Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Love You Five Hundred!

Something my two oldest boys have been saying lately makes me bust a huge smile every time! They think that attaching a huge number to things they say really demonstrates how strongly they feel. So when it comes time to saying goodnight, they have been saying:

Preston the 6yr old: "I love you sixty billion, five hundred, eight-five" (any large random string of numbers) OR "I love you higher than any number God can count"

Oliver simply says: "I love you five hundred"

I love it, love it! Makes me feel happy and loved.

I remember when I was young when I tried to show my Mom how much I loved her I would open my arms up as wide as they would stretch and tell her that's how much I love her. Still do... but don't express it so much anymore. Next time I see her, I will prepare my arms to open up wide, wonder if she remembers.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lookie Here for a Really Cool Blog

Recently I heard about a local photographer who started a blog 2 years ago. His intent was to meet 1 stranger a day, get their story and take a photograph of them. I love this idea, I actually wanted to do something similar a few years ago but it ended as quickly as it started. Must have been a time that I had a tiny one hanging on to me. ANYWHO>... I totally think that EVERYONE has a story. I love to meet people and get their "story". I am always intrigued, many times surprised. I love it!

Go take a look around, get to know a stranger! http://www.iheartstrangers.com/

Friday, March 19, 2010

Aunt Sophie's Spanish Outdoor Oven Bread

Every couple of years I end up pulling out the old family recipe cookbook. It was put together for a family reunion in 1984. I learned how to drive a stick shift there, that summer, I was 12 - the good ole days right? It was a small town after all.

Every time I pull out the book I usually have a purpose, on a mission looking for an old familiar. Until today. It has turned into quite the snowstorm outside so I decided I want to bake today, fill the house with the smell of bread. I initially went to allrecipes.com, then the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but then I came across the cookbook. Simply titled The Benavidez Family Cookbook. I flipped to the bread section, past the tortillas, the sopapillas and bunuelos that are so familiar to me to a recipe with a curious title.

I read through the recipe titled Spanish Outdoor Oven Bread... hmmm. I decided to read through, I saw that I had all the ingredients I would need, still not completely convinced though. I skimmed down the page to see that my Grandma's Aunt Josie submitted it, I made her sisters tortillas recently. So what got me? The last line of her recipe read "You have never eaten a better bread in your life". OK - Fully convinced, I went to work.

Ok, so I put the bread in the oven and left for the store. I told my husband to watch them and to pull them out when the oven beeped. Let me just tell you that when I came back all 3 boys and Daddy has mouths and fistfuls of bread... they were eating it plain, no butter even. I was like "it's that good"? I seriously love bread but it always needs butter. However I tore of a chunk and WOW - it really didn't need butter or anything, it was delicious! Nice hard crust too, not to crumbly. It really was the best bread I have eaten, and yes I did end up putting butter - almost heaven! So good, HIGHLY RECOMMEND - Go make it right now - go!

The Recipe - notes on bottom indicate amounts halfed
(Click to Enlarge)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Retake, Lemon Swirl Cookies

After making Lemon Swirl cookies, they didn't quite turn out swirly. Going thru the fridge the next day I remembered that I wrapped up some of the dough to bake later. I pulled it out, sliced it with a sharp knife and baked. I have to say these ones turned out way more swirly than the original batch. Not sure why... to me, it was worthy of a revisit. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remember, Sometimes I love to Remember

Not really one for nostalgia, I have to say that sometimes it is fun to have your memory tickled.

Sometimes it's a smell, for me fresh cut grass takes me back to my endless summer days when my Mom would have to literally yell for us from the porch as the sun went and street lights went on. Pinto beans cooking, with chili brewing - it never fails I am instantly taken back to my Grandma's house. The funny thing about that is - it actually reminds me of her sidewalk and porch - because you could smell this delicious aroma as soon as you entered her yard, it never failed to lure me in, quick like. Even recalling that memory - I remember her front door was a little hard to open and would always make a very distinct sound, I can almost hear it now. Also, more times than not you would walk into my Grandma's and hear the pressure cooker cooking away. Miss those sounds.

Sometimes it is a song, a movie, pretty much anything. I have some things I have recently remembered from my youth, thought I would type em up and enjoy the memories.

