you...go for it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Are you sure about this?

The other day I prepared Joaquin's toothbrush for him and asked him to please brush his teeth as I handed it to him. He looked at me thoughtfully and asked, "Are you sure about this?" I grinned very big (stiffling a giggle) and said yes I am sure. Again one night I asked him to turn off his video and told him it was time for bed. He didn't argue he just looked at me thoughtfully and asked, "Are you sure about this?" I again stiffled a laugh and told him I was certain about this. He obediently got up and turned off his video and went to bed. Honestly, how do children come up with these things? I guess it is a reminder of the strong intelligent sprirt within each of them. Of all the things I am....I love being "Mommy" the best!

BAJIO CHICKEN CHILE QUESADILLAS


Remember yesterday when I posted the Bajio Chicken Chile Salad. Well, here I am again with a wonderful surprise...the leftovers make a delicioso second meal. I love crock-pot recipes but I love even more leftovers that can make great second meals!!! The Bajio Chicken Chile Salad is just such a recipe. I used the leftover chicken from our chicken chile salad and made quesadillas. It was a flavor explosion in my mouth.
Assembly of Quesadilla's -

Heat skillet on medium and spray lightly with cooking spray. Place a flour tortilla in heated pan and sprinkle cheese over tortilla. Drizzle the cilantro dressing over cheese. Spread the chicken chile over the cheese and then the black beans over the chicken. Drizzle with a little more dressing and then sprinkle a little more cheese. Top with a flour tortilla and cook until bottom tortilla is lightly brown (Please be careful not to burn!) Then flip over and cook until lightly brown. Slice like a pizza and serve over a bed of greens and a side of the green chile rice.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tan Serio!


Look at this muscle bound baby boy who would also be cute as a button but for the very serious look on his face. Rodrigo and I always talk about the the contrast between Joaquin and Zeke. While Joaquin is always quick to smile you are more likely to catch this expression on Ezekiel's face. We love the differences and celebrate them. It always amazes me how they come with a unique spirit all of their own. Zeke may have the serious face but he is the biggest ham! He loves to get a laugh out of us....and sometimes all it takes is his expression to get me so tickled that I am crying. I sure do love my boys!

BAJIO CHICKEN CHILE SALAD


Remember the blog that inspired me to combine my blogs into one? Well she also had this yummy recipe that I tried recently. It is a copy cat recipe for Bajio Chicken Chile Salad. She says this recipe "came from Kara’s Kitchen Creations - a darling blog with lots of yummy recipes!".

Recipe adapted from Kara's Kitchen Creations

Bajio Chicken Chile Salad
5 chicken breasts (I only used 4 large ones)
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 cup brown sugar (more to taste)
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
6 oz. Sprite (1/2 can)
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot and cook 1 more hour. Thicken the juices with a little cornstarch mixed in water.
Serve with flour tortillas, lettuce, cheese, black beans and any other taco fixings.
If you want it spicer rather than sweeter add a hotter salsa and more green chilies.

Green Chile Rice (Serves 6)
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
4 oz. green chiles
1 sm. onion, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. cumin
3 green onions.
Mix together and pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until rice is done at 350.
NOTE*** If you plan to double the amount of rice you will have adjust cooking time appropriately. It will take about 15-20 min. longer.

Cilantro Salad Dressing (This gets rave reviews everytime I serve it)
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (dry mix)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2- 1/3 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/2 – 1 small jalapeno (remove seed)
1 cup mayo
1 tsp. lime juice
1-2 tomatillos (remove outer papery skin)
1 garlic clove
Blend all ingredients in blender!

Building the Salad
I used sweet baby greens for the foundation of my salad.
Top the greens with the chicken.
Top the chicken with black beans.
Top the black beans with cheese.
Top the cheese with tortilla strips (I made my own).
Drizzle the cilantro Salad dressing over everything.
Serve with Green chili rice on the side.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hello Dollies


While attending Utah State University my sister, Caprece, and I worked for the university catering department. It was a wonderful experience in which we learned a great deal about food and entertaining. It was also the perfect place for struggling college students because of the "free food" perk. Everyday we were permitted to eat what was termed leftovers. The leftovers were actually items that hadn't sold that day and wouldn't be fresh the next. One of our most favorite "leftovers" of all were the Dolly Madisons. She and I dreamed of them long after our college life ended with marriage and graduation. Nearly 10 years later she found the recipe. I am not sure if she ever tried the recipe but today when my 3 year old had a little sweet tooth I pulled out her tried and trues and found the recipe. I just had to have a little of this cookie full of nostalgia and rich gooey yumminess. Try it for yourself...you won't be able to stop with one.

Adapted from recipe by Debbie Ruse

1 package graham crackers (crushed)
1 stick of butter melted in 9 x 13 pan
Spread crackers over butter.

