Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Field Trip!

Today we took a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium - and I'm happy to say it was the first time that it was enjoyable with the girls! I dont know whether to attribute it to the girls getting easier to deal with .. or the fact the crowds were about 1/2 of what any other visit has been. I'm guessing it's the latter of the two!

The day was planned with my (fairly) new friend, Amy and her 2 girls, Gracie & Lindsey .. who just so happen to be the same age as Caroline & Sophie! What a blessing the friendship has been! Caroline & Gracie go to the same preschool, so we share carpool .. and well, our girls demand to play together nearly ever day of the week! It helps we all like each other, haha !

Anyhooo.. all the girls really had a great time! They ran around from exhibit to exhibit and often times spend a good deal of their time at the educational monitors checking out the names & pictures of all the fish that matched up.

Hope you enjoy the pictures/slideshow...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

RECIPE: Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Bake

I hate buying any process food .. in a can or a box. So I avoid the typical casserole with cream of chicken or mushroom soup .. because the thought of it makes my tummy turn. So when I came across this homemade "bake" (aka casserole), I was very excited to try it! Ok .. excited to try a new recipe? Can you tell I don't get out much? :)

Anyhoo... this is fabulous .. my toddlers ate just as fast as we did! The key with them was to make sure to "chop" the broccoli v.s. leaving it as florets. You could also chop or slice the chicken before adding it into the oven safe dish to avoid cutting on your plate.

ENJOY .. simple stuff.. all natural - nothing from a can! YUM YUM !

Click on the recipe name to download a PDF file to print for your records!

Serves 4

Serve over rice or egg noodles.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used olive oile)
1 onion , chopped fine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 and 1/2)
1/2 cup dry sherry (I used rice wine vinegar!)
1 1/2 pounds broccoli , florets chopped, stems peeled and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.

2. Add remaining butter and onion to empty skillet and cook until onion is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in broth, cream, and sherry and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to broiler-safe baking dish.

3. Meanwhile, microwave broccoli on high power, covered, in large bowl until bright green and slightly softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add broccoli and 1 cup cheese to skillet, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper and pour broccoli mixture over chicken. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and broil until browned and bubbly, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

RECIPES: Boneless Buffalo Ckn & Upside Down Apple Cake

Quite the combo of recipes huh? Well we had a few friends over for football yesterday, and my appetizer recipes are a bit pathetic so hunting I went! Wings are a favorite, but with no wings in site I made the most of it with the boneless skinless I had. The Apple Cake happened to join the party because I got over a 100lbs of apples to make applesauce! I had to serve something with them!

Boneless Buffalo Chicken
Download PDF of this recipe
YUMMMY! Ok, I wouldn't share it if it wasn't! Our game day was planned rather last minute, and we did not have any wings on hand - so my search began for the perfect replacement - and this one is a winner! The recipe calls out using a dutch oven with vege oil - I could see a Fry Daddy doing a good job too. Since we were making this recipe x4 we pulled out the Turkey Fryer with peanut oil and it did a quick bang up job!

Upside Down Apple Cake
Download PDF of this recipe
Divine! Scott thought this cake tasted similar to an upside down pineapple cake - I would guess because of the caramelized process to the fruit. It was pretty darn simple to make - using butter to grease the pan released the cake w/o any problems. This cake is a big winner in my book ... but with 100lbs + of apples that I have to process, I'm guessing there will be many other recipes to follow soon!
This morning I had a piece for breakfast, so I can testify it is more delicious when slightly warm :)


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just a typical toddler day!

So today was really no different than any other day. I was awoken by Caroline, first at 4am because of a monsters in her room, then again about 7am demanding to go downstairs to have cereal. As I make my way downstairs, I dim every light that Caroline turned out .. my eyes take some time to adjust ... as does my mind! I make my way through by the mere smell of the coffee Scott brewed by 5am. Morning that Caroline is not in preschool are usually a blur - the girls run around play & watch a little tv while I try to tackle work that piles at my desk.

