Tuesday, December 29, 2009
My husband prefers to avoid simple carbohydrates in general, and baked goods specifically, so cinnamon rolls are something I would not normally put on the menu around here. As such, I’ve been eyeing this particular recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks with apprehension. There simply is NO good time to make it in our house, from a dietary perspective! That being said, I’m working my way through the cookbook, trying to make each item by June 2010, so I decided to just get it over with during the holidays when suspect dietary choices are encouraged! :)
It’s funny that I have made many breads, puff pastry, and tons of other so-called fancy foods, but never the humble cinnamon roll. I’ve tried Cinnabon at an airport and have to admit I really didn’t think it was worth the fuss. There was too much bread to it, and the icing tasted like sugar and nothing else. All in all, I chalked cinnamon rolls in the category of foods that sound better than they are in reality.
I can find NOTHING to complain about in the finished product with this recipe. It’s really very easy to make! The filling is gooey and satisfying, and the glaze/frosting is still mostly sugar, but with a couple of additions that make it sublime.
I made a half recipe, and while that’s sometimes tricky with baking--the chemistry of the culinary world--this recipe divides in halves so evenly that it works. Plus, then I had less rolls to force my daughter to take around the neighborhood and get them OUT of my house! I like to do that: make foods of dubious nutritional value, then pawn them off on other, skinnier people. Win-win for me, ha!
I see making these to share at a swim meet, or to bring to a pot luck style event earlier in the day, or baking them in disposable pie tins and giving batches away as gifts. What I am saying is, these are best shared. Then let the accolades pile up, because they are that good! You can find the recipe and photos instructing their preparation HERE.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I barely had any time to think about Christmas this year, but it still happened! We never got around to making a gingerbread house—Trader Joe’s didn’t stock the kits this year, and I simply never got around to going out to find one elsewhere. Oh well, it’ll just make next year’s all the more special, right? Right? ;)
However we did do plenty.
Along with our traditional chocolate advent calendars, I found one that featured a favorite ‘new classic’ story—Olive the Other Reindeer. I found it way back last January and tucked it away… and am amazed I remembered about it! Hey, some days I feel like giving myself a high-five for simply keeping all the kids fed, reasonably clean, and at the places they should be more or less when they should be there, so yes, I am amazed I remembered the little calendar I stuck in a rarely opened drawer 11.5 months ago! Go me! :)
Everyday a new element is revealed and placed in or around Santa’s Castle. The details are wonderful, with roofs flipping open to show the interior of the house, stables, workshop…
This reindeer cracks me up, hanging out with his cocoa. For some reason he reminds me of less wholesome bar patrons huddled outside with their smokes… The kids all arrange and rearrange the scene multiple times a day. Bunny likes to set a wide, grand tableaux… while Carter prefers to jam all the pieces inside the buildings, and Cole upsets them both by swatting whatever he can reach onto the floor.
Who knew Santa had a helipad? That guy has everything!
This advent calendar is not reusable, but at $10 it is a really fun way to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas. You can see the info and buy it for next year, if you so desire, HERE.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
In all my nearly 37 (!!) years, I can’t believe I have never made egg-in-the-hole, or as I like to imagine in my head with a very strong Cockney accent, “Toad-in-the-‘ole'.” On Christmas Eve it was time to change that! I’m working my way through The Pioneer Woman Cooks and hope to try every recipe in the book by June 2010, so I knew where to turn for a breakfast idea.
Now, being Christmas Eve, and me being me, there was still plenty of wrapping and prepping to be done, so Egg-in-the-Hole seemed like a perfect choice because of its simplicity. Ree has posted the recipe on her site HERE, along with many, many photos that make this nearly foolproof recipe completely foolproof, assuming you can crack an egg!
I daresay we have a winner, yet again!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Carter loves birds, so we put up this bird feeder for his 'bird friends'. He'd love a pet bird in a cage, and I have nothing in theory against this, except we already have a cat--a cat who has proven to be an able bird hunter!
Anyway, we all really enjoy watching robins, wrens, and finches come to feed by this window. For Otis it's very exciting, albeit FRUSTRATING. He stalks them as best he can, and eventually ends up with his paws and nose fairly pressed against the window, all for naught. Poor kitty.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Every year each child gets their own ornament to add to the tree, and when they’re grown and in their own home, these will be the beginnings of their own collection of ornaments. I hope they’ll cherish them as much as I do—eventually.
