Saturday, April 30, 2011

Missing in Action

I've been a tad bit busy this week. Doing things like this..






and getting ready for the Big One's school fundraiser. Recipes to come tomorrow! Until then, you can drool over the photographs.

Happy Saturday!

-Erin 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Meal Planning - gone healthy..sort of.

If you're anything like me, you overindulged this past week. And if you didn't, just pretend you did. It'll make me feel better.  This week we're going healthy (or relatively healthy). Light on the cream and heavy on flavor. Most of these recipes are also really quick and easy. Bonus!

Meatless Monday: Greek Orzo Stuffed Peppers and Cucumber Salad with Mint and Feta

Taco Tuesday: Turkey Tacos Picadillo - the only change I would make it to obviously not fry the tortillas and to use whole wheat instead of corn.

Wednesday: Spicy Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry serve this with brown rice. Trader Joe's makes an awesome organic version that's frozen. Takes three minutes to cook in the microwave.

Thursday: Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette

Friday: Chipotle Grilled Chicken and Avocado Sandwich - (grill extra chicken w/ out spices for Sunday's dinner)

Saturday: Soba Noodle Salad and Grilled Flank Steak

Sunday: Chicken Caprese and Strawberry Spinach Salad To drink: Hibiscus Coolers


Happy Monday! I have to go hide the rest of the Easter candy from myself..

-Erin

Friday, April 22, 2011

Silk Dyed Easter Eggs {tutorial}

Yesterday the Big One and I made the coolest Easter Eggs!! I got inspired by this post I saw over on off the {meat}hook. I was worried they weren't going to work but they did! They're amazing. And the best part is that they're easy and relatively cheap! All you need is eggs, 100% silk ties or scarfs (we used some we had and some we thrifted), white cloth (I used an old t-shirt), twine or string, water and white vinegar. Look how awesome!



You start by cutting your silk into squares and tightly wrapping the pieces around your UNCOOKED eggs, twist at the top and tie the silk with string or twine. Next wrap a piece of your white fabric around the silk wrapped egg, twist the top and tie again.  They should look like this when done. 


Next, you put the eggs in a non-reactive pot. Cast Iron or Stainless should work fine. I used a dutch oven. Cover with water and add 3 tbls of white vinegar. 


Cover and bring the water to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down and simmer for 30-40 minutes. I did 40, I wanted to make sure they worked! These are not for eating, by the way. For one the dye isn't food safe and who wants to eat an egg boiled for 40 minutes? Nasty! Oh, and my house smelled rather like a thrift store while this was going on. I actually had to open up the windows in the kitchen. 

Next you drain the eggs and allow to cool. 


This was hard to do! We were dying to see what our eggs looked like. I ended up putting them outside on the deck to speed up the process. 

Then, carefully unwrap the eggs..ooh and ahhh over how awesome they look. Each one was like a little gift. We had no idea how they would turn out!





Here are the eggs next to their fabric. It's crazy how different the eggs can look just based on what part of the pattern we used. 


{ugliest tie ever - coolest egg ever}







{this is the part of the egg that the twisty part touched}


Two of the scarves we thrifted I felt pretty guilty about cutting up..see below. 



Oh well. I'm not really a purple scarf wearing chick anyway. 

Happy Friday! Go dye some cool eggs and let me know how they turn out!

-Erin  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring (kind of)


Weeping Cherry


Forsythia


Peony


Hosta

I need to get out of the funk all this dreary weather is putting me in. So I'm going to look at the new buds that are popping up around here and picture what they'll look like in a few months. And be all zen like. As my 4 year old said earlier today, "Rain can be nice too, you know that!"

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Meal Planning - Easter Week

I can't believe it's Monday again! We're on Spring break this week, which means shopping trips will be a little more chaotic (and tantrum fueled) than usual. In order to keep my sanity in check, we're going to cook as much from the freezer and pantry as possible. 


Monday: Jaden's Broccoli Beef - I know I've blogged about this a few times before but it's just so easy and so good! Plus I have a flank steak in the freezer. 


Tuesday: Chicken Marinara - Frozen Boneless Chicken thighs to use and this looks too good to pass up. 


