Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Weekend


Cute, huh? Just a few things about this.

1. It was cold. Not just the air, but the water. Sunday was a little on the chilly side, hence the sweatshirt and jeans. But it was warm enough for bare feet. It was prime time to set up the pool. But what fills up a pool? Hose water is what. Ice cold hose water. Did I think she would jump in? Nope. But she did.

2. Who is this red-haired little girl? Her hair wasn't red in real life. It wasn't red before this picture or after, but in it, she is straight-up red headed.

3. This is the only time she has spent in this pool since.



Splash.


Avery joined right in. Fun times here, folks. And early onset hypothermia. No biggie.


A cold, wet day led to a warm, dry night. Hot dogs over the fire for supper? Yup. Oh, and maybe a beer or two consumed by the adults. It's memorial day weekend for cry-eye!


Smores in the wagon? Fo sho. The wagon is our don't-get-to-close-to-the-fire-security-system. Works like a charm.


Monday, we wake up to 80, sunny, and humid. But just because it is hot outside, doesn't mean the pool is hot. It was a balmy, I mean, frigid, 54 degrees. That's four degrees hotter than the day before.


Later in the afternoon, the pool warmed up to a whopping 65 degrees and topped off at just below 70 by the end of the day. Still too cold for me, that's for sure. And apparently for Kendall too. She stuck to the kiddie pool. And her little red rocking chair.


Oh, and the feet-dunking bucket set up by the pool to limit grass intake was her permanent fixture for the day. And today, when the water was 72 degrees, and still too cold for the princess, she still stood in the bucket of cold hose water. But whatevs. As long as everyone is happy, that's all that matters.

I hope everyone had a splendid Memorial Day. We did. It was filled with pool fun, friends, family, food, lemonade, and relaxing. But as my very eloquent cousin said yesterday, "Today is not about burgers on the grill, cold beers, spending time with friends and family, or a day off of work but about remembering the men and women who have provided us with the freedoms to do so." I thank you Andrew Tesch for the wonderfully said words.

Asparagus Tart

With the onset of nice and even nicer weather, I have been spending less and less time showing you all what we have been eating in this joint. Every time I have a minute to sit down and create a post, I either get interrupted, find something else to do, or take a nap myself. Hey, the days outside take a lot of out of this girl. We have all been sleeping like babies, especially the babies!

So, today, or should I say, tonight, I am feeling the motivation. Mostly because Deadliest Catch is on. Now don't get me wrong. I love me some Sig but I don't get absorbed into the show. It's not like it's The Real Housewives of Anywhere. Those shows suck me in. Totally. And I am guessing that soon some Flipping Out with my all time favorite, Jeff Lewis, is going to start on Bravo. Did you know I love me everything Bravo? Well, I love it all. But I really love Jeff Lewis. Like, borderline obsessive. He has given me some of the best lines a TV show has even supplied me with. I won't share them with you because they may be offensive, but that is why I love him.

OK. So back to food. A few weeks back, I made this asparagus tart. It was so good. I love asparagus. I love it in all forms. And this was something different and new, but best of all, super easy. So, without further ado, here's how to make it.



First, in a small fry pan, swirl some extra virgin olive oil in the bottom and add a few cloves of garlic sliced up. Put the pan on medium heat and let the awesomeness from the garlic infuse into the oil. And if you are neurotic, first scrub down your stove top so there aren't water-over-boiled spots on in. And get a better pan than this. It's what I have. And it does what it is suppose to do, so I am good.

Let that sit there just getting all nice and delish for about eight minutes. Not five. Not ten. Eight. No, you can do it more or less depending on how much garlic flavor you would like.


Next, take a sheet of puff pastry that you thawed out and place it on a pan. I put a square sheet on a circular pan, but that's how I roll. Mostly because this pizza pan will fit in my dishwasher easier than a cookie sheet. Yes. I am lazy. I really dislike washing dishes, like, with a passion.


Brush your oil over the puff pastry. I rock it frozen puff pastry style because puff pastry is really hard to make. You need space, time, space, and patience. Just a few things I don't have. So I let Pepperidge Farm do the dirty work for me. In case you have never bought puff pastry sheets before, they are in the freezer section of your grocery store, usually by the frozen fruits, Cool Whip, and such.


Slice an onion thin...really thin. Almost paper thin. I only ended up using half an onion but mine was a biggin.


Trim your asparagus. I used a whole bunch. Lay them out all pretty like.

