Friday, January 18, 2013

The Girl who was supposed to be sick....

The flu is spreading rapidly.  So far we have gone untouched, but every day the girls come home with the update of who was missing in school.  Last night Emma didn't have an appetite.  Very unusual!  She's a little like me, she never loses her appetite. 

We set her up with a bucket to sleep beside last night, just in case.  This morning, she complained of pain in her belly.  I really thought she'd be fine, but I made the mistake of calling Rob to ask his opinion.  In typical fashion, and being the soft touch that he is, he told me she should stay home. 


seventeen games of sequence

a pan of brownies

lots of crafts

a barbie design session (did you know unmatched, holey socks make the best Barbie dresses?)

and a Reuben sandwich later...... I'd say she's all better. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Bet

Rob and I are the firstborns in our families. We are opinionated, bossy, strong-willed, and generally like to get our own way.  We also [both] really like to be right. 

For some reason, we were discussing weather patterns this past week.  I overheard Rob tell the kids that when we were in high school, the temperature dropped to -20 degrees fahrenheit.  I'm sure I said something like, "Uh, don't you think that's a little bit of an exaggeration?" (probably with an eye roll thrown in).  So, of course, he fired back with, "okay, let's make a bet".

We each came up with a just punishment for the loser.  If he was exaggerating and the temperature was, in fact, above -20 degrees every day in the past 30 years, he would have to unload and reload my dishwasher every day.  In our house, that's about three times a day - no exaggeration(!).

And, if I lost (which I did)....

This, my friends, is my punishment. I have to match all of his socks and keep his sock drawer organized Ugh.

Stupid January 1994.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Todd's Wyoming Surprise Waffles

I wish I had more to tell you about the title of this waffle recipe.  It's listed in Rob's family's cookbook under this intriguing title.  I've met Rob's cousin Todd just once, and I have no idea why these are his Wyoming Surprise Waffles!  I do know that we love them.  They really don't take much time to put together and they're way better than the frozen variety.  I actually toyed with the idea of making the title of this post, "leggo your eggo".

Last weekend we hosted five fourteen and fifteen year-old boys in our house.  I hadn't been to the store since Monday and I knew we were not equipped for the wolf-pack frenzy.  I've noticed that in previous interactions with multiple teenagers, they get really hungry (all at the same time, and all at around 8:30pm).  They all converge on the kitchen like a wolf-pack and pretty much devour everything in sight.  And then they're gone.  The only evidence left behind is empty cupboards.  Anyone else have this experience?
So, anyway, I sent Rob and Kate to buy snacks for the boys, but planned on making waffles for breakfast.  I'd used this recipe twice before and I think I've discovered that it's fool-proof. 

Todd's Wyoming Surprise Waffles
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 T sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
2 T melted butter

1.  Measure dry ingredients and place into bowl.  Combine egg yolk and milk, stir into dry ingredients.
2.  Stir in melted butter.
3.  Beat the egg whites until stiff, then carefully fold into milk/dry ingredient mixture (do not overmix)
4.  Pour 1/8 cup of batter onto preheated waffle iron and bake until golden brown.

We like to serve ours with fresh fruit and real maple syrup.  Fresh whipped cream would also have been delightful!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Omelet Salad

For someone who cooks as much as I do, the assumption would be that I have success with most foods.  That assumption would be false.  I am very challenged when it comes to making many simple things: cookies, pancakes, and omelets (blogger is informing me that this is the correct spelling, weird).  

As I was sweating through an exercise class today, I was thinking about what I would eat when I got home (hey, it's what gets me through!).  I was really craving an omelet, but then I remembered that they always stick to the pan when I make them.  My dad totally makes the best omelets, and he's tried to teach me, but I think I'm hopeless.

So, I decided to make my omelet components into a salad.  I sauteed vegetables, added hard-boiled eggs, and included the cheeses I normally enjoy in an omelet.  I added the croutons just because I like them.  I think what I actually managed to do was to deconstruct the original idea - from my point of view it was a complete success!  The taste wasn't identical, but I really enjoyed the hot vegetables with the greens, cheese, croutons, and french dressing.  Plus, it was a great way to eat some protein and veggies (though not my goal).

There really is no actual recipe, but I sauteed red onions, zucchini, and red pepper.  I added the veggies and hard-boiled eggs to mixed greens and topped my salad with feta, cheddar, croutons, and french dressing.  Yum.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Open Letter to the Pool Supervisor

Dear Bob the Cougar*,

My family loves to swim in "your" pool.  We are usually the only people in the pool or on the pool deck.  I understand you are the pool supervisor.  I realize that you have many rules.  I have noticed that you take the pool rules very seriously.  In the interest of "protecting" us, you do a great job re-underlining the pool rules in red tape (each and every time we visit). 