Wednesday: Wine Burgers and Salad with Garlic Dressing - ground beef, check!


Thursday: Chicken Marsala - YUM!  And easy as can be. 


Friday: Grilled Pizza - If you've never grilled a pizza before this is an easy tutorial. We'll probably top ours with Fig Jam, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and Prosciutto. It is so delicious! 


Saturday: Southwestern Pulled Brisket Sandwiches - crockpot  meal

Ingredients
  • 3 pounds beef brisket
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • Soft sandwich buns
  • Pickled jalapenos
Directions
Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.
Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vinegar and boil until it's almost gone, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 hours.
To serve, leave the meat in the slow cooker and use 2 forks to pull it apart and stir it evenly into the sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove and discard bay leaves. Pile the meat on sandwich buns and serve with jalapenos. (This is also great rolled up in tortillas.)

Sunday: 
Easter Menu #1 - For the Ham lovers

Easter Menu #2 - For the Lamb lovers 
Rack of Lamb Persillade - I know this sounds intimidating, it's NOT! It's so easy and so flippin' good. 
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie - This is my husband's favorite pie. I will admit that I'm a horrible crust maker. I usually take the easy route and make a crisp or a crumble but I feel like challenging myself this week. So keep your fingers crossed for me!

Happy Monday! I have to go find the easter grass and stop myself from eating an entire bag of Cadbury mini-eggs. Those things are evil! And delicious. 
-Erin 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

S'mores Cookie Bars (there are no words)


Oh my word. Recipe from Lovin' From the Oven here. Thank you, Kim! 
(Kim has no idea who I am but I feel as if I have to thank her)

Excuse me while I go clean the fluff off of my face. 


Happy Sunday!

-Erin 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Roasted Beets


At the store the other day I had a craving for roasted beets. So I picked up a bunch. 
Roasting them is easy and brings out the best flavor. Plus, the two little chickens love them!
Wash and trim the greens off the beets.
(You can save the greens to cook but I didn't, because I'm lazy)


Lay a few beets on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt. I'll admit, I tried to take some cool shots of me drizzling oil and sprinkling salt but I'm not coordinated enough or something. Not good, people. Scary actually. 



Wrap the beets up and place on a cookie sheet. You can place these directly on the racks in your oven but mine always leak. I don't like putting out oven fires. Roast for about an hour at 375.


While the beets are roasting, make yourself a seriously simple salad of arugula, cilantro, avocado, and radish. Squeeze a half a lime and sprinkle some coarse salt. Inhale the salad. Eat the rest of the radishes out of the bag w/ butter and truffle salt. Don't share ANY with your four year old. 



Behold! Roasted beets. Let them rest for a bit so they're not too hot to handle.
 See all that red juice in the bottom of the foil?? That stuff is super stainy. So don't get it all over the place. And if you like your really pretty Boos cutting board to stay looking really pretty, don't cut them on it. Just sayin'. 


The skin should peel right off. I always run water while I peel the skin so I can keep washing my hands. I'm not a huge fan of having red stained hands but it's the price I pay for awesome roasted beets. 


Peeled! 


Then you can make a super simple salad of chopped roasted beets, with Cypress Grove Purple Haze Goat Cheese. Which has lavender and fennel pollen and makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Top off w/ snipped tarragon, a tiny splash of rice vinegar and some fresh pepper. 


Make another small salad for your weirdo four year old who loves goat cheese and beets. 

Happy Saturday, Peeps! Go roast some beets! (rhyming - kind of)

-Erin 

Friday, April 15, 2011

5 Children's Books We Can't Stop Reading

Or should I say, our kids wont let us stop reading. So we read them over, and over and over....

Bread and Jam For Francis by Russell Hoban.

We are HUGE Francis fans over here. The writing is wonderful and Francis is such a little imp, you can't help but love her. We have a whole bunch of Francis books but this one seems to be the all around favorite. Oh, and if you have picky eaters, this is the book for you. I truly don't mind reading this book every night, but it does make me really hungry! You've been warned!

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord. 

