Friday, April 30, 2010

Pizza! Pizza!

In the past month we have made a couple of different pizzas, and two of them were just too yummy not to mention.  Up first: veggie pizza!  After we mastered the focaccia bread, the kids started asking if we could make pizza with it.  Genna had also been asking if we could try making our own pesto, so we decided to tackle both at the same time.  For the focaccia pizza crust, we just rolled it out on a larger pan so it would be thinner, and baked it for about 7 minutes prior to topping it.  For the pesto, we just mixed fresh basil, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.  (no pine nuts, I just didn't know with Isaac)  No measurements to share, we just tossed and blended until it looked and tasted right.  We then covered our pizza with slightly steamed broccoli and shredded carrots.  To top it off we sprinkled the whole thing with feta and baked it for another 7 minutes.  It was fantastic!  The kids devoured it!  There was only one slice left for Jeremy when he came home, and he too had only positive remarks about it.  (I thought it was rather funny that he said he didn't expect it would be nearly as good as it was considering it was loaded with veggies)  It is one that is certainly on our list of approved dinners now.

The second pizza we made was a fruit pizza.  I know lots of people make these, but I had never done it with my kids.  Thanks to Maui Mandy though and her wonderful sugar cookie bar recipe, which I will post at the end, we ended up with a fantastic dessert.  We made the sugar cookies, and when it was all cool, topped it with some cream cheese that had been mixed with a little vanilla and sugar, and then loaded up the fresh fruit. (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and kiwi)    I had doubled the cookie recipe, so we ended up with extra that we happily saved for breakfast the next day. Yum!

Maui Mandy's sugar cookies:  I just have to say how much I love this recipe.  I almost always have the ingredients on hand, and from the time you start to the time you are eating is only about 20  minutes!  When you have a house full of kids anxiously waiting for a sweet treat, the less time it takes, the better!  Here you go, enjoy!

3/4 C sugar
1/3 C margarine, butter (softened) or shortening. I used butter.
1/3 C oil
1 Tbls milk
1-2 tsp almond extract (the secret yummy ingredient!)
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour
1 Tbls sugar (for top)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, oil, milk, almond extract and egg ... until light and fluffy.
Stir in baking powder, salt and flour ... blend well.
Spread evenly in ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan (I used a larger stoneware bar pan).
Sprinkle with 1 Tbls sugar (and sprinkles if desired ... which we do!).
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool 5 minutes.
Cut into and serve.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

without fail, every time

Isaac has picked up a new phrase, and I can't help but crack a smile every time he says it.  The phrase? It's on like Donkey Kong!  He says it when he sits down to a meal he loves ("Ooohh, it's on like donkey kong!"), when he gets to add a sticker to his reward chart ("it's on like donkey kong! yeah!"), when he is angry (Oh it is ON like donkey kong...).  Each time is a little different and I just never seem to tire of it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The downside of cooking

Did you know there is a downside? Well, there is.  It's small, and a little funny, but it's there.  Lately I have been doing tons of cooking with the kiddos. We've made fresh cinnamon rolls, fancy pastas, fresh bread, gourmet soups, delicious pizzas, super sandwiches, baked sweet treats, ethnic feasts (Mexican, Asian, Italian....), American classics, delux salads, etc... etc... etc.....  Tonight however, I was exhausted.  I kept putting off making dinner in hopes that I would get a wind of energy and be able to whip up something, but it never came.  Finally I just told the kids we would all be eating cereal for dinner.  They looked at me like I had three heads. No joke.  Bella even asked, "is it homemade cereal?"  Nope Bella, it's not even healthy cereal. (Honey Comb for all you wonderers)  I don't know if they were trying to passively aggressively protest or were just starved from waiting for dinner for so long, but after the cereal they proceeded to eat pretty much all the "easy" foods in the house. (bagels, crackers, the rest of the cereal, applesauce, oatmeal.......)  Whatever the reason, I will restore sanity to their lives tomorrow; we'll either be trying out carrot soup (via the Pioneer Woman) or making up our own recipe for Israeli Couscous.  Once again all shall be right in their world.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

how does this happen?

