Friday, April 29, 2011

Why I blog

 When I started blogging a couple of years ago.  It was because I wanted to record our adventures as a family for our children. I am terrible at journaling and scrap booking!  But I thought I could do a blog.  I like to take photos with my point and shoot and thought I could put photos up with little blurbs on a blog.  Not to mention that Brian's parents live a couple of hours away and my parents are overseas for a few months every year.  I thought this would be a good way for them to keep up with our family.  Somewhere along the line I started adding bits of encouragement and recipes and pretty much everything else that goes on around here.
Then a few friends started coming around which is a fun way to keep connected.  Then new friends started coming!  I love all the new people of have met.  I feel like  my life is so busy with raising a family that making new friends can be really hard.  So blogging is a great way to form new friendships.
All of this to say, I've been thinking a lot about our blog lately.  And I have a lot of questions, but not many answers.  I was wondering if you my faithful friends would help me answer them.

1.Should I move the blog over to wordpress and make it really fancy?  Ideally I would love to have separate pages for each section of our blog, making it easier for you to navigate and find what you're looking for.

2.How do you feel about e-books?  I thought about putting a small one together filled with recipes. Would you be interested?

3. If I jazzed up the page I could have a "shop".  If I did a series of recipes like weeknight cooking, holidays, etc... Would you like this option better?

I'll stop there.  Thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it.

Tonight is book club, super excited to spend time with the ladies.  The rest of the weekend will hopefully be relaxing maybe some cleaning and watching Tron.  Have a great weekend my friends!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm

I have been a lover of Burt's Bees products for a long time.  So when I came across their tinted lip balm I knew I had to try it.  Can I just say this is my new fav!
This balm goes on super smooth with a hint of fruity flavor.  And I love the barely there color.  Now, I love a good lipstick especially for the fall and winter.  For spring and summer I like something a little more natural and this fits the bill perfectly!  It comes in an assortment of colors.  I choose the hibiscus, which is a nice shade of  pink.
How about you my friends?  Do you have a favorite lip product?

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuna Melts

Tuna seems to be one of those foods that people love or hate.  Growing up my family ate a lot of fish, and I was never a fan.  The one exception I had was tuna.  We seemed to have sandwiches quite a bit on Saturday for lunch and tuna was a popular choice.  My Mom added hard boiled eggs and diced pickles (must have been a 70's thing).  If we were lucky Mom would make an open faced sandwich and put a slice of cheese on it and stick it under the broiler.  I have a lot of good "food memories"
Now that I am all grown up, I'm still not a huge fan of fish, but my family loves it.  I am trying to incorporate into our diets more often.  Since everyone loves tuna around our table.  I thought I would try an updated version of tuna melts.  Per Mr. Young's request I have made these a couple of times now.  It's a quick and easy meal that tastes good and everyone enjoys!

Tuna Melts

2-3 cans of albacore tuna
1/4-1/3 cup of light mayonnaise
1/2 cup kalamata olives chopped
salt and pepper to taste
*1 medium onion caramelized
Half a loaf of Italian bread

Pre-heat your oven to 350.  Cut your bread in half lengthwise.  Place the bread on a baking sheet in the oven for 3-5 minutes while the oven is heating up.  You want the bread to crisp up a bit, but not get brown.
Mix together the tuna, mayo, olives, and the salt and pepper.  Divide the tuna mixture equally over the two slices of bread and top with the caramelized onions.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top, place in the oven until the cheese is completely melted.  Cut into serving size pieces.
*To caramelize the onion.  Slice the onion thinly and place with a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan until caramelized about 30 minutes



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter in Pictures

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.
He is risen!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Italian Cream Cake

We are having an Italian theme for book club this week, so I thought about bringing an Italian cream cake.  The hostess is not crazy about coconut, so I decided to bring something else.  But when Susie heard that I wasn't going to make it she said "You have to make it"!  So, I told her I would make it for Easter.  So I poured over my cookbooks and searched online for a recipe.  I couldn't find one I was sold on, so I took three different recipes and came up with my own.
I was really happy with the way the cake looked and tasted.  The cake was very moist and had a wonderful coconut and pecan flavor.  Plus the cream cheese frosting mmmm.
So if you have an event coming up, please make this cake!  It is so good, and your guests will be oohing and aahing.