This book instantly brings me back to my childhood. It's silly and fun and the illustrations are hilarious. A giant loaf of bread baked in an old brick mill? Using a tractor as a helicopter? The rhyming verse seems to get, and keep, my girls attention and is fun to read out loud. Win-Win! I was happy to find this in a large board book version when my oldest was little and fond of ripping pages.

The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle.

Please go out and buy this book! You wont be sorry. It is hilarious. The illustrations are brilliant and it's so much fun to read. The girls laugh their butts off every time! A little boy wants a dog for a pet but his capri wearing mom (a seriously stylish 50's era chick) says dogs are too messy. So the little boy instead asks for a pet dragon and his mom says, if he can find one, he can have one. Hilarity and chaos ensue. Hot dog roasting in the living room, spaghetti eating in the bathtub...brilliant. I promise that you and your littles will love it!

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

I'm not sure there's anything I can say about this classic that hasn't already been said. The story is such a sweet one and the gorgeous illustrations are timeless. I know a lot of people think Blueberries for Sal is McCloskey best book, but this one has my heart. It's a simple, quiet sort of book, which makes it perfect for bedtime!

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton

Of course I couldn't have a top 5 kids books list without at least one Sandra Boynton book. Snuggle Puppy is my little one's current favorite. She LOOOVES it. She makes me sing it too, which is hilarious in itself. And the book ends with a kiss, perfect for tucking into bed. Really, you can't go wrong with any Sandra Bonyton book.  Pick any of them up and they're sure to become a favorite.

What are your favorite children's books right now?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chai Cupcakes with Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Chai Cupcake Batter
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. Chai Spice Mix

Chai Spice Mix
Ingredients:
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tbs. milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Chai Spice Mix

Cupcake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, combine the flours and 2 tsp. of Chai Spice Mix. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 2 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Make sure not to over beat the mixture. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. (I baked for 22 minutes and it was a little too long for my liking)

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Buttercream Directions:

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter. Add sugar a 1/2 cup at a time until completely incorporated. Add milk one tbs. at a time until you reach desired consistency. Mix in cinnamon and Chai Spice Mix. Beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. 




oh yum...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two for Tuesday: A "compliment" and a photo assignment.

I thought I'd start your Tuesday off right. 

One: When you're getting a bikini wax, and the esthetician says, 

"Wow! You're in great shape for having two kids!"

Just say, "Thank You!"  It's a compliment, regardless of which part of you she's talking about. 

Two: I entered Pioneer Woman's "Brothers" photography assignment. Two weeks ago, at the Little One's birthday, we had quite the little surprise going. My Brother, who lives in Atlanta, was flying in for work in our area. We asked him to come up on Saturday to help us celebrate the big birthday party. Little did he know that our Sister, who lives in San Diego, was flying in on Thursday night to surprise him. They hadn't seen each other in over two years!!! It was amazing. I still can't believe we pulled it off! You can see the photos here.  

I'd love it if you'd check it out and leave a comment!

Happy Tuesday, peeps! I'm gonna wear my yellow wellies to help bring some sunshine to this dreary day. Hope it's sunny wherever you are!

-erin 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Meal Planning

We had company yesterday for dinner. I had planned on making pork chops but the Hubs wanted to grill so we switched it up and made Rib Eyes with Onion-Blue Cheese Sauce. So heavenly. We made Crash Hot Potatoes and Yellow Squash and Vidalia Onions. YUM! So tonight we're having what I planned on making yesterday, minus the squash and onions. 


Monday: Sage and Balsamic Pork Chops and Cheese Grits (I'm using Gruyere)


The rest of the week I'm making meals we've loved over the past few months. Some of our favorites we wanted to revisit this week. All of these dishes my two little chicks gobbled right up.


Tuesday: Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Panini and Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup


Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas 


Thursday: Mom's Meatballs and Sauce

Ingredients:
2 Cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
2 Cans (6 oz. each) tomato paste
4 Cloves chopped garlic
1 bay leaves
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup red wine
dried basil
dried oregano
2 Pound ground beef
2 egg
1 Cup bread crumbs 

Directions: 
Put 1st 7 ingredients in Crock pot. Sprinkle top with dried oregano & basil until you cover the surface...stir all ingredients together. 

