Monday, July 15, 2013

New Furniture

Jeff and I went shopping this weekend at some of our local resale stores.  We have an area that we keep all our lunch boxes and lunch food containers in and it gets really messy and unorganized.  I really wanted to get this area under control before school starts back up.  This cabinet is huge and once we buy some baskets for the inside should work out beautifully.  When we bought it there was no back but Jeff put one on for me.  The store we bought it at was selling it for only $12 and then we got an additional 30% off it.  So for only $8.40 we got an amazing cabinet.

This is what it looks like with the new back and all sanded.  The wood was not in perfect shape so we decided that it would need to be painted.  We got the first coats on last night and as soon as it's all reassembled I will post final photos of it.  
There has been a lot going on here yet at the same time not much either.  Well I better head to the kitchen and get my bread ready for its second rise.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pretty Breakfast

This is what I made for breakfast yesterday morning.  I saw it on the Cooking Channel with Rachel Khoo's 'Little Paris Kitchen'.   They were her take on some sort of French classic dish. 

I didn't follow her recipe exactly because it just seemed like it would be so very simple to do.  This one really is.

I think her recipe had a cheese sauce mine has apple smoked cheddar (oh baby that's good stuff!).

An absolutely gorgeous easy breakfast that even my kids can make and you can choose how many you need to do.

A Pretty Breakfast
adapted from Rachel Khoo 

White bread
Thin Ham slices
Shredded Cheese
Melted Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the crusts off the bread and use a rolling pin to make them thinner (like a pita bread) brush melted butter on each side of the bread.  Tuck the bread into ramekin dishes or large muffin tins, add ham on top of the bread.  I sort of tucked the ham around the edges so that the center was still totally open.  Crack an egg into the middle of the ham and bread.  Top with cheese of your choice something with a good strong flavor is a great choice.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on how well done you like your eggs.  Let set for a few minutes after you pull them out of the oven.   

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

To all the mamas out there Happy Mother's Day!  I hope your day is amazing.  I think an amazing Mother's Day would involve a church service that didn't make me go through a box of tissues but it's probably never going to happen (ever). 

For my gift this day I received seven cubic yards of dirt.  It came in a dump truck (that was far quieter than I had expected) and put right into my driveway.  Audrey (the little girl I babysit for) loved watching them dump the dirt.  

For the money we spent on this I could have gotten some pretty trinket but that wouldn't really make me happy.  Being in the gardens this will fill surrounded by the kids and Jeff while we harvest our own tomatoes and whatnot that will definitely make me happy.

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's looking Better

We are finally able to get some work done in the yard!!!  Whoo hoo!!!  Three of the boxes are laid in the back and we have on in the front yard too.  We are hoping to put in another box to the right and then three more in front of these.  By the house there is a huge area of white stone laid down that Jeff is pulling up and sifting the dirt out of the rocks and those will be getting put down between the garden boxes.  While he was working in the stones he found a bunch of stepping stones we didn't even know were there!  That area has been pretty neglected since we moved in.  

We had a wrap up meeting for the Service Auction committee at our house and Molly helped by getting the glass top of the table cleaned up and all the old chairs.  She is a huge help to us :)

I even got a little bit of transplanting done.  Our local nursery had their herbs on sale for only 99 cents each!  It was a total steal but we wanted to get them into some bigger pots because they were starting to look a little root bound.  
Now I'm off to call for dirt prices to fill in those boxes wish me luck!

Monday, April 29, 2013

I'm bringin' home a baby bumble bee

In our city we can't keep bee hives.  I think that it is fear of swarming that keeps that in the laws.  We live in a subdivision with a smallish yard so it probably wouldn't work anyway.  What we can own is Mason Bees.  They are a native bee to North America and they don't live in colonies they live by themselves.  In town we have an amazing store called J.J. Cardinal's that carries all sorts of bird houses locally sourced bird foods and all things nature.  You walk in and it just has a wonderful feeling to it.  The owner collects the bees she sells from her own yard every year.  We purchased a starter set for about $20 and it has three females and three males.  We also bought cardboard tubes for the bees to set up for their offspring and of course a book.  I can never have too many books.  It looks like we will finally have enough warmth to set these babies out so they can warm up (right now they are napping in my refrigerator).    So what are you guys up to?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Break

We had an awesome Spring Break last week.  The kids I baby sit for spent it with their dad so I just had Molly and Jack.   I don't think we've ever had such a fight free week.  Mostly we did nothing but playing around, the TV was only on probably a handful of hours the whole week. 


