Thursday, September 30, 2010

Plum Tatin and putting out fires

My 3 favorite people (Fall 2009)

I feel like "putting out fires" has been the theme of my life since school has started for Katie. Emotionally this has taken quite a toll on me. There is a double edged swored that is called parent portal. In theory and I guess in reality it is. What is parent portal you might ask? Basically it is your child's grade book online. So yes, this tool is good because there are no surprises you can track exactly how your child is doing. Bad when you find out all sorts of inconsistent remarks. Let me explain. The first week of school Katie had an essay due for English. She had completed it and also needed to decorate a paper bag and fill it with five items that described her, she also did this. The problem was Katie was having problems getting into her locker and couldn't get from the third floor to the basement in time. She told her teacher her predicament. The teacher explained and said she could still present without her bag, but her grade would be lowered. Well she lowered her grade a lot!!! So we had to send an e-mail explaining the situation to the teacher. She was very gracious and raised her grade.

Last week I noticed that one of Katie's quiz scores in American History was lowered. She had brought the paper home with the original grade, so I was confused. I e-mailed the teacher and explained the situation. He was also very gracious and said it was probably a computer error and he would correct it.

Then yesterday I was checking parent portal and noticed that in her French class in the scoring section of Katie's last quiz it said CHEATED. Now I know my daugheter is not perfect, but there is one thing that Katie is not and that is a cheater. So I immediately called the school and left a voice mail with the teacher and e-mailed her. A few hours later I received an e-mail back that said, "it must be a mistake a terrible glitch of the mouse." Seriously people are you trying to give me a heart attack!!

After talking with a friend, I have decided to give myself permission to check parent portal twice a week. I think I have found a few additional gray hairs these past few weeks.

Other than that school is going really pretty well for Katie. She is doing good in her classes, has good friends, and can open her locker.

Ian has a lovely teacher. She seems to really get Ian and how he operates. Brian and I couldn't be happier, and Ian is quite content as well.

Speaking of Katie she has been begging me to make her favorite plum cake for weeks. So I baked one for her finally. This photo was taken last year. I tried to take one when I made it, but the sun had gone to bed already. This cake is really easy to put together and has the most wonderful fruity taste. Enjoy!

Plum Tatin
I adapted this recipe lightly from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
6-8 plums, cut in half and pitted
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch pie dish and arrange the plums in the dish, cut side down.

Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don't stir. Pour evenly over the plums.

Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the plums and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a plum sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room


Saturday, September 25, 2010


I noticed this last week that PW is starting to post holiday recipes. She's the best isn't she!!! I thought it was a great idea, and I thought to myself I will follow suit. Even though our holiday menu stays pretty similar from year to year. We do tweak it, and start planning it out a few months in advance. Unfortunately I won't be making too many of these recipes before the holidays, therefore I won't be able to post photos until after. Sorry friends!!!

My dear friend Sandi, better known as Spunk to our alumni crowd (it's a long story) shared this recipe with me many years ago. I believe she received it from a co-worker. This wassail has weaved itself in and out of our holiday menu over the years. It is a nice alternative to apple cider. I always like to have something warm to to offer our guests when they arrive out of the brisk air into our home. If you make the wassail on the stove it scents the air beautifully. I don't think anything says Happy Holidays and welcome to our home better. It just warms my heart thinking about it.


I like to serve this in small heat proof cups. Too much of a good thing can spoil the meal ahead

3 Sticks of cinnamon
1/2 gallon of good apple cider (we like Pepin Heights or Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 pint cranberry juice

Heat over low heat and simmer.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ina Garten's Lentil Sausage Soup

Rainy days are perfect for a pot of soup bubbling on the stove. I made this Lentil Sausage Soup soup a few Sundays ago, and well we all fell head over heels (except for Ian.

Lentil Sausage Soup
I adapted this from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris

1/2 pound lentils
2 Tbs. Olive oil
1 large diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 stalks medium diced celery
2 medium diced carrots
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound kielbasa grilled and cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick
1 tbs. red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer for a few minutes. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

Tomorrow Brian and I are going to Bars Bakery for caramel rolls and coffee...yummy!! Then we are going to do errands Trader Joe's, and a garage sale that my sister and her dear friend are hosting. Katie and I are going to dine on Big Bowl and watch Sense and Sensibility. The boys are going to a Bday party. Saturday is the neighborhood clean-up, and more "preparing for fall/projects." Sunday is church and some r&r, this probably includes watching a football game. How about you friends? What are your plans?
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2 New Anti- Aging Facial Products I Love

