Saturday, September 30, 2006

11 1/2 years old!

Thursday was C's half birthday. As per our tradition, here she is with her half cake:

And a picture of her school picture for the year:

Spaghetti w/ Chicken Meatballs; garlic bread; salad

Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 hot peppers, finely chopped (or 1/2 green)
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 egg
about 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
one jar prepared spaghetti sauce of your choice
1 lb. cooked pasta of your choice

Mix all ingredients. Shape into small balls, or use a small ice cream scoop to make balls, and drop into already-hot spaghetti sauce (I used Newman's Cabernet Marinara) and cook at least half an hour. Serve over cooked pasta.

Garlic Bread

one Breadsmith baguette
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup olive oil
3-6 cloves garlic, crushed
Few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
Garlic Salt

Cut baguette into 4 pieces, and then slice each open down the middle. Combine butter, olive oil, garlic and chopped parsley. Spread onto cut side of baguette, then sprinkle with a bit of garlic salt. Heat in an oven or broiler until warm and slightly brown on edges


Lettuce, garden tomato, seedless cucumber and one green onion, topped with balsamic vinagrette.

Friday, September 29, 2006

M's photo session

The other kids have their pics taken in school (I'll post C's as soon as I can figure out how to get it scanned in...), so I thought it was a good time to take some pics of just M. It took some persuading, but I got her into a cute outfit (from her goshparents) and then got some pictures taken before it started to rain. I took 120 pictures, liked about 50, and ordered a few. Here's a few of my favorites (email me if you want a link to all 50 of them on snapfish):

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Brat Burgers and Jack Straw Salad

Brat Burgers

Johnsonville Brat burgers, grilled and topped with fried onions and hot peppers from the garden, lettuce and heirloom tomatoes from the garden, then served on toasted buns
Jack Straw Salad

1 pkg. star-shaped or ring noodles, cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water
1/2 onion, finely minced
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 dill pickled, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 pouches of tuna, separated by a fork
1 T. prepared Italian Dressing
About 1/2 cup to 1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
crushed potato chips (or potato sticks) to serve

Mix all ingredients (except potato chips) together. Chill. Serve topped with crushed potato chips or potato sticks.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches; fries

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches
I got this wonderful recipe from my friend Lisa.

3 lb. beef roast
2 envelopes Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
2 c. water
1/2 jar giardinera or mild or spicy pepper rings
crusty rolls
white cheese of your choice (mozarella, provolone, jack)

Place roast in crock pot. Dump in both envelopes of Italian dressing mix and then pour in the water. Cover and cook for about 10 hours on low (shorter time if you have it on high part of the time, or you can cut the roast into smaller pieces first). Half an hour before serving, stir in half of a jar of giardinera or pepper rings, including the liquid. Heat through and serve on crusty rolls that have been broiled with cheese. Serve a bowl of the cooking juice on the side for dipping the sandwich.

Frozen french fries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Penzey's sandwich sprinkle

Cut the top of the bag of fries open. Pour in the vegetable oil and mix around. Dump onto a cookie sheet and spread out. Sprinkle with Sandwich Sprinkle. Cook according to package directions. These are good dipped in the beef juices, too! Steak-cut fries are especially good!

Ball Band Swiffer cover

Shortly after buying Mason-Dixon Knitting and becoming addicted to the ball-band warshcloth, I found this post, showing a ball-band swiffer cover. Brilliant! I (along with many others) requested the pattern, but never received it. Then someone posted another (similar) picture on the MDKAL
and she shared the pattern! I knit it exactly as stated, though she wrote it to cover her mop, which is not the same size as a swiffer. If/when I make a second one, I'd do one extra row of the ball band bumps (so 7 instead of 6). I also used a double strand for the ball band bumps, thinking it would be more textured and would work better to scrub the floor. This was a quick and easy project and a lot of fun!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chicken with white and wild rice soup

I improvised this from two recipes I found--one from Rachel Ray and one that I was given at my bridal shower.

1 pkg. Uncle Ben's (or similar) Herb-flavored Wild Rice blend
butter to make rice mix as package directs
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 bay leaf
3 stalks fresh thyme
1 T. hot pepper sauce (like Frank's)

Prepare the Wild Rice blend according to package directions, using chicken broth in place of water and adding onion, carrots and celery. After rice is cooked, stir in remaining chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, bay leaf and thyme. Add hot pepper sauce. Heat through and serve with crusty bread for dipping.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Freezer Paper Stencils

As immersed as I am in the knitting world (ha ha), I had never (gasp) heard of freezer paper stencils until I read about them on Grumperina's cool knitting blog. Aren't they the COOLEST thing? So I did some googling and found more here and here and here. And I still have a big roll of freezer paper from making a fabric marker quilt, so I thought I'd give it a try.

