Friday, September 30, 2011

Food Blogging Friday - Whole Wheat Cinnamon Vanilla Pancakes

We are BIG breakfast eaters around here. It is the most important meal of the day after all. We don't eat boxed processed cereal for breakfast (every once in a blue moon the parents do but our kids never have). Instead I usually make something from scratch. Usually it's toast and eggs but sometimes we have something else . . . like these pancakes. I love these. Hearty, flavorful, delicious!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Vanilla Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups + 2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
Butter for frying

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add wet ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix well with a spoon until there are no more dry spots; don't over-mix. Pour 1/4 cup into hot griddle or pan and cook each side 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown. Serve with butter and REAL maple syrup. Yum!


I will often make a big batch and freeze them for other breakfasts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Food Blogging Friday - Baked Berry Custard

I don't often make dessert especially if it is just our family eating at a meal. However when I do make dessert this is one of my favorite ones! It's yummy, flexible, and most importantly, easy! Note: This is not necessarily a healthy recipe. It does use white sugar. As with all things, eat in moderation. Ha ha!!

I got the original recipe from the Martha Stewart Show. The original recipe called for Raspberries but I have made this recipe using all sorts of different berries! I suspect that it would also be good with peaches or plums (or a similar fruit).

Recipe:
Baked Berry Custard

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups berries (about 9 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In oven, melt butter in a 9-inch pie plate, about 6 minutes.

In a blender, combine milk, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla. Add melted butter and blend mixture until smooth, 30 seconds.

Distribute berries evenly in pie plate and pour batter over top. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar and bake until slightly puffed and just set in middle, 20 to 25 minutes. Heat broiler and broil until top is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve warm.

My favorite is probably with strawberries as seen below. Yum!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Noah's Sleep


Noah is a pretty good sleeper most of the time. He is 4 months old and has slept from 9 pm until 7 am before. He doesn't always do this but he has about four times now.

I am still spoiling him rotten (which is going to end soon!) by rocking, bouncing, walking, or nursing him to sleep. I NEVER would have thought I would be doing this when I was a new parent with Abigail. We started sleep training her at 5-weeks old. He usually wakes up once a night but sometimes will get up two or three times. Usually more frequent wakings are because he's getting sick (a few weeks ago) or if he wet out of his diaper.

However my thoughts with this one are that this is more than likely our last baby and I am having some mixed feelings about the subject. So . . . I am just enjoying this beautiful baby boy as much as I can. I love the snuggle time we have each night as I rock him to sleep. I am also trying to help him be a flexible sleeper. I'm often running around with the girls and I want him to be comfortable sleeping in his seat or in my arms if necessary.

He usually takes 2 or 3 naps a day - anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Ha! He has sleepy days and some not-so-sleepy days. Today is a sleepy day but if he's awake, he wants to be held!!

I'm thankful to have such a good sleeper (at night) otherwise I wouldn't be able to spoil him like I am doing!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Elsie's Speech


"Ear"

Elsie is finally starting to make some progress with her speech. I want to record it here so I don't forget how old and what she is saying! :) Here are the words she says that I can remember. In parenthesis beside the word I am explaining how she says the word. Some of these are probably only ones that I can understand.

Mama
Daddy
Sissy
Noah (no no)
Dewey (not very clear but says "dew uh")
Snack (nack)
Eat (eah - has a hard time ending words!)
Ear
Eye
Mermaid (murh, murh - it is a picture in a book, I don't know why she picked up on this one)
Blueberries (bu bu)
Cheese (chee)
Nana (sounds more like ninny)
Papa
RoRo
TV (tee tee)
Elmo (very clear! Ha!)
Amen (ah meh)
Shoes
Paci (pah)
Ball
Chair
Isaac
Car (only when we ask her to say it, not when she sees a car yet)

That is all I can think of at the moment. She's getting her point across. She also makes a specific sound if she wants a drink but it doesn't sound like drink. Ha!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Food Blogging Friday: Sloppy Joes (crockpot optional)

These aren't fancy but they sure are good. I love Sloppy Joes - especially when they live up to their name . . . "sloppy". Mmm! Another one of my favorite tastes is BBQ and this recipes combines those two things beautifully.

So . . . if you like your Joes sloppy (ha!) and you like them to be a little more on the barbeque side then this easy recipe is for you!

First you take one pound of beef and brown it in a skillet.