Today I decided to get out with the girls and head to the library for storytime. The girls just love books and the novelty of going to get more at the library, in addition my friend Amy planned to go also (she has girls same age as ours!) - so it could be fun.. right? So, story time? Well.. that is a hit or miss! Today... total miss. The girls would not sit still and constantly made noise - granted this is "ok" since it is toddler story time, but it really doesn't sit too well with me! We made it half way through and I gave in and headed to the books so the girls could prance around picking out books (what they kept asking for). The next 30 minutes wasn't so bad - it was moderately peaceful .. until we got home. Thereafter Sophie had a meltdown since we were late for lunch, and in turn her nap time.

Nap time was rushed as I decided I did not have enough excitement in my day. The girl's both need shoes for the winter ... so off to Discover Mills we go - meeting Amy with her 2 girls (Gracie and Lindsey). Stride Rite store here we come. All of us quickly become consumed with the sale rack of Crocs ... even Sophie & Lindsey are having innocent fun playing with the shoes. Hey.. this isn't so bad! After 5 minutes of trying on shoes and finding the right size, the older girls, Caroline & Gracie quickly become bored and decide to run the aisles of Stride Rite and go find shoes for themselves. I was happy I could hear her in the (fairly small) store - while she was surely making a mess, it would be easier to clean it up later than to keep her at my side now.

I had Sophie on a "leash", so I really only had Caroline to contend with ... but lately she is the work of 2! In public it is the worst/most difficult .. the demands, threats and pleads for her to stay put and behave are ignored. The store/mall... world.. are at her disposal to take!! After 15 minutes of a disorderly process of finding shoes ... it was time for plan B. I wasn't quite sure how challenged Amy was since I was so consumed in my own misery (LOL)!

Plan B: Amy agrees to the bright idea of taking ALL the girls on the Polar Bear train ride just outside Stride Rite in the mall - this would give me at least 5 minutes to finish shopping in peace. I help get the girls loaded on the train.. this is surely going to be grand for us all - after all the girls were thrilled to be going to the mall just to ride the train! Everyone gets loaded up and I run back into the store to finish shopping. Awww.. peace. I can even think!

About 2 minutes pass and I recognize a scream/cry. It's Sophie. I walk back to the front of the store and I'm welcomed by Caroline running ... screaming.. crying... and Sophie on her tail. There is Amy shaking her head... nearly laughing, and I know that laugh, it often times masks a scream in our own head! Plan B failed. Caroline & Gracie fought inside one car over who could ring the bell. Sophie was simply distressed over the fact she couldn't see me. Oh joy! I (along with Amy I think!) started laughing .. the joys of being a mother of toddlers!! I quickly realized how much this moment was better sharing it with a friend/fellow mom :)

After calming the girls down and quickly attempting to finish the shoe shopping for the girls, Amy quickly came up with Plan C : she would take her girls AND Caroline across the hall to the Disney store. I warned her .. but she went on. God Bless her. I quickly finished up and started to check out. Unexpectedly I hear Caroline calling me "MOM LOOK" ... I turn my head to see Caroline running across the mall with a dress on a hanger (surely something with a Princess on it!). 20' behind her I see Amy running and yelling Caroline's name ...nearly laughing from the hysteria she surely feels! I run to Caroline to push her back to the Disney store ... where Amy left her own 2 girls in effort to save Caroline from the shoplifting police! The moment was really priceless. I cannot stop laughing at the visual I still have in my head...

A few minutes later I meet Amy and the girls back in the Disney store. This is my first time in the store with a toddler .. whom now LOVES everything and anything that is princess/mermaid! This. is. a. dangerous. place. to. be. I almost got sucked into buying something for Caroline's birthday or early stock up of Christmas gifts, but quickly realized that there would be no way in H. E. double hockey stick, that I had the time, patience or brownie points with my friend Amy to handle the girls through another checkout line. Surely I can escape one day soon w/o the girls and shop without losing my mind.

I hadn't lost my mind COMPLETELY, so we made one last stop at the Gymboree Outlet. It was quick and painless ... only because they are smart - they have a tv playing a video with chairs for the girls to sit and chill out. They chilled out without bribes. Whew, one store adventure went smooth.