First I found a decent clipart picture. Then I cut a piece of freezer paper to fit into my printer. I printed the image on the non-shiny side of the freezer paper. I carefully (using an exacto-type knife on clearance at Target) cut out parts of the pattern to make a stencil.

Here's what the back looks like:

I ironed it onto an old, solid-colored tshirt I had (and ironed extra freezer paper on the inside so that it held the fabric stiff):

I surrounded the iron-on with old rags so there was no overspray:

Using spray-on fabric paint from Michaels, I covered the stenciled area:

I let it dry most of the way and then peeled off the stencil and let it dry the rest of the way. This morning I have:

Cool, huh? I don't like the little fuzzy strings hanging off, but those are because it's a 2-year-old tshirt. I also was under-whelmed by the spray-on fabric paint and I'll use a sponge and "regular" paint in the future.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Picture Day

Yesterday was picture day at T's school. Didn't he look handsome?
(However, I fear the well-fought, gel-coated straight part didn't last till the afternoon. Oh, well...)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Could she *be* any cuter?

Gyros and fries

Not sure this is even a "real" meal post, but with things as chaotic as they've been, this is about as close to home-cooked as some of the meals have been!


One Opaa! Grecian Delight Gyro kit
vegetable oil
one raw onion
one raw tomato

Thaw meat from kit. Separate slices and arrange, slightly overlapping, on a large cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Stir tzatziki sauce until smooth.

Slice onion thinly. Slice tomato.

Thaw pita bread from kit. Right before serving, add a small amount of vegetable oil to a fry pan, and heat the pita breads, one at a time, until warm, crusty, and slightly puffed.

Serve so that everyone can build their own gyros!


Frozen fries, cooked :)

A Hand Model in the future?

Don't we all want our kids to do better than us? We know that they're smarter than us, cuter than us, more creative than us... But C. took it one farther :)

I have *always* hated my hands. I have short, stubby fingers and my fingernails are paper-thin and square. Here's a shot of my hands on a Very Good Day:

As a child, I loved my mom's fingernails. She would complain that she had to file them all the time because they grew so quickly and were so hard. Well, it appears that C. has inherited Grandma's fingers. Check it out:

Is it fair that an 11 year old child has such beautiful fingers? She's definitely done better than I! :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In Honor of "Talk Like a Pirate Day"

Found this on MamaFitz's blog:

My pirate name is:

Dirty Mary Bonney

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

And if you haven't already read it, please check out the Pirates vs. Temperature connection at the Flying Spaghetti Monster website.

(Red) Beef Chili

I have three chilis I make regularly: Red Pork Crockpot chili (recipe coming in the future, I'm sure), White Chicken chili, and this Red Beef Chili.

Red Beef Chili
(adapted from LLL's Whole Foods From the Whole World)

1 lb. Ground beef (if I double the recipe, I use 1 lb. ground beef and 1 lb. Round steak, chopped)
1 lg. Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped and/or 1-2 jalapenos, chopped and/or other hot peppers from the garden
1 T. white vinegar
2 small (or 1 big) can peeled whole tomatoes
8 oz. Can tomato sauce
2-3 T. chili powder
dash cinnamon
1-2 T. cumin
1-2 T. oregano
3 bay leaves
1 t. salt
½ t. pepper
15 oz. Canned kidney beans, drained, optional (we left 'em out this time)

Brown ground beef, steak, onion, garlic and chopped pepper in soup pot, stirring until beef is cooked; drain. Add vinegar, tomatoes, tomato sauce and all seasonings. Mix well. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add beans and simmer 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves.

OR I brown the meat and veggies, while dumping the tomatoes and seasonings into the crock pot. Put the cooked meat and veggies in the crock pot, cover and cook on low all day.

We serve this over noodles (really stretches that pound of meat!) and topped with sour cream and shredded cheese. If there’s leftovers, we often have chili dogs the next day.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What kind of flower are you?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"You stand up for what you believe in, even if it gets in the way of what other people think. You are proud of yourself and your accomplishments and you enjoy letting people know that."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Beef Stew

Beef Stew
McCormick Beef Stew seasoning packet
2 lb. chuck roast, cut up
5 cups mixed veggies, like potatoes, carrots, celery and onion

I have always used the McCormick seasoning packets for beef stew, but I was SO disappointed in how bland this turned out! :( After adding a bunch of pepper and some salt, plus fresh thyme from the garden, it got a bit more flavorful, but not great. I'd love to have someone else's recipe, if they're willing to share, as beef stew is SO homey and filling and wonderful in the crock pot after a cold soccer game...

ANYWAY, if you'd like bland beef stew, just follow the directions on the back of the McCormick Beef Stew packet.


serve with
bread "home-baked" from Rhodes frozen dough

Friday, September 15, 2006

How Crunchy Are You?

Moms: How Crunchy Are You?