To trim the asparagus, hold one up, grabbing it at each end and bend it. It will snap somewhere closer to the end. Lay that piece next to the rest of the bunch and cut them all right there. If you have time and just want to hang out for a bit, you could snap each one. I like to do that. I also do that with green beans. I could totally just take bunch and cut them all but  I prefer to sit there and snap each bean individually, on both sides. Anywho. Just trim up your ass-pa-grass in whateva way you choose.


Lay your onions all nice and perrty over the asparagus. Then, I forgot to take a picture, but sprinkle the entire top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Don't be shy with it. As "they" say, cover it liberally. And by "they," I mean, all the cool cook-type chef people.


Bake that puppy at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes. It's just like pizza. Bake it until the cheese is all melted and bubbly and the puff pastry is golden brown. Cut it into squares and go to town on it.

If you wanted to make this a main dish instead of a nibbler, you could put some Alfredo sauce down instead of the oil, scatter some cooked chicken breast over the top, and use a little mozzarella and make a sort of pizza. I was going to do that but then I didn't. I just made chicken breasts marinated in Italian dressing to serve with it.

Got some asparagus to use? I bet you do! Well, here's the deets on how to make this scrumptiousness:

Asparagus Tart

Ingredients

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
a swirl of extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus
1 onion, thinly sliced
A few handfuls of shredded Parmesan cheese

Sorry these are not specific measurements but it all depends on how much onion and cheese you would like. You can do it.

In a small saute pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and let sit for about eight minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the puff pastry on a baking sheet. Brush with garlic infused oil.

Top the puff pastry with asparagus, onion, and cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes. Cut and mow down.


I promise we have been eating food here for hte past few weeks. I have a few recipes sitting here for you. I just am waiting for the time to write them up and share. Be patient, folks. They are a comin'!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Magical Musings from Kendall

video

Today has been a bad day. It started off on the wrong foot, continued to waiver, and finally went all the way down hill. Nothing serious. Just a day where it all, every single thing, piled up. BUT. But, I did catch this awesome video during a lull in bad-dayness.

After I had my first daughter, I would ask other parents when their kids started saying "I love you." The census was about three. Well, that was not going to work for me. I need it earlier than that. Avery said it shortly after turning one and a half. She was pretty speedy with the vocab. She has the gift of gab. I wonder where she gets that from?!?! Well, Kendall is about three months shy of turning two. She has been saying it for a few weeks now, but I am really the only person who can understand it. But to me, that was waaaay good enough. Today, though, today she decided to say it and say it amazingly well. So, I grabbed the video camera and repeated it...one million times! My favorite is when she whispers it. I taught her that. Yeah, that's right. I did. I am patting myself on the back right now.

So, anyway. When or if you have a bad day, just listen to the musings of a cute little girl and your smile shall return. It's magic like that.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Bowling

What is a better way to spend a rainy Saturday than to head to the bowling alley? We packed up the kiddos and headed on out.

She was very interested in the ball return.


Good form, home skillet.


Did you know they make itty bitty bowling shoes for little nuggets like this? I was not aware of this, but they do. She looks thrilled, huh?


You see that spare right there? Well, I'd love to take credit for that, but it was Avery's spare! I almost slipped when I was celebrating.


Kendall's turn. Her technique was a little different. She used her whole body. But girlfriend does have an amazing arm so that ball flew!

video

I think we have a pro bowler on our hands.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How We've Been Rollin'

Well hello there! Sorry we've been gone for a while. It's just been so nice outside that we have been enjoying it to the max. I have about five recipes to share but you are going to have to wait for those. Here is what we've been up to lately:


First, we got this little gem the other day. In five days, this hammock has taken over our lives. It is beyond comfortable. Avery has pretty much declared the hammock as her own, but girlfriend better be up for a battle of epic proportions! The best thing is, all three of us can fit in it together.


See? We have some intense conversations in this hammock. Oh, and we sing. We sing loud and proud. Well, mostly during the middle of the day when none of our neighbors are home. But we sing, nonetheless. And the other night, it was prime campfire weather. So Avery and I carried the fire pit over to the hammock side of the yard and chilled fire side. It was glorious.


So I got this super cool app on my phone to edit and process pictures. It is so much fun! I love this picture. Kendall looks so cute and silly!


So, I learned how to use the lawnmower last week. I have now mowed three times. I have elevated from amateur to pro status. Except, this happened. The stinking wheel of the mower got into the pot and BAM! Poor pot. Poor flowers. Poor ego. I have recovered, the pot has not.