So we got out with 4-6 tantrums (most of which were from my girls), but no bumps or bruises. Nearly every time I go out with them the roller coaster of a ride is similar - I can't decide should I subject myself to more torture, with hopes the girls learn how they should act .... or am I a smart Mom who chooses to stay home most of the time?

Today I must say I got the best laugh leaving when Gracie demanded to go potty but mommie convinced her to stand and pee in the parking lot by their van!! OMG... that was funny. Amy - are you laughing with me? :) I hope so ... the stress of all this silly stuff sure has lightened up since we have become friends - well, that is until Caroline throws a fit insisting Gracie MUST come home with us! xo Really, Amy said it best today - "I know why I like hanging out together - it makes me realize my life IS NORMAL!" Amen. We are not alone after all :)

All in all .. it was just a typical day, except there were more witnesses. Thank God we are not likely to ever see them again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flood 2009 aftermath in our backyard

Thought I would share some photos of what our backyard looks like after the fact. It was quite the slippery slope with all the Georgia clay that was left behind on the hill.

View from Caroline's room on the 2nd floor - Yellow River is tamed back down and yard has several inches of Georgia mud.
View from breakfast nook.

Here I was standing 3/4 the way down the hill, looking back up at the house - amazing to think I would be completely under water standing here 2 days ago!

View by shed ... water has dropped back to normal levels, way down there.

Our poor fire pit - stamped concrete is quite the mess. Our log seats are MIA.
The river is slightly high, at bank level, but this is a common sight after a good rain.

Flood 2009 hits home

I, along with millions in throughout the greater Atlanta area, are still in shock! Sunday was a typical fall day, upper 70's and drizzling rain - on and off. Scott managed to even get the lawn cut. It was the middle of the night when we were awoken from incredible rolling thunder & lighting.. and of course incredibly heavy rains - it has been years & years since I heard such a severe storm. Caroline joined us in bed soon after, so between the sounds of the storm and her tossing and turning - none of us got very much sleep. By morning the sites were breath-taking! Turning on the news that morning was sobering - schools closing, road closures .. and by late morning tragedies already being reported.

Monday morning 9/21 (which has remained to be the worst day), the Yellow River in our back yard reached our deck - which is about 12' away from our house. The neighbor to our left is closer to the river, so she is not so lucky - and she just moved in this past week! Take a look at the photos...

View from Caroline's room on the 2nd floor. The river normally sits 15' beyond the first tree in front of the angled part of the deck. An educated guess.. the river is 12-15'' deeper than normal!View from our breakfast nook - lake front view!
Water creeping up to our deck, it is 3' (on an incline) past the 100yr flood plane

View towards are shed.
View from side of the house - behind those shrubs is typically about a 6' drop/run off. Again, look how lucky we are/were!

As you can see - the neighbor to our left was not so lucky. Her house is 15' closer to the river, and sits a bit lower - so her entire basement flooded.
Lake front view from our lower deck -
This is our neighborhood tennis courts.
This is Plantation Road just outside of our subdivision. Thank goodness we have other alternatives! It was flooded for almost 2 days.

As of today, 9/23/09 the river has dropped back to normal levels. I will post aftermath photos later today. We are so incredibly fortunate (& continue to count our blessings) that our only loss was the plush looking backyard that we had. The news continues to report on devastating tragedies that it makes your heart ache. Austell area (west of Atlanta) has been the worst hit - 2 story homes under water all the way to the roof tops and schools completely submerged. My thoughts & prayers are going out to all those affected! What is most sad is they estimate that 75% of the victims of this flood will not be covered with their homeowners insurance. Vast majority are no where potential flood areas, so naturally who would have thought they would ever need flood insurance?!

Here is a video from our FOX 5 News on a tragedy just a few miles away.

And how about Six Flags amusement park? This is crazy - and they are reporting that they hope to be open by the weekend!! ?!

And even more wild is that as of today 9/23, 2 days after the initial damaging rain storms, parts of I-20 (yes, INTERSTATE!) remains closed!

CLICK HERE for the full story.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

RECIPE: Chicken-Apple Salad Wraps

A simply delightful new wrap I recently made - recipe is from the Publix mailer! Very delish and sooo easy to make!

