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!