The one event we had been planning for weeks was checking out the new babies at Wolcott Mill Metropark.   It is a little bit of a drive for us and that was okay the kids didn't even bring their video games in the car we spent the whole time talking!  
Molly got to hold a baby goat for the first time (and I got to pet it) we very much wanted to take her home with us she was just so sweet.  

They also had candle dipping set up and the kids enjoyed that too.  I was surprised at Jack's patience with the process.  He loved how you could dip the wick in different colors and make rainbows.  
It was just the break from school we needed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Grocery Shopping

I think it is funny when I talk about my system for grocery shopping and mostly cooking from scratch; people are amazed by it.  For me there is no other way to do it and it just seems like common sense.  Well I was pretty lucky (although it didn't seem like it at the time) I had no choice but to go grocery shopping with my parents and along the way I learned a few things.  I did not grow up in a house with a set menu like every Monday we had meatloaf or anything, we ate a varied menu that included Polish food, American food and Asian foods.  This week a mom at school asked me to make a copy of what I do and to please share it with her so she could also learn how to shop efficiently.

We started with the ad papers for the local grocery stores what is the least expensive protein this week?  Eggs are unless you want to buy a whole ham (which I don't).  I also felt good about the assumption we would be bringing home left over ham from Easter dinner on Sunday.  So this is our menu this week:  Thursday-Baked Pasta, Friday-Fish and Chips, Saturday-BBQ Chicken, Sunday-we are bringing a veggie and appetizer to Easter dinner, Monday-Quiche, Tuesday-English Muffin Pizzas, Wednesday-Ham Strata

I made her a grocery list of the ingredients for every dinner and showed her how I doubled up on a lot of stuff, like the Ham Strata has English Muffins and we are already buying some for the Pizzas etc.  I told her to cross off some of the stuff she already had like onions or noodles and to add breakfast items and lunch stuff.  The next thing I included was a quick list of how to make each dish.  It was surprising how much interest this got while waiting to pick up the kids.  I would love to hear how you guys shop and if there are any favorite dishes that everyone just raves about I'm always looking for something new to add to the repertoire.
Aren't these jars just the most beautiful thing ever?!!!!!   My dear sweet wonderful husband bought them for me as soon as I told him they were available.  I had no idea he had done it until he walked in with them (he had them sent to his mom's house).  They are a much deeper blue than the real vintage jars and there isn't any green to them.  They are an absolutely gorgeous Robin's egg blue I think I'm going to buy my self some daffodils to put in them until canning season starts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pi Day

This week I was in charge of the teacher's luncheon something our school parent group does during every conference week.  We figure that since they are at the school all day and well into the evening we can at least make sure they have things to eat.  Some people brought in pasta salads, veggie/fruit trays, macaroni and cheese, cookies and other assorted nibbles.  In honor of National Pi Day I made an apple pie for the teachers to enjoy.  I adapted the recipe from Taste and See.

Apple PIe

Single Pie Crust (I love the one from Pioneer Woman's cookbook)
4 large granny smith apples (about 2 pounds)
1/2 C. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamom
dash of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cornstarch

topping:  1C. flour
1/2C. brown sugar
3 TBSP. butter
1/4C. rolled oats

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Peel and dice your apples, place them into a large sauce pan with the honey and spices.  Simmer so the apples are slightly soft add the cornstarch to help thicken up the sauce.  Roll out your pie crust and add the apples.  In a bowl cut the butter into the flour and brown sugar until it is well incorporated mix in the oats.  Top the apples with the crumble.  Bake for 40 minutes  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Going Crazy

I'm going crazy at home!  A week and a half ago I had an accident at karate (completely my own fault) and I sprained my knee.  I spent a week in this big immobilizer brace and on crutches.  It is the first time in my life I've been on crutches.  Now I'm in a much smaller compression brace so I have some movement.  It is so hard to give over all the jobs around the house to Jeff.  There are so many things that I want to be doing but I can't well I can but I pay dearly for it.  This is my wake up call to be more grateful for all the things that I don't enjoy but would give anything to do now.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

One of the first dinners I made after the whole I'm not cooking for anyone thing was a fantastic stuffed chicken breast.  I have never tried to do stuffed anything before and it was a lot of fun to do.

I started by butterflying my chicken breasts I wish that I had a meat mallet to thin out the breasts.  Unfortunately it got lost in a move and I never remember I need to buy a new one until I actually go to use it.    
Put in a smear of spinach pesto and fresh mozzarella balls cut into half in each breast.   Then I coated the breasts in flour, then eggs, and finally panko bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese.