Carter and Bunny are old enough to choose their own ornaments, and I chose one for Cole, perhaps for the last time. Additionally, Carter made a few at school. I just love the ones made by small children. I remember my own handmade ones as a kid, and wish I had them to add to the mix, especially the clothespin reindeer we made in Brownies one year…
Here is Bunny’s choice.
She agonized for a long time, trying to choose between this ‘bright eyed kitten’ and another similar one that was in a different position, pointing out the various things she liked about both—Santa hat v. ball of yarn; blue eyes v. green… oh the torture! I know a couple of moms who would have said to get both, but to me the point is that they choose their ONE that ultimately represents them at that point in time.
Carter chose this plump guy.
It’s plastic, and not by accident. He first was drawn to a very large glass ball that was flocked with seasonal words (merry, etc.) and dropped it. After we cleaned the mess a bit and called a Target associate over to let them know to sweep, Carter said he wanted one that wouldn’t break. He chose this all on his own, though.
Cole had no clue about ornaments when we went, as he surely does not remember last year’s tree, so I got to choose for him. :) I liked this simple, colorful one.
I still need to take a photo of the pipe cleaner candy cane Carter made at school, but did snap a couple of the pine cones, which I adore!
So simple, and sweet. Our tree is full to bursting with unique ornaments, and I imagine in a couple-few years a smaller auxiliary tree will be necessary! Maybe a table top one for the kids? At any rate, I love how ‘all over the place’ our tree is!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Today we arrived home from the park to this on the doorstep: a box of homemade sweets and two jars of Sonja's wonderful strawberry jam. I could eat that jam with a spoon, it is so good!
I suppose I will share the jam, but the coconut truffles are all MINE. :)
Monday, December 21, 2009
Last week a very special visitor came to Carter's preschool! Carter is anxious about new people, and has specifically told me he's 'kind of shy around Santa Claus'... so when The Missus came in, my middle child literally crawled under a play structure and watched her with suspicion.
I didn't think he'd get anywhere near her, but greed won out. He really wants the Star Wars trilogy (the one I think of as THE trilogy), and summoned the courage to sit on her lap and ask that she relay that to her husband. Then he got the HECK off that weird lady's lap. :)
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday was an odd day. The kids and I had been sick for what seemed like half our lives, and we were all ready to get up and go... in spirit, but not so much in body. I woke at 6:15 as more or less usual, but instead of hovering over the coffee pot, emptying the dishwasher, getting breakfast going... I snuggled on the sofa with Cole and then also Bunny. 6:45 rolled on by, as did 6:55. Generally Bunny has finished eating by then, and is already in the shower, but there we three were, watching something on Sprout.
7:00. "Hungee! Mama, hungee, hungee!"
Cole was in my face saying that. Alrighty! Up. Not at 'em, but up.
Later that morning after Bunny was at school, I was folding laundry on the floor when Carter comes up to me to report his brother had once again decided to try out pooping on the floor (phase, please let this be a SHORT phase...). I swooped Cole into a bubbly tub and just as I was about to wash his hair the phone rings.
Mrs. Parker from Bun's school is on the line, asking if I can bring Bunny some shoes. Now, I have said many times I was pretty dang tired that morning, but I am certain she was shod! Wore pants, too, I just *know* it. I'm a details person like that. But no, a strap on her shoe gave out, and I had about an hour until recess, which would be a great time for her to head to the office to get some shoes that actually remain on her feet.
So, I wrestle Cole out of the tub -- he is warm and happy, and hey, no diaper! He was happy in there, and didn't want me messing with his bubbly good times.
Fast forward past UNfolded laundry scattered around the living room by our resident Nobody, a shoe delivery, errands, a lost balloon, and the blurring details of daily life, and we all found ourselves staring at size 2 girls shoes. Bun had busted the strap on her only pair of sneakers, and the ones she has to grow into are still too big. Surprisingly she chose these beauties, which are her first pair with laces.
