7.29.2008

Like father, like daughter

I'm definitely related to my dad.

We like to tease my dad, because when he sees a good deal on something he needs, he stocks up. I remember one time we were shopping for pants for my mom and she found some that she liked that were on sale, and he was trying to talk her in to buying like 10 pairs, because, if you like them and they're on sale, then you might as well buy a lot, because you'll need them eventually, right?

Also, if you send my dad to Costco to buy flour, beware. You just might get 500 pounds.

But, when it comes down to it, I'm the same way. Some of you may have heard about e.l.f.'s great sale on all their makeup, since they were bought by Nordstrom's. We're talking $1.00 per item. Um, hi. Makeup is dang expensive.

I don't wear it a ton, because Tom quite frankly likes me better without, but I like it, so I do wear it a couple times a week. But did I let that stop me? Oh no.

By the time I made it through all the pretty options, I had something like 60 items in my shopping cart. Which equals $60. I think I could maybe get 4 things of mascara for that normally, so really, why should I not go for it? Plus, using the coupon code CAROLINA saved me $7.50 which more than covered shipping.

So, I guess I can't tease my dad, but I can boast about how I got such a good deal on all the makeup I'll ever need for the next 15 years.

7.19.2008

Week three

I promise I'm not turning this into a cooking blog, and I will try to get some more interesting posts up today or tomorrow. But for now, you get another recipe. This one for what my cousin Holley calls "Ice Box Dessert." I've heard it by other names, but we'll stick with that one for now. Here are her instructions:

Ingredients:
Layer 1
1 1/2 c flour
1 cube butter, softened
1/2 c nuts, chopped

Layer 2
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz cool whip
1/2 c powdered sugar

Layer 3
2 small chocolate puddings
1 small vanilla pudding
4 1/2 c milk

Layer 4
8 oz cool whip


Directions:
Mix layer 1 with a pastry blender, press into the bottom of a 9X13 and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let cool. Mix the cream cheese and the powdered sugar, fold in the cool whip. Smooth over the top of the crust. Mix together the puddings and the milk (use 2 small chocolate puddings 1 large is not as much as the 2 small). Smooth over layer 2, top with the cool whip. You can grate 2 Hershey snack bars over the cool whip or get chocolate jimmies (sprinkles) I like the grated chocolate bars better. Keep refrigerated.

Number Of Servings:24 (unless one of them is me...)

Preparation Time:45 minutes

Now, because I don't follow recipes exactly, here's what I did different:

After baking and cooling the crust, I crumbled it up and put some in the bottom of 9 goblets. Then I piped in some of the cream cheese layer, ladled in some pudding and topped it with cool whip and added a chocolate leaf. While this looked very pretty, I had lots of leftover crust (I even sprinkled some between each layer), so if you go this route, halve the crust recipe.





My method did make it trickier, so if you're going for ease, stick with the 9x13, but either way it's not too tricky (as long as you make sure to get the cool whip out of the freezer in advance.) Overall, it was very tasty. My mom has a similar recipe, and I think I like her layer 2 better. Hers calls for 1 cup powered sugar, 8 oz cream cheese and 1 cup of cool whip, which is less than 8 oz. I'll try that next time. Also, if you're not a chocolate lover, or you're in the mood for a little change, you can use different puddings to change it up. My mom has made it with lemon and it was quite delicious! I will definitely be making this again!

7.18.2008

On a superfluity of couscous

So several (read: three) of you have asked about my extreme supply of couscous.

At some point in the recent past, my mom found couscous in bulk. (At Cost Plus World Market, if I recall correctly.) Seeing as you can usually only buy it in annoying little boxes, she decided to get me some as well. And when I say bulk, I mean a 25 lb. bag.

Now, I do like couscous, and was quite excited, but I don't have many recipes for couscous, and in all the cookbooks I have, I think couscous is mentioned like once, so I never know what to do with it. (Not to mention my husbands afore-mentioned dislike for the mess kids create with it.)

If any of you have tried and true (or even good-looking, whether or not you've tried it) recipes for couscous, I am always looking for more!

7.15.2008

The messiest food in the world

So, I apparently have a thing for chicken. Actually, I knew that, but now you all get to know it, too! So this week for Whip It Up, I experimented with Savory Chicken Couscous and Easy Chicken Piccata. We have a ton of couscous and I never use it, so I looked for a couscous recipe that I had all the ingredients for, (which was easier said than done, since it's definitely time for me to do some grocery shopping.) The couscous recipe recommended the other to go along, and I thought it looked tasty.

Although Tom enjoys couscous, he affectionately refers to it as "the messiest food in the world" because, let's face it, when you're three, couscous is not the easiest thing to eat without getting it everywhere. And it's sticky. Like rice, but smaller.

One of these weeks I'm going to remember to take a picture of the recipes I make, but this was not that week. Luckily for you, there is a picture along with the recipes.

Now for the important part: These recipes were easy-peasy. Couscous is always quick, and the chicken was as well. I didn't have cutlets, so I used breasts and they took a little longer. But better than being quick and easy, both recipes were delicious! I will definitely be repeating this one, but I think I'll need to make more couscous next time--Ella loved it!

7.11.2008

St. Joe

Since her husband and son were off at scout camp, my mother-in-law came down to spend Wednesday night at our house. Her car had been making noises, so she dropped it off at Joe's shop. (Tom's brother, the mechanic, for those not informed. I call it Joe's shop because he works there, not because he owns it.) He was planning on bringing it to her at our house Thursday after work.