Italian Cream Cake


1 stick Butter (room temperature)
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 cup Sugar
5 whole Eggs (separated)
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1 cup Coconut toasted
3/4 cup Pecans toasted 
2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 cup Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla, and coconut and pecans. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
Alternate adding buttermilk and dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, then fold in egg whites.
Pour evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.


8 ounces light cream cheese (room temperature)
4 ounces regular cream cheese (room temperature)
6 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 -5 cups powdered sugar sifted
1 cup toasted coconut
1/2 cup toasted pecans chopped

Beat the cream cheese until smooth and free of lumps.  Add butter and vanilla until smooth.  Gradually add enough powdered sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency, beat until smooth.

Place the first cake layer top side up and frost with a generous amount of frosting.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of coconut and 1/4 cup of pecans.  Top with the second layer and place it so the smooth side or bottom is facing up.  Frost top and side of cake with the remaining frosting.  Sprinkle the top and sides with the remaining coconut.  Then sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining nuts.


Source: Pioneer Woman,Southern Living,Better Homes and Gardens 75 years of all time favorites

Happy Monday friends!  Have a great week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Somebody's Birthday

Happy Birthday Brian!!
Have a great week everyone.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sunday, a day for rest

My favorite lilac in the neighborhood ~ 2010
I have noticed that as my children grow older our life has gotten more rushed and hectic.  Being rushed stresses me out, and makes me CRABBY and not a fun person to be around.  The older I get, the more aware I am of the climate so to speak in our home.  I have also noticed that my attitude plays a big role in that climate.  I'm sure you have all heard the saying "If Mama ain't happy, then nobody's happy".  We have all been kind of on the edge lately.  I have been thinking about this a lot and how I can help foster a more restful environment in our home. 
Immediately Genesis 2:2 came to my mind. "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work".  Typically we don't have a lot of plans on Sunday, because it has been a gear up for the week kind of day.  We like to go to church, have quiet time, and family night.  Other things like homework, cleaning,laundry and all sorts of last minute stuff gets thrown in there and makes Sunday not restful.  So last week I asked everyone to do their best to get all their work done by Saturday night, so that Sunday could truly be a relaxing kind of day.
Well, it sort of worked, but not to the extent that I wanted.  We'll try again this week.
How about all of you?  Do you have a day of rest at your home?  What do you do to make that happen and what does it look like for you?  I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Greek" Pasta

Whenever I find a recipe that all four of us like, it goes in the keeper pile.
And that is the category this pasta dish goes in.
A few weeks ago I saw a recipe on Steamy Kitchen for a Greek style Macaroni and cheese.  I wanted to come up with something lighter, but wanted to use those "Greek" flavors.
This was quick and easy plus deliciousNow that the weather is warming up, it's fun to try some new spring like recipes.  Give this one a go, I think your family will enjoy it!

Greek Pasta
Next time I think I might add a bit of fresh lemon juice and throw in some oregano as well.  I have given you rough measurements, change things as you like.

Olive oil
kosher salt
4 cloves of garlic crushed
1/4-1/2 cup of Kalamata Olives rough chopped
6 sun dried tomatoes rough chopped
1/2 pound fresh baby spinach
1 pound penne pasta
Feta cheese (either crumbled or cut into small pieces)

1. Place 6 quarts of water in a 8 quart stock pot and bring to a roiling boil.  Add salt and pasta.  Cook according to package directions.

2. In a large saute pan heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until lightly brown.

3.  Add the olives and sun dried tomatoes.  Be careful because this will splatter.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add the spinach in handfuls.  You might need to cook half and then add the rest depending on how large your pan is.  Cook until the spinach is completely wilted.

4.Drain and add the pasta and stir until everything is combined.  If it seems dry add some of the pasta water.  Turn off the heat and add the feta cheese.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Monday!

"Shocking Blue" Rose from our garden a few years ago.
I hope you all had a lovely weekend.
Ours included:
Date night
Spring Cleaning
Visiting a new church
What did you do this weekend?
Have a super week!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Classic Shaken Margarita

I love margaritas.   I love margaritas so much I some times think I might be Mexican.   I think I love the idea of lime and orange juice mixed together with the delightful taste of tequila and salt.  

