Friday, January 21, 2011

Did my time, took my chances Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet

We had a small bug hit our house this week, and while only DD#2 got it, she's the most work for me when someone is ill. Since she is still in that baby phase (she turns 2 middle of next month), and not talking ALL the way yet, it's just hard. And there were a couple days were the fever meds weren't helping. So I got little sleep, I was a Zombie Mom for a few days, and I just didn't make it here to blog.

So you get a 4 in 1 today. Lucky you!

First up (17 Jan) : Talapia fillets with teriyaki sauce. I just took the fish, and dumped the glaze over them, rinsed the bottle with water, added that, and broiled (cook for about 8ish min on each side). Steamed green beans, and rice in the rice cooker. I served everything in bowls because the teriyaki sauce was doing all the work for this meal.

Secondly (18 Jan) : Pan fried Scallopini (thinly sliced pork loin). I dredge it in seasoned flour; that I keep in a zip-top bag in the freezer (everyone has one of these right, a bag of seasoned flour in the freezer, that's TOTALLY normal), then fry in my cast iron skillet till golden brown, and then flip over to cook the other side. (I season my flour with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, dry mustard, paprika, and some hot wing seasoning (not sure what's in there, but it's a lil spicy) there's probably a table spoon of each of these things in the 4 cups of flour I use, I mix it all up, and keep it in the freezer, using it for all my dredging needs, pork chops, chicken, scallopini, till it's gone, instead of making a batch every time I need some cause I'm lazy and cheap). Pasta with marinara (just used a jar of what ever I had in the pantry) I added about 3/4 c Sour Cream to make a blush sauce, and some steamed corn.

Third (19 Jan) : Korean Style ribs, rice, glazed carrots, steamed soy beans. I seasoned the ribs with soy sauce (about 4 table spoons, I think we had 14 ribs) heavily sprinkled with dry ginger, light on the garlic, onion, and pepper. I glaze my carrots with butter, brown sugar, and ginger. The soy beans just get salt. This was the day that DS#1's boys scout group came over and painted their pine wood derby cars in prep for the race at the end of the month, it was lots of fun (cept for the baby with the raging fever that demanded I hold her all the time).

Last (20 Jan) : Because I was tired, and knew I would be tired for a couple days I made soup. I can make it in a large enough batch to feed all of us for 2 days, and they like it. I was also hoping that it would ward off the cooties for everyone else. This particular soup was, 2lbs ground beef, with 1pkg Sazon seasoning, Salt, pepper, garlic, onoin, sage, browned. 1 box beef stock, 2 cans garlic and onion stewed tomatoes, 1 lb bag frozen collard greens, 3 cups (uncooked) Minute brown rice, and 1/2 gal water. I browned the meat, dumped in the tomatoes, and greens, added the water, brought it to a boil and added in the 3 cups of brown rice, let it cook for 10-15 min and the soup was ready. Normally I'd use barley, but I didn't have any, and it takes longer to cook than the brown rice (I don't usually buy Minute Rice either, but my neighbor was having an excess in her pantry and gave me a box cause she knows I cook, I think I like it to add in to a quick soup like this!)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The sea was wet as wet could be, The sands were dry as dry.

I wanted to use this sausage for soup, but the family had enough of soup. So we had a pasta dish instead.

The whole time I was thinking of how to prepare this meal I had images from "The Walrus and The Carpenter" in my head, I'm blaming the pasta.

Cut the sausage into circles, then quarter them, saute with yellow squash (I used two 1lb bags, and cut them up to match the sausage). I tossed in about 2/3 of a head of cabbage. No need to season since sausage has plenty of flavor on it's own.

The men in my house love these lil sea shell noodles, I tossed them with some fresh mushrooms and about 1.5 cups Parmesan cheese, season with S&P and garlic powder. The veg/sausage is an on the side/on top of to go with the pasta.

It was a hit, both girls (and me too) had seconds, and the boys all ate all of theirs.