*This beef is actually in my crockpot. I actually doubled this recipe because I was making it for a family at my church as well as my own family so I stuck all these things in the crockpot all day so it would be hot for me to take it to them come supper time.*



Chop 1/4 cup onion and add it to the beef.


Then add 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons barbeque sauce, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the beef and onions.

*Note: You can go very right with these ingredients or you can go very wrong! Read ingredient labels because many of these things can contain HFCS. You can easily find products without it though, just shop around!*



Simmer 10 minutes until all the flavors combine and sauce thickens. Or you can add it all to the crockpot on low at the beginning of the day and have it be hot and perfect right about dinner time.

Add to your favorite bun (I like using Thin Buns because they are only two or three weight watcher points - depending on the kind you get but it is just a regular bun in the picture below).




You can also add cheese or cole slaw or pickles or anything else that might strike your fancy!




Yum! (Sorry for the drop of meat on the plate. I saw that after I downloaded the pictures of my camera. I need to work on my photography skills. Just pretend it isn't there! Ha!)







Full Recipe:




Sloppy Sloppy Joes



1 pound ground beef or turkey breast


1/4 cup chopped onion


1/2 cup no-salt-added ketchup


3 tablespoons barbecue sauce


1 tablespoon prepared mustard


1 tablespoon vinegar


1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


1/2 teaspoon celery seed


1/4 teaspoon pepper


6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split

Brown beef in a skillet. Add remaining ingredients except buns and simmer 10 minutes. Serve on buns with cheese (optional).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blessed Sisters

video

I have been very impressed lately with how loving and patient Abigail is with her younger siblings. Perhaps I ought to say "can be" with her younger siblings. It's not this way all the time but still. She is good at sharing and loving most of the time. This video is a great representation of that. Can you see her giving Elsie a kiss at the end? Funny!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Refreshing, Guilt-free reminder

I really have enjoyed this blog post that a friend shared with me and I wanted to share it with you. Of course I am still going to continue to sit down and work with my kids . . . when there is an opportunity.

But now . . .

I'm not going to stress over it!

http://simplehomeschool.net/the-truth-about-preschool

Friday, September 09, 2011

Food Blogging Friday: The BEST Chicken Pot Pie

I can honestly say in all my years on this earth that I have never found a better chicken pot pie recipe than this one. I haven't lived all that long but I challenge you to find one. This uses a white sauce instead of gravy and it is . . . yum!!

Okay, to start out with I made Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust. It was my first time trying it and yes, it was perfect. As a side note, I was tempted to try it with butter, and I think I will next time, but I used organic expeller pressed shortening and not Crisco.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/12/p-p-p-pie_crust_and_its_p-p-p-perfect/

Then you take 2 tablespoons butter and melt it in a sauce pan. Add 2 tablespoons flour and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for about a minute. Don't burn it!!


Add 2 cups milk. Whisk constantly to prevent lumps.




Here is the key to this recipe. No matter now long it takes you must wait until this mixture is thickened. I have had it thicken in 5 minutes and sometimes I cook it more like 15 minutes. You'll know. I'm not sure what the difference is but you'll have watery and runny pot pie if you don't have a thick sauce.




*Add 1 cup of cooked shredded chicken.




Add one bag of mixed vegetables (your preference).




Add one teaspoon of Nature's Seasons.




Add the chicken, vegetable, and sauce filling to your pie crust.




Please ignore the beauty of my pie crust. It was NOT beautiful. It was delicious but not beautiful.


Add the top pie crust.




Bake for 45 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees. I actually ended up baking mine longer because the Pioneer Woman's crust was a bit thicker than my usual. I just made sure that the top crust was baked and the rest was perfect.




I forgot to get a picture of it before we dug in! I had some hungry people to feed!!





* The chicken. I made this recipe and others with cooked shredded chicken that I will occasionally put 5 or 6 chicken breasts in a crock pot with carrots, onions and celery and cook all day. Then I will shred the chicken, measure it out into one cup portions and freeze it. Makes this dish super simple! If you haven't done that ahead of time you can just bake or boil (or whatever) your chicken.

This is one of our favorite recipes. I could make it in my sleep, I think. Anyway, enjoy!!