You have reminded us of the many pool rules each and every time we've visited "your" pool (at least twice every year for seven years).  Somehow you never remember us.  I think it's true dedication that your condo porch is less than fifty feet from "your" pool.  It makes it really handy (I would assume) that you watch each and every person that uses the pool. 

I thought that the pool was to be kept at a constant temperature of 87 degrees fahrenheit.  The pool gate is also supposed to always remain locked (according to your expertly underlined rules).  I wanted you to know that when my family visited a few weeks ago, the pool temperature was 69 degrees fahrenheit and the pool gate was and remained unlocked (due to a malfunctioning latch). 

When my husband and son were throwing a football back and forth (because the pool water was too cold to swim in), we were the only people utilizing the pool area.  The rules did not state any information concerning balls, throwing, or anything related to those two things.  And, don't worry, the girls didn't put sunscreen on before entering the pool. 

It was so nice of you to watch us, walk out to the pool area, and inform us that there was to be "no throwing a ball on the pool deck".  What I want to know is, what did you think when my husband responded to your asinine comment, "well there is today, Bob".  That's kind of a rhetorical question - I don't really care.  I hope that explains the lack of a question mark. 

the family of paying members of "your" pool (and the youngest by decades)

*name changed to protect the guilty

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Minestrone Soup

It's winter, Christmas is over, and the best thing to do is just eat until spring.  Not really, but it is kind of tempting when every day seems grayer than the next.  I think soup is the best option.  It's relatively healthy, but also hearty enough to satisfy the need for something substantial.

I planned out my meals for this week, hoping to just go to the grocery store once.  As I looked through my pantry, I tried to find stragglers I could incorporate into a meal.  I found a can of butter beans.

I also found this weird "pepe" pasta that I wanted to use.  I thought about some sort of baked pasta dish, but it seemed bizarre, for some reason.  Then I remembered that my mom always puts some sort of grain into minestrone when she makes it.  Perfect!

I made my list to include everything I needed to make minestrone soup and then decided to pair it with quiche.  I remembered that I still had a can of crabmeat lurking in my pantry - crab quiche, done! 

I was able to utilize the remnants of pantry leftovers and only needed to purchase a few things to make a full meal for five.  I had the whole meal put together in less than 30 minutes.  The best part is, Kate said, "this soup is amazing".  I totally prepared myself for the kids to revolt with all of the vegetables and beans.  They all loved it and finished their portion!

Minestrone Soup
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium carrots, peeled and chopped finely
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 cup tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans of beans (I used pink beans and large butter beans)
1/2 cup of cooked small pasta
parmesan cheese for garnish

1.  Saute onion, carrot, zucchini, and garlic in olive oil over low heat for five to seven minutes or until vegetables are softened.
2.  Add spinach and stir until wilted.
3.  Add tomato paste and remaining ingredients (except for parmesan) and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
4.  Serve with parmesan cheese. 

Koru Yoghurt

Recently, I had the chance to try a new yoghurt before it hits the shelves of the grocery stores.

When I was asked to preview the yoghurt, it was described as silky-smooth, creamy, and un-traditionally sweetened with honey and sugar.

I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture, but the description of creamery-style yoghurt is spot-on.  This is the creamiest yoghurt I've ever tried.  

I received four flavors as part of the preview and immediately wanted to try the pomegranate-cherry.  

The list of ingredients is pretty minimal and each item is recognizable.  Cultured pasteurized milk, cream, skim milk, sugar, cherries, (contains less than 2%) of honey, cornstarch, pomegranate juice concentrate, natural flavors, pectin, purple sweet potato juice (color), tomato lycopene extract, citric acid, vitamin d3.  

So, my review:  I really enjoyed it!  I'm excited for everyone else in the family to try it.  My boys are going skiing tonight, so I'll send one along for each of them and then ask for their opinion when they return home. 
I'm not really a milk person, but I enjoy good cheese and yoghurt and this will definitely be something I plan on buying when it arrives in stores. 

It's quite different than the Fage brand yogurt.  Koru has much less tang and is quite a bit sweeter.  For me, that's both a good thing and a bad thing.  Plain yogurt is a bit tart for me, but I don't always love a sweet yogurt.  I really enjoyed the creaminess of the Koru, which I believe is lacking in the Fage, especially the low-fat and fat-free varieties.

The yoghurt tasted very minimally processed.  I didn't notice any whey on top (or separation of any kind), and it looked very natural.  I liked the cherry-pomegranate flavor, but I think I'd prefer that to be a little more on the tart-side, as a complement to the creaminess and natural sweetness of the yoghurt. 