I used two 12 oz boxes of pasta when I made this so I'd have plenty for leftovers for a fast lunch today, I just added in 1lb peas, and 2 cans of chicken meat (it's in the same area as tuna), added in some poultry seasoning, paprika and heated it all up together. That was pretty tasty too.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vacation All I ever wanted Vacation Had to get away

More rain today, and even more wind. Looks like there will be lots over the next two days as well.

No cooking for me today, I get a mini kitchen vacation! Kids finished off the stack of pancakes from yesterday's brunch for breakfast, then we had a late lunch at the food court. Followed by a Birthday Party for friends' kid where there was more food, so I just topped them off with PB&J's before bed.

I'll probably be making some sort of bean and brown rice with sausage soup tomorrow, a la the crock pot while we're at church. That is if I can manage to get it all tossed in before we head out the door round noon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tea, a drink with Jam and Bread

It's a half day at school today, and the kids are missing it. But I had the kids ask their teachers what they would be doing while they were in class yesterday , and they were told, "just this one test, here go ahead and take it now" (their teachers know me too well). So, they're hanging out at the house with me for an extra day! WOOO HOO! also, Monday is a holiday, can you say 4 day weekend!!!

We kicked it off last night with them scrubbing down the bathrooms while I did the steak strips and potatoes (bribery for this morning).

This morning I did a large brunch: blueberry crepes (just thinned out some pancake batter and added an extra egg) (I use Krusteaz) with rasperry jam, bacon cooked under the broiler, canned fruit cocktail, "fancy" scrambled eggs (sour cream, dried parsley, Mc Cormik gourmet burger seasoning; like a dip on top of the eggs), Rose Hip and Hibiscus tea (I get the herbs separate and mix my own tea, I use a French press to make the tea). The crepes did not turn out as well as they do when I make them from scratch, the Krusteaz does good for waffles tho. I just didn't have anything to use for Crepe filling and thought if I used the blueberry mix it would be a good substitute for plain crepes. live and learn I guess. They turned out to be OK thin pancakes tho.

The kids set the table with place mats that DH's Grandma made, some ceramic plates I bought at a yard sale right before I got married (they were my "china", I have matching bowls, tea cups and saucers), mixed tea cups picked up for DD#1 at various places for her tea parties, and had me put all our food in fancy dishes. Then everyone got their bears out. I couldn't argue since they have already agreed to help me scrub the floors today. (they want to go to the amusement park at some point this weekend)

Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka... The Amazing Chocolatier.

Thankfully my back stopped aching. I spent the day making a Statue of Liberty costume for my neighbor's daughter, it was a school project (her mom doesn't sew). She paid me with a giant assortment of chocolates and Pez! (she works at the commissary and when things get close to the expiration date and have to be pulled from the shelves, she has the opportunity to buy them for penny's on the dollar, and then she shares cool things with her neighbors!)

Since I was cutting and sewing I didn't have time to make any tortillas to go with supper (I've been craving fajitas for a week). Instead I made sauteed potatoes. I washed 4 LARGE potatoes, and then cut them into 1 inch (ish) cubes and cooked them in the microwave (in a bowl with some water, used a plate as a lid, hit the baked potato button 4 times), drain, then in the pan I cooked the steak and peppers in (cause there's good flavor bits in there). 3/4 stick of butter, 1 can of mushrooms, and the potatoes and 1.5 (ish) tsp dried Marjoram. Just keep tossing till mushrooms and potatoes are golden.

The Steak and Peppers was just as easy, I cut 4 rib eyes into strips, tossed with salt and pepper and a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce, thin slice a medium onion and cooked on med high heat with a bag of Pepper slices from the freezer. It only takes a few minutes I pull out the strips when they're on the Rare side and pile them all in a bowl and they keep warm and carry over into medium on their own.

I made DS#1's day by having his fav veggie creation as a side. Spinach and corn mixed. He invented it, 1 bag frozen spinach 1 bag frozen corn, add water to cover, I just keep it simmering till everything else is done cooking.