I remember going to the mall, the mall was everything, had everything, it was the place to be in the 80's. I remember going to the T-Shirt shop (remember those?). I picked out a baseball jersey shirt (the kind that are white in the middle and the sleeves are another color) now came the exciting part, which transfer to choose... I remember standing there looking at a display containing at least 100 iron-on transfers. Some had funny sayings, some had sweet ones, some with cute little animals, some with rainbows, some with sparkles. I used to love to watch the Tshirt "master" carefully place the tshirt down, the transfer, then push that super hot lid down and steam it to complete the transfer. I still remember the smell of a hot tshirt and the feel of it. Weird I know!

The mall also had an arcade which was a gathering spot for me and my family usually before and after a movie. Remember classic video games? Remember life before tokens? Remember when anytime somebody was playing a game you wanted to play- protocol was that you put a quarter down and rest it on the bottom of the screen, as if to say "I'm next", lol! Tons of fun memories at the mall.

Ironically enough, now I hate going to the mall!

Thanks for taking this short trip with me!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies... with a couple of twists

Besides a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie, nothing beats a classic peanut butter cookie, just like Mom used to make. You know what I am talking about it... perfect buttery tan color, criss-cross shapes pushed into the tops, rolled in sugar, yum right? This weekend my husband was wanting me to make these cookies. However, I did not have all the ingredients needed on hand, not wanting to run to the store, I grabbed my Better Homes and Garden Home Cookbook. Flipped through until I found the page, page 194. Interestingly enough pages 195-196 are missing, can't wait to see what recipe it was, must have been a past favorite. So I was all set to bake but WAIT! This recipe is missing a very important ingredient than the one my husband wanted... CHOCOLATE. So I decided to sprinkle a few chips on the tops. They were a hit!

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer* on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg and vanilla till combined. Beat in as much as the flour as you can with mixer*. Stir in remaining flour. If necessary, cover and chill dough until easy to handle. Shape doll into 1 inch balls*, roll in the additional suagr to coat. Place balls 2 inched apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten by making crisscross marks with the tines of a fork. Bake at 275 for 7-9 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Makes about 36 cookies.

*My modifications: I do not have an electric so I mixed it all by hand. I rolled into 2" balls, sprinkled each cookie with 4-5 semi-sweet chocolate chips. I came up with about 18 cookies due to size modification.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Now for Dose of Reality - Sweet "Ordinary Days"

Let me tell you- the last post I wrote I was seriously tired.. still am, maybe even more. But something has changed. A new perspective! God's timing is always perfect. I am and have been worn out, bogged down, discouraged and I think most of it does have to do what exhaustion but also, has to with me not looking at "the big picture". The big picture... Watch this, be inspired, be encouraged!

Now I am off to play with my boys, my oldest is home sick today - perfect timing. Can't wait to enjoy my ordinary day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tired = Grouchy

Is this the case for you too? I don't mean to be an ogre when I am suffering from lack of sleep, but everything irritates me. I am even totally conscious of the grouchiness but I still can't snap myself out of it. YUCK!

Ok, so nobody with kids ever told me that you basically go through life exhausted. I never knew all my acquaintances with children were living these "secret night lives". At night, in our house, there is always 1 kid waking up for whatever reason. Once we get that child back to sleep, we doze off just in time for the next child to wake us. Boom we are snapped out of that nice, syrupy, drowsy sleep, only to have to go and take care of whatever is they need (water, bathroom, Me). Then we doze off again, what will it be next? Another child? Alarm clock? Loud neighbors?

I am just so tired! I will probably read this post later and remember that I was in a seriously grouchy fog. Enough rambling. I am alone for the next 30 minutes, night night (yes it is 8:41AM) !

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Okay Nevermind

It is what it is. Even as much as I don't like that saying, I have to say. it is what it is.

Remember the camera I wrote about? Well it turns out the girl that was going to sell it to me can't find it, she said her husband thinks she sold it last summer. :O(

I was really, truly bummed as I read the email. My dreams of finally having an awesome camera were dashed. My dreams of taking beautiful pictures of my kids, food, and nature - gone. But, oh well. It is what it is. For now I will keep on keeping on. Also, my husband won a flip from Lloyds Barbershop. I used it for the bread pictures, not bad at all!