I fried the chicken breasts until each side was beautiful golden brown.  Then we baked them on a rack to make sure they were cooked all the way through.  Keeping them lifted made sure that they didn't get soggy.  The final touches for dinner was a cheesy orzo and sauteed spinach and garlic. 
Hello yummy!!!  Everyone enjoyed dinner that night and begged me to make it again soon.  I think it will become a part of our regular rotation of meals.

 Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 Chicken Breasts, fresh mozzarella balls (or sliced mozzarella), pesto
3 Eggs
1 C. Flour
1 C. Panko Bread Crumbs mixed with 1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese Grated

Butterfly the chicken breasts so they are uniform on each side.  Inside gets a spread of pesto and mozzarella (keep it away from the edges).  Cover in flour, dip into the eggs and then coat in Panko Bread Crumbs.  Fry until golden on each side.  If the temperature of the meat doesn't come up to 180 degrees bake until  safe.  Enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chinese New Year

     Ah so welcome to the year of the snake my friends.  As you can tell we are running about a month behind here.  To all of you who cook for your families every night have you ever just gotten to the point you want to scream?  I LOVE cooking for my family I enjoy figuring out the weekly menus for us and watching everyone smile when they see what's put down in front of them.  This year I am babysitting for a few picky eaters and for some reason in February they rubbed off on my very good eaters.  I was making meal after meal that no one would eat, comments were made about it being yucky and more.  If you have been with this blog for awhile you know that Chinese New Year is something that we celebrate everyone year.  This year it was my final straw I spent forever getting ready for the dinner then spent forever cooking it and the kids ate part of it and then threw it away.  I just went on strike after that.  After a very quiet week and a lot of grilled cheese for dinner here I finally decided that I would make dinners I enjoy and that Jeff enjoys and not try to cater to everyone in the house. 
Anyway here is the Ramen Bowl that broke the camel's back.  It isn't anything special Veggie Stock, Ramen noodles, Bamboo Shoots, Corn, Spinach, BBQ spare ribs from the local Chinese Restaurant and Hard Boiled eggs.  A quick easy dinner the only thing that took forever was frying the Sesame Balls they were very good.  I wish I still had the recipe but it was from a library borrowed cookbook.  Have a great week everyone!!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

National Pancake Day

Ah yes National Pancake Day one of the great holidays of the year in our house...  A much anticipated day in the midst of crappy gray weather and slush.  This year we moved a bit out of the box and tossed away the sweet pancakes and decided to go a more savory route with Bacon and Green Onion Corn Cakes.  To be honest this was not well received by the little people in my house they felt it was blasphemy to take a beloved day of sweet dinner and make it well... not sweet.  Jeff and I much enjoyed this deviant treat and we hope you will also. 

remember save your bacon fat!

Bacon Green Onion Corn Cakes

1 1/2 C. Cornmeal
1 C flour (I did a mix of WW and AP)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
5 strips of bacon cooked and chopped
2 green onions sliced
1 C of cheddar cheese grated (although small chunks would also be nice)
1 egg beaten
4 Tbsp of melted butter 
1 Tbsp of bacon fat
2 C milk (or more to get the desired consistency)
eggs for fryin'

Warm up your griddle or fry panOkay this is totally simple mix all these ingredients together except the extra eggs for frying.  I found a drop biscuit like consistency worked really nicely so add milk as needed.  Place on your griddle (grease it if you need to) cook until the edges start to get cooked looking also and flip to the other side.  Cook your extra eggs how you love them I love a good runny yolked egg (dippy eggs as my nephew calls them) the kids had fried egg whites.  Place on top of your corn cake and enjoy with a quick crack of fresh black pepper.  


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Of course right after I write my post about my stubborn computer the card reader starts working, gah!  So frustrating.  We had tostadas the other night for dinner very American style of course.  I even deep fried the corn tortillas myself and smoked up the whole darn house.  
Jeff ground the meat for me and it was the best part of the whole dinner.  We used pork butt from the butcher and it was so flavorful compared to buying it from the store pre-ground.  I would show you pictures but Jeff did this for me while the kids and I were at church and I forgot to ask him to take any.

Start with a three pound pork butt roast and trim the huge veins of fat from it.  Jeff used my grandpa's boning knife.  Grind all the meat once on a coarse grind.  Into the ground meat mix in 1 Tbsp of chili powder, 1/2 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper, dried Mexican oregano (or regular) 1 tsp paprika, 1 Tbsp cumin, 2 tsp kosher salt, 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper.  Mix this in with your hands.  Run back through the finer holes on your grinder this will incorporate the seasonings beautifully and evenly through the meat.  Just fry this up and enjoy how ever you love your Mexi-meat best!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stupid Computer

My computer and I are not getting along.  I have a wonderful recipe for this awesome Mexican style meat for you.  Jeff took the photos and now I can't get the computer to read my SD card.  My computer has been fighting with me more and more often.  There is a plan to get a new one soon.  Until I can get the card reader to do it's thing here are some adorable photos from our garden in 2011 I found on my hard drive.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hostess Gift

 I'm an old fashioned girl at heart really.  I have always loved the idea of hostess gifts but very rarely do I get the opportunity to give one.  When we were invited to our ministers house a few Saturday's ago I was as excited to go and talk as I was to be able to bring a gift.  