The only thing lacking was pie, I didn't have anything to use as pie filling so I couldn't whip anything together either. So, we ate chocolate! LOL

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's Raining, It's Pouring. (I wish)

Yesterday I woke up with my back aching from the work I did the day before, it's a good thing I have a fridge full of leftovers!

It's also COLD (for here) and wet. Not the good kind of rain where the sky opens up and it pours out, but the kind where it's gray and damp all day, and makes you feel even colder than it is. The kind where it doesn't even look like it's raining if you look out your window, but if you go out and stand still you end up damp and miserable.

Combine that with the back ache and I needed some comfort food. So we, started the day off with Cheese Toast and fruit, not hard, or note worthy. But it was YUM! I also made Wassle for the kids (equal parts Orange juice and Apple Cider with a dash of cinnamon, heated).

We ate the leftover Chili from the other day for supper. So, no new pics.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TomAto, tomato, Lets call the whole thing off.

I've been making supper the same time I make lunch for the little ones and I during the day. This has made my evenings a lot more laid back. But it has also slightly changed the way I'm approaching dinner prep. I'm trying to come up with things that are alright to sit in the fridge until it's time for me to cook them.

I was also too sore/tired to blog last night before I dragged myself up the stairs to bed, I'll blog about that when I finish that project.

But, yesterday I made a pasta bake. I'm not sure what else to call it. With a side of steamed broccoli topped with Parmesan cheese.

Pasta Bake
2lbs ground beef browned with
1 large onion rough chopped
salt pepper, garlic powder, sage, oregano

in my large roasting pan (it's the Pampered Chef one, it's larger than a standard 13x9)
1 box (lb) ditalini pasta (they look like pearler beads, but you can use what ever kind of pasta you like) NOT PRE COOKED
2 cans of mushrooms not drained
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 lb shredded cheese to top
I rinsed my jar of sauce out with water, and dumped that in, and my tomato can, I think I used about half of my half gallon pitcher of water here. My pan was full to the top but liquidy.

stir everything together, even the meat you cooked.
top with cheese, cover with foil, bake at 350 for about 1.5 hours. (till pasta is tender) it will soak up all the liquids)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This must be love 'Cos it's really got a hold on me

I think we've had maybe (if you add them all up) 2 weeks worth of cold weather this winter. Cold for us, not all ya'll that live in places where it freezes or get snow or something awful like that. I'm talking, mid to low 50's with wind and rain or just gray skies. It's the damp that makes it feel so bad. And it's so warm he rest of the year that you just get used to warmth, so 50 feels COLD.

Really tho, anything much below 80 and I'm not too happy.

To help stave off the cold (and to break in the surprise pans my DH bought me!) I made some "white chili". He knows the way to my heart is thru practical gifts that are kitchen related! Just like I know the way to his is thru a well cooked meal.

1lb navy beans in the crock pot on high with 1/2 gal water till beans are soft. (I drained the beans after)
2 cans black beans drained (forgot to add some dried into the crock pot when I started it)
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 large onion diced small, caramelized
1.5 lb chicken breast cut up into bite size pieces sauted in with the onion, and 2 packs of that Sazon seasoing, and a packet of Ranch Dip (the dry mix)
1 lb bacon, I cooked mine in my new Pampered Chef Bar pans (DH got me both sizes!) and cooking bacon in them is the fastest way to season them. Just get the broiler hot, lay the bacon flat in the pan, and keep peeking on it till it's crisp. Then chop into bits.
1 box chicken stock, and about 1/2-3/4 box beef stock (had some left over in the fridge, you can do all chicken stock)

all that in the crock pot to heat.

I'm thinking about making some cornbread to go with this, but I'll do that a bit later. You can find the recipe here.

I belong among the Wildflowers.

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned my love of gardening before. It's as bad as my thing for Santa. I can't go into a garden center without setting myself some sort of spending limit before leaving the house. Even if all I need is a bag of potting soil, or a new trowel, or plant food.