A couple of days ago our battery light had come on. I didn't think too much about it since A) we just got a new battery like 2 months ago, 2) nothing was going wrong, and D) Joe would be over in the near future to look at it and reassure us. We drove it for a couple of days with the light on (all the time). Thursday, Tom went to work, went to the district office for a meeting, stopped at Fred Meyer and came home. I went right back out a few minutes later to go pick up a pizza at Papa Murphy's (Yum--thanks JoAnne).

On the way, the radio and clock were going in and out. I immediately turned off the lights and the radio, but didn't think of the AC and prayed that I would make it home safely. When I came out of PM's the car turned on the first try, though I could tell something was not right. Again, I prayed all the way home, especially since I had forgotten my cell phone.

Minutes (like 2) after I pulled in, safely, Joe pulled in behind me. After looking at our car, and checking the battery (which was completely dead) he confirmed that it was the alternator. He said that we should not drive it pretty much anywhere before getting it fixed. Not only did Tom have to be at work today, but both kids had dentist appointments, and we were planning on heading up to my parent's for the weekend.

After dinner, Joe took out the alternator, drove to Schuck's (in JoAnne's car) with Tom to get a new one, and put it in, all before dessert. Though he wasn't 100% pleased with the new one, it has a lifetime warranty, it is getting the job done a whole lot better than the last one!

It is so obvious to me that the Lord is looking out for us. We are so blessed! Not only did he keep the car going long enough for us all to be safe, but he provided us with the perfect opportunity to have our car fixed, and a wonderful and helpful mechanic in the family! Thank you Joe!!!!

Ella-isms

Some funny conversations recently that need to be documented for posterity's sake. Hopefully you find them as funny as I did.

As I was brushing Ella's hair:
E: Mom, do it softer, you're brushing it too loud!

This one needs a little preface: I have taught Ella all sorts of body parts, from the useful "head, shoulder, knee, eye, mouth, etc." to the less useful sternocleidomastoid (don't check my spelling, it's a muscle in your neck) and subcutaneous pre-patellar bursa (on your knee). However, everything between her legs is her "bum," and she hasn't been interested in knowing more. Now to the conversation:

Ella was sitting on the potty. As she tends to take a while I had stepped out. I came when she called me, and she was checking out her business.
E: Mom! What is that?
M: That's your {insert a female body part here.}
E: Does Rico have one?
M: No, Rico's a boy. He has a {insert male body part.}
E: But you have one?
M: Yes, because I'm a girl, too.
E: But what does Dad have?
M: Well, he's a boy like Rico, so what do you think?
E: (thinking...) A sternocleidomastoid!

Well, yes, but...

While we were at Tom's brother's in Vancouver, Ella's five-year-old cousin, Isaac, decided to water the plants in their backyard, instead of using the toilet. Ella came in and told Tom:
E: Isaac went potty with his belly. Me, I don't go potty with my belly button, I go potty with my bum.

I was carrying Ella and told her:
M: Ella, you're not so light anymore.
E: I'm not so light?
M: Nope. You used to be light, but now you're getting...
E: I'm getting darker!

...or heavier was what I meant...

7.08.2008

Back to real life

The unfortunate thing about vacations is that they all must end. Tom started summer school yesterday, and with homework and classes, and some extra work he's doing for next year's curriculum, all those half-days are looking a lot more like full days. And that means I'm back to full time mom. Not that I'm not a full time mom when he's home, but he takes on quite a bit of what is usually my responsibility so that I can rest and relax.

I hope that you all had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. I know we did. Tom's brother lives in Vancouver, WA, so we drove down there to spend the weekend. We went to a park on Salmon Creek with a man-made beach area that the kids adored--that is, Rico-man adored it, and Ella loved it until she tried to swim, by herself, with no flotation device. Tom saved her, but I think it will be a while before she's ready for water again.


Friday we drove down to Oregon to a campsite along the Columbia River. We stopped about halfway there to check out Multnomah Falls which was gorgeous. We camped at Viento State Park, which was nice, though I wouldn't recommend it, as it is located between the freeway and the train track, which does not make for easy sleeping. The kids loved hanging out with their cousins and grandparents. We didn't see any fireworks, which was fine by me, since both the kids were asleep before it was dark enough anyway.


On the drive home Saturday, Ella slept over half the time, so it went by much quicker than the way down. As much fun as we had, I was definitely glad to be home and back in my own bed, though the amount of laundry that can accumulate after camping is astounding.

7.07.2008

Whipping it up

So I read on Janssen's blog that she was participating in Whip It Up, a new recipe challenge, and I thought, What a great idea! So since I'm a total follower, I thought I would, too. Here is week one's recipe that I made tonight as found in the cook book, and followed by my alteration, since I can't follow a recipe:

Smothered Chicken
From Betty Crocker's Cookbook

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (about 1 1/4 lbs)
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 Tbs butter or stick margarine
1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms (4 oz)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)

Spray 12-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with oregano, salt, garlic powder, pepper and red pepper. Cook in skillet 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Cook bell pepper and onion in butter about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Stir in mushrooms. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Place chicken in skillet; spoon vegetables over chicken. Sprinkle cheeses over chicken and vegetables; remove from heat. cover and let stand until cheese is melted.

Personal variations:
Tom and I don't need 4 chicken breasts, and I get the mondo ones from Costco, so I cut one in half, and called it good. I didn't so much measure the seasonings, just sprinkled them on, keeping the proportions in mind. As I don't have a nonstick skillet, I just used a normal one, and used a little olive oil to fry the chicken in. There was plenty of oil still in the skillet, so I omitted the butter. Also, I don't eat green pepper, so I left that out too, much to Tom's dismay. I used canned mushrooms, because that's what I had, and served it with rice.

I was quite impressed. It was pretty quick and easy (except for the splattering olive oil. That would be one benefit of using a nonstick skillet) and tasted GREAT! I will definitely be making this again! Yum!