Monday, April 30, 2012

What's Cookin'

Tues~Pizza, cold veggies for Chris and the kids
Wed~Pork Tinga Enchiladas, refried beans, rice

Thurs~San Francisco Pork chops, potatoes, green beans
Fri~Chicken and gravy over these easy 2-ingredient biscuits, corn
Sun~Meatballs and gravy over rice, carrots

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mini-baked oatmeals

I made these a couple weeks ago and stuck them in the freezer and Andrew and I have really been enjoying them. I eat mine with yogurt and peaches and Andrew tops his with mini-chocolate chips. These are sweetened with banana, unsweetened applesauce, and honey. These are great for a quick breakfast, just defrost them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. They are even GF if you have the right oats and baking powder.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oatmeal Cream Pies

A yummy switch from the usual chocolate treats I make.  I saw this on a friend's facebook page.

Oatmeal Cream Pies
From Blooming on Bainbridge

Oatmeal cookies:
1 1/4 c softened butter
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
1 t soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 1/2 c flour
3 c oats

Preheat oven to 375.  Beat butter and sugars until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla, mix well.  Spoon flour into measuring cup and level with a knife.  Combine dry ingredients; mix well.  Add to butt mixture and blend well.  Drop by rounded tablespoon 2 inches apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Bake for 10 min and cool for 2 min in pan.  Finish cooling on rack.

Cream filling:
1/2 c softened butter
2 c powdered sugar
1-2 T whipping cream

Combine all ingredients and beat on low until mixed.  Continue beating on high until light and fluffy.
Spread 1 T of cream between 2 cookies.

*These are quite delicious.  The only thing I did different from the recipe was that I used margarine instead of butter.  Mine didn't seem to spread as much as pictured in the original recipe, but still tasted delicious.  I also used cooking spray instead of parchment paper.

Robin update

Yesterday the first baby robin hatched.   We didn't notice until after the mother had cleared all the shell pieces away.  But this morning when we checked, the second baby was still sitting in half a shell and it was much more lively than the first.

 Excuse the poor pics, but I don't want to scare the mother away.  Here's the 2nd baby with its mouth wide open.

A few minutes after these pics were taken, the mother had already cleared away the rest of the shell and was sitting on the nest.  Another adult robin flew up also and I wonder if that was the male robin.  I think the male helps get food, although it doesn't sit on the eggs.  The last egg should hatch soon and in two weeks they will be pushed out of the nest.  The mother will have 1 or 2 more broods this season, but will likely build a different nest.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Beef is a rare sight in my kitchen these days, but on occasion I can find marked down packages of stew meat at Meijer and I make this super easy beef dish that Chris and I both love.  The boys even eat it well after they pick the mushrooms out.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
(I adapted this from a recipe I found online but now I can't find the orignal link back.)
1 1/2 lbs of stew meat (or cut up steak)
1 med onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered (I've tried canned and the end results aren't so yummy.)
1 tsp Worcestshire
2 tsp mustard (I use spicy.)
3 T of tomato paste (I freeze a can in small portions wrapped in saran wrap so I can just pull a few T at a time out of the freezer.)
1/2 cup sour cream
egg noodles or rice

Mix everything together in the crockpot except the sour cream and egg noodles.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for ~4 hours.  A few minutes before serving, stir in sour cream just to warm through.

Options for egg noodles:
1.  Boil noodles on the stove and serve with beef.
2.  Add about 2 more cups of beef broth to beef and stir in 1/2 a package of egg noodles and cook on high for 30 min, stirring once.  I like to do it this way because its easy and gets one less pan dirty, but the noodles do get a little mushy.  I don't mind them, but Chris prefers the noodles cooked on the stove.