DH's mom sent me some $$ for Christmas, cause it's easier than having to get something and then have to pay shipping for it on top of that. We also get to get our own things, and when we're adults I can see how it would be hard to shop for us.

I took mine and drove quick as traffic would let me on a small island, in the rain, during the holiday season, on a weekend, to the Garden Center and got 3 Hippeastrum (commonly referred to as Amaryllis) bulbs. I got ones that were just growing spikes, and the labels are all in Japanese, so it was going to be a SURPRISE when they opened!

They bloom in the winter/early spring, and usually indoors. I've seen them here growing outside, so after I've enjoyed them this year in the house I'm moving them to an out door pot until blooming again next New Year. The first one that opened had a strong coral stripe, the second had pail pink edging along the petals, and the third was a large bright pink showy bloom. Actually all the blooms are rather showy. They all have about 4 blooms per spike, and each have at least 2 spikes of flowers, that are set to bloom at different times, so I'll have flowers for nearly 2 months! Then they'll die back, and the leaves will come up, to replenish the bulb, and then it will need a dry period over the summer where even the leaves will die back, and then the bulb will be dormant thru the fall. These bulbs don't like to freeze, so unless you live in the south and the ground doesn't ever achieve a hard freeze these are strictly potted indoor plants. Most people use them as discardable blooming houseplants after the blooms have died.

The top pic is an Orchid (I don't know the variety) that Sister Savage gave me. Her neighbor moved out and gave her a bunch of house plants. Sadly (for her) she does not have a green thumb, so she gave them to me! I nursed this one back to life, and it bloomed for me, I got about 40 little yellow flowers on it in total, and they lasted about 7 weeks! DD#1 pressed one of them and is working on an arrangement of that and some Hibiscus from the yard, once it's framed I'll post a pic of that as well.

I've found that Pointsettias grow year round here, so, I"m going to be putting my little ones in my flower beds in front of my canna lilly's, and my nasturtiums are coming back up to climb over my hedge. I have no idea what kind of hedge it is tho, it's got these little blue flowers that stay open all day during the cooler months, but only in the morning during the summer. It's easily rooted also, as it was in my friends yard and I liked it so much that I asked her to have her gardener save me some the next time he trimmed it. I thought he would have to pull me some with roots. He just trimmed off the top 6 inches of the hedges, piled them up in a box for me, and told me to plant them with at least 2 inches in the ground, water well for 2 weeks. My flower bed looked like it had hair plugs for a couple months, but they have filled in nicely. Once the yellow/orange/red nasturtiums start climbing well, and blooming it will be a nice color contrast to the cornflower blue of the hedge.

OK, so now you know I'm just as crazy about gardening as food. And I just barely got started on my plants. I promise tomorrow, back to food, with new pics and everything.

I've been plotting all weekend about a white chili with chicken breast and navy beans.

Friday, January 7, 2011


LJ asked me to blog all the curious Japanese candy that we seem to have here. this is some, there are more that we eat, but sadly we didn't have any in the house for me to take a picture of.

Top are 4 different soda candies, they are hard candies that fizz in your mouth as you eat them kinda the way soda does as you drink it. And a Hello Kitty candy, it's cute and girly, and star shaped, and grape!

Next are 2 different kinds of pressed sugar candies (my DH's preferred kind of candy). The one on the left is whistle candy, it's shaped like a jolly rancher, but when you hold it in your lips/teeth and blow thru the hole in the center it whistles! my kids love these, and as long as we're not in the car I'm OK with them too. On the right are some other lil bits that were in DD#2's stocking from Santa, they are extremely fruity for such lil bits of sugar. And the package is super cute.

Third is MY fav, they're these grape taffy with soda fizz powder in the middle. This candy also comes in "cola flavor" but I don't care for that, and I've heard a rumor that it comes in pineapple, but I've never seen it. I get these puppies 4 for 100yen (at the equivalent of the dollar store here).