Nahshon honestly thinks that Bella's name is Elijah, and Elijah's name is Bella.  I could see getting your grandma's names mixed up, or cousins you only see a few times a year; but your brother and sister you spend virtually every waking moment with???  I try to correct him every time, but he always tells me I'm the one who's wrong. Weirdo.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I guess I've reached "mom status" in his eyes

Isaac was playing Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii, and needed to take a potty break.  He set down his remotes and asked me to watch his game for him, but as he was leaving the room he looked over his shoulder at me and said "but you can't play, it's too hard for you".  OK, so it's true that I pretty much eat dust when I attempt to play this game, but yikes!  Is it awful that I want to challenge him to a game of Super Mario Bros 3 just so I can show him exactly how "bad" I am???

Monday, April 19, 2010

A sad day

We decided to head off to the zoo today (Elijah watched LIFE on the Discovery channel yesterday and couldn't wait to see the Komoto Dragons!), and Genna and I ran into a sad sight: the night exhibit is now closed.  (although if you were to ask Genna, she'd probably say the sad sight was that of the cute furry bunny in the snake habitat waiting to become dinner......yuck!)  I do recall hearing a while back that the day and night exhibits were going to close due to budget constraints, but thought it was a later date and had hoped that perhaps some private donations would come through and save it. I can remember going through the night exhibit when I was in elementary school, and I'm very blue it's no longer going to be there for my kids to enjoy.  We will certainly miss that long dark hall and little night critters.  :(

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Just realized Noah and Nahshon are going to have the exact same initials!

Nahshon Jeremiah C.
Noah Johnson C.

Oh well  :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bon Appetit!

Last weekend, out of the blue, Genna suddenly got very sick.  I'll spare you details, but trust me, it wasn't pretty.  After we got her cleaned up and settled on the couch with her bucket, I asked her if she would like me to put on a show on the computer to watch.  Genna has recently become a huge Julia Child fan, and asked me to put on old French Chef episodes from  When given her options from the available episodes, she chose one called Ellegance with Eggs.  Now, I'm not going to argue with a sick person about what television program to watch, but just the thought of watching something called Ellegance with Eggs after having a tummy episode like that, is enough to make me feel a little queasy!  She thoroughly enjoyed it though, and followed it up with an episode on how to make a spinach and mushroom tart.  (again, not something I would want to watch when sick!) What can I say, she's quirky.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I should have taken a picture

I decided I needed to do something new and fresh for lunch today, and so the idea was born for a caprise sandwich.  This was so delish, that nothing is left but crumbs and a few traces of vinegar.  I knew I should have taken a picture because it looked so lovely, but I didn't, and now that I know it was good enough to share I'm bummed I didn't grab my camera.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  For any of you interested in making this, here is what I did:

First, I baked up a loaf of focaccia bread.  I used the recipe I posted a couple days ago, but I added more herbs, a little more salt, powdered milk, and then salted the top of the bread with coarse sea salt.  I also baked it on a smaller pan so the bread would be thicker.  While the dough was still rising, I sliced up the tomatoes and laid them on a paper towel in the fridge to draw out the extra moisture so they wouldn't make the bread soggy once assembled.  After the bread was popped into the oven, I sliced up mozzarella cheese and choped up some fresh basil. (Jeremy brought home a bouquet of fresh basil last night......... that stuff is like catnip! Just from walking past it I feel like I should be cooking up an Italian feast. Genna loves it too, which just makes it all the more fun) You could just use whole basil leaves, but as much as I love basil, I prefer to chop it up rather than bite into a whole leaf.  Once the bread was done (I baked it for 13 1/2 minutes), I gently slid the whole loaf off the pan onto a cutting board and sliced the entire thing in half.  I left the two sides open on the counter for about 5 minutes to let it steam off, then layered on the tomatoes, topped with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (some of my kids love vinegar and some do not, so I kept it light.  Jeremy, Bella, Nahshon and I all added extra balsamic to our plates!)  Next came the cheese, fresh basil, and a bit more olive oil drizzled on the inside of the top slice of bread.  You could also add a bit of black pepper, but my kids are not pepper fans so I left it off.  I served the sandwich whole on a cutting board, so they could all marvel at it's awesomeness before we sliced it up.  They devoured it!  The one sandwich with nothing on the side was plenty to feed my entire family and leave them satisfied.

If you love caprise and Italian flavors (which many of you know I do!), try this sandwich on a lovely sunny day. You'll be glad you did!

