Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Act 5; Scene 33: Pioneer Day FHE

Tommy has been into the movie Legacy lately. You remember that one from the '90s? Which is ok with me, because I ADORED Legacy when I was younger. Watching it with Tommy these past few Sundays still gives me the chills! And anyone who knows me knows I have a passion for the Mormon Pioneers. 

After telling Tommy every pioneer story I could think of per his request yesterday, we decided to go on a little "trek" of our own for FHE tonight.

We started out by talking about how pioneers didn't have grocery stores or electricity or cars. If they wanted butter, they had to make their own butter. Tommy learned how to milk the cow with the milking doll:

Then we poured cream into a jar and started shaking! Next we talked about how Tommy could only choose ONE toy to bring with him in our wagon. Naturally, he chose the largest toy he could think of. His shark. We donned our pioneer hats, and off we went!
Tommy pulling Shark in the wagon

Don't be deceived--he only shook better for a few seconds, and decided he'd rather pull the wagon
 I am certain this is the ONLY time you will EVER catch Robert in a cowboy hat. Amazing what we will do for family home evening :-). 
We even sent Tommy to collect buffalo chips along the way, and we ran into a band of Indians. While Tommy was telling us to run from the Indians, he pointed down at a bug on the sidewalk and said, "There's the Indian!" So basically he has no idea what Indians are. But somehow he knew we should run away from them.

When we made it to Zion, we got to sample our home made butter with some home made cornbread!

Tommy helped me make the cornbread. And he was VERY excited about eating it.
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Hope you all had a great Pioneer Day!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Meatless Meals #3: Vegetable Soup and Whole Wheat Bread

This meal has a funny story.

I had a bunch of veggie produce laying around, some of it from the garden, that needed to get used. It was a chilly, rainy day (in July?!?!? I know!!!) and I decided around noon that making up a veggie soup recipe would be a great idea! 

But I also didn't want to have to be making soup after nap time, I wanted a crock pot soup! Well after finally getting the kids down, and then Tommy not sleeping, I was able to get all the veggies in the crock pot about 2:30pm. Not ideal for a 5:30 dinner. But I thought, hey! it's ok if we eat at 6, and besides there's no meat or anything in it, so if I just put it on high for 3ish hours it will be fine!

...NOT fine! 5 rolled around, and the potatoes and carrots were still crunchy. I thought, ok, we still have an hour--I'll put the dumplings in now so they can cook for the last hour. Tommy was a champ at helping me make the dumplings, and we sent little stars, poinsettias, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, and snowman shaped dumplings into the crock pot. 

6 rolls around. The potatoes are still crunchy. I realized it would be at least another hour, more likely two before the soup was ready! Darn potatoes and carrots! And we still had to go water the gardens at the stake plot. 

So instead of eating my very vegetable, meat-free, healthy soup for dinner...I brought Wendy's dollar menu burgers to the garden which we ate on the grass. Lovely.

After we got home and put the kids to bed, we tasted the soup. The veggies were delicious! But the dumplings had turned to goo. Or, glue. Yuck. So I scooped out all of the floury, gooey dumpling blobs and put in some veggie pasta--tomato macaroni noodles--instead.

The next day for lunch, we had a very delicious soup! The pasta soaked up a lot of the chicken stock, so it's pretty chunky and thick. Maybe more like a pasta dish...but I love my soups thick, so there you have it. 

The bread is just bread-maker bread. Crock pot and bread maker--I was going for easy (too bad it backfired!)

Add some Colby Jack cheese on top and you have a winner! Not to mention, chalk full of veggies.

What I threw into this soup:
  • 2 small yellow summer squash
  • some peeled broccoli stems, chopped
  • one small onion
  • about four red potatoes
  • a few garden carrots
  • one can of basil and oregano style diced tomatoes
  • about 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasonings (I think I added a little extra here...)
  • one bay leaf
  • a little garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
After about 6 hours in the crock pot on low, you can throw in your favorite pasta (make it veggie pasta to add to the healthy!) for about 30 minutes. Then you're done!

Or! You can add dumplings (1/2 cup butter, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, some broth from the soup--mix till crumbly and roll out and cut out) and let them cook for an hour. Just don't let them cook too long, or they turn into goo....

What an adventure! Enjoy your left-over veggies!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Meatless Meals #2: Fresh Garden Salad and Potato Rolls

This one is sweet and simple. We had cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots fresh from the garden. I was so excited! I wanted a meal that would show off their flavor--uncooked. So I threw them in a fresh garden salad with Romaine lettuce and honey mustard dressing. 

Afterwards I realized I didn't even put cheese on the salad, which would have been a yummy touch. But you know what? It was delish without it! And the bakery potato rolls were delightful!