The BEST Chicken Pot Pie


jaimeschechter.blogspot.com




2 pie crusts


2 Tbsp flour


1 cup cooked shredded chicken


2 cups milk


2 Tbsp butter


1 tsp Natures Seasons


1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

Place one crust in deep pie plate. In large saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook until thickened. Add chicken, seasoning and vegetables and stir. Pour into crust. Top with other crust and seal and flute edges. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Freezes well.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What is important: Society vs God's Truth

I recently came across the following article and it said everything that I have been thinking and experiencing these last few years.

It also has challenged me to the core! It has challenged me to let go of my frustrations, which are really just selfish desires, and to be even more in-the-moment with my kids.

Read this:

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/motherhood-is-a-calling-and-where-your-children-rank

After I read this, I was struck with the realization that I have had this happen to me so many times lately. I have had so many comments from people saying:

"Why would you put yourself through that?"

"How do you cope?"

I could go on but I won't. I can so easily recognize it now as people valuing other "things" in this life above the precious gift of children. I am guilty of this myself! I can very easily slip into wanting to do my own thing each day and when that thing gets interrupted then the frustration and anger sets in.

I can see this issue goes beyond raising children. True sacrifice is not a very popular option.

How can we change that?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

4 month old comparison pictures

Here are pictures of the kids at approximately the same age (around 4 months old).

What do you think? Similarities?

Abigail










Elsie


Noah














I think Elsie is the most unique looking (meaning not like the other two) but I'm not sure. Anywhoo, they're all cute!! :)

Picnic and Visiting Daddy

About once a year I try to take the kids to visit their daddy at work. I think it's fun for them to see where he works and he says (ha ha!) it's fun for him when we come visit. So . . . last Wednesday I packed up a picnic lunch, packed up the kids, and headed downtown to visit him. I hadn't been since last fall - right after I found out I was expecting Noah but before we had told anyone.

It really makes me appreciate my extremely hardworking husband all the more for making that LONG drive every single day.

We picked him up at work and opted to have a picnic lunch at the nearby Eden park rather than brave eating in a tiny downtown restaurant with our many-children-who-like-to-scream!

We had a beautiful spot where we could see the Ohio River.






And . . . had a nearby playground.








I didn't get any pictures inside Andrew's office but you can surely imagine it. It looks like an office! :)


It really was a fun day and if the drive wasn't so far we'd do it more often. :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Chatty Boy



My boy just slept through the night (a few days ago) for the third time - 9 pm to 7 am. He's growing up! Time, slow down!!


He's becoming more vocal. He's always had a loud cry (has to be heard over his sisters - you know) but lately he's just become more chatty.


So much fun but also a reminder that this time is precious. Someday he'll be really talking and I will miss these days!



video



Monday, September 05, 2011

Camping Adventure

I wrote a few posts ago about the little bout of sickness that hit our house. Well, it all started with this camping adventure! My husband, bless him, has been wanting to take our oldest girl camping for quite some time. We decided the back yard would be the best place to begin. So, he set up a tent.


The exitement from the girls was quite fun to watch!



Abigail loved the "doggy" door we have in our tent. We used to take our dog camping with us. Now it will have to be the kids door! :)




Well, I think my husband and daughter lasted two hours in the tent until my daughter started vomiting so they opted (ha ha!) to come inside.


Hoping the next time goes better.


Here is a video of how exited they were to play in the tent. At least they got a few hours of playing in it.




video

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Blessings

We have been receiving so many blessings lately. I want to briefly share them for my own memory and for the most important reason - to praise Him who has made all these things possible!!

1) Our home refinance came back a whopping $15,000 more than the last one we had done in January.

2) We had a medical bill (worth thousands) that I was mentally and financially preparing to pay. We received a letter yesterday that said we qualified to have it reduced by 100%. I still feel like it's a joke! Wow!

3) A blessing of a quarterly bonus.

4) A very positive review for my hardworking, initiative-taking, intelligent husband today during his yearly review. He's the only person I know who has continued to work (part-time) for previous employers after he leaves their employment full-time. That says something about his work ethic, integrity, desireability as an employee and overall genius! :)

5) And . . . this is nothing new but I have lovely, beautiful, intelligent, funny, precious children I get to care for all day, every day!!

I know that there will be days when these blessings seem like a distant memory and I will praise God for those days too but I want to praise him (and remember for my sake!) these wonderful blessing-filled, encouraging days.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Preschool Time: Camping Adventure

Abigail is not attending preschool this year, unlike almost everyone else we know. Therefore I am attempting to have a "preschool time" with her several times a week.

