Friday, December 31, 2010

{FFwD} Spicy Glazed Carrots

Thanks for visiting my blog on a day when over 1000 cooks around the world are cooking together out of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. French Fridays with Dorie would love to have you so purchase the book and get cooking! Let me know if you have a blog so I can add you to my reader!

These carrots were simple and delicious! They called for Cardamom pods but I had ground cardamom. Using the ground cardamom was the only change I made. The flavor was really mild and quite delicious. I served these with ham, garlic mashed potatoes and homemade rolls for Christmas dinner. Everyone gobbled them up and said they really liked them. I know I did! I hope you will make them and enjoy them too! :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nifty Gifty

One of my favorite gifts (they were all my favorite) I received for Christmas is the Sunpack eBox Portable Photo Studio. It is a basically a lightbox that you set up on a table. It came with two lights and a reversible backdrop. These are a few sample pictures I took with it. I really wanted it for food photography. It gets dark so early it is often difficult to get decent photos of food that I am making for dinner. 

I am excited for how much better the right lighting will make my photos!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

{TWD} Rewind - Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

Now I realize that cute little face up there is not a picture of Quintuple Chocolate Brownies. But, the brownies got eaten too fast to get a photo. I made these brownies a couple of weeks ago for my Bunco group. We had Baked Ziti, salad, garlic bread followed by these delectable brownies and vanilla ice cream. 

There are 5 kinds of chocolate, hence the name Quintuple, unsweetened, milk, semi sweet, bittersweet and white. The white chocolate was melted down and spread across the top. They were so rich that the vanilla ice cream really balanced them out. 

I have been looking at this recipe for quite some time and I am so glad I had a good reason to make it. This was the second recipe made by the Tuesdays with Dorie group. Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker chose this recipe and you can find the recipe on her site. Check out the LYL to see what other rewinds were posted this week!

Monday, December 27, 2010


I have quite a few friends whose Christmas trees are perfectly coordinated. Ours is not one of those trees. We have many many ornaments made over the last few years by our precious children. Those are some of my favorites, especially the ones with handprints and their sweet little faces. The ones that follow are some of my other favorites. A couple of them are new this year and a couple have been with us since we have been married. We have a lot of angels on our tree plus ornaments like Darth Vader, the M&M's Race car, a whisk, and a couple of nutcrackers that we have collected over the years for our kiddos yearly ornaments.
This first ornament is new to us this year. My neighbor was going through her old ornaments and passed this one on to us. It is not actually on my tree but in a star shaped basket on my table. I love how big and shiny it is. :)

I realize the apple has a crack in it. It also has my name written by my great grandma. She gave these to all of the great grandchildren when I was a little girl. I have held onto it ever since.  One of the last times I talked to my great grandma she told me that she prayed for each of us grand kids by name every night and I know she did. Seeing this apple on my tree brings sweet memories of her. 

This First Christmas Together ornament was given to me by my friend Teresa. I started babysitting for her when I was 12 years old and her little girl was 18 months old. This ornament came with a Focus on the Family book. Teresa's family has always been precious to me (even though I am terrible at keeping in touch) and seeing this ornament reminds me of them and the summer I lived with them. :)

This angel just joined our collection a few days ago. It is painted in reverse and was gifted to us by a sweet neighbor. I just think this is beautiful!

When I was growing up my mom collected owls. She had 20 or 30 sitting in our front 9 panel picture window for as long as I can remember. I saw this sweet little owl and thought of her and added this one this year. 

This precious, delicate angel was given to me by my friend Andrea. We did our masters degree together at Azusa Pacific. It was a difficult year but she was a strong woman. She lost her mom that year and it was the first time I had a friend I was close to, who lost a parent. There were times when I had no words to be able to comfort her. Like I said she is a strong woman and a great friend and this little angel reminds me of her every time I see it. 