And homemade strawberry jam makes them even better.

This was a perfect meal for a hot, summer day.

Later that evening we snacked on big bowls of ice cream, too :-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Meatless Meals #1: Penne with Tomato "Pesto," Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, and Spinach and Apple Salad

Growing up, we had a lot of meatless meals. We also had a lot of salads as main dishes. My dad (yes, I said that right--my DAD) isn't a huge fan of meat, and he LOVES salads. So I just thought this was a normal thing. Lately, I have heard so many people say things like "just add some chicken, and this salad is a meal!" or "Just add your favorite meat to make it a meal."  And I thought, why can it not be a meal sans the meat? Is the rest of the food just not good enough? Can we give meatless dishes a chance, here? What about equal rights?!?!

I digress. Anyhow, that is basically why I decided to start this new thread of Meatless Meals on my blog. Plus, it's fun to get creative in the kitchen and this gives me a great excuse to do so! 

So here is the run down on our meatless meal of Penne with Tomato "Pesto," Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, and Spinach and Apple Salad we had tonight:

We'll start with the potatoes. So easy! Just cut up some red potatoes (Russets or any kind work, too, but red are my favorite!), drop some olive oil on and stir them around, add a bit of sea salt and some rosemary. I was very excited to use my fresh rosemary sprigs! But dried works great, too.

 Toss it all in a dish and put in the oven at 400 for about an hour--until they are brown and crispy. The crispier the better, really.
Doesn't it look pretty with the fresh sprigs of rosemary???
 And here is the finished product--although next time I'd probably let them get a little bit crispier/more brown.

Now for the pesto sauce! The whole recipe is listed below. Here is a picture of everything that needs to go into your food processor--although I used garlic powder (1/4 tsp) instead of cloves, and walnuts instead of pine nuts (works like a charm!). Also, I actually juiced a tomato for the tomato juice. That was an experience!!!

Wondering why I have a giant container of cayenne powder? So am I...
The original recipe said to use the tomato paste can to measure the olive oil--one of those full. So I tried it that way and it seemed to work great.

I managed to fit everything into my little food processor! Yay! And...as soon as I took this picture I realized it wasn't working, had to dump it all into a different bowl, fix the problem, and try again. Yeah...we won't talk about the giant mess that made. Yes another reason I want a blend tec!

Process all that yummy stuff until it's a paste, like this (another perk of a blend tec is that I wouldn't have to do it in shifts and it wouldn't take so long to blend....sigh....)

Now time for the pasta. I have discovered veggie pastas--they provide a whole serving of veggies and they taste great. A perfect way to slip in a few more veggies, especially if you have some picky eater/vegetable-phobia issues at your house. This kind is Barilla, but Kroger has a brand and I bet other store brands offer it as well. 

Another tip I learned from this Italian spaghetti cook book is to generously salt the boiling water before putting the pasta in--like, 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt. Wow! Apparently it brings out the natural flavor of the pasta.

While bringing the pasta to a boil, I made the salad. Fresh spinach (I always keep a bag on hand--it's great to use for so many occasions!) with thinly sliced apples, craisins, feta cheese, and crushed pecans. You could even add some red onion slivers if you like that kind of zing. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and you're good to go!

Now back to the pasta. before draining, make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Then drain it, and return it to the hot pot. Stir in enough of the pesto paste mixture to cover it to your desire, and add pasta water a little at a time if it's too thick. I ended up using nearly all of the pesto and nearly all of the reserved water for mine. One of my beefs with pasta dishes is that they always cool down so fast! I suggest putting a lid on that hot pot until everything is ready, then serving it up just before you eat. Sprinkle the cheese on top and eat!

Isn't that a lovely plate?

A delicious, healthy, and filling meatless meal. 
Bon Apetite!

Penne with Tomato Pesto

3/4 cup (one 6 oz can) tomato paste
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp pine nutes
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp tomato juice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lbs penne (or pasta of choice!)
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Put all ingredients (minus pasta and cheese) into a food processor until you have a paste. Set aside (make sure it's at room temperature when you combine with pasta). Generously salt the boiling water for the pasta, then boil until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Transfer pasta to a heated serving dish, add enough pesto to coat the noodles generously. Add a little pasta water, a Tbsp at a time, if it seems too thick. Sprinkle with cheese and pass remaining cheese and pesto around the table.

Recipe from On Top of Spaghetti by Johanne Killeen and George Germon

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Act 5; Scene 32: Capturing the Perfect Portrait

I started out wanting to blog about Tommy's 3rd birthday, which is today.

But I found this sequence of pictures randomly on my camera, and I just had to share.