The Mister and I have a "big birthday" coming up this next year. In an effort to slow the "sands of time", (at least on my face). I have been on somewhat of a beauty kick recently. I tried out two new products that I LUUUV!!! I thought my friends might want to hear about them as well. The first one is Freeman's Pineapple Facial Mask. I picked this up at Ulta on a whim. I've been wanting a mask that would give me a youthful glow, and this one really did. Even Brian noticed, he said my face looked "really fresh". This mask is different than any I have tried before. It is very smooth and creamy with tiny beads. The product dries clear on your face, so your children won't be afraid of you. After 10 minutes you wash it off and your face feels very fresh and hydrated. I also can live with the 3.99 price.
The other product that I think is incredible is L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair Night Cream. Try saying that fast, five times! This product comes in a red tube like container. The cream comes out with a pump-like device. So even though it is a cream it comes out more like a lotion. This product has a really nice texture, it is not heavy or oily. It is easily absorbed into the skin. My face feels very soft, and I truly feel that some of those lines on my face are less obvious. This cream is about $20.00, which is really a steal for an anti-aging product. It was actually on sale at Target last week, plus I am sure you could find coupons in your Sunday paper.
Are there any anti-aging products that you love?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pork Chops with Sauce O' Gold

I pulled this recipe out of my recipe box. It came from a recipe exchange a long time ago. This is one of Brian's favorites, he loves pork. I think it is perfect recipe for autumn. It is easy enough to have for a week night meal, but "fancy" enough for company. This recipe is all about the sauce though.
Pork Chops with Sauce O'Gold
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. fruit juice
1 tsp. tabasco
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. vinegar
1 tsp. dry rosemary
4 pork chops
Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix. Put the pork chops in a zipper bag, and pour in the marinade. Place in the the fridge overnight.
Take the pork chops out of the fridge and grill. While the chops are grilling make the sauce.
Mix together in a bowl
1/2 c. mustard
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
Once the pork chops are finished cooking place them on individual plates and top with the sauce.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bits of Encouragement

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

Have an AMAZING week!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eggs, Cocoa, and weekend plans

Our Friday morning before school breakfast tradition of eggs and cocoa has started up again. Somebody devoured them before I could snap a photo.
21 years ago today Mr. Brian P and I went on our first date together. Tonight we are going to try and recreate that special night. Back then we went to see Batman (the one with Michael Keaton),yup it was a long time ago. Then we went to Baker's square and Brian ordered cheesecake which he proceeded to spill on his lap and I had a glass of coke.If you know me, you know that I don't like pop let alone coke...yuck!!! Then my favorite part we went for a walk around Lake Valentine. Brian tried to tell me scary stories of criminals coming out of the lake. The most amusing part of the evening was Brian having to use the restroom on our walk. We went into one of the seminary apartment buildings and knocked on someone's door, thankful no one answered. I guess he ended up holding it. So tonight we are going to Cafe Latte for cheesecake, walk around Lake Valentine, and watch Batman. Should be fun.

This weekend we prepare for fall. We need to cut back the perennials, take out the window units, and pull out our warmer clothes. Sunday we will go to church, Ian has a birthday party and then we will go to the apple orchard with the Buckman's and the Varghese-Horst families. After that it's Savoy pizza to go at Susie and Ron's...yum!
Any fun weekend plans for you guys? Are you ready for fall?
I'm really hoping he makes me a pie with those apples!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bits of Encouragement ~ Take time out for yourself

I Love, Love being Katie and Ian's Mom!!! I'm not saying that they don't drive me crazy, because they do almost everyday. I just feel so honored, lucky, privileged, and blessed to play such an important role in their lives. A lot of my time and energy is focused on them. I try to live a balanced life, but some areas of my life have gone by the wayside these past years. I don't blame motherhood on this. It is my own set of priorities that have made these decisions.

One of the areas that I have let slide is my nails. Now, they don't look terrible, but they don't look very pretty either. I don't usually do polish because I apparently have "oily" nails thus making the polish chip relatively quickly. So usually my nails are trimmed short and left bare, and I have been fine with that. My sister Elizabeth's nails always look so pretty. We were discussing "nails" during our vacation and she suggested I try a sheer shade and see how I like it.

For the last three weeks I have done just that. I take some time out for myself on the weekend to "do my nails". This is a simple pleasure that I have been doing just for myself. I choose a color from Sally Hansen called Sweet Tulip. It is pretty sheer with a touch of pink. After I do two coats of the polish I add a top coat. I really like the way my nails look, and it makes me feel just a bit more "polished".

So, for your bit of encouragement today I ask you to take some time out for yourself. Do something for you just because you want to, not because you need to. It can be anything, but it has to be fun for you.




Picky Girl has a blog. Check it out, but I'm warning you there is a reason this gorgeous shop gets "best boutique" year after year! Congratulations Elizabeth!