Our first subject was learning about camping. It fit in nicely with my husband's plan to take Abigail camping one night. More about that experience later. The resources I found were great. They worked on vocabulary, math, writing, letter recognition and sounds, games, painting, etc. We're still working on it, actually!!

I usually try to have this time during Noah's morning nap. He isn't napping reguarly yet so it's still tricky. Then we have Elsie. Oh Elsie. She wants so badly to be included yet she can't do everything that big sister can. So I have started to encourage her to color . . .



And she does pretty well. She will only last a few minute until she gets frustrated and bored but at least it's a start.

And this darling . . .



absolutely loves to learn. She will jump for joy if I say I am going to pull out the learning sheets. I hope I can keep this up as Elsie and Noah grow and change. I figure that she'd only be going to a formal preschool 2x a week so that is my guide. We've easily surpassed that these first two weeks.


Trying a s'more as part of our camping adventure.






I still think that the best form of learning for this age group is through play and life situations. It is amazing to see how much she imitates us and how much she learns through that. So this is not strict or formal in any way. In fact if she ever showed signs of not enjoying it, it would not be a priority in our house. She seems to love sitting down to work on this stuff so I will take that as a sign that she's ready for it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Food Blogging Friday - Naan & Dal Nirvana!!

Finally! I made this recipe for the first time last fall right about the time I was starting to feel the effects of the first trimester with Noah. I definitely couldn't food blog so I'm thrilled to be able to finally share these recipes with you!

Indian Food is a recent discovery in our household (well, several years ago). We have tried several different Indian Food recipes and these are definitely our favorites.

First of all, as a basis for most Indian Food you will need Basmati Rice. It has to soak a bit first but then only takes 25 minutes to fully prepare. Read the label for the best way to prepare this.


Then we have the crowning jewel of the Indian Food, in house household at least. Naan! Yum! We have often said that we just make the other stuff to put on the Naan. So true.

Here we go:

In a large bowl place once packet (2 1/4 tsp) of dry active yeast. Add 1 cup warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees) and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes or until frothy. Then stir in 1/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, one egg (beaten), and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well.

Stir in approximately 4 1/2 cups of bread flour. Keep adding flour until a soft dough forms.



Let rise 1 hour until dough doubles in volume.


Meanwhile, chop 2 cloves of garlic (this, in my opinion, is the secret weapon of this bread).


When the dough is done rising, knead the chopped garlic right into the dough, evenly distributing the garlic.


Pinch off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll until round. Place on a cookie sheet and let them rise 30 minutes or so.


Melt the butter, fire up your grill, and take the dough balls outside with a rolling pin, melted butter, and a brush for the butter.

Roll out dough until 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Brush one side with butter and throw that buttered side down onto the grill. Grill 2 or 3 minutes until lightly browned and brush other side with butter. Flip! Repeat.


Yum! You MUST eat one hot off the grill with a little extra butter thrown on. You'll thank me. Really!



Okay, now for the Dal Nirvana.


Take 1 cup dry lentils . . .





And add it to a sauce pan. Fill the sauce pan with water until the water covers the lentils by 2 inches.



Bring this to a boil and lower temperature to simmer 10 minutes until lentils begin to open. Drain lentils and return lentils to the pot. Stir lentils around and smash some with the back of a spoon to break them open.


Add six ounces tomato puree, 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of minced (or grated) garlic, scant teaspoon of cayenne pepper (you can adjust this to your heat level - a whole teaspoon is decently hot!), one cup water, 4 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.



Cook for 1 hour until Dal is thick (see below photo! yum!). Check often to make sure the water doesn't cook out.





Add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and cilantro to garnish.




Eat with Naan bread and Basmati Rice. The Dal is particularly delicious smeared all over the Naan bread.


Yum!


Here is the brave crowd (last fall) that endured my first attempt at Indian Food.














Here are the full recipes:


Naan

jaimeschechter.blogspot.com

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup white sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)

1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.


Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.


During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.



Indian Dal Nirvana

from Nirvana Restaurant, Beverly Hills


1 cup dry lentils

6 ounces canned tomato puree

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup water

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon salt, more to taste

freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro


In a large sauce pan, add the lentils and fill with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils open and are tender. Drain the water from the lentils and return the lentils to the pot. Stir the lentils around in the pot mashing some of them against the pot to break open. Add the tomato puree, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, water, butter, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour until the dal is thick. Make sure to check the pot periodically to make sure the water does not cook out.


Stir in cream, garnish with minced cilantro.