I asked Andrew to wash the mushrooms for me and he did a great job.  He even thought it was fun!  He peeled carrots at dinner time for me too.  Looks like I have a helper in the kitchen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book Review: Passport Through Darkness

Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances by Kimberly L. Smith

I randomly found this book at the public library and picked it up because the foreword was by Randy Alcorn, who wrote the book, Heaven, which I am currently reading.  I picked it up yesterday intending to read the first few chapters and couldn't put it down.   Kimberly and her husband Milton lived an ordinary life in upper middle class America when they came to the realization that they didn't seem to be fulfilling God's purpose in their lives.  They moved to Spain where they first encountered the ugly reality of sex trafficking.  After spending over 2 years rescuing 19 African orphans from this awful life (and sending their 2 daughters back to the US because they feared for their lives), the Smiths moved back to the US where they founded  This organization looks for ways to help women and orphans in remote, hard to reach, and desolate countries.  Due to Milton's diabetes, he was no longer able to travel extensively, but Kimberly decided to go to Sudan where the things she encountered seem almost impossible in today's world, but are a daily occurrence in a country torn apart by a five decades long war.  This book will make you question how you live your life and the value you place on things that in the end are inconsequential.

Pray for Sudan and the estimated 2,000,000 orphans in Sudan, due to war religious persecution, genocide, famine, and disease. (note)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Robin

Our robin has laid 3 eggs.  It laid one on Thurs, one on Fri, and one on Sat last week.  According to Wikipedia, the eggs hatch in 14 days and the babies leave the nest 2 weeks later.  So hopefully this week we will be able to see some baby robins hatching.  The mother is being very faithful, she doesn't even fly away when Aaron is waving the curtains all around her nest.  Wikipedia says, "The American Robin does not shy away from nesting close to human habitation."  I guess that explains it!

What's Cookin'

Oops.  No menu plan this week.  And we could tell!  I didn't cook Monday and we ended up having nachos with taco meat from the freezer on Tues.  I cooked on Wed, but Chris wasn't home for dinner and on Thurs. we went to Burger King for dinner.  So I didn't do much cooking this week but the meals I did make were (in my opinion) delicious!

On Wednesday, I made Chicken Tetrazzini.

Very yummy!  Just a couple changes:  I used all whole milk and no cream, but next time I will try skim milk.  And I left out the peas.  I also used grilled chicken I had in the freezer and halved the recipe.  We will definitely be eating this again.

Friday night I made a Mexican fiesta for some friends we had over for dinner.  I'm glad we had company, or I may have ate too much.  We started out with a wedge salad with tomatoes, red onions and homemade ranch.  I will definitely make wedge salads again.  They are very easy and look so elegant.  The homemade ranch was only so so.  I think it needed more seasoning.  The main dish was chicken enchiladas which were all I could ever want in an enchilada and more.  I've made enchiladas 3x in the last 3 weeks and I think this was the best version.  I used the enchilada sauce found here and the chicken found here.  I mixed the chicken with a little softened cream cheese (about 2 oz) and rolled them up, covered them with the enchilada sauce and baked them for 20 minutes at 400.  We also had Mexican Black Beans (using the slow cooker method found here) and Cilantro Lime Rice (cooked rice in the microwave and added a bit of minced garlic and subbed chicken broth for water).    But now I better not make any Mexican food for awhile because Chris is getting sick of it.  :-)

Here's next week's plan:
Mon~Oatmeal pancakes, sausage, eggs (We have kiddie company for dinner!)
Tues~Crockpot Beef Stroganoff (recipe coming!), egg noodles, green beans
Wed~Double crunch honey garlic pork chops, brown rice, salad

Thurs~Chris is giving blood with his brothers, so maybe the boys and I will try these with some carrot sticks.
Fri~Baked General Tso Chicken, brown rice, Chinese veggies
Sat~Egg stuffed potatoes, salad, fruit
Sun~Chicken noodle soup, bread

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring has sprung

A robin built her nest right outside our sliding glass door in our kitchen, and today she laid an egg!  We're trying to keep the curtains shut and the kids away from the window so we can watch the egg hatch.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dairy Adventure: Our trip to a modern dairy farm

We went on a Dairy Discovery at Swisslane Farms today!  Probably the best field trip the boys have ever been on.  Thanks so much to Janna for organizing it!