I get my recipe from my close personal friend, Rick Bayless.   Ok,  I only wish he was my close personal friend.   :)   This recipe is so simple and straightforward that anyone can make it and there is enough flexibility to get creative.
Classic Margarita 
8 limes  -  Juice only (I love limes and have almost tripled what Rick recommends)
1 cup of tequila (Sauza Hornitos is good)
1/2 cup of orange liqueur (Cointreau is my favorite.  Grand Marnier is Rachel’s)
3/4 cup of simple syrup
Tons of ice (Not “tons” but alot)

Mix it all together and let it sit for about 45 minutes.   The extra time will let it get cold and give the flavors a chance to mix together.   Serve in your favorite margarita glass or any short glass rimmed with salt.   

I am not going to lie.   This recipe is pretty strong.   The longer you let it sit the milder it will become.   Enjoy in moderation.   :)
This recipe has been shared with Gooseberry Patch

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chicago ~ Part 1

Brian and I went on a special trip to Chicago (just the two of us) a few weeks ago.  We had such an amazing time with one of my college roommates and her husband.  As you can imagine a good part of the trip was dedicated to food.
Now this is not your ordinary hot dog stop.  They have all sorts of gourmet sausages and toppings.  This was a chicken and spinach sausage with smoked mozzarella and a sun-dried tomato spread.

Chicago dog with spicy peppers and a spicy sausage.  It's called the Kiera Knightly, cause it's hot!
If you are a hot dog lover you have got to check this place out, even if you are not check it out.  Make sure you go early because there is always a  line out the door.  We got there around 10:30 and still waited, but it was most definitely worth it.

Colleen took this photo of us.
Next up the Chicago Cultural Center.  Admission is free.  This building is just stunning
This is Tiffany glass.  There are two gorgeous domes in the building.

Millennium Park

After that a nice cup of coffee sounded good.  So we stopped by Intelligentsia Coffee.  Well, I had chai, but everyone else had coffee.

Part 2 next week.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Croissant Breakfast Bake

In an effort to reduce my grocery bill this past week, I raided the freezer.  Talk about a treasure chest, I have some good eats in there.  I found a bag of croissants and decided to change up a classic baked french toast recipe.  I didn't know how this would go over with Katie and Ian, because they don't like croissants (I know crazy)!  So, when they asked what's for dinner Mom?  I said "baked french toast".  Needless to say our home smelled amazing, and the children and Brian gobbled it up.  I will make this again for sure, I think it is even nice enough for company.  I hope you give it a try, I really think you will love it.

Croissant Breakfast Bake

3-4 large day old croissants
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups of skim milk
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Grease a 2-3 quart baking dish ( I sprayed my dish, but found that it stuck quite a bit).  Slice each of the croissants in half and then into 1 inch pieces.  Place into the baking dish.

2.  In a bowl beat the eggs, milk and vanilla.  In another bowl mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture and mix well.

3.  Pour the egg mixture over the croissants in the baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

4.  Pre-heat the oven to 325.

5. Uncover the dish and place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn the heat up to 350 and bake for about another 25 minutes or until set.  It will rise high and brown nicely.

6.  Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

7.  Serve warm with pure maple syrup.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Frozen Lime Coconut Tart

Even though the calendar claimed spring last week, the weather in the tundra has not followed.  I wanted to bring a taste of the tropics here and decided to make this little tart with a few twists.  The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly.  This time I had some leftover coconut milk and decided to add that, and changed it from a pie to a tart. This is actually the perfect dessert for a hot day.  You hardly turn on your oven and it is frozen so it will help cool you down. I closed my eyes and as I took that first bite imagined myself on a warm tropical island.  The pie was cool and full of citrus zing with a touch of coconut.  Then I opened my eyes to reality.  Oh well, a girl can dream can't she?

Frozen Lime Coconut Tart
Next time I make this I will cut back on the fat and use non-fat sweetened condensed milk and lite coconut milk.  Although there is a 1/2 cup of coconut milk the coconut flavor is faint.  I thought coconut toasted and added to the crust might be good or even sprinkled on top.


9 graham crackers (full sheets)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted


6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
Zest of one lime
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 
1/2 cup coconut milk (not cream of coconut)

1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch tart pan making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes until firm and golden. Allow to cool completely.

Combine the yolks with the lime juice in a double boiler. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches 140 degrees. Place the egg mixture and the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes until thick.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, and zest and mix until combined.  Pour into the prepared pie shell. 

For the topping, beat the  heavy cream and powdered sugar  until stiff peaks form.  Spoon onto pie.  Freeze for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.  The original recipe states that you can make this pie a month in advance. Enjoy!

Have a fun weekend!


Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Family Style

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