Lastly there are 2 pieces of gum, it's about the same amount in a stick but in a different shape, but in the most awesome package EVER! According to the kids anyway. One is in Mario, and the other in Poke Mon (or Pocket Monster, as they call them over here). These were in the big kids stockings also.

Not pictured but FANTASTIC are these little packages of cotton candy with pop rocks in that turn into gum. I can't remember where we got those, the kids sure had fun with it tho! Also they get really fancy with some of their things, at the 100 yen shop, things you'd usually only see at the higher end candy stores in the states. Santa brought the kids some lolly pops that actually were sculpted fruits.

Most of our candy buying happens in the 100 Yen shops as you can get a small bag (10 pieces) for 100yen, or 4 large pieces, or the gum/pressed candy in strips with multiple packages of each. It's a good place to try out interesting looking candy, somethings are about what you'd expect and are very close to what Americans like, but on occasion you just get oddities. And the chocolates don't seem to be as sweet as American style chocolates, which I'm a fan of. I'll keep my eye out for some of these next time we head out. I'll also try to do a post of some of the savory/salty snacks that we like to get here too.

Hey Food (bad beatles pun)

SO, I've cleaned out my camera, and will start to take new pictures of food now. I'll try to tell you what this stuff is.

Top: Centalini Pasta in the broth from roasting a chicken, the thigh of said roasted chicken, and sauted green beans and yellow squash with seasoned bread crumbs. I'm pretty sure I've covered roasting a chicken before, and pasta tossed in broth should be self explanatory, the beans and squash are a regular in our house, fresh veg of any kind are an arm an a leg here, so I get the frozen bags of each (this makes the squash pretty mushy, so I pair it with the nice crisp beans). If you've ever had fried zucchini in a restaurant you'll get this next step. When the veggies are just about done I toss in a couple of hand fulls of Italian seasoned bread crumbs it's the same flavor of the fried zucchini w/o it being fried.

Second: thinly sliced beef (here it's labeled as Sukiyaki) cooked with Soy, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar (I think that was it?) and then I tossed in some steamed broccoli and carrot slices. put over rice.

Third: Fetichini Alfredo with Broccoli and mushrooms, and some Parmesan encrusted chicken strips. I seasoned the chicken strips with herbs (?) and then coated them with a good layer of Parmesan cheese and baked them. The cheese turns into a crust. tada!

Fourth: Pan fried pork chop, asparagus and bacon, angel hair and mushrooms. The pasta also has a little sauce I made from the bacon drippings, nothing fancy, I just sauted the mushrooms in the pan drippings, and added some other stuff (this was a while ago, so I don't remember what I did, but I do stuff like this all the time).

Bottom: Brie Puffs. I described how to make these in my Christmas post, I made a super fancy dinner for our anniversary (Oct 7) I failed to take a pic of it tho, well of anything besides the puffs, cause we ate it before I remembered. Paired with the puffs I made asparagus and bacon, seared tuna steaks, angel hair pasta with scallops in a cream and caper sauce. Dh helped with the whole cooking process, a rarity in our house! And we had a quite night in.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

We want some figgy pudding Please bring it right here!

Christmas food. I don't do a big Christmas dinner, instead on Christmas Eve (when we do our present opening) we have an hors devours buffet. I'm not sure how this got started in DH's family, but back home everyone brings 2 or 3 to Grandma's house and we lay them out and snack instead of having real supper, and we play games and visit and open gifts.

We don't live back home, DH is in the AF, so it's just us and the 4 kids. We still do this, but it's just me fixing the fancy snacks. And I start from the time we get out of bed and are still fixing stuff till just before supper time, and we just snack on it all day long.

These pics are from the last Christmas we had Stateside back in Idaho, cause I forgot to take pics of the food this year. Some things are staples, but other things change. As the kids are getting older they are helping more (thank goodness, cause those yummy snacks sure are fiddly to make) and have more input in what we have on the buffet too.