We took our first trip of the year to our local ice cream joint the other day. The girls got some Blue Moon. Did you know that Blue Moon ice cream is suppose to taste like Froot Loops cereal? Me either, until I read the description that day. But anyway, K-Dawg was less concerned with ice cream since it was "rush hour" and there were a multitude of trucks driving by. And buses. And tractors. "KRUCK! KRUCK!"


There's that hammock again. This was girlfriends first time relaxing in the hammock. At first, she was a little skerd. But once she discovered the awesomeness, she was hooked.


Circus acts.


I have no idea what was going on here. But that cracks me up!


Oh, and because I have to continually make sure I am earning my Mother of the Year title, I obviously let Kendall climb the slide. It took two days for her to get to the top. Now that she has mastered the technique, she is going up and down, up and down, up and down, aaaaand up and down. She will not climb the ladder so now that she climbs the slide, I don't have to lift her up 174 times a day which allows me more hammock time. You see how that works?
Allowing your kid to do a dangerous maneuver + getting to the top of the slide by herself = more hammock time for the mommy


This is what I will be doing for the next four months. I suppose I will get up every once in a while to make food, but that's it!


Shoes, shoes everywhere. In the house, Kendall tries on every single pair of shoes over and over. Outside, Avery has to have a wardrobe change 83 times an hour and the shoes just pile up.

Alright. So here's the recap.

There's a hammock. Kendall climbs slides. I run over flower pots with mowers. Avery changes her shoes a lot. Picture editing apps are amazing fun.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tumble Bunny

video

Who can somersault? Kendall can, that's who! All of a sudden, just like that, in a flash, homegirl was flippin' over and over....and over.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Field Trip

Last week, Avery had an all day field trip. It was a big day. She had her first long bus ride. She was eating lunch with her friends. That was  big deal to her. I think she was more excited about eating a brown paper bag lunch than anything. She was also excited that she was going to be there all day long. Most importantly, she wasn't going to have to take a nap. I did not get to go. There were enough parent helpers. At first I was sad. But that quickly changed to excitement for her. She was so pumped to be able to spend the day with her friends. 

 So Kendall and I had an entire day alone. What are two girls with an entire day to kill going to do? Well, I will tell you. We went to the Madison Children's Museum and it was awesome. She was there before but it was with Avery. So when we go there, she did this for about 5 minutes:


Of course, she brought in her sunshades. She just stood there, taking it all in.


Since she wasn't really letting me put her down, I took her to the roof. She dug it up there, for sure.


This was her favorite thing. She would hold onto the railing and put her head against the glass and giggle. And it was at this moment that I realized her shirt was on backwards. Yup. That's right. I guess I was so stoked that her hair went up into a ponytail that I didn't pay attention that her shirt was on wrong.


Climb, plop down, climb, plop down, repeat 100 times.


Note that her shirt is on the right way now. We had to make a pit stop and I quick flipped it around.

Shakey shakey shakey! These blocks were filled with colorful and sparkly water. Fun times.


An artist in the making.

If you haven't been there, go. It is super cool. So much to do. We spent almost 2 hours there and still didn't even play with every thing. Well, that's mostly because homegirl only wanted to do a few things.

A Needle in a Haystack? Nah, I'll Take a Fork.


Doesn't that look good? Well, trust me when I say it is. There are many different variations of Haystacks but the basic concept is the same: deliciousness piled on top of Frito's chips and topped with whatever your little heart desires. This is a super fast, super easy, super cheap, super yummy meal that I thought I'd share with you. The recipe comes from Eric's mom who got it from her sister and brother-in-law.

Haystacks

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 can cream of onion soup
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can refried beans
1/2 cup water

Brown the beef and drain. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and heat through.

Serve over a bed of Frito's chips. Top with lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, sour cream, or whateva you want! And if your kids are anything like my kids, make sure you have enough black olives!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Our Parisian Chef

Last night, Avery was serving us "food" from her restaurant, and we learned many, many things about her that we never knew:

She is going to be a chef and her restaurant is going to be called Chef's Good Food.

She has a pet tiger in her restaurant. He is very nice. He eats all the leftover food so there is no waste. He likes his ears itched. He will growl if you don't share you food with him, but he is really nice.

She is actually from Paris. She is just here visiting me, her aunt, and Eric, her uncle.

In Paris, she has 2 sisters and 2 brothers. Their names change.

Her Mommy in Paris is really nice. She only has plastic toys because if she has glass ones, she drops them and breaks them.

Her Paris Daddy is nice.

In Paris, she has 3 pets: a dog, a cat, and a deer.

Her Paris cat's name is Felicia.

All of her pets are girls and they are all having babies this year. All of the dads live with her, too.