Genna and Google- what stories are made of

A couple months back, Genna got her own laptop computer.  Since then, she has become rather proficient at using computer programs as well as the internet.  One of her favorite things to do is use a word document and write short stories.  Overall, she's a great speller for her age, but once in a while has to call me in for help. (usually when trying to spell Nahshon or Micaiah, but I can't fault her for that considering their own grandmothers don't know how to spell those names)  I hopped on her computer the other night after she had been writing for a while, and loved what I saw so much I had to take a screen shot:

Sadly, I don't think she found what she was looking for. (maybe I should suggest she try Bing?)  I love her ingenuity though!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the joy of boys

My boys, especially Isaac and Nahshon, are always doing things I find to be strange.  For the most part though I just shrug it off as part of growing up as an only child and not spending a lot of time with little boys.  Once in a while though, I think, my boys are just weird.  The latest example?  I overheard Isaac teaching Nahshon the most efficient way to pick boogers from his nose. And yes, there really was more than 1 step in his process.  These are the moments when I call in the professional; AKA: Dad. (while I have a good laugh sharing it on here for all of you) I really do love them with all my heart and appreciate the joy they bring this house, but just think, I'm only at the beginning.............

A Nice Day

Bella wrote this poem today, and was so proud of herself, I felt I should share it.  I was a little surprised because I have not done a poetry study with the kids yet, but we do read poems once in a while as part of our language arts. (Sandy Queen's language lessons)  Anyhow, here it is:

A Nice Day
By Bella

The trees were nice
Green and nice
And make a good leaf pile
The storms were nice
Just a little rainy
And a nice day
Until Tomorrow
A nice day
Jump in puddles
A nice soaking day
And when the sun shines
Nice and dry
Play in pools

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oh sweet mama........

......... was the sentiment my girls echoed nearly in unison when they tasted the fruits of their kitchen labors on Thursday night.

Confession:  I don't enjoy baking.

Worse confession:  Baking with my children drives me nuts.

I know, that sounds crazy.  How can any mom not enjoy baking with her kids?  After all, those moms on the Nestle commercials NEVER care when their kids spill a carton of eggs on the floor or accidently smear chocolate on the curtains.  I however, get frazzled.  The minute a bowl is out and a spoon is in my hand, there are 5 little people lined up and eager to help. (that's 10 extra "helping" hands.  Have you ever had to work with 10 extra hands, all in the same bowl? It'  I think I could probably be making anchovie and mustard bagels, and they would be excited to help.  I don't mind cooking with the kids, but I also find cooking to be a bit more forgiving than baking. (unless of course Nahshon is my sous chef.... we once made spaghetti sauce together, and I turned my back on him for 30 seconds to drain to pasta.  When I returned, the sauce was frothy and bubbling.  I still have no idea what he did that night, but I keep my eyes on him at ALL TIMES when he is in the kitchen now)  Anyhow, I strongly believe all children should leave home knowing how to care for themselves, so I bite the bullet, take my prozac (kidding! Although sometimes I wish...), grab my spoon and teach. Our last two baking projects though turned out delightful and delicious.  So much so, that we can't wait to make them again.

As most teachers, parents, and students can tell you, there is a mid year funk that happens sometime after Christmas.  The excitement of the holidays is past, the weather is gross, and everyone is just sort of burnt out- regardless if you home, public, or private school.  I think we've finally sprung out of our funk around here, and I wanted to do something new and special to keep the momentum going: cooking school!  I decided to spend a day in the kitchen with the kids, cooking, baking, learning knife safety, kitchen hygiene, properties of yeast, nutrition, how to follow a recipe, and anything else that came up.  We had a meal plan, but had to be scrapped at the last minute due to circumstances beyond my control. (*cough**Jeremy**cough*)  So, I searched the kitchen and decided on an Italian feast instead.  The menu: Italian herb and feta focaccia bread, fresh made marinara over pene pasta, and orange shortbread cookies.

The feast was delicious, but the focaccia bread was, oh my goodness, so very very good.  For me baking bread usually means throwing something together in the bread machine and coming back four hours later to savor the goodness.  This time however, we made it by hand, which is something I haven't done since I was a child. (I don't count banana or apple bread in this either, since that is about the same effort as baking cookies. Less actually)  It was so delightful, and surprisingly easy despite having to start over once because of something Nahshon did. (I WAS watching him, he's just so darn tiny and fast sometimes!)  I used two different recipes to guide me through the bread.  One was from this cookbook I have:
The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook
By Thunder Bay Press

The other was from here:

  • easy focaccia bread

  • For the top on ours, I sprinkled feta on one half, and coarse sea salt on the other.  Both sides were equally scrumptious, and we're planning to make it again tomorrow.  For the orange shortbread cookies, Genna grated fresh orange peel, and hand squeezed some satsumas we had in the fridge.  We put a bit of the squeezed juice into the dough, and used the rest the make a glaze with powdered sugar.  The cookies were very tasty, but are not the other baking project I was talking about when I said we made two that were wonderful.  The other project was a cake.  (the one I mentioned before Easter)  I decided I was going to bake a carrot cake for Easter, and wanting to improve upon my baking skills, I decided I was going to do it from scratch.  What you must know is that the last time I baked a cake from scratch was high school cooking class, and I've never made a two layer cake before, not even from a box.  I used a recipe found in this cookbook:

    Goodness Gracious: Recipes for Good Food and Gracious Living
    By Roxie Kelley and friends

    As silly as it may seem, I was rather nervous about making this cake.  I even had Jeremy pick up a box mix at the store in case mine ended in disaster.  I kept imagining it would be burnt around the outside but undercooked in the middle, that it would break apart when trying to stack the layers, the frosting would end up with clumps of butter and sugar that didn't get mixed in completely, and the entire thing would be riddled with flecks of crumbs all over that screamed of my inexperience.  I can happily report though, none of that happened!  The cake turned out great, and although a bit boring as far as decorating goes, there wasn't a wayward crumb in sight!

    All of this combined with a new found love of  The Pioneer Woman and Genna's obsession with all things Julia Child, we may have the start of a revolution!  A savory, decadant revolution at that!

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    She may be small, but she's fiesty!

    Tonight I overheard Bella say to Isaac:

    If you say anything else mean about girls, I'm just gonna show you what girls are all about......

    I don't know what was said to steam her up and provoke those words, but I know nothing else came out of his mouth for a long time after that.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Wow, that's a new one

    Over the last few years, I have noticed more and more people using shorthand that is nearly inappropriate for notes being passed in detention, let alone in their on-line communications.  Tonight though, I came across one that left me feeling rather baffled.  I was randomly browing Craigslist when I stumbled upon this little gem:

    plaese txt mii at 206-xxx-xxxx to send mii info

    Mii? Really?  As in, a Wii Mii? REALLY?  For those of you that may be lost right now, a Mii is a character you can create on your Wii system, and are used in some Wii games.  Like so:

    Not only is this not shorthand (the word me is shorter than mii), it's not even something that could be blamed as a typo. Wow. Let us hope this is not the future of America.........

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Good motivation, or..........?

    So, I'm getting ready to go bake a cake here in a few minutes (more on that later), and I'm getting myself motivated by browsing through one of my new favorite time killing blogs:

  • cake wrecks

  • Seriously, some of the stuff on there is downright hysterical. (some of them you  need to read the story that goes along with it)  There is also a handy topic list on the side bar if you want to skip straight to a certain area of awful.  Now, before you think I'm a cruel person that laughs at another's expense, let me tell you that all the cakes on this blog were made by "professionals".  They actually had the gall to charge for these! I would never laugh at a person's honest attempt to make a cake for a private gathering because, well, I'm not exactly a crackerjack with frosting either.  Take a peek though, it's good stuff. (sort of)

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Easter basket filling, my way

    A couple years back, I decided Easter grass was by far the worst product ever made that continues to be sold yearly.  It is truly atrocious.  I warned the Easter Bunny that if he did not find a better alternative, the children would recieve their very own "lucky rabbit's foot" in the following year's Easter basket.  And just like that, Easter grass suddenly became a garnish that was used very sparingly.  For any of you out there that share my disdain for the horrid stuff (both paper and plastic varieties), I thought I'd share what our Easter bunny came up with:  First, for a few weeks leading up to Easter, he saves any plastic bags he gets from shopping. Second, he gathers tissue paper. (could be plain white, could be anything leftover from past birthdays that match the basket, or could even be pretty pastels picked up at the dollar store).  Lastly, he gets 1, count it, 1, bag of paper Easter grass to spread between all the baskets.  He stuffs the bottom of the basket with some plastic bags, covers the bags with the tissue paper, fills in the larger goodies, then sprinkles a few bits of grass on the empty spots where the small goodies or candies will go.  You still get that fun Easter look but the kids don't have to dig through a thousand tiny strings for their jelly beans, and you don't have to worry about killing your vacuum or your dog.  Plus, you can reuse the plastic bags and the tissue paper!  It's a win-win for all, especially the bunny that gets to keep his feet.