Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the face of determination

The other day we were outside enjoying some of the first tastes of Spring. The boys wanted to do t-ball so we got out the equipment and before long we were batting away. Just lately, Xavier is getting some coordination to actually hit the ball off the t... most of the time. He really amazed me that he could actually hit the ball pretty straight and far. He then asked we we could do "stitch". I had no idea what he was talking about. He said..."You know, when you throw the ball and I hit it". Ohhhh, pitch. You want me to pitch. Sure, why not. So after about 20 pitches with no contact with the ball what so ever, I suggested going back to t-ball.

Me: "Don't you want to go back to hitting the ball off the t? You are really getting good at that. You may not be able to hit the ball while I pitch".

X: "Well then I will just keep practicing and practicing until I can hit it"!

Well said little one! Shame on me for suggesting that you stop something just because you can't do it very well!! What was I thinking???

And so I pitched and pitched and then pitched some more. I think Xavier hit it about 4 times in all. But he DID hit it and boy was he proud when he too!

I took some pictures as he was batting and throwing the ball. It was only after I got them off the camera that I noticed the look of determination in his face. Just as I thought that all the learning would be on Xavier's part as we went outside in the backyard.... I got a little "schooling" of my own FROM my 4 year old. Never underestimate the power of determination!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

a weak moment

Trying to hold true to my New Years Resolution of actually trying recipes from my cookbooks instead of just reading about them, I think that I have found a couple of recent keepers. I also told myself that I would NOT be purchasing any new cookbooks (BUT to receive them as a gift, for example is TOTALLY OK...not that I am hinting to anyone...wink ...wink) but I did have a weak moment and found myself with a new cookbook in my hands. Before I could stop myself, I was out the door with it tucked into a cute little bag. I rationalized that I NEEDED a chicken cookbook, because as you may or may not remember...I have a problem with chicken...a chicken allergy (actually poultry in general) which both of my children find the need to remind me of several times during every chicken meal that I serve.

So I got a cookbook totally dedicated to chicken and we are well on our way out of the "chicken rut" that I have put us into. It is still hard for me to make chicken and I have to be careful on how I actually cook it- no top of the stove action for me as it sends me into an asthmatic type reaction. I rarely LOVE a recipe as written....always tweaking the "next time" for my family's specific palate, so leaving it as written and recommending it to others is always a little unnerving to me but that is my problem not yours! Maybe you can help me with the changes. My poor husband is a little tired of the 20 questions on the meal...he really just wants to eat it so please pass on the suggestions for improvement! I am counting on you for your culinary help.

Both recipes are my from my new cookbook Gooseberry Patch Our Favorite Chicken Recipes.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

boneless skinless chicken breasts, one for each person
1T chive and onion flavored cream cheese per breast
1 T butter for each breast
1 slice bacon per breast
salt, pepper
dried tarragon

Flatten each chicken breast to 1/2 inch thickness; spread 1 T cream cheese over each breast, top with 1 T butter, salt, pepper and tarragon. Roll up chicken; wrap with bacon slice and secure with toothpick. Place seam side down in lightly greased baking pan. Bake at 400 for 25 mins or until juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

I omitted the tarragon because I didn't have any and used thick sliced bacon which I would not recommend without precooking it some first. It never really got yummy and crispy. I served with honey mustard that I made from 2 parts honey to one part mustard and used a combo of regular and Dijon mustard. I thought that maybe you could make this with ham and cheese rolled inside. My sister Aimee tried turkey bacon and thought that she would use regular next time. She also suggested adding spinach- super idea! I flattened each chicken breast with a meat mallet between plastic wrap and it worked great. If you do not own a meat mallet you could try to flatten with a rolling pin, a heavy pan, a big can, a wine/liquor bottle or you could just save yourself a whole lot of effort and go get yourself a $4 mallet..... it is up to you!

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
6 oz package herb flavored stuffing mix
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
garlic powder, dried Italian seasoning, salt, pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Arrange chicken cubes in lightly greased 9X13 pan; season with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper. Sprinkle with cheese. In medium bowl, combine stuffing mix, tomatoes and water. Stir til just moistened. Top chicken with stuffing mix. Bake uncovered at 400 for 25 mins until chicken is cooked through.

I used 3 breasts cubed and probably added more cheese (used an Italian blend). The family really liked it. When pressed for details, Steve said that if anything needed improvement on this one, it would be the stuffing mix. Maybe a homemade crouton instead of the stuffing mix??? That ups the hassle factor but may be worth it? I served with crispy potato wedges and veggies the first night and got lazier the second night and served it with baked potatoes the second.

Enjoy! If you try them, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

my little picassos

The boys were outside the other day enjoying one of the beautiful and warm spring days that we had. They each had new sidewalk chalk (thanks Grandma for 2!) and were very excited to get busy!

Can you guess who this is???

It is me! I asked Xavier if that line above my head was my arm and he looked at me
(with a slight look of disgust) and said "No, Mom that is your ponytail...can't you see the rubber band"? I guess that little circle at the end of the line is my signature observant!