She is going back to Paris today and I, apparently, am responsible for driving her to the airport.

In Paris, when it's nice out, they have a fair. And they get to go every single day.

There are no fall or winter holidays in Paris because it is always summer there.

Oh, and it takes an entire year to fly from here to Paris.

In Paris, they get to eat Goldfish crackers and chocolate whenever they want.

So far, that's all the information we got from our Parisian niece, Avery. If there's more, I will pass the information on to you.

Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Just Another Day at the Office


Our very first piggy tails!! I was excited. She was not. The tears were not from the piggy tails though. They were because she really wanted to go for a walk, which we were totally going to do. She just wanted it to happen immediately, like before I even had the garage doors open and her bike out. I was just moving too slow. So since she was already mad, I figured I had the perfect opportunity to get her to sit down so I could take her picture with her cute new 'do. We promptly went on a walk after this. We saw a bunny. She didn't care so much because there were big "crucks." In Kendall language, that is truck. She's obsessed. She doesn't discriminate either. She loves semi trucks, dump trucks, tanker trucks, cement trucks, and just your run of the mill pickup truck.


These beautiful tulips grew next to our house. Homegirl carried that vase around for a long time. She was pretty stoked we had such beautiful flowers growing at our house.


And then we went in the sandbox. It was wet. So we were getting all covered in sand. So I thought to myself, "Why don't we get down the little pool and put a bucket of hot water from the tub in it to clean ourselves off with?!?" Well, as soon as that water got in that tub, butts were down on the ground and the splashing started. It was fun. I mean, what isn't fun about swimming in May on a random Tuesday in your clothes when it's 80 degrees out? Not too much, I'd say.


There they are again. Gorgeous. Alright. Nice chatting with you folks, but I have a chocolate cake in my kitchen calling my name. And it's nap time. So I don't have to share! MUAH HA HA!!!

It's Spicy Ketchup! Or is it Catsup?

 Remember back in the day when some forms of ketchup were called catsup? Catsup. Say it with me...catsup. It's kind of really fun to say. Catsup. Catsup. You know when you say a word over and over and it starts to lose all meaning and sounds like your are speaking alien jibberish? That just happened. So I am going to stick with ketchup.

Now, another burning question. Have you ever thought your ketchup was missing something? I mean, it is pretty amazing as is. Don't mess with perfection, right? But I like the spice. So why not add spice to ketchup? I searched for some base recipes and molded the basics into this little ditty.

P.S. Don't be skerd. It's really easy. Like, screwing a light bulb in easy. Trust.


First, you need some of these.


Grab your blender and puree them up a bit. WHOOSH WHOOSH! Oh, and get some crackers out for the audience you might have stop in here and there. And in case anyone was wondering, my sweet $5ish white rubber watch is still making me happy!

Don't put your blender away yet, though. We are going to need that puppy again.


Next, heat some oil in a pan and saute some onions. They don't need to be cut all perfect. We are going to blend them up later.


Look at those beauties. Throw some garlic in the mix. Stir the whole bit around for a second.


Time for the good stuff. Add the tomatoes you blended up, brown sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, salt, mustard, crushed red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper.


Mix it all up and increase the heat to high. Bring it all up to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally.


This is what it looks like after 45 minutes. It gets nice and thick, almost catsup like, or ketchup like.


Pour the mixture into the blender and let it rip. You want it to be smooth.


I put some on this little guy for easy spooning access and the rest in one of the 752 squeezie bottles I have. Using a squeezie bottle for it's intended purpose. Who would've though people ACTUALLY use them for ketchup?

You can store your spicy ketchup in the fridge for a month. We have used ours on french fries, turkey burgers, regular burgers, hot dogs, and brats. It is delectable in all situations. It would also be good mixed with a touch of mayo on your lunch time sammie.

If your weather is anything like the weather we are getting, you are going to be firing up that grill more and more often. Try this ketchup with your grilled goodness.

Spicy Ketchup

Ingredients

Swirl of extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (white or apple cider will work)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon, but yellow would work)
2-3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (depending on the level of heat desired)
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne (again, depending on the level of heat desired) 
(NOTE: I used the low end for both and the ketchup was just noticeably spicy. In the future, I would probably go somewhere in the middle. Start with less and add more when you are blending if you taste it and it is not spicy enough. Remember though, it will get spicier as it sits. Peace out.)

Puree the diced tomatoes in the blender. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes. Toss in the garlic. Stir for a minute.
Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
Increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the mixture from the heat and blend until smooth.

Eat it up, folks.