Pictured are: mini apple turnovers (puff pastery cut into small squares filled with chopped up canned apple pie filling, then the corners are brought up, pinched together, and it bakes up like that) meat balls (1lb ground beef, 1 large hand full Parmesan cheese, equal amount seasoned bread crumbs, mix, make balls, bake till brown) Stuffed mushroom tops (I dont remember what I stuffed them with, but I did top them with cheese, sorry) Reindeer cookies ( a nutterbutter cookie decorated with a pretzel, chocolate chips, cinnamon candy to look like a reindeer), a cheese ball and crackers (store bought)

This year I made: Bri puffs (puff pastery cut into small squares filled with brie, then assembled as above, you dip it into Blackberry jam that has been spiked with hot pepper sauce, so it's just a little bit spicy), Spinach dip cups (store bought filo cups, filled with spinach dip, 1 lb thawed/drained spinach, 1 block cream cheese, 1 c sour cream, 2 tbs Gourmet Burger seasoning (by Mc McCormick) ) Lil Smokies (2 packs lil smokies, 1 jar grape jelly, 1 jar chili sauce in a crock pot) Steamed Artichokes dipped in butter, a cheese and fruit platter, Avocado dip and crackers, the cookies we baked.

On Christmas Day I make something easy, or prepare ahead a couple days so I have something to pop in the oven. This year we took the Married Missionaries out to eat a a local family style Japanese place (yay Japan where things are open!) they were going to just raid their fridge for left overs too so this got them out for a treat, and we really love the Savages!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Hopes That St.Nick Soon Would Be There

a Santa obsession. I don't know what it is about that man. He just makes me happy.

Actually, I might know.

He is Jolly. He gives without looking to receive in return. He loves kids.

He. Is. MAGIC!

Most of our decorations have something to do with St. Nick, on some level. Or they are home made, or when all is right with the world they're BOTH!

Pictured are just the highlights, I hang curtians, I recover the bench by the front door, hang a wreath on the front door and a large garland with ornaments over the hall entryway (that I made). There are lots of silk and paper flowers that get traded out from the ones that sit in the vases and urns and baskets through out the house. Candles, and all the other little touches that go into making a home festive for the holidays too.

At first glance that tree looks like any ole tree in most homes with just a bunch of stuff just thrown at it, but when you look at it up close, there are only a few things permitted on it. 1. Strings of beads that look like cranberries/pearls 2. hand made ornaments 3. plastic candy canes (real ones melt here, and the kids eat them, and bugs, EW) 4. greenery/tree filler/floral picks (doesn't really count cause it's kinda part of the tree?) 5. my tree topper is of the "spike" variety (not sure what you call them?), we had a very pretty red and silver one all thru my childhood, and I got it when my parents divorced, about 5 years ago, our cat climbed our tree, knocking it over, and breaking it, all I could find was a silver plain one to replace it, so I got out the superglue and the glitter and panted on some dots, and snow flakes and did the tip too 6. Santa, and there are no duplicates.

Dh's mom started quilting some stockings for the kids at some point after I mentioned how I'd love for them to have some hand quilted ones. She really is my FAV person EVER! She got about half finished with the project, and handed it over for me to finish, I'm not sure if it's cause she ran out of time, or because she wanted my hand in it too. Either way I'm grateful, and they're a coordinating set, that fits in well with my decor.

The Stockings are hung on a new stocking hanger that I made at a "Super Saturday" at Church in November. "Super Saturday" is when we all got together to make a bunch of crafts. People volunteered to teach them, figured out how much it would cost per person, we signed up, they got the supplies together, so when we showed up we just got a bag with our supplies and set to work! I was the only one with a paint splattered stocking holder. It's just a plank of wood painted in your color of choice, they had the vinyl words done for us also. It was the whole phrase "the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nick soon would be there" but it was done in 2 different fonts in 2 colors, and the black bold letters were the only ones that stood out/looked good against my paint scheme. Also, I wanted to label above the nails. I just mimicked the lettering style of the vinyl letters with my black sharpie for my kids first initials.