  • 1-1/2 Cups Chicken Breast, Shredded
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, Cored & Chopped (1-1/2 Cups)
  • 1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Green Onion, Sliced
Combine in small bowl, then mix with chicken mixture above
  • 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Divide mixture onto 4 Tortillas Or Pita Bread Rounds. Serve & Say yummm!

Clicky HERE to download a PDF of this recipe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Toddler DaZe

I cannot lie. I am trying not to count(ing) the days until the diapers and tantrums are gone and life has some normalcy. That is, if it still exists after becoming parent! It's just that I get so tired of saying NO ... to the same action 3x... 10x a day! Ok, so Im exaggerating - but this is my blog and I'm allowed to! I know what some of you might be thinking - spank 'em right? I do. Sometimes more, sometimes less .. (note to self .. find a new wooden spoon, my hand hurts).

Down here at the Cottage I'm more sensitive. I just know there is a neighbor around to the next cove, or maybe even across the water way, that can hear (what seems to be constant) scolding, yelling and sometimes near pleading with the girls to BEHAVE. Afterall .. a perfect sheet of water is the perfect serving platter for caring voices to great distances.

Sophie is 2-1/2 yrs old .. so I'm guessing I have nearly 2 more years of this. (note to self.. you best find a self help book sooner than later!) Will it get easier... or will I just mellow out?! or better yet, will I find an unlimited supply of patience hiding under the mountain of toys that are put away each and every day? :) To some degree, as Sophie gets older and tries more to be like Caroline - it gets easier. They play together more, in turn they fight more. Caroline is getting so smart and is becoming quite the helper, in turn she is trying to perfect a silly whimper or cry when she doesn't get her way. So ok ... I get it.. it won't ever get easier will it? doh. As the old saying goes.. if there is any one thing that is constant, it's change!

But as I said .. I think/hope/pray that I will be a better mom to the girl's as they get older. I dream of the days of taking them to the State Parks for a hike, visit the numerous museums and such throughout this great city we live in, or to simply shop for the perfectly cute outfit for a special occasion. For now, this is a dream and glimpse into our future. Yes.. I know some parents do not skip a beat and do all those things with babies/toddlers. But in my world, it's just not worth the price. Tantrums in public and the irritability of poor naps is just not the cup of tea I wish to experience in public.

Today I shall concentrate on the (many!) good things the girls are to me. I cannot lie. My life would be empty without their spunky smiles. This week I am spending the whole week alone with them at the cottage... it's girls week :) Tomorrow soon I shall blog about all the blessings they offer and bring to this crazy world of ours.

Friday, August 21, 2009

1st Haircuts ... professionallY!

So after the dirty looks I got from cutting off Caroline's curls earlier this year, I broke down and brought the girl's to professional for a "real" haircut. And other than bangs being cut and then Caroline's mischievous moment of cutting off a few of Sophie's curls a few months back - this was Sophie's first haircut! The salon was cute .. chairs made to feel like cars and tv's directly in front of each chair to capture their attention. Spoiled kids are nowadays aren't they?

The stylish was great and the girl's were on their best behavior! (note to self.. I seem to be doing something right! haha) She gave both of the girls braids ... turning them into perfect little girls. And what is it that is so cute about seeing short bangs? Just me? Silly... but I think it is adorable. Now if I could only make 'em look that good at home!

Sophie's turn .. look at this head of hair! Granted she has a pony tail in and this was the after effects! I gave strong direction to the stylist to cut as much as she had to.. WITHOUT cutting off all the curls. I wonder if those close to me have forgiven me for cutting off Caroline's... haha Her hair just grew in thicker ... with nothing but a wave.
Leaving the salon ... my gorgeous girls are growing up. Finally got one of Sophie's pirate faces on film!
Caroline showing off her purist look of them all *S* I'm pretty sure they don't make 'em any cuter than this!

Sophie... an impossibility to get her to look and smile at a camera.Sophie sporting her new doo while cruising the culdasac in her (fairly) new ride.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Visit from Ohio family!

Note: If the slide shows are not showing up for the email subscribers click on the link to visit this blog on the internet! If you want to receive notice of new blog entries, just visit my site at www.sisumom.blogspot.com and enter your email address in the right column. All you have to do is validate the request from an email confirmation!