This last angel is actually Swarovski crystal. I have had her I think since Bobby and I got married. I was looking for a flute playing angel (I have a small collection of flute playing angels...small as they are kind of hard to find) ornament. I saw her and had to have her. I am pretty sure she is the most expensive ornament on the tree because, like I said most are hand made by our kiddos.

These are just a few of my favorites. Maybe next year I will share a few more. :) Do you have favorite ornaments with stories behind them or all of your coordinated balls? Both are fun I just happen to like my stories and the memories they hold.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Drives a Motorcycle

I hope that bike is supersonic. This was tonight, Christmas Eve....

{FFwD} Leek and Potato Soup

When I was growing up I did not like soup. I liked my moms chili, but that is not soup. I did not like soup in college either. I could not understand how any of my classmates could ladle the gloppy nastiness out of the big pots and actually eat it.

After we moved to Tennessee I discovered potato soup at Rafferety's and at O'Charly's. A soup convert was born. My son and husband are not really fans of soup but my daughter loves it! She is more than happy to try any kind of soup that is available. 

This soup had only a few ingredients and really was easy to throw together. I managed to forget to slice the garlic and threw it in the pot whole. The soup smelled great and I was planning on leaving it chunky because I like soup with heft. However, it looked like the milk curdled and I was, frankly, grossed out. So I used my immersion blender and made the soup smooth. 

I tossed some shredded Parmesan cheese and some parsley on top and gave this to my daughter. She liked it but I don't think she was terribly hungry so most of it went uneaten. The rest is in the freezer for another chilly day. 
Make sure to check out the LYL to see what over 1000 other cooks around the world cooked this week. :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


And strep strikes again. I have been off of antibiotics for a week and I felt it coming on again last night. I went to the doctor today and was prescribed an antibiotic that put the last expensive antibiotic to shame. Oh least we are pretty much done shopping and none of it went on credit cards! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Divine Appointment.....

or not....
On the agenda for today was my third physical therapy appointment. I called last night to make sure it was still happening and it was. So, I gathered the kiddos, a game, some books, my keys, and my purse and headed out the door. Everything was going to plan and we were about 5 minutes from our destination when traffic came to a standstill.
Some guy in an adorable Mini Cooper kept laying on his horn trying to get through. I am not sure he realized that no one else was moving either. I managed to see over the car in front of me and noticed the giant work truck in the road and the "Road Closed" sign. I called the PT office to let them know I was only 5 minutes away but the road was closed and I would have to go another direction. They told me it would be fine but that they had a meeting at noon.  It was only 10:50 at this point so I thought I would be there in plenty of time.

A U-turn ensued where I had to be very careful. People freak out and it seems any semblance of rules of the road fly out the window. I saw a lot of "Oh, my light is red that must mean I can make a U-turn on red, right?" I was not one of those people.
I tried another road thinking it was a shortcut only to find myself back out on the same road I went in the neighborhood on. Then I tried another main road.....It was down to one lane because they were massacring the trees like NES likes to do this time of year.

I almost thought I was going to have to use the valet parking but saw an open spot as soon as we got into the parking lot. At this point I think I am free and clear. It is only 11:10 and things are going well.

As soon as we stepped off the elevator on the 5th floor the fire alarms started going off and the doors started their automatic close. I rushed the kids through anyway and practically ran the rest of the way to the office...a really good plan on a strained calf. :) Thank goodness it was a false alarm and I was able to jump into my appointment as soon as I signed in.

After all the craziness I decided to take the kids to Chickfila for lunch. I had a coupon for a free kids meal, 2 coupons for buy fries and a drink and get the sandwich free, and a gift card with about $2.50 left on it. After all of that, lunch for the 3 of us cost $4.53.

As an added bonus Santa Cow was there, and let us take a picture with him. Phew, I am glad to be home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

{TWD} Cardamom Crumb Cake

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie and Cardamom Crumb Cake. This week's recipe was chosen by Jill of Jill's blog. It took me forever to decide to make this recipe because I didn't have any cardamom. I have looked for this particular spice before but have held off buying it because it is around $9 for a small container. So, like any good baker I started googling substitutes for cardamom. It didn't seem like there were any good substitutes out there. However, I saw several people say that Cardamom could be purchased at World Market for a much lower price.