The wall hanging, is really just a quilt top I made a few years ago that I desperately need to put a back on and quilt. ONE day I will? The problem is, when I bought the fabric for the front, I didn't buy the fabric for the back, and now I REALLY want that SAME Santa head fabric for the back, and all I have is this poinsettia fabric (ick). I'd really just look at it the way it is than "mess" it up with something less than perfect, and if that's not quilting OCD I don't know what is! Also when I go to quilt it, I think I'll quilt the names of all the reindeer around the border, with a large plate of cookies and glass of milk being the center design of the quilting. You know as long as I'm dreaming of quilted perfection.

Going up the banister is just some ribbon, DS#1 did that! it's my Santa ribbon. there are Santa heads on it, and it says HO! HO! HO!, and it's sparkly too. so it made it FESTIVE on the stairs. I wish I had some of that really soft green garland too to have wound round the banister with it. but alas, just the ribbon.

Oh, and under the tree, are the boxes we use every year to put the kids presents in. There are 4 different kinds of boxes, with 3 sizes for each kind (they nest). And we tie ribbons around the boxes to keep them shut. We do this instead of wrapping, to cut down on waste, and cost, and the kids get to "wrap" things on their own this way. No one has ever peaked! (we've used the boxes for 5 years?) It's handy, cause even when the presents aren't ready to go under the tree, it LOOKS like there are presents under the tree! (the pic of the tree was taken AFTER Christmas!).

My tree skirt (not pictured) was made by DH's mom, it is square, which is an odd shape for a tree skirt. It has the Nativity on it, each side of the square features a different scene from the Nativity story. She Embroidered it for me when we were first married, it might have been my first married Christmas present. I've used it every year.

Even tho there is a Santa OBSESSION in the house, the focus is NOT on presents, or rather, it's in the GIVING THE present. We do things a little differently. My children only receive one gift each from me, and it's hand made. I put a lot of thought into them. My husband only gives each child one gift, it's not hand made, but there is equal thought put into them. Each child only gives each sibling one present (except for the baby, she's too little to give yet) and they are all hand made. And they do 90% of the making, I only step in if there is need. Santa only brings each child ONE gift, it's something larger than Mom or Dad would have gotten. We are usually more excited to find out if the person we worked so hard making a gift for likes it as much as we hoped, than we are in opening our own. Not to say that they aren't excited to find out what is in their boxes, because there is much planning, scheming, and plotting, sometimes for months on the gifts. It's just nice to see you're work well loved. When DS#2 opned his gift from DD#1 and got his "very own Harry Potter Wand JUST LIKE DD#1 and DS#1!!" Everyone was beaming with the thoughtfulness of this well thought out gift. (a couple years before DD#1 and DS#1 had made and received wands from each other, I knew about it, it was epic) When we go on our annual trip to the toy store for "MY" present and everyone (from mom and dad to the baby) picks out a toy that they would WANT and then, everyone hands their toys to the soldiers (and no one has ever complained) for Toys for Tots, THAT is Christmas.

It's not in the "what did you GET" it's in the "what did you GIVE".

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

All I want for Christmas is My 20 doz Cookies

I've been gone a while. Let's just pretend that didn't happen.

I'm going to talk about my FAV holiday now, CHRISTMAS, and yes I know it's a bit late, cause it happened 2 weeks ago. I don't care. And since I'm participating in a blog once a day everyday for January I'll spread the post holiday love out over the next few days.

Today will be about COOKIES! cause who doesn't love cookies?