Braided Egg Bread

Again being inspired by so many awesome foodie blogs I decided it was time I learned how to make homemade bread. We are a bread loving family. My husband was running to the store and I told him to get flour for some cookies I was going to bake (Lemon Spiral), on a whim I told him to grab some yeast. I thought that at least if I have it in the house I would be able to make it when inspiration struck. He brought home Fleishmanns Rapid Rise yeast. I went straight to the internet to find some recipes that specifically called for it. All of those called for cream, which is something I am finding out most chef and bakers always have on hand. I on the other do not keep cream on hand. So off the allrecipes.com to find the perfect loaf. I searched Bread, Non-Machine, Loaf, Top 20. A recipe came up that looked and sounded delicious... and it was!
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package Fleishmanns Rapid Rise dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs + 1 egg yolks
1 egg
1 teaspoon water

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat water and oil to 120 degrees F-130 degrees F. Add to dry ingredients along with eggs. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place rest about 10 minutes.
3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Set a third of the dough aside. Divide remaining dough into three pieces. Shape each into a 13-in. rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Divide reserved dough into three equal pieces; shape each into a 14-in. rope. Braid ropes. Center 14-in. braid on top of the shorter braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
4. Beat egg and water; brush over dough. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

This recipe was adapted from Marlene Jeffreys recipe on Allrecipes.com

Lemon Spiral Cookies

One of my favorite stores is Mardel, I love to shop their bargain books section as well as the clearance shelf in the kids section. Recently I was browsing around and stumbled upon a box of recipes cards for kids. They are from Usborne and looked really cute. The idea is that one side has pretty pictures of all the treats, so the kids look at everything and decide what to make. Then you turn the card over for the recipe. Sounded fun and they were 50% off, who could resist? When we got home I let Oliver spread them out and look at them, he chose Lemon Swirl Cookies, which looked really fun. Oliver said he wanted to bring them to school for his class, so I let him know that we would need a lemon. For two days that is all he talked about, sweet lil guy, something to be said for perseverance. Daddy went and got a lemon, pronto. (I was sick so I was not willing to go walk around the grocery store, that is why I didn't go the 1st day.)

On Saturday we baked them. I learned a few lessons on this first "go around". I would have double the recipe, followed the directions and only refrigerate for 30 minutes. I couldn't roll the dough out as much as I would have liked, as a result when I rolled the two colors only the ends stayed "spirally" the rest looked as though the were happy faces with no eyes, lol. Also, I should have used a sharper knife when cutting, and finally I DIDN'T TAKE A PICTURE OF THE FINAL PRODUCT (duh)! They turned out yummy, the boys ate them all up on Sunday. All in all, I enjoyed doing this recipe, I will make it again, just make some adjustments, stay tuned...

Oliver and his lemon
butter and lemon yuminess
the recipe card underneath shows a picture of what they are supposed to look like
2 separate dough balls
Slicing after chilling

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'll be honest...

I have always wanted to be a photographer. I always figured I would buy a supernice camera someday and then self-teach. Well that day still has not come, currently I look at the pictures I have posted and they just are not up to par. Especially if you look at what blog pictures should like like. Currently I am using my mother-in-laws camera which is a Kodak Easyshare with no working display. It's a challenge to say the least.

So I decided to just put it out there and see what I could come up with. Looking at craigslist the cheapest, nicest setup would be around $300 for a used one. It was then that I decided to hop on over to the WANTED section of craigslist. I offered $100 and received a response within the hour! She is a wedding photographer and has a sweet Canon Powershot that she used before she bought her SLR. She has even offered to give me a quick lesson and some tips when I pick it up! I am so very excited. I can't wait to learn, to experiment, to bake and take pictures and most of all to capture great pictures of my boys! Thanks Craigslist!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Letting loose with glitter...this should be interesting!

I have always, always loved glitter! Don't think I am one of those girlie types either, pretty much a tom-boy. However, I have always thought glitter was so pretty. So sparkly and shiny. In the past, whenever I would craft with the boys I pretty much played dictator over the glue and glitter, not wanting any uncontrollable mess. Well let's just say since I have been "blog walking" I have been super-inspired but several different blogger moms/bakers/photographers. This blog post sparked an interest in me to see glitter all over everything and not freak out about it. I knew my boys would be more than happy to let loose with those 3 big, tempting shakers full of glitter. We gave everyone their own glue, construction paper, and glitter... SUPER FUN! And yes, there is still glitter on my floor and specks keep showing up in the weirdest places - but, like the other blog said- what a great reminder of letting loose, getting dirty and having fun.