Granola w/ Milk!You got crunch, but there's some softness to ya that makes it easy for you to relate to mommies of all kinds. But they can tell there is just something about you that's different. Some of them are envious of your unique ability to interact with your child or your enthusiasm for not littering. But you won't hesitate to tell a friend how proud you were for breastfeeding or non-circing, even if you know she didn't do the same. The difference is, you respect her decision and assume that she respects yours.
Take this quiz!

Pork Chops and Gravy; Knockle; Beans with Bacon

It's been awhile since I've posted a new meal. To be honest, I've been doing a lot more "fast cooking" since school started up again. Between soccer practice, tutoring and school orientations/open houses, we've had a crazy supper schedule. But the temps have dropped a bit and that's let me cook some cold-weather favorites, too! Here's one of my mom's "recipes":

Pork Chops with Gravy

1 1/2 lb. boneless pork chops
Garlic Powder
Hungarian Half-Sharp paprika
1 T. olive oil
1 can condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk

Season pork chops with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Brown on both sides in olive oil. Pour can of soup and milk over the top, adding a bit more paprika to the liquid. Simmer for an hour or more, until pork chops are falling-apart tender.


(I have no idea how to spell this, but it's what my mom called it; I tried to google "knockle" and found instead a recipe for Galuska, which appears to be the same stuff)

3 c. flour
3 eggs
enough water to make a doughy consistency (1 cup or less)
BIG pot of boiling water
salt and pepper
butter/olive oil for frying

Mix the flour and eggs, and then add enough water to make a THICK but pourable consistency. The galuska recipe above explains how my mom used to cook these:
  • Place about half the dough on a damp cutting board or plate; cut it into strips with a wet knife, then cut strips into shreds or small pieces.
  • Tip the dough shreds into the boiling water in batches. The galuska are cooked when they rise to the surface. Skim them off with a slotted spoon,
Because it's such a labor-intensive job, it was a rare treat when Mom would make them. But I used a spaetzel maker to speed things up. This is a spaetzel maker:

And here it is, with the dough inside (so you can see the consistency):

Either way, drop the small dough pieces into the boiling water and skim them out when they rise to the surface. Meanwhile, heat a mixture of butter and olive oil in a pan. Fry up the boiled knockle, seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with gravy on top. yummmmmy!

OK, I just found this website, which is dead-on for the "recipe" I use. And it says they are also called "nokedli", which sounds pretty close to Knockle to me!


Beans with Bacon
pretty self-explanatory, but it's one of the only ways my family will eat green beans

Green beans, cooked
1/2 onion, chopped
3 slices bacon, chopped

Cook the green beans separately. At the same time, fry the bacon and onions. Drain off most of the bacon grease, then toss the cooked green beans with the bacon/onion mixture. Saute the beans as well, until all the flavors are mixed.
Breadsmith Italian Bread

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Good Grocery Shopping Trip

I think I'm a pretty decent grocery shopper, but I really felt like I was losing my abilities as our bills have climbed from $65 a week to often near $100 a week. However, I was talking to a friend this week (she also has three kids, although she has one older than C. instead of one younger than T!) and she said that she spent $320 at the grocery store. I think my jaw hit the floor. Maybe my grocery-shopping abilities really are an anomaly.

Today (double coupon day) I was in line, unloading my groceries, and talking to the checkout person when a college-aged guy got in line behind me with his small cart full of college-type foods. At the end, when I was paying (partially with a giftcard I'd earned the previous week and partly with our credit card that gives us 5% back on grocery store purchases), I apologized for being so slow (they had to call the woman from the service counter over twice). He kindly said "I'm in no hurry and I'm enjoying watching how you shop". The checkout person was one I'd not seen before (most of the regulars "know" me and laugh at me and sometimes roll their eyes at me), and she was in shock at what I saved. I ended up spending $101.31 and saving $79.70. Best of all, I bought a lot of "convenience" foods this trip--things that I can use for soccer nights or Open House nights, or whatever other nights where we're running from school pickup till bedtime.

Some of the highlights of the trip:

Chex mix reg. $2.29, on sale for $1 each, minus $0.25 coupons on each (have you tried the turtle flavor? oh, yummm....)
Ziploc bags reg. $2.55, on sale for $2.25, minus $1 coupons each (doubled)
Beef Sirloin Tip Roasts at "buy one get one free", resulting in a cost of $1.86 a pound
Sunny Valley Orange Juice (not frozen) reg. $2.39 each, sale for $1 each
Daisy Sour Cream 16 oz. reg. $2.09, sale for $1.50 minus $.50 coupons
Perdue Italian Turkey meatballs reg. $3.69, sale for $2.77 minus $2 coupon
Pillsbury Oven-Baked Dinner rolls reg. $3.39, on sale for $2.50, minus $2 coupon
Pillsbury ready-to-bake cookies reg. $2.99, sale $2.50 minus $2 coupon
Pillsbury Toaster Scrambles reg. $2.59, sale $2 minus $2 coupon (free, baby...)