I suppose Tommy was trying to take some portraits of his little sister.

He caught all her best features--especially those leg rolls!

Gotta love it!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Act 5; Scene 31: The Saga of the Baby Contest 2015

In Lehi, we have a week-long city celebration called "Lehi Round Up Days." It's mostly centered around the Lehi Round Up Rodeo, which runs all week--but there are also loads of fun activities. Seriously, the whole city just comes to a standstill--the library closes early, the grocery stores have special events, residents set their chairs and blankets out on Sunday to save a good spot for the three (yes THREE!) parades on the coming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

I mean, it's a huge celebration, jam-packed with fun events all day for a week. 

And folks, I love getting into community events like this. 

As I was perusing the Round Up magazine trying to decide which activities we would participate in this year, I saw the baby contest ad. I thought, hey, I have a really cute baby who smiles all the time. And this could be my only smiley baby. Also, the contest was themed--that meant costumes. Yup, that sealed the deal. 

I spent the whole week gathering items for Scarlet's "Dorothy" outfit (idea thanks to a cute dress from Grandma Center). I know it was kind of outrageous, but I was really excited! The day came and we headed to the Legacy Center (rec center) for the contest, with all of the other really cute babies.

Here she is:

Dorothy and Toto sitting in the "picture spot"
I love this concentrated face!
She loved playing with the banner

So adorable! I couldn't help but post all those pictures :-).

A whole bunch of Royalty (the Rodeo Royalty, Miss Lehi Royalty, and some others??) were the judges. I brought her in and she smiled and kicked, and they all laughed and said "She is the smiley-est baby!" And then I thought, hey, maybe she even has a chance to win a prize!

When I picked up Tommy from preschool afterwards, he asked about going to the baby contest. Apparently he thought he was going to accompany us, and was pretty disappointed. He REALLY wanted to go. Then my friend told me that the age categories go until 3 years old. But I didn't want to mess with nap time (since I already messed with morning nap for the babe).

Long story short, kids were awake, Tommy wanted to be in a contest enough to obey my instructions, so we threw on Tommy's superhero outfit and ran to the rec center 15 minutes before the contest ended. In the car, Tommy practiced telling me his name, his age, doing his superhero face and arms. What a cutie! But of course when we got there, he was pretty nervous in front of the "Princesses." He did manage to say his name as loudly as he could, hold up his fingers for his age, and give a little version of his super hero face. I thought, well, next time I'll just have a neighbor put on a crown and we can have our own contest at home! 

The good thing was, now we got to be there at 3 for the winners announcements, and I was excited to see if Scarlet placed at all.

Tommy ran laps around the gym while they called out winners. Scarlet didn't place, and I was strangely disappointed! Ha! Even though getting ready and doing it was a lot of fun. And then, they started announcing the 2 year old winners. And they called out "Tommy Center!" Thomas, who was running laps, stopped in his tracks and looked around like, wait, I think I know that name! I was shocked because he had been so shy, and we had literally thrown it together, after a week of prep for Scarlet! Ha! It was pretty exciting!

Holding his prize box outside the rec center
And then I found out...winners "get" to be in the parade on Friday. 

Oh man. I didn't realize that! What were we going to do? We borrowed my parents wagon and decorated it up, and I bought some little squirt guns to squirt the spectators in lieu of candy. 

And you know what? This little superhero had the time of his life.

It took him a bit to figure out the squirting thing

But he got the hang of it fast!

Great shot!

Oh my gosh doing the baby contest was worth everything just so that Tommy could be in the parade. He ran nearly the whole thing, in the blazing heat, squirting everyone who cheered at him. It was pretty hysterical to see him running along, cape flying, and then people cheered because he was so darn cute, and he'd run up and squirt them in the face. I was dying. 

He was also a little afraid of the horses in the line-up behind us, and was literally running away from them, and trying to squirt them down with water. 

With him trying to squirt everyone and wanting to walk, our contest buddies left us way behind. We ended up behind the horses, two marching bands, and a couple of floats from where we started. The spectators probably wondered who in the world we were! Finally Tommy hit the wall and climbed in the wagon and drank 3 sippy cups full of water. 

He was still happy at the end! These are the pictures Robert took when he picked us up at the end of the parade route. Tommy ran towards him to get him with the squirt gun.

I think that cape and shield that I bought nearly two years ago at some random warehouse sale were a good buy, don't you? Although those strange goggles from Grandma and Grandpa M might take the cake.

And that, my friends, is the overly-detailed saga of the baby contest. 

(Or in Tommy's words, the "big boy" contest).

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Act 5; Scene 30: New Things For Skiz

We've had a few new things happening with the little miss around here!

First of all, baby cereal!

And, giggles!