The first barn we went into was the main shelter for the milk cows.  This is the sight that greeted us.  Tipping cows!

Each cow's hooves are trimmed twice per year.  The guys come every Wednesday to take care of the cows hooves.  And with 1200 head on the farm, they have quite the job!

These ladies have just been milked and are heading back to their home.  The grate on the ground is a special cattle detractor.  The cows won't walk on it so they can keep the area open for machinery, etc, to get access to.  Annie, our tour guide, did tell us that a few years ago they had a "crazy" cow jump over the grate.  The cow no longer resides at Swisslane Farms.

Mama cow coming down the shoot from the milking parlor.

Joel was totally enthralled with every aspect of the farm.  The stuff on the ground is the cows' specially formulated food.

These cows are resting in a bed of sand.  The farm uses sand as bedding since it keeps the cows udders nice and clean.  A special machine comes through the center lane of the cows' area multiple times per day cleaning out all the yucky material that comes with having cows.

Our next stop was the barn with the heifer calves.  Super adorable!

They were quite curious.  Many peeked out of their stalls and were quite excited to see us.

Andrew, Noah, Stuart, Joel, Caleb and Kyle.

Noah feeding a baby calf some warm water.

Joel's calf sucked the bottle dry!

Next we went on a short hay ride across the road to see the cows' grocery store.  The farm has a truck with a computer on it that calculates how much of each ingredient to mix to make the cows' food.

Joel with his straw (not hay).

Frog with one of many tractors on the farm.

Milking parlor.  These cows just finished being milked and are getting ready to head home.  The cows are milked 3x per day.  The new set of cows walked it right after I took this pic and headed straight for their spots and backed into position.

This mama was a bit curious and came around the side to see what was going on.

Of course, we had to have a dairy snack, milk and cheese to round out the tour.

Gevin and Andrew.

A corn box to play in.

A straw maze.

Joel loved the corn box.

The tiniest kittens I've ever seen.

Part of our group~Noah, Caleb, Joel, Andrew, Tiana, Hadassah, Caleb, and Gevin.

Note to self

Plan for a bigger budget when Daddy does the birthday shopping!

(If you aren't as tech savvy as Chris, he got the boys a NOOK tablet.  It's a learning tool, guys, remember that!)

Monday, April 09, 2012

What's Cookin'

Mon~BBcue pork, mashed potatoes(freezer), green beans
Tues~Noah's birthday dinner-pig in a blankets, mac and cheese, cauliflower
Wed~Salad for church dinner
Thurs~Sun-dried tomato and chicken casserole (freezer), broccoli
Fri~Chicken tacos, cold veggies, chips n salsa
Sat~Pizza, salad
Sun~Meatball soup, bread

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Meijer deals~April 1-7

Here are a few deals from Meijer this week:

Charmin 24 pack double roll tp~Buy 2, get $7 OYNO.  I bought 2 at about $24 with tax.  I'm not sure if this is a great deal, but we needed tp!

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter~$1.67 each.  There is a coupon for $1.25/1 and a Meijer Mealbox for $1/2 making these free!

Meijer Butter Quarters~$1.68 each

Johnsonville Breakfast sausage ~2/$4.  There is a coupon for 75 cents/1.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese~4/$5 and get $1.50 OYNO when you buy 4 (Cheaper than Aldi!).

Coupon links can be found at Saving Addiction.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Spring Break at the Zoo

The boys' cousins and aunt had spring break this week so we took a trip to the zoo.
Sisters!  Connie, Cady and  Corinna.

I tried to pick the best shot of Ang.  Joel and Jayden look a little nervous.

The girls and Andrew.

Connie Ella

Cassidy, seeing how high she can jump.

Corinna did pretty good...

but Aunt Ang jumped as high as a kangaroo!

Group shot!

Jayden, Cady, Andrew, Noah, Connie, Cassidy, Ang, Joel, Corinna, and Aaron