The tag was the most fun to make and I have to say it turned out better than I thought it would.  I attached it to a jar of the Orange Honey Butter I had made the day before.  Underneath is a loaf of Oatmeal Banana Bread wrapped in plastic with a layer of Kraft paper over top (a brown shopping bag works great).  It was just so nice to be able to walk up to the door and have something to say thank you for inviting me into your home.

Oatmeal Banana Bread

1 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. stone ground whole wheat (or AP whatever is fine)
1/2 C. old fashioned oats with more for on top
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 C. buttermilk
1 TBSP. melted butter
1 TBSP. vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
1/2 C. light brown sugar
1/4 C. honey
2 medium mashed bananas (I like to leave them a little chunky)
1 1/2 C. frozen (or fresh in season) cranberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour a bread pan.

In a medium bowl mix together the flours, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a measuring cup measure out your buttermilk and add the vanilla extract and the melted butter

I like to add the cinnamon and the cardamom into my mashed bananas
With an electric mixer beat the eggs, brown sugar and the honey until well combined it turns thick and pale in color (approximately five minutes).  Mix in the spiced mashed bananas and the buttermilk mixture.  In two batches add the flour mixture.  Do not over mix you just want to combine these things.  Fold in the cranberries by hand and pour into the bread pan.  Sprinkle with more oats on top.

Bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool the bread out of the pan on a rack. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Homemade Cultured Buttermilk

 Do you love homemade buttermilk pancakes but hate when you don't have buttermilk on hand?  Then you get stuck doing the whole milk with lemon juice mixed in to make a soured milk substitute right?  We decided to try making our own cultured buttermilk and oh my gods is it easy!  I don't think we will be running out again any time soon.  

Start with 6 to 8 ounces of cultured buttermilk from the store (okay so this is probably cheating but go with me 'kay?) in a clean quart jar.  Check the labels to make sure it has the cultures in it.  I wasn't sure how fresh my 'stater' was so I used 8 ounces.

Fill the rest of your quart jar with whole milk.  I used it cold straight from the fridge without any problems but room temp would have probably made this go faster.

I then wrapped my jar in a tea towel and placed it in the oven over night with the light on because my house gets pretty chilly sometimes and when I did this the wind was really kicked up. 

The next morning I woke up with a gorgeous thick buttermilk that as you can see coated the glass.  Molly tried it and claimed it was like drinking one of those yogurt shakes and thought maybe we should flavor it.  That might not be a bad idea. 

 Of course neither was buttermilk blueberry pancakes for dinner!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Canning

Aren't these so pretty?!  We are lucky to have a year round farmer's market not too far away.  The kids and I picked up some carrots for snacks, soups and all sorts of other yummy carrotness recently.  As we did not get the amount of canning done that we had planned on this year I decided to get some extra pickles made for us.  These are spicy pickled carrots and I'm thinking they are going to be very spicy.  We all love pickles but only Jack and I really like the heat so we'll see how they go over when it is time to pop them open in a month or so.  I would like to say that next time I'm making anything with a brine I should probably not do it an hour before bed because that is a smell that hangs around! 
Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern PantryThis is the book that I found the recipe in.  I love that it is broken into seasons and it fun to read not just to pick up for it's recipes.  Do you have this book and have a favorite recipe from it?  Or do you maybe have a favorite way to preserve carrots or other winter root veggies?  I would love to hear them.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Little Brightness

Today is one of those gross ugly days that just make me want to hide.  It's the exact end this week deserves really.  Too much homework, too much time inside, too many meltdowns all the way around this week.       

Really I want to wallow in it but I know that I've already promised to go to the gym later tonight and that will make me feel loads better so I'm running on optimism and made something bright and yummy.  

In the Better Homes and Gardens canning magazine I kicked  moved earlier I saw this gem and decided that since we have all the ingredients the colors were just want I needed to brighten up my day.

All we have here is one stick of butter, a quarter cup of honey (local), zest from an orange and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.  Whip that all together and viola! sunshine in a jar!  Now on to dinner then getting ready for the gym wish me luck!