The boys are also into watercolor paints these days. Here is their latest work.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Infredibles" and much more!

The boys and I took Grandma to see Disney on Ice last Sunday. It was a last minute decision to go and it was surprise for Grandma. While Steve and Grandpa worked hard the the taxes, we were hard at work in search of finding some superheros. We had seats in the very last row....way up at the top but I guess it was close enough to see and not be scared of all the action on the ice. We all had a nice time and really enjoyed the show. I was really wishing for a zoom lens but made due with I had. So if you would like to see the show from the "cheap seats" here you go!

Grandma is delirious from change of "altitude" from being in these high seats! Just kidding, it could also be from my crazy driving to get us here on time!

Everyone's favorite Mouse!

Finding Nemo

Snow White

More Princesses...X did notice that Sleeping Beauty was not does he know that?

The Army Guys from Toy Story.

Buzz Lightyear in the box

Buzz shooting lasers.

The Infredibles as Dax fondly calls them....they were highly anticipated by the boys.

Lion King

Character parade.

Fireworks to finish it off.

The other morning I was having a conversation with X. I asked him a question and he looked at me and said "Did someone take a stupid pill this morning"? I looked at him (stifling a laugh) and asked him where on earth he heard that. He said "Mr.Potato Head says that in Toy story.....and it is soooo funny". It is funny EXCEPT when it is asked of you! Apparently, I had taken a stupid pill for letting my son watch Toy Story so many times he can recite it!

Monday, March 16, 2009

my monkeys make bread

.....Monkey Bread that is. The recipe is an oldie but goodie and it was the first time the boys had ever had it so in a way it is a new recipe... for them.

Monkey Bread
4 10 oz cans buttermilk biscuits
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 up butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325. Grease bundt pan. Pour chopped nuts into the bottom of the pan. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Cut each biscuit into quarters and roll in sugar mixture. Place in pan. In saucepan melt butter and mix in brown sugar and cinnamon. Bring to boil and boil 3 mins. Pour mixture over the biscuits. Bake for 35 mins or until golden. Let cool inpan for 10 mins. Turn over on plate.
I don't have a bundt pan so I used a smaller tube pan and only used 3 cans of biscuits. I did not adjust the other ingredients. We put the cinnamon and sugar mixture in a gallon plastic bag and put the biscuit pieces in the bag to coat.

The boys LOVED it!
Here is another recipe that I found but have not tried. Looks interesting!

Blueberry Monkey Bread

1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 (10 ounce) cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough
1 1/4 cups frozen blueberries, no syrup

For the mixture to pour over the biscuits:
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup frozen blueberries, no syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly grease a bundt tube pan.
2. Mix 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Cut biscuits in quarters, then roll each piece in sugar-cinnamon mixture.
3. Arrange about 1/4 of the biscuit pieces and blueberries in an even layer in pan.
4. Place blueberries between biscuit pieces, creating a mosaic effect. Repeat three times with remaining biscuits and blueberries, covering blueberries of one layer with biscuits in next layer.
5. In saucepan combine the second 2/3 cup sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and the additional cup of blueberries. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cook, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.
6. Pour over biscuits in pan.
7. Bake for 35 minutes or until done. Lift or turn out onto a cake plate.
Make your monkeys some bread today!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

we wore little pants

So for those of you who don't know... we were in Florida last week. We left the last Friday in February and returned Sunday the 8th in the wee hours of the am. We drove. Again. It is a long car ride...then throw in 2 kids.... my 2 kids.... and all of their "stuff" ...into a car.... a very small car. Sounds like a recipe for disaster right?? Nahhh. We are talking about the Noe boys here. They were as good as gold...seriously. It still took us a long time to get there. We left a 4:30 am and arrived about 8:30 pm. We hit rain and traffic but really it all went smoothly.

Before we left I wanted to make sure that Dax had some shorts that fit. As I tried some on, he looked down and said "Are these my little pants?" So we all packed up our "little pants" to head to someplace we could wear them.

****warning***** picture overload coming at you!
We did some walking on the beach and made plenty of sand castles.
We did some sleeping. The boys slept together the whole trip.

We did some swimming. Dax and Xavier loved the pool and both made pretty big improvements with their "swimming".

Xavier took off his float. He really was swimming.

More sleeping.

Some walking around.

Some more sleeping.

Plenty of time for super hero activity.

Some jumping.

Xavier loved the goggles...notice how they are on upside down.
Dax kept saying that he was swimming all by himself just like "yay zay" which his nickname for Xavier.

Some relaxin'.

Some bonding.

Some more bonding.

We were fortunate enough to see the dolphins that were swimming really close one morning.

A close up...kind of.

Enjoying the beautiful grounds.
One of my favorite activites is watching the sunsets. Steve took this one of the boys and I jumping. Well he pressed the shutter...I set up the shot.
Steve and Dax. Dax is holding a baggie of bread in his hand so that he could feed the gulls.
We really did have a great time despite the cooler weather. Thanks again to Mom and Dad Noe for sharing your beautiful place with us. Xavier said on more than one occasion that he wanted to live there... a part of me does too!