Thursday, September 29, 2011

Emerging from the Fog

The day after our 4 year anniversary, baby G decided to work her way into the world. And work her way in she did! I will spare the gorey details, but I certainly learned that mothers deserve to wear a  badge of courage for the whole labor and birthing process (and not to mention the breastfeeding battles that follow).   Baby G will be 4 months old on Friday, and I finally feel like things are coming into place.  Amongst the picture taking, family visiting, doctor appointments and the squeezing in of as much as possible into nap times; I was able to get back into exploring new recipes and crafts.  I thought I would never lift a finger again if it wasn't to change a diaper or hold a baby but alas new moms...the day will come when you can tackle a page of a scrapbook. 
Although it doesn't hold a candle to baby G, I am proud of my ever-increasing sewing skills.  I have made a few nursing covers now despite the fights my sewing machine puts up.  It is nice to put your mind to use doing something unrelated to baby. 
Inspired by meal enjoyed during a recent trip to visit family in Colorado, we attempted to make our own portabello burgers.  They turned out pretty good, although the texture is something to get used to.  First, coat the mushroom with olive oil and italian seasonings and grill.  Then add pepperjack cheese and fresh red pepper to a broiled kaiser roll with fresh spinach.  Yum!

As we have passed the milestone of 3 months, the usual time when working mothers decide to "get back to it" I feel so blessed to have been able to be at home for each precious moment with my little one.  I feel in my heart that I am not ready to leave her in someone else's care full time, and I've also learned that a peace of mind is a priceless gift.  I pray that the Lord would open doors to provide a flexible part time job for me as a pharmacist; one that allows me to be the kind of wife and mother I aspire to be but that also challenges me professionally and helps me to grow.  I am thankful that this little girl has stolen my heart and made it easy for me to see the investment which pays the highest returns.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

Today's kitchen feat was homemade granola bars.  I've made these before and enjoyed them even though I didn't have all the ingredients.  My goal here was to satisfy that sweet-tooth and at least pack in some nutrients and fiber!  The nice thing about granola is that similar to trail mix, you can put most anything you like in it! I just scoured my cupboards for anything that sounded tasty.  This original recipe came from a March 2011 Fitness Magazine issue.  Here's my spin on it:

1 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground or milled flaxseed
1/2 cup Ezekiel 4:9 cereal (or grape-nuts)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil (solid at room temp, heat up if using this oil)
cranberries and raisins as desired
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
chocolate chips as desired (I used milk chocolate and white chocolate today)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8x8 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  (This is great because at the end there is virtually no clean up! 

In a large bowl mix first 6 ingredients.  Next Add egg, applesauce, honey, brown sugar and oil and mix well.  Mix in your desired add-ins (fruit, chocolate, nuts, etc.)

Spread mixture evenly over foil.  Bake for about 30 minutes until eges are golden brown.  Cool on wire rack, using the edges of the foil to remove the granola from the pan.  Cut into bars if you wish!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Add an Extra to Your Mexican Fiesta!

Approaching "D Day" has definitely slowed me down a bit in the home projects department.  The belly is ever growing and the heat is ever rising.  Roll, up, waddle, flop, down has become my never-ending nightly exercise routine which I will blame for the few naps I slipped into over this past week.  I am thankful that the "nesting" period happened a few weeks ago because it seems that now my body wants to enter a sort of hibernation period.  Snacking is at an all time high and reading on the couch has become my favorite activity of the day.  I have managed to pull out a few more scrapbook pages in an attempt to catch up before baby's arrival- a blissfully sedentary activity!

This week I did decide to try two new recipes from Southern Living magazine.  Both turned out pretty yummy and I think add a unique twist to any family's typical taco night.  If your family is anything like mine, we have tacos or enchiladas a few times month on those desperate occasions when you just happen to have one pound of ground beef in the freezer. Out of pure serendipity I had accidentally purchased a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles when I only meant to have the diced tomatoes and I was so happy to find that the dusty can could be put to use in one of the recipes below!

Spicy Queso Dip
1 small onion
1 tbsp oil
1 minced garlic clove
16 ounces pepper jack cheese (velveeta brand pepper jack if you can find it, I couldn't)
10 ounces diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro(optional)
Tortilla chips

1) cook the onion in hot oil until tender then add the garlic for another minute.  Remove from heat.
2) Combine the cheese (cubed) tomatoes (I think these should be drained a bit as mine was kind of watery), and onion in a microwaveable bowl.  Microwave for 5 minutes. Top with cilantro for decoration and serve with tortilla chips. Obviously you may need to stir it a bit to aid in the melting process during microwaving and afterward.  Makes approximately 3 cups.