This is the first time I've participated in a market research study associated with my blog.  It was really fun!  I will gladly taste food and then talk about it.  It reminds me of being on student council in middle school and being asked to taste test the new food choices about to be offered in the cafeteria - probably one of my few recollections from grades 6-8!

**update**  Rob and the kids loved the yoghurt!  We all think it tastes like ice cream, but not in a weird way. 

I spoke today with some of the team members from Koru and found some additional information, which I found to be very interesting.  The original recipe is from a yoghurt still produced in New Zealand, and adapted for the US market (basically to comply with USDA regulations).  The mix-in flavors will be familiar with a little bit of adventurous flavor thrown in.  For example, strawberry-goji, is the remaining flavor I was unable to try.  The Koru team is committed to only including mix-in flavors that occur in nature, so if you like something like boston cream pie, you'll have to look elsewhere. 

In the next few weeks or so, I hope to have some coupons for my readers to try the yoghurt.  It's been introduced into some of the stores in the US, so I'll keep my eye on on its availability around here.  Koru is a subsidiary of Land o Lakes and the yoghurt is produced in Minneapolis, MN.  If you see it in your store, try it and let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

DIY genius

My sister-in-law is an awesome gift-giver!  We usually switch names for Christmas and I knew she had my name this year, so I asked for a magic-eraser mop.  Pretty exciting, right?

I guess she thought that wasn't a great enough present (even though it totally was), so she perused my pinterest pins to try to find other ideas.  I had pinned something similar to this trough I found at Terrain a couple of years ago.

So, imagine my excitement when I realized that she'd gotten her husband to make me one! And, the best part? He made it out of disassembled pallets!

I finally got around to filling it today, with Emma's help!  I realize it's still a little Christmas-y, but I figure I can change it out for each season.  I'm actually kind of thinking of how I could add a little moss and other spring-y items in a couple of months. it is!  I honestly just love it.  Thanks so much Nicole, for the idea, and Jeremy for the hard work!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Triple Berry Pie

I made this pie last night for our fifteen year wedding anniversary and it was a total success!  We had enjoyed triple berry pie earlier this week on Longboat Key at Euphemia Haye - and everyone agreed that my version was even better! 

I had brought home an abundance of berries from our trip because we'd been overloading on all of the citrus we'd picked.  I wanted to use the strawberries, blueberries, and red raspberries before they spoiled. 

I pre-cooked my pie crust and then topped it with a cream cheese mixture.  I mixed the fresh berries with a simple glaze and then chilled the pie.  We topped ours with whipped cream and it was delicious!  I'm sure that when berries are in season here in the summer I'll be making this pie again. 

this lonely little piece is all that's left!

 Triple Berry Pie

pre-baked pie crust
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups blueberries
2 cups red raspberries
4 oz softened cream cheese
2 T lemon juice
2 t lemon zest
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup water
4 T cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar

1.  In a medium-sized bowl, using a hand mixer, combine softened cream cheese with lemon juice and zest and condensed milk.  Mix until smooth.  Spread mixture into cooled pie crust.
2.  In a medium-sized saucepan, combine one cup of strawberries with sugar.  In a separate small bowl, stir cornstarch into water until smooth.  Pour cornstarch mixture into berries and sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and boiling.  Remove from heat.
3.  Wash and prepare remaining fruit and place into large bowl.
4.  While  the cornstarch mixture is still hot, pour over remaining fruit and stir gently until all fruit is covered with strawberry glaze.
5.  Pour fruit-glazed mixture over cream cheese layer and refrigerate pie until chilled.  Serve with whipped cream. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

15 Years and counting.

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary.  In very typical fashion, I've decided to cook one of Rob's favorite things: meatloaf!  This is a picture from a previous post, our meatloaf for tonight is in the oven. 

I'm also trying a new recipe for dessert.  We just returned last night from a short winter vacation to our favorite part of Florida. 

This year we decided to take our kids to our favorite dessert destination, Euphemia Haye, on Longboat Key.  We visited this year on New Year's Eve for dessert on a whim and somehow managed to score a table.  We each ordered a different dessert and enjoyed sampling all of the selections.  I decided to try to recreate their triple berry pie.  The crust is pre-baked  and a thin layer of cream cheese is spread over the crust.  Strawberries, blueberries, and red raspberries are smothered in a strawberry glaze.  My version is cooling in the refrigerator for later this evening!  I'll let you know how it is. 

We normally don't do too much for our anniversary, but 15 years is a pretty long time, so I even got Rob a card! 

Stay tuned for some upcoming posts detailing our little trip south!