What can I say...I'm proud of my little sis!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bedroom Makeover ~ Part One

When we moved in our house we created the haven that we dreamed about in our bedroom. We painted the walls in strips (frost queen and blue moon). These colors complimented the beautiful periwinkle with white embroidery Laura Ashley duvet cover that we found. About a year later we bought a new bed that we still love (Room and Board).
Well, a few years ago we decided we were ready for a change. We just have not made time for it, nor did we find anything that we loved. This year is going to be that year. We are carving out some time to paint, and we have found a few things that have inspired us color wise.
The first step was to buy some new sheets. Sorry the photo is not the greatest. The sheets are sort of a burgundy/redish color. We really like them. They are super soft and we love the color!
Can't wait for part two!!
Happy Friday! Have a great weekend friends!

Turkey Joes

I hope the is post makes sense. If not you will have to pardon my mistakes. Some little man woke me up at 2:15 this morning. He was cold. I took him back to his room, all of his covers were completely off of his bed. He is a restless sleeper. Then I "tried" to go back to bed, but that didn't work very well.
All of that to say, I think I found a sloppy joe recipe that I can live with. I found the recipe in Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals 2 and tweaked it a bit. They were yummy! A perfect quick and easy week night meal. Add some fruit, veg, and maybe a few potato chips because potato chips are good with sloppy joes.

Turkey Joes
I might add a little mustard next time. Otherwise we really liked these.
1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 pound ground turkey (I used extra-lean)
A little less than 1/4 of cup brown sugar
Salt & Pepper
1 small onion finely chopped
1 small red pepper finely chopped
1 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tbs. worcestershire sauce
1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbs ketchup
4 toasted buns
Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Add the olive oil and the turkey breaking it up and spreading it around. Add the brown sugar and the salt and pepper to taste combine with the turkey. When the meat is brown add the onions and red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir. Then add the worcestershire, tomato sauce, and ketchup stirring to combine. We like our sloppy joes pretty thick and not super saucy. So I cranked the heat up and let the sauce get thick. If you like a more soupy consistency, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve on toasted buns. YUM!!
Second day of school and they are already working super hard!! Katie has an oral presentation tomorrow. They miss each other in the mornings. No more breakfast dates and drop-offs. I so love being their Mom. Early mornings and all. Happy Thursday friends!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day of School ~ 2010

Katie: 7th grade
How was your first day? "Awesome!"
What was your favorite part of the day? "Spanish."

Ian 2nd grade
How was your 1st day? "Mom, your were right Ms. Bode is much nicer than Ms. Barry."
What was your favorite part of the day? "Just being with my whole class."
We're off to a great start!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School Party 2010

Blood Orange Soda
Shrimp in a Citrus Cream Sauce with Pasta
Steamed Green Beans
Brownies with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel
Happy 1st day of School!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bits of Encouragement

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:4

Happy Labor Day!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A long weekend

It has been a busy week around here. We are all ready for a nice long weekend. One of our neighbors is having us over for a dinner party this evening, which will be a lovely way to start off the weekend. We have lots of "little projects" on our list. Katie and I also plan on giving ourselves mani's, pedi's and facials before school starts Tuesday. What are your plans for the weekend?
You might remember me mentioning this cake. I made it last week and it was quite good. This is not a fancy cake by any means, but a homey, old-fashioned cake. You know the kind that you keep on the counter on a cake pedestal. You keep taking small slices of it, and before you know it is gone. I have never baked a cake with olive oil before, so I was definitely intrigued. You wouldn't know that the recipe calls for 1 cup of olive oil, unless someone told you and then when you take a bite you might taste a bit of it between the zucchini and the delicious crunchy lemon glaze. Mmmmm. This is a lovely cake and a great way to use up all of that zucchini!
If you plan on wearing your new 4.5 inch wedges to your daughter's Jr. High orientation, because you think you are a young, hip Mom. Know that in your heart you always will be, and heck all the college kids tell you that "you rock". But your feet think otherwise.
Enjoy you weekend friends!!

Ina Garten's Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

Well, Ina's done it again. This recipe comes from her latest cookbook Back to the Basics. We made these delicious tarts for date night a few weeks ago and they were incredible. We had never really used puff pastry before, and boy have we been missing out. It bakes up in these beautiful layers, and is very light and flaky. It was also quite easy to work with. The hardest part is remembering to take it out of the freezer to thaw.
The filling is equally amazing. Caramelized onions, goat cheese, fresh tomatoes and herbs. I mean what's not to like about all of that.
I knew that I would like these, and figured Brian would. But he really liked them (he ate two)!
These are not low-fat, but for a special treat/occasion I think they are very nice. It is also a great way to show case fresh tomatoes from your garden.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
The original recipe called for adding dry white wine to the onions. I didn't have any on hand, so I omitted it. As a result I believe that my onions took a lot longer to brown than the original recipe states.
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

In other news, the children had immunizations yesterday. That was LOADS of fun!!! They have been practicing their rowing skills so they don't get stiff arms.
Today is orientation/open house for both of them. I can hardly believe that school starts next week! We are ready though... well at least I am.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...