Oven-baked Churros (yum yum and very easy)
17.3 ounces frozen puff pastry sheets thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or more if you prefer like we do)
1/4 cup melted butter

1)Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Unfold pastry sheets and use pizza cutter to cut in half length wise.  Cut each half into 1 inch wide strips.  Place on lightly greased parchment paper on a baking sheet (I used pam to spray the parchment).  Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown- BE CAREFUL- the bottoms seem to burn easily so watch closely!
2) While pastry is baking, combine the sugar and cinnamon on a shallow plate.  Dip the pastry sheets in melted butter then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.  Let stand on wire rack until dry (~5 mins).  Makes 3 dozen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


There was much satisfaction in my heart today watching Derrek put up the pictures in the nursery room.  Finally, we can say we are DONE with little G's nursery. Of course we will make little additions here and there...a hamper, a shelf, but everything I had set my mind on is now finished! I am so happy with the way it turned out.  I even made a last minute project out of hanging her quilt and sewed on two ribbons to secure it on the wall. 

In the kitchen I tried another new recipe, Aunt Elaine's Oreo Pie.  It is currently in the freezer but my sneek peak today gave me a glimpse of just how yummy it is going to be and refreshing on a hot summer day.  At the hubby's request I also made an apple pie.  I usually reserve apple pie for the fall but he deserved a special treat for all of his hard work. 

Oreo Pie- I found that this will make 2 pies

2 Rows of oreo cookies
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
oreo pie crust (I bought the ready made ones)

Beat ice cream in large bowl until soft.  Add crushed oreos and beat until well mixed. Pour into pie crusts.  Freeze at least 4 hours. 

Its a good thing I'm almost through my pregnancy, I am not sure how many more pies my body or kitchen aid can take!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie and Other Minor Achievements

I'm not quite sure if it's the 35th week of pregnancy or just plain gluttony but my usual love for all things sweet has intensified immensely!  I tried a new recipe today.. Aunt Elaine's Peanut Butter Pie.  The great thing about this recipe is that it makes 2 pies and for whatever reason I think my batch could have squeezed out a 3rd! I am thinking it will freeze fabulously and be a quick dessert after dinner once baby is here.  Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Pie
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk (slightly less)
2 (8 ounce each) containers of cool whip
2 graham cracker pie crusts
**mini chocolate chips for decorative topping** my special version

1) beat the softened cream cheese
2) add the sugar, milk and peanut butter until light and creamy
3) fold in cool whip
4) pour into crusts, sprinkle with choco chips (optional)
5) freeze overnight

I also made chocolate chip cookies...some of which are for eating tonight but I'm going to try and freeze the rest.  Hope they turn out well once thawed!

Outside the kitchen, I have not done much but Derrek has made such wonderful progress on the dresser! I picked up some knobs today and all that is left is to finish the mirror.  I can't wait until it is all done! On the other dresser I decided to incorporate a pattern from the baby's bedding for fun.  I hope this isn't a big mistake, but it seems like it will be easy to paint over if it doesn't turn out well. I just was thinking we needed to break up all the white furniture.  Two more drawers to go on that one! 

You can't really tell but these are white with purplish pink "petals" on them.

Comprehensive nursery pictures will follow once completed! To do: hang pictures on the walls and buy a lamp for the dresser!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 1 Cor 15:55

 What a wonderful day we have to celebrate!  I love these words found in 1 Corinthians because they are a reminder of Christ's glorious resurrection and the comfort each believer can take in knowing that we are forever alive in Christ! How I anticipate the day when I see those believers who have gone before me in heaven, that the Gloria who my little one is named for is whole and healed and with the Lord.  The beauty of spring surrounds me today and helps me to lift my eyes upward and rejoice for all the new life that thrives during this time of year. The flowers blooming and the birds singing, I am so grateful for these natural gifts God has blessed us with.
This week I spent a good bit of time in the kitchen and experienced some triumphs and some failures!  The orange poppyseed tea bread came out sinfully delicious!  I tell you, once I start eating it I can't stop!  One batch of whole wheat and flax pancakes came out just so-so while the one I made this morning was much improved (thanks to a few substitutions).  The Kahlua brownie triffle sent me flying back to horrid chemistry lab days when you realize near the end of completing your concoction that you forgot a pivotal step.  In this instance I had layered the triffle brownie-cool whip-heath bar three times over and then opened the fridge just to find I had left the pudding chilling in the fridge.  Yes!  The very pudding which is supposed to be smothered between the brownie and cool whip layers.  I'd like to blame this on "pregnancy brain" (or maybe the Kahlua?) but I know better.  This is a typical mistake for me!  I also made pineapple casserole for a neighborhood gathering and despite my husbands upturned nose, I was glad to see many people were brave enough to try it!  I had never had it before moving to the South, although I am not sure if it is considered a southern dish.  I assure you- if you like pineapple you will find this to be a delicious dish! I've included a few of the recipes below:

Orange Poppyseed Tea Bread
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp poppyseeds
2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
Glaze:  1/3 cup powdered sugar, 2 tbsp fresh OJ, 1 tsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 325, grease bottom of loaf pan.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, seeds and zest.  In a separate bowl beat butter on high speed 30 sec, add sugar and beat 3 minutes until light and fully.  Add vanilla, add eggs one at a time beating 30 sec after each.  Add 1/3 of flour mixture beating on low speed.  Add 1/2 the sour cream, add another 1/3 of flour mixture then the rest of the sour cream.  Once all the flour is added, pour until pan and bake for 60-65 minutes.  Brush glaze over top while cooling. 

Pineapple Cheddar Casserole
20 oz can pineapple chunks
3 tbsp flour, sugar and melted butter
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers

Drain pineapple and reserve 3 tbsp pineapple juice.  Arrange pineapple on the bottom of greased 1 1/2 qt casserole dish.  Stir together flour and sugar and sprinkle over pineapple.  Drizzle pineapple juice over the top.  Cover top with cheddar cheese.  Mix together the crushed crackers and melted butter and spread over cheese.  Bake covered at 350 for 15 min, uncover and bake 10 more minutes.  I found that the cheese was not melted quite enough so I would continue to bake until you don't see many shreds of cheese.

In the sewing department I was able to start and finish making my homemade nursing cover thanks to  Being the novice sewer that I am, I of course ran into some difficulties.  Also, I found a few nursing covers at Target  anywhere from 10-12 dollars.  Considering the fabric, boning and d-rings I bought (plus the tantrums my husband endured) I am not sure that I would recommend making these regularly when they can be purchased for about the same price.  The advantage is that you can choose the specific fabric you want and make matching accessories.  I suppose I also gained the self-satisfaction of knowing I have learned at least the basics of how to sew a small project.  I would love to make another one with matching burpcloth for a friend so perhaps I will work up the nerve and stamina to do so this summer.

And last but not least....Dresser 2 has reached completion!  Voila!

I am thinking of adding a pattern from her bedding to the drawers but want to get dresser 1 done first.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Suds and Duds

 Whew...another week gone by! I tried my hand at another new craft: SOAPMAKING!  I attended a local soapmaking FUNshop and got to make my own natural soap!  There were so many choices when it came to picking out your essential oils, fats and other additives.  I caved in to my usual sweet-tooth craving and made my very own "Ande's Candies" scented soap.  I couldn't resist using the cocoa butter, cocoa powder, goat's milk and peppermint essential oil.  I was afraid that similar to my many Marble Slab or Cold Stone Creamery trips, my indulgent creation would flop.  You know what they say- "less is more"!  However, today when I removed the soap from the container and cut it into bars it already smells exactly like a giant Ande's Candy! I learned that you have to let soap cure for 2-4 weeks so that it won't be too soft and dissolve quickly in your shower.  I hope to wrap up some bars in cute way and share the wealth for fellow mint-chocolate lovers. Let the curing begin!

 Inspired by a super crafty friend (you know who you are), I also attempted a little sewing project.  She makes these adorable burp cloths and I wanted a make a few for baby G and will work on some more for my new mommy friends! My plan is to applique a cute "g" on the middle burp cloth.  I must say these came out much better than I anticipated but are still not very well made.  I will have to keep trying! I plan on making a nursing cover also and was thinking that a matching set would be super sweet!

The dresser project has not come along very far.  Removing old paint is a stinky job and I am trying to avoid those vapors!  On my yard sale adventure this morning I found another sturdy solid wood dresser that was FIVE dollars.  I couldn't resist that deal, afterall- baby G will need more than just 3 drawers right?  Plus, her first dresser is girly and cute and will likely be in her room for a long time.  If we are lucky enough to have another baby it will need a dresser to stay with the crib.  Here's a picture of the dressers in progress, but they look pretty horrible right now.  I hope we are able to show the "AFTER" picture sooner than later!

Dresser 1- unable to flip the picture for some reason.
Dresser 2 Before