And for "easy"meals, I got:
Frozen ravioli and tortellini (have jarred sauce) and the crusty rolls
Frozen Grecian Delight Gyro kit and fries
Frozen stuffed chicken entrees

They also had lunch boxes for 50% off, so I got each kid one (they were $2.50 and $3 each, but cuter than the ones Target had this year)

AND I got 70 bonus Box Tops for Education (spit out a form at the checkout), so that made $7 more for the school. :)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Curry Chicken Burgers and Bombay Potatoes

Another recipe from Rachel Ray, but I substituted ground chicken for the ground turkey.

Curry Turkey (Chicken) Burgers
1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast, the average weight of 1 package
2 scallions, thinly sliced
A handful cilantro, chopped very fine, about 2 tablespoons, optional
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons mild curry paste or a handful of curry powder
Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
5 crusty rolls, split
Bib or leaf lettuce
Sliced vine-ripe tomatoes
Mango chutney

Combine first 8 ingredients and form into 5 patties.
Brush or drizzle patties with extra-virgin olive oil. Grill patties 6 minutes on each side on indoor electric grill or pan fry for same amount of time in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Pile patties on split crusty rolls with lettuce, tomato, and chutney spread liberally on roll tops as a condiment.

Jamie Oliver's Bombay Potatoes
from my friend Mo

3 T. vegetable oil
1 t. mustard seeds
pinch ground cumin
1 t. turmeric
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. garam masala
1 t. chili powder
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 T. butter
6 potatoes, parboiled and cut into cubesa
3 raw tomatoes, diced
handful cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the spices for a few minutes. Add the butter, then the potatoes, making sure they are completely coated in the spicy mixture. Cook for about 15 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and cilantro.



Saturday, September 09, 2006

Fall sports

It's official. School started and now the Fall Sports have started. Today was the first day of soccer:

Don't you love the uniforms? Of the hundreds of combinations of uniform colors, both of them got red and black. At least they're opposites. Successful day: C's team won 6 to 5 and T's team won 4 to 2.

Today was also the first day of gymnastics. M started with the 5 year olds. They're doing some tougher stuff! She had a tough time putting everything together to do the vault and they had the kids doing more elaborate stuff on the bar, too. She was SO excited, though.
The worst thing about fall sports is that, for almost all the Saturdays, all three kids have their stuff (soccer games; gymnastics) at the same or overlapping times. What are the odds? For example, today M had gymnastics from 10:15 to 11:00; C had her game at 11:00 (get there 20 minutes early) and T had his game at 11:30 (get there 20 minutes early). How do people with more than two kids do it? :)

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

This is one of those couldn't-be-easier meals that tastes better than just opening a can or popping a box of something in the oven. And best of all, it works great for super busy days.

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

1/2 lb. italian sausage or pre-made meatballs (optional)
1 can Campbell's tomato soup
1 bay leaf
1 t. Italian Seasoning
1 jar pre-made spaghetti spaghetti sauce (we like Ragu Chopped Tomato, Olive Oil & Garlic)

1 pkg. pasta of your choice

Place meat in bottom of crock pot (it can even be frozen). Top with can of tomato soup,
spices, and jar of sauce. Turn onto low and cook 6-9 hours, stirring once or twice if you are around to do so. Serve over cooked pasta of your choice (spaghetti, other noodles, ravioli, etc.)
Pepperidge Farm 5 cheese garlic bread
Mixed greens with garden tomatoes and vinagrette dressing

My new niece

Remember the kimono I made from MDK? Well, the baby it was made for arrived on Thursday. We went to meet her last night. Adorable! :) 7 lb. 3 oz. (same size as C. at birth), nursing like a pro, and three adoring older sibs (in the second pic, those are the adoring sibs from L to R before our family)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chicken Taco Salads

Nothing brilliant, but I made up the taco shell idea after Zoo Ala Carte when everyone loved the deep-fried taco salad bowl.

large flour tortillas
Aluminum foil
Vegetable oil

Take sheets of aluminum foil and scrunch them up into loose balls, then place them on a cookie sheet like this:
Microwave flour tortillas until soft and then paint both sides of them with vegetable oil, and cup them over the foil balls. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crispy, bubbly and light brown like this:
Allow to cool slightly and then fill with your choice of taco salad fixins! We had:
red onions
black olives
grilled chicken
shredded cheese
ranch dressing
picante sauce
sour cream

I decided to try to make taco shells this way after seeing how much more expensive the taco salad kits were than just plain flour tortillas. I think it worked pretty well! However, yesterday I got one of those free recipe magazine things from Kraft and they suggested using smaller tortillas and stuffing them into muffin tins! So next time I might try that.

We also had quesadillas for T.