This week we were absolutely thrilled to have family come visit for few days! My father-in-law, Dave (Grandpa Becker as Caroline calls him, or PaPa to Sophie!) and my brother-in-law Dave, came down from Ohio for a 4 day visit ... flying down on Dave's Skylane 4 seat plane that is! Wednesday I traveled down by truck with the girls and that afternoon they picked Scott up at the Gwinnett County Airport, which is pretty close to our home. Then the girls and I picked them up at the Baldwin County Airport down here on Lake Sinclair!

Our time here was for the most part typical for that at the lake. A whole lot of sun, boating, skiing, BBQ'ing and just sitting back enjoying the views. But this time Scott was able to get a good amount of water skiing and air chair time in! We do not risk water sports when we are alone here with the girls, so having family/friends is great - especially when they know how to drive a boat :D The relaxing moments sitting back listening to the guys share stories was equally enjoyed! Living 8-9 hrs away, we just don't have many opportunities for simple times like we shared this week!

Here is a slide show of some of the fun boating moments..

One incredible adventure and opportunity we had was getting a plan ride with Caroline above Lake Sinclair and Oconee! Caroline was so calm, I was half expecting her to freak out a little bit on the take off and landing, but she did perfectly. Well as perfect as I did, haha! Scott sat in the front with Dave and that left the back seat for Caroline and I. We were only up for about 20-25 minutes, but that was just enough time for the tailwind to make Caroline and I slightly queasy! All in all though we enjoyed it tremendously! I got some excellent video & pictures. All the photos I took are over Sinclair - I wish I wouldve taken some over Oconee, as it is like a different world up there! Lake Oconee is just north of us and is connected to Sinclair by the Wallace Dam (which is in the photo slideshow). The difference is that Oconee is #1 only an hour commute from Atlanta, whereas we are 2hrs .. and additionally it is much larger. So the homes, hotels, golf courses, etc are plentiful and very nice - to say the least. You can clearly see the $$ by looking at all the roof tops and swimming pools! We flew about 600 feet above ground, so we experienced some great views.

Here are some highlights - see the slideshow further down for more photos. In the near future I will try to upload some video too!

Dave's Skylane plane @ the Baldwin County Airport
The pilot .. Dave!

This is an aerial photo of... our boat & dock anyhoo! Our cottage is hiding under all those trees!
Shot of Caroline & I up in the sky!
Its a bird...?

A plane!  Dave & Dave homeward bound! 7/18

Nope .. its a plane! Dave and Dave Ohio bound after 4 days of sun and fun in Georgia! I think they are a bit wore out from all the fresh air and sun :) We sure did appreciate and enjoy the visit - hopefully next time Lisa (Scott's sister who is married to Dave) will be adventurous enough to fly down here with him! Lisa... it's all good, unless you are in the back seat! hehe

A bird ??

And a short slide show of the sightings we had on our time in the air...

To all our family and friends... our door is always open!
The lake is most fun when we get to share it with loved ones!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The 4th of July...little known history

Our 4th of July will once again be enjoyed at the lake with good friends, food and fireworks! We have actually been here all week soaking up the sun in pure sunshine and 95 degree weather every day! It has been a very relaxing week - a great deal of swimming with the girls! Much of my time has been consumed reading (1st book in probably 8+ years) "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt. I have 50 pages to go - and cannot wait to finish! Me.. reading a WHOLE book in less than a week! I give the credit to this author.. what an amazing writer. The book is about Savannah..

Anyhooooo.... sorry I got off track there! So what is 4th of July anyway? Besides all of us enjoying family, friends and fireworks, lets not forget what the true celebration is. Here is a neat summary of the history of our Independence and who got us here! Enjoy.. be safe.. and celebrate in style!

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men
who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors,
and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;
another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or
hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes,
and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
Eleven were merchants,
nine were farmers and large plantation owners;
men of means, well educated,
but they signed the Declaration of Independence
knowing full well that the penalty would be death if
they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and
trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the
British Navy. He sold his home and properties to
pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British
that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.
He served in the Congress without pay, and his family
was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him,
and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,
Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that
the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson
home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General
George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed,
and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.
The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying.
Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill
were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests
and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his
children vanished.