Handily, our cost plus is located right next to Target. Since I was in need of bubble mailers I was able to take care of two birds with one stone. For future reference Cardamom was $2.99 for a bigger bottle than I could find at other stores. It will also last for quite some time.

This was really easy to throw together. I doubled the recipe and baked it in 6 mini loaf pans. I have a small class and think I will take the loaves to my students tonight.

As I type, the loaves are cooling on the counter and I have two anxious tasters waiting to do their job. :)

Check out Jill's blog for the recipe or better yet get Dorie's cookbook, Baking From My Home to Yours.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Disturbing Dream of the Week

Apparently I am prone to having disturbing, vivid dreams..and I remember them. This morning I woke up and had to tell my hubby all about it. It sounds like it could have been in a movie.

The kids were in school and hubs was at work so I decided to go to the venue on Sepulveda Blvd to get tickets to a Weezer show. It was a last minute stocking stuffer. The venue not only held concerts but was also a movie theater. I went to the top floor to buy the tickets but they were not on sale yet so I started to head down the stairs to leave the building. There were 2 staircases that went down and then an opening that looked like you would go to the next staircase but no railing and there was about a 10 foot drop to the next stairs. I felt very annoyed by this and wondered how many accidents they had every day with people falling ten feet through the air.

When I got to the exit and tried to open the door it wouldn't budge. There was a teenager sitting on a picnic bench that he had pulled up to the door. Several movies had let out at this point and people started calling 911 because they couldn't get out the door and there had been a bomb threat called in. All of a sudden the kid got up and walked away and the door opened.  Another kid (maybe 12) said "aw man! My mom is supposed to pick me up after the movie is over". I told him I would give him a ride home because he couldn't walk home by himself. So we started to walk toward my car which was parked a little ways away. There was a lake to the right of us and a girl was following us. All of a sudden I saw her give a signal and I looked up and saw a group of kids with rifles drawn. She started to dive into the lake so I shoved the kid in and dove in as well.  At this point the cops had shown up and were having a shootout with the kids with rifles.

The boy and I managed to get across the lake and jump a fence. We were not far from my car so I thought we could get to it but then I realized my keys, phone and purse had been dropped when we jumped in the lake. So, we hid in the courtyard for a few minutes when all of a sudden the girl and another kid that had escaped jumped the fence with some oars. They were going to escape across the lake. And then I woke up.

Disturbing, yes?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Boy Who Wouldn't Toot

I have a wonderfully talented neighbor who has been singing for years and has recently published her first book. You know you know a kid that loves fart jokes! Amy's art is adorable and the story is sweet and funny. You can go here to order your own copy of The Boy Who Wouldn't Toot.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

{FFWD} My Go To Beef Daube

Welcome to this weeks edition of French Fridays with Dorie where cooks around the world are making recipes from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. For the month of December members could choose which order to post the recipes. This week I made My Go To Beef Daube.
Shallots and Parsnips

Things I learned:
1) Parsnips are much like carrots, only white, and my daughter loves them.

Before being completely cooked
2) It is pretty much impossible to open a bottle of wine with a corn cob knob.
Not an effective corkscrew

3) Shallots have a mild taste between onions and garlic and are found near the garlic.

getting the meat ready
4) This was kind of a time consuming recipe to make but it turned out delicious.

5) My hubby like this because it wasn't "soupy"

6) Even served in a bread bowl Little Man still didn't want soup.

Homemade bread bowls
Overall a winner of a recipe and yes, I did make bread bowls from scratch to serve my daube in.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the 12th Day of Christmas

my idiot dog ate:
12 packs of pringles
11 bags of fruit snacks
10 granola bars
9 servings of cheez-its
8 bags of microwave popcorn
7 bags of cat food
6 caramel pretzels
5 powdered donuts
4 grilled cheese sandwiches
3 slices of pizza
2 spilled cups of milk
and an entire french yogurt cake.