In a bowl mix the ground chuck, eggs, & breadcrumbs. Knead with hands & form into meatballs. Drop in sauce raw & cook on a low setting 8 hours.

Friday: Meatball Sliders (with leftover meatballs) and Caesar Salad

Saturday: Chicken Florentine Style over angel hair


Happy Monday!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

sunny baby girl



My sweet, Little One and I got to spend the morning hanging out. Just the two of us. 


She prefers to push around a stroller with sand buckets instead of babies. She fills them full of rocks. 


She's obsessed with airplanes.... 


melts my heart with one quick glance...


and is growing up, fast. She's off like a light. 

Slow down, kid!!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Post-Party Stress Disorder

I know I can't be alone in this. For me it's more like, "Post-Time with my Family Blues", which sucks and hit me hard. I woke up yesterday to sunshine and with really good intentions. I was going to come home after dropping the Big One off at preschool and clean the hell out of my dump of a house. I needed to call the oil company because the silver thingy (that's the technical term) that holds the water that heats the house (I think) was leaking rusty water all over the laundry room floor. So I did that. I got all the yummy stuff out to make some sort of tea flavored cupcake (I was thinking Chai w/ Cardamom Vanilla Buttercream) while the baby napped. The Big One would help me mix batter and crack eggs and we'd listen to The Avett Brothers.

POOF! Lunch came and went, the baby went down for her nap and I crashed. The Big One had a nice, albeit short, time reading books and I just sat and felt crummy. And then the baby woke up and I still felt crummy, so we decided to eat rippled potato chips and dip. That part was good. And the glimmer of sweetness and light was when the baby did a silly jump and said "HOORAY!", and her big sister giggled hard and kissed the top of her head. That part was awesome. And the chips helped. And then it was time to cook dinner.

This is usually my favorite right??!! I mean, I was making this awesome steak salad! Fire alarm went off, baby/sister (I'm not sure who) broke a brand new toy, and my steak almost caught on fire. All at the same time. A milk carton fell on the newly cleaned kitchen floor, my arugula had gone bad and I didn't have the blue cheese I could have SWORN I had the day before. Plus the husband was working late. BAH!

I was cranky at the girls. I felt bad. They felt bad. I apologized and we sat to eat. But we had lost our mojo. POOF!

Still, I'm calling it a semi-win. Some good food was consumed. Most of it at lunch and breakfast, but whatever. They took a bath, so they're clean. They let me brush their hair!!!!  The three of us sat and watched Tangled together. I let them each have two marshmallows. They told me they loved me at least 5 times. I told them at least 10. I got a lot of hugs and two little back rubs. The baby did my hair. I had a cold root beer on ice.

I'm still missing my family. But that's OK. More trips will be planned. New vacations and parties and surprises. We'll make the cupcakes another day. I like to think that crappy days are just practice for the really good ones. They make them so much sweeter.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday (whoops!) Meal Planning

See, this is what happens when we have so much fun on a weekend. Monday hits me like a ton of bricks and I forget to post a Menu! Sorry, my bad. Here's the menu, a day late. All new recipes this week!!

Tuesday: Chicken Coconut Curry Soup - Because it's gross out. This is exactly what I want to eat to get the chill out. 

Wednesday: Creamy Mac and Cheese and Maple Glazed Steak Salad with Blue Cheese -Can it be Wednesday today? 

Thursday: Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots and a Simple Arugula Salad - Easy Peasy. Not to mention delicious. 

Friday: Beef Roast Braised in Zinfandel - An entire bottle of my favorite wine. Check!

Saturday: Thai Chicken and Noodles - The photos of this dish are so gorgeous, I want to lick my screen!

Sunday: Sage and Balsamic Pork Chops with Gouda Grits and Yellow Squash and Vidalia Onions.  -We're having company on Sunday and this looks like a gorgeous and easy meal. Pantry to table in 45 minutes? Brilliant!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby!






























Happy Birthday, sweet girl! 
We love you more than all the leaves on all the trees, all the stars in the sky, even more.