It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin. Enjoy your friends, family, food, fun and fireworks ... but also take time to remember what this day means to America. Take a moment and silently thank the patriots of our past time.
Remember: freedom is never free!

RECIPE: Strawberry Cheese Tarts

July 4th is a day of BBQ, but how about a sweet treat? Flag fruit pastries and the like are common. I found a recipe a few years back that has become a tradition that we look forward to every year! What better way to put to use that homemade strawberry jam that I just made back in June but in a July 4th treat! This morning I just finished up a delectable batch of STRAWBERRY CHEESE TARTS to share with friends that are arriving today to celebrate this historic day.

First there is a bit of history behind this particular tart! I did not follow the recipe exactly, rather I used a tart cutter my father gave me the last time I was home for a visit. My mom use to do a lot of baking and prune tarts around Christmas time were a staple in our home. It wasn't until I was an adult that I actually grew to enjoy those prunes! So when I came across this recipe my eyes got wide and I was excited to give it a try with mom's old tart cutter! The bonus was the treats look like stars!!

I have never seen a cutter like this in the stores, so I wonder what everyone else thinks of when they hear the word "tart". For me .. its fond memories of baking with my mom. She no longer is able to bake like the good ole days, but she taught her knack in the kitchen on to me, and for that I will be forever grateful. Additionally, I have already begun to pass along the same traditions .. teaching and enjoying the joys of baking with my girls.

So on to the recipe! These are YuMMiLiCOUS!

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 pint strawberry jam
1 beaten egg

Mix all ingredients on low speed until blended. Chill at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Kneed portions of dough on lightly floured surface then roll out to 1/8" thickness.
If you do not have any sort of a tart cutter, you can cut circles with a cookie cutter or water glass. Spoon a teaspoon of strawberry jam in center. Brush edges with beaten egg. Put another circle on top and press edges all around together with a fork. Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake until edges are golden brown, 10-12 mins. Can serve warm. Keep in air tight container. ENJOY!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

RECIPE: Broccoli (bonus 2 amazing recipes!)

In effort to eat healthier (and enjoy it), I continue to explore interesting vegetable dishes, ones that are preferably not drenched in soup or cheese! The best part about these 2 recipes is that are simple and quick!

~Click on the recipe name for an easy download version!

Crunchy Broccoli Bake
Kids and adults alike love this one - buttery flavor, Yum!
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, Or 1lb Pre Cut
  • 20 butter-flavored crackers
  • 3 Tbl water
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt, or to taste
  • 3 Tbl butter
  • 1 Cup grated cheddar
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Wash broccoli and cut into bite-size florets. Place into a 1 1/2-quart, microwave-safe baking dish. Add water, and microwave on high for about 8 minutes, until broccoli is tender but still slightly firm. Drain well. Rinse and dry the baking dish, then lightly butter it with 1 Tbs butter. Arrange broccoli in a single layer in the pan.
2. Put crackers into a resealable plastic bag, and pound until they're crushed. You should have about 2/3 cup of crumbs.
3. Sprinkle the broccoli with salt, and top with the cheese. In a small saute pan, melt remaining butter, then remove from heat. Add cracker crumbs, and stir until coated. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the broccoli.
4. Bake about 20 minutes, or until browned.

Roasted Broccoli with Shallot, Fennel Seeds and Parmesan
I was recently introduced to using fennel seeds on a pizza rather than sausage and loved it - so I thought I would give it more consideration. I was not let down - this recipe is amazing! My husband said it was the best broccoli he has ever ate! FYI - you can substitute onion/garlic if you dont have shallots, see recipe notes.
  • 1 large head broccoli (about 1 3/4 lbs)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp table salt
  • 1/2 Tsp sugar
  • 2 large shallots, halved and sliced thin lengthwise
  • 4 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tsp fennel seeds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan, Shaved
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Cutbroccoli at juncture of florets and stems; remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Cut crowns into 4 wedges if 3-4 inches in diameter or 6 wedges if 4-5 inches in diameter. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt,
sugar, and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
2. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into evenlayer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes.
3. While broccoli roasts, heat remaining oil in 8-inch skillet over medium heat until just shimmering. Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and beginning to turn light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add fennel seeds and continue to cook until shallots are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove skillet from heat. Toss roasted broccoli with shallots, sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve immediately.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our family grows - Meet Ziva!