No I am not kidding. I am not sure what to do with this dog at the moment. It may be time to bust her crate back out and make her stay in it every time we are not home. #'s 11, 9, 8 and 6 were all today....ummm yea....we eat really healthy around here......

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

{TWD} Apple Coconut Family Cake

Hello there Tuesdays with Dorie fans! This week we have Apple Coconut Family Cake. This was a quick and easy recipe to put together. The most time consuming part was peeling and coring the apples. I used 3 bowls: one for dry ingredients, one for wet and one for diced apples.

I made two slight changes. Instead of yogurt I used sour cream simply because I didn't have yogurt in the fridge and I eyed the amount of coconut. If you have seen Zombieland and Woody Harrelsons reference to coconut "It's not the taste, it's the texture". That is why. My daughter says that all the time and she has not seen Zombieland. I used about half a cup instead of a cup so there wouldn't be as much for her. She took just a couple of tiny bites and was done. Little Man ate this up and the rest is still sitting on the stove. Hubs and I are getting over strep so he hasn't felt too hungry and neither have I. 
This was pretty good and if someone were to request a coconut cake I would definitely make this again.
Make sure to check out the LYL to see how others fared with this recipe this week. You can find the recipe on Amber's blog Cobble du Monde

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day and Anniversary

Today is my 13th wedding anniversary. My hubby and I have know each other for 17 years. In just a couple of years we will have known each other longer that we didn't know each other. Crazy! I am a lucky girl to have such an awesome husband! We managed to get in a date because a friend let us bring our kiddos over to her house. We went and saw Harry Potter 7 and went to Carrabas for dinner. It was delicious. I should back up and say that we tried to sneak in a date while the kids were at school on Friday. HP was supposed to start at 11:45 which meant that by the time the previews were over and the movie ended we would have about 30 minutes to go back and get our kiddos. Well, the theater started the wrong movie. At 12:30 when we were still waiting to for the right movie to start we went and got our money back and went out to lunch instead. So, it was lovely to see the movie and have dinner together tonight. :)

Last night while we were skyping with family we got the phone call from the school district saying there would be a snow day. We were were expecting a couple of inches of snow and it was 20 degrees.  I put the call on speaker phone and Munchkin screeched at the top of her lungs when she heard the news. Our little monkeys were out of bed and ready to go sledding very soon after getting out of bed this morning.

I was not planning on going since I can't sled with my leg injury but decided to go and take pictures.
Munchkin was all about hopping on the sleds and sliding as fast as she could. Little Man went a couple of times but then wanted to get back in the car with me and my hubby managed to flip himself over. That was funny. The best part was seeing all of the snow in his beard. The snow was so powdery that it stuck really well. :)

We are now home playing games, blogging and watching The SingOff. Now, what to do tomorrow as there is another snow day....

Friday, December 10, 2010

{FFWD} Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Peanuts

Have you seen the commercials with Mr. Peanut who is inexplicably talking after all these years. Well, my nutcracker got his revenge in my kitchen yesterday.

I suppose Santa did too. :) These were super easy to put together and bake. I left hubby in charge of getting them out of the oven as I had to run and pick up my kiddos from school. When we got home they were begging for a snack and Munchkin spied these Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Peanuts as soon as she hit the kitchen. After asking if she could try them I told her yes but didn't tell her what was on them. 

She said they first tasted like chocolate and then like cinnamon and then they had a slow......and kind of made a swoop with her hand. Her daddy came in and asked if it was a slow burn. The answer was a resounding yes. These are a hit for my hubby and my girl but my Little Man wouldn't try them because he doesn't like nuts and I didn't try them because just smelling the cayenne pepper gave me heartburn. If you are looking for an easy party recipe, this is the one for you. 