Sprinkle on top:
1 package milk chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet for a contrast with the gooey rich cooked sweetened condensed milk)
1 cup coconut
1 cup nuts (I used pecans just like the USU one)

Pour 1 can Borden's sweetened condensed milk over all. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Cut around edges as soon as cool. Cut into squares. Refrigerate until firm.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exquisite Things



I dreamed about Caprece this week. I have only had two dreams with her since her death and in both at some point I am hugging her. Hugging her like the last time I hugged her at the airport in Salt Lake City. Holding on tight wishing that I didn't have to let go but knowing that I do. Usually waking from a dream such as this leaves me feeling a bit empty with a longing but, this time when I awoke I still felt her near me and it continued throughout the entire day. Saying that I miss her is an understatement of massive proportions but, well the English language isn't quite adequate in describing the things of the heart. Very dear friends of mine, who live in Australia, emailed me this week and reminded me of the "exquisite things she must be doing". What a glorious thing to ponder! I miss her and will throughout the rest of my life but I rejoice in the service I know she continues to give as a servant of our beloved Savior. What a gift the plan of salvation is and an even greater gift is my knowledge of it and the role our Savior plays in it....resurrection and redemption...Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift 2 Corinthians 9:15.

I thank God for the precious gift of family and even more for Caprece who was not only my Sister but my friend, my confidant, my exemplar and so very much much more. I love you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Point - Museum of Ancient Life ie...Dinosaur Park & The Animal Farm


August has been “Two buck Tuesday’s” at Thanksgiving Point and Ezekiel gets in for free so I took the boys twice this month

. The first time we went it was the very first Tuesday of the month and we didn’t get to the Dinosaur park because it was beyond crowded! We did however have a great time at t

he animal farm. We rode a horse-drawn wagon and played and petted the many different animals of good Old McDonald’s farm. Yesterday was the last Tuesday of the month and we went back for the Dinosaur Park and a horsey/pony ride. The things we do for love, right? We stood in line for an hour for a 5 minute ride. Was it worth it you ask? Yep, every hot, sweaty, fussy moment of it. We were all grinning ear to ear…the boys from riding and me from watching. Joaquin got to ride a horse and I walked with Ezekiel while he road the pony. But I forgot the camera so no photos…SORRY I AM!

Next it was off to the Dinosaur park which was still beyond crowded but not so much as the first day. We looked at all of the exhibits but a strange thing happened…Joaquin refused to look at the T-Rex exhibit. WHAT?!! I know, I think his imagination has increased and now he has bad dreams which I believe on occasion include T-Rex. We ended with a brief play in the excavation play area that felt like a sauna but I grinned and bore it. Joaquin is already at age 3 nearly a paleontologist. He can name almost every dinosaur. We just need to work on what period they belong in and a few other important things J

Monday, August 24, 2009

FRUIT PIZZA


Caprece was a great collector of recipes. She was always on the look-out for a good one and she passed the bug on to me. Matt allowed me to copy all of her recipes a couple of years ago and they get plenty of use!

This is a recipe from her collection. Once while visiting our cousin in Kentucy she served this light refreshing dessert and Caprece had to have the recipe. I decided to make it after suffering from a craving for a dessert with fresh fruit. It is easy to make and tastes wonderful.

From Caprece's collection by Raina

Ingredients and Instructions:

CRUST
4 cups flour
2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup brown sugar

Mix all together. grease texas sheet pan and spread evenly over the pan(will not be smooth). Pat with hands. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 min(the longer it cooks the harder it gets so cook it to desired firmness) I like it on the softer side so I cook it for 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

TOPPING
1 large tub cool whip
2 8oz cream cheese
1 small box powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese then add coolwhip. Add sugar 1 cup at a time and mix well. Spread over cooled crust. Top with seasonal fruits. I used strawberries, blueberries and kiwi on this one.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

IMAGINATION

video

Yesterday Rodrigo and I were talking, Zeke was napping and we thought Joaquin was watching an episode of Looney Tunes. Rodrigo went to check on him but he wasn't where we thought he was and we began to search the house. He was nowhere to be found. Rodrigo said he had checked the balcony but I went to check again. The sliding glass door was closed which caused me to assume he wasn't there. I stuck my head out and yelled "Joaquin" but nothing. As I was pulling my head in, I saw him. He was sitting on the balcony with the door to the storage open and playing with his "Little People" nativity set and some other christmas toys. Just as happy and content as can be. He looked at me with expectation in his face....expectation of getting in trouble. I quickly told him he was just fine and could play as long as he liked. I snuck back a little later and caught the video above. It isn't often that we can catch them unaware...as you can see from my video below. Later the same day I found both Joaquin and Zeke again playing to their hearts' content. It has quickly become a favorite place to play!


video

Friday, August 21, 2009

Zucchini & Carrot a Scapece (Antipasti) grazie a Giada





This is the last of the new recipes I tried for our most recent bookclub meeting. Another suprisingly delicious antipasti. I had never had this before but it had the kind of flavors that one bite is just not enough of. This recipe is also from her "Everyday Pasta" book. It is pretty simple as well.

Ingredients:
6 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
5 large zucchini (about 2 pounds), cut in 1/4-inch rounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (I left these out and it was still wonderful)
10 medium carrots (about 1 pound), peeled and cut in 1/4-inch rounds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Heat 1/3 cup oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the zucchini and fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried zucchini to a baking dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the garlic, basil, and mint leaves over the zucchini.

Add the remaining oil to the frying pan. Add the carrots to the hot oil and saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried carrots to the dish of zucchini. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining garlic, basil, and mint leaves over. Drizzle the vinegar over the vegetable mixture and toss gently to coat. Cool to room temperature. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Allow the vegetables to come to room temperature before serving. Transfer the scapece to a platter. Serve with bread, fish or chicken.

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