I know. She's 7. Going on 8! And lemme tell you, you want to randomly decide she has to learn something like how to tie laces when she has no desire to know how on her part, well, you BE MY GUEST. I figured she would not die an old lady wearing Sketchers Z-Straps no matter how lax I was on this front.
Whaddaya know, once she wanted to learn, she got it in about 5 minutes. Sure, it's still tricky, but she'll be a pro soon.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Last Thursday I tried a new recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I’m trying to fit in at least two recipes a week with the goal of trying every one of her recipes (in the book, not her site!) by June 2010.
Simple, Perfect Chili is well named. I fought every ‘mess with this recipe’ instinct and made it as Ree wrote it, adding only the can of diced tomatoes with chilies (I used Trader Joe’s fire roasted tomatoes) and a can of kidney beans, which were listed as optional additional ingredients. I did not, however have masa, and really didn’t want to buy a bag of it just to make this recipe, so I allowed the chili to cook down more instead of thickening it.
The verdict: it is a tasty chili! Paul and I agreed we like ‘my’ recipe more, but I can see this, made without the tomatoes or beans, as a killer ‘topping’ chili for hot dogs. And, to quote Paul, “If you can’t cook, like my Aunt Tony, then this recipe is a great improvement.” I think he means, if one is lacking a good chili recipe, this a great one to use.
Chili is personal. There are a thousand and one ways to make it well. PW’s way is good. Another thumbs up!
Since this recipe is not on her site, I am thinking she only wants it in the book, as it is something she is selling. Sorry for the lack of a recipe – if you want it, I’d be happy to email it to you.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Another Monday, another menu. :)
This week I’m trying two recipes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks for Sunday dinner. The soup in particular sounds really tasty!
Monday: Roasted Sausages with Tomatoes and Onions
Tuesday: Undone Cabbage Roll Skillet
Wednesday: Salmon, acorn squash, veg TBD
Thursday: Belgian Beef and Beer Stew w/rolls
Friday: Kebabs (but I am using beef instead of lamb)
Saturday: leftovers or take out burritos (swim meet that day)
Sunday: Sherried Tomato Soup, Spicy Shredded Pork – PW recipes of the week
Friday, December 04, 2009
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
I have a pretty great enchilada recipe. I love it, the kids (who eat food) love it, and my husband complains to me about how good it is, because that makes him forgo his carb avoiding ways because they’re just too good to resist.
PW has an enchilada recipe in her book. Thankfully for me, it is a beef recipe, and ‘my’ enchiladas are chicken. It’s always nice to add to the simple recipe reservoir, so I decided to try out her way this week.
You can find the recipe and oodles of beautiful photos HERE.
Preparing this recipe was easy-peasy. I dropped off my daughter at swim practice (three minutes late because I was so tired I made a very costly wrong turn on the way there), dashed home, prepared the sauce and meat, then let it all hang out while I returned to pick her up, finally assembling the enchiladas and putting them in the oven when we got home again (after I put away my mom’s-gypsy-taxi-uniform).
Since the sauce and meat had cooled off a bit, warming in the oven took a little longer, but the extra time was worth it. As luck would have it, my youngest waddled up to me and said, “I stinky!” right as I was serving dinner, so I was not there for the first bite verdict from Bun and my husband. However, I heard their groans of delight from down the hall. It was declared another ‘keeper’.
I can totally see making both the beef and chicken versions for a casual dinner with friends with homemade refried beans and some rice… and maybe that Sangria!
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I planned my menu yesterday, but didn’t get a chance to sit down and write it up. Anyway, today is my new grocery day, as it’s been working well to drop Carter off at school and then for Cole and me to go directly to the store… one less child to amuse during the trip, and Cole enjoys the outing—plus he gets to eat a banana and try whatever they’re serving in the demo part at Trader Joes. So, I do plan the menu on Monday to be ready on Tuesday. Make sense? ;)
Monday: split pea soup with leftover ham & bone
Tuesday: beef enchiladas from Pioneer Woman Cooks
Wednesday: salmon, asparagus, butternut squash
Thursday: Pioneer Woman’s simple chili
Friday: Cobb salad
Saturday: maybe out to celebrate Bunny participating in the Christmas parade (I’m still working on figuring out how she can ride with both groups she’s in that are in the parade).
Sunday: probably leftovers