Each person in the club can choose what order to post the months recipes so check out the LYL to see what almost 1000 other cooks from around the world made today. Also, make sure to check out Dorie Greenspans Around My French Table for the recipe. If you decide to join the club let me know so I can add you to my Google Reader!

Be on the lookout for Speculoos, My Go To Beef Daube, Leek and Potato Soup and Spicy Glazed Carrots. 

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Late again!

Actually the kids were not late for school this morning but I told them they might be. Why? Because I saw this and had to stop to take pictures:

A couple of weeks ago this boat was bow down in the water. You could only see the back cabin sticking out.  They have been trying to get all of the water out but I am not sure how it is going since it looks like it is still sinking.

I can't decide which of these two pictures I like better. The first is more foggy and round but the second has the reflection of the sun and the sun behind the clouds. Which do you, faithful readers (hi Mom!) think is the better?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


That is what I was feeling like but then I felt like I go hit by a mack truck. I have been planning on making all of my Tuesdays with Dorie recipes along with all of my French Fridays with Dorie recipes and have somehow gotten off track. I am either missing an ingredient and don't have time to get to the store or I am knocked on my behind by and injury or illness.
Last week was the leg injury (going to the orthopedist on Friday) and this week it is Strep throat. Boo! Sunday my throat started to hurt a bit but I thought it was a little cold. By Monday night I had a fever of 103.5. I went to the Dr. yesterday and started my antibiotic. Today I am thanking God and Sir Andrew Fleming for penicillin.
So, yep I have been a baking slacker and have been sleeping for the last three days.
But, I feel better so hopefully this week I will get back on my baking bandwagon.

One more excuse on the slacker end....the light is terrible for food photos when it gets dark at 4:30PM. :(

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The 70's, an MRI and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think across the United States schools celebrate the 100th day of school with Kindergarten. Munchkin got cool 100 glasses and everything when her school celebrated. A change this year is incorporating a fun dress up day for 1st -4th grade as well. The first graders got to dress up for the 50th day of school in poodle skirts. The second graders dressed up in 60's clothes and my daughter, who is in 3rd grade, got to dress up today in 70's clothes. Oh how I wish I had some plaid pants and a black turtleneck for her to wear. I have a specific photo in mind of myself from around 1978. She has some cute flare jeans and a yellow fitted shirt that make me think 70's every time she wears them.

Not only was it 70's day, it was the day of my leg MRI. My husband said it was going to suck all of my fillings out and my brother in law said I would have to be inside a tube. I do not think I am claustrophobic but I don't really want to have the opportunity to find out if I am or not.  I got to the office right on time (well 2 minutes after because I had to scrape my windows and didn't plan on that little delay this morning) and was taken back as soon as I finished my paperwork.

The first thing I thought when I got back there was that it smelled like chocolate chip cookies...and then thought they must pump the smell in so that it was comforting. I have to admit it made my nerves go away. The tech led me to a little room where I locked my jacket and purse in a locker and then to the room with the MRI machine. After removing my boots that have zippers and exposing my lovely threadbare socks I was given earplugs and told the machine would be really loud. As as side note I now realize why my 1 year old son was terrified of loud sounds for months after having an MRI, even though he was sedated.

I did not really know how long to expect to  be in the machine (and I was only in the tube up to my waist) but I am fairly certain I snorted myself awake at one point.

After the MRI was done I went to the counter to check out and asked the lady that was there if they bake cookies to make it smell comforting and she said "Yes! would you like one?" and took off to go get the cookies. Apparently they are normally out in the waiting room. While I was waiting for her to come back another lady came out and said "Are you waiting for your CD?" I said "No, but can I get one?" She took off and a few minutes later I was walking out the door with a chocolate chip cookie and Diet Dr. Pepper in one hand and my MRI in the other. Now that is what I call customer service. I was in such a good mood when I left I could have skipped to my know provided my leg didn't hurt from whatever damage I have already done to it. ;)

Now the wait for the results. If I was super talented and could read an MRI I would be in good shape. But, for now I just have to wait.