So the time came... we were ready to bring another dog back into the house. I must say I was enjoying the break from vacuuming the carpets on a near daily basis.. but I did miss having someone to clean up the crumbs from the base of Sophie's highchair and in the kitchen :)

I awoke that morning to find Scott had found a breeder with pups that were ready.. so I read and called to find out they had females available. No better time than the present I said! So by noon we took off for a 3 hour drive to a little town near the South Carolina border - Royston, Georgia. www.jandafarmandkennels.com was quite a place - beautiful farm. They are 3rd generation breeders .. all chocolate and yellow labs (among a couple of other breeds). I decided this time around we should get a yellow... I've had one black one years ago, and well now.. I think another brown would simply make me feel sad comparing her to Sisu.

The pups were 6 wks old and we had 2 yellows to choose from. One was rambunctious and almost golden, and the other was near white in color and rather shy. After spending about 15 minutes playing around in the grass we chose.... whitey goes home with us! The seller was watching her take abuse from the girls .. and gosh that near white fur, and even blue eyes! She was born to be my daughter :)

So off we go ... yet another girl added to the Scott Becker family! Her name is Ziva (sounds like Zee-va). She's precious.. and so far a pretty good pup! We are crate training her and of course the whole potty training thing. She does good most of the time, I'm just thankful we have hardwood floors! The biggest challenge is training the girls in how to treat, touch and play with a puppy! Caroline is absolutely obsessed with her at times!

And a few on the the truck ride home... and chilling on the couch.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Memorable MomentZ 5/17/09

I started out strong with this blog and boy did my gas run out fast! Memorable MomentZ are going by faster than I find time to write down.

These days she loves everything! And verbalizes it quite well! This morning on the way to church we got stopped at a train crossing. "I LOVE TRAINS"

Bugs amaze her! She loves to catch them and keep them as long as they move, haha. She had a hay day with caterpillars a couple of weeks ago - she captured 3 of them and carried them around in a box... with no air. Poor guys will never grow those wings.
Along with bugs she loves getting dirty! She sit near a dirt pile and play... the simplest things amuse her - I love it.

A fun day in the kitchen... some cookies did make it into the oven :)

Since Chrysler has gone bankrupt, I hope we can find a way to get her Barbie JEEP serviced in the future, haha. She demands to get outside everyday .. and I have to tell you she has mastered driving this toy! It has low/high and reverse. Up to a week ago she only knew about LOW.. those days are gone! She now manuevers back and forth in full force! It actually shocks me (even though she obviously has a lot of "Rajala" in her!) that she can drive it so well! And boy she digs testing it's ability to climb hills and do curbs, LOL!

It should be obvious while she is in the outdoors she has no fear of getting dirty! Inside is another story - she instantly turns into a princess! Its so fun to watch her enjoy so many different things! She will put on her dress up outfits ... high heels and a tootoo, and prance around the house.. clanking the heels on the hardwoods like a tap dancer :)

Have I mentioned Sophie scares me? LOL Her temperament (red head) is not something I am accustomed to! While I have been harassed about the "sisu" in me .. I say the fire in a red head wins!

Sophie is a sponge and learning fast(er), as I'm sure 2nd kids do. Its hard to think.. and slow down... to enjoy the little stages she is going through also.

A couple of weeks ago she had her 2 year checkup. Her doctor commented on how 'translucent' her skin is... and ohh the red lips! Can you spell SUNSCREEN?! :)

If there is any one thing that is for sure (besides that she will TEST us TOO!) ... is that Sophie makes us LAUGH! ANd that hair... wow!

This photo was on the way to Ohio... I think she got REALLY bored!

And while they look sweet .. these girls know how to have fun AND get into trouble! Writing on the walls... on themselves.. and climbing to new heights!