When I married DH I got all sorts of FUN traditions also, like the annual Christmas cookie bake. If we lived back home, we would all go to Grandma's house with at least 2 kinds of cookie dough pre made, and maybe the stuff we need for one other project, like chocolate pretzels, or what I like to call snow balls, or candied pecans, you get the idea. By "we" I mean, Grandma, Dh's mom, Me, Dh's Aunt, Dh's other Aunt and any other female relatives in town. We'd spend all day baking, and then lay the cookies out on the 2 tables in tins and the assemble trays to pass out to our perspective neighbors/coworkers/church goers/ friends/ whomever we wanted to give cookies to as a present.

I was thrilled to be included, in High School I invented a cookie. All my teachers asked me to make it when there was a class party, it was enjoyed by all my friends when they came over. I was a SHOE IN!

You should have seen my cookies for the first 4-5 years we were married. TERRIBLE things! I don't know why they had me join them, or put my "creations" on their trays. Not that they tasted bad, they were just more like "free form cakes" than cookies. And I was watched over too, recipes read to me, steps hovered over. NO ONE knew what I was doing wrong.

My early success in HS was an oatmeal based cookie, and these were all flour based travesties.

I'm glad there is no evidence of my early failures (or maybe there is, and please feel free to post with a linked pic if you have them ladies!)

I've always baked cookies for Christmas with my kids, but I cheated, stuck to oatmeal cookies or amped up store bought things. Slowly I got back into trying from scratch again. I'm not sure when the tide turned, or how. All I know is I'm now the cookie lady as well as the scone, soup, lasagna, steak, bread lady!

This year we had the Missionaries over to help with the baking, to "teach them" how to bake, but mostly to have fun. They are so far from their families and their own traditions that I thought it would be fun to have them over. We had 2 Japanese Sisters, 4 American Elders, and a Senior Married American Couple. Quite a full house with my family of 6! Some of them were taking pictures, and I'll ask them if it's all right to post them here on my blog when I see them on Sunday, for now you just get to see the finished product! We made 11 tins, and I had 3 Tupperware containers overflowing in the house (there are still a few cookies in the house).

When they all left I made Sugar cookies too, cause those are DH's fav, and somehow they didn't make it in the pic! LOL.

We made (from Top Left down, then from Top Right down) Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Chip, Monster Cookies. Peanut Butter balls (one dipped in chocolate and one not) Snow balls, Holiday Bliss, Snicker Doodles and Chocolate dipped Pretzels with sprinkles.

The Chocolate Mint recipe I just got from Food network (it uses chopped Andes mints) Same for the Snicker Doodles, the Chocolate Chip is DH's sisters recipe (don't know if I can give that out here?), the Pretzels are self explanatory.

Snow Balls: a jar of peanuts, a bag of chopped pecans, a bag of dried cranberries, stirred into 2 (or 3 I can't remember) bags of melted white chocolate chips. I melt my chocolate in the microwave, in bursts of 15 seconds, stirring in between, so as not to burn the chocolate (takes a couple minutes total). Drizzle with dark melted chocolate for contrast (and cause I had some left over from the pretzels).

Holiday Bliss: a double batch of sugar cookie dough, a bag of dried cranberries, a bag of dried apples (chopped), a Tbs of cinnamon. (I died them green for Christmas, but usually they're beige). scoop out and flatten, bake like you would a sugar cookie.

Monster Cookies (the cookie I invented in HS!): in a LARGE MIXER start with peanut butter cookie batter, add in oatmeal cookie batter (just follow basic recipes, but add whole eggs not egg whites or egg yolks, you'll need the extra moisture) add 1 bag chocolate chips, 1 bag toffee bits (or, and this is better, 1 box crushed peanut brittle), 1/2 bag shredded coconut. scoop bake 12 min, should be soft when removed and allowed to finish on hot pan out of oven.

well that's it! Tomorrow I'll talk about decorations, and after that I'll start clearing out all the random food pics I have on my hard drive! And I've had a request to talk about crazy Japanese candy. so looks like I"ll have a lot to talk about for a while!

OH!!! AAAANNNNDDD I get my MRI results for my stinking ankle in the morning so we'll finally know what's going on with that, so maybe I can start walking like a normal person? I'm not holding my breath tho!