30 September 2012

Multitasking


See?  Men can multitask.
(So don't ever let them tell you different).
Does he look a little tired?  Take pity on him--by the time I snapped this photo, he'd gone to a career fair, helped do some work around the property and fed the animals only to later rush me to the hospital, hold my hand while I gave birth in the wee hours of the morning, had two fantastic interviews with major employers on two hours of sleep. taken care of two slightly crabby older sisters and managed to fulfill my every whim while by my side.  And that was just in the twenty-four hours surrounding baby Kate's arrival.



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28 September 2012

Lasagna Rolls

This is a fun recipe I stumbled upon and decided to give a try.  It's a different take on lasagna but still is hearty and satisfying.  If you're not in the mood for chicken, the rolls could also be stuffed instead with meatballs or another more "traditional" beef, cheese or veggie lasagna filling.  However they're made, they'll turn out delicious.

 Ingredients:

3 cups chicken, chopped and cooked
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup feta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons parsley
1 Tablespoon basil
Salt and pepper to taste
8 lasagna noodles, cooked
2 cups spaghetti sauce

Combine the chicken, cheeses, milk, salt, pepper, basil and parsley.
Spread one cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan.  Fill each lasagna noodle with a generous portion of the chicken filling, roll and place seam side down on the spaghetti sauce.
Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and some Parmesan if desired.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from iVillage.

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27 September 2012

Welcome Baby Kate!

“When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home out of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies” (E. T. Sullivan The Treasure Chest).
Welcome Baby Kate!

25 September 2012

Pony's Husker Game Day Adventure

A few weekends ago, we went back to Nebraska to visit family and fellow UNL band alums for our yearly tuba get together (that's right, I played the tuba!).  In the excitement of our visit, we headed home without one of Evelyn's newest prized possessions: a black and white stuffed horse that was actually gifted to Claire as a big sister gift but to which Evelyn immediately claimed.  Evelyn forgot the little pony strapped in grandma's little doll stroller so for the next three and a half hours back to Iowa, I listened to her teary pleading and insistence that we had to go back.  If that weren't enough, she's been reminding me every day since that I must remind grandma to bring it when she visits.  Frankly, I'm afraid I may suffer a breakdown listening to much more badgering from Evelyn so I frequently pass on the reminders to my mother.
Margaret visited everyone from the baton twirler, grandpa, one of the drum majors, a CMB alum, grandma, the cops, the band director and Der Weiner Schlinger man.
Apparently Pony, who Evelyn informs me is named Margaret, was not content to stay home, tucked away in a suitcase.  Instead, she decided to get some fresh air and accompany my mother, who works as a secretary for the UNL band, to a Husker home game.  Margaret appears to have had a fabulous time.
Margaret hung with cheerleaders, the drumline, the band and even made it out to the 50 yard line N.
At first, Evelyn was distraught to see so many people holding her pony (though I kept reminding her it was in fact Claire's) until she realized grandma was orchestrating the entire thing.  Then the whole outing was hilarious.
Margaret learning to play the sousaphone.
After the big Husker game day adventure, Evelyn and Claire perused the photos grandma sent a few more times, giggling at each one.  Later when the girls were tucked in bed, Evelyn once again sternly reminded me, "Don't let grandma forget to bring back the pony."
Lil' Red got hungry but don't fret--grandma saved Margaret.
For my own sanity, I sure hope she doesn't.
Poor Margaret.  All tuckered out after her big day.

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22 September 2012

Backfired


Alice has quickly become known as the Houdini of our farm because she has the uncanny ability to escape anything she's confronted with.  She leaps fences, wriggles out of harnesses and squeezes out of chain-link dog fences.  Thank goodness she's addicted to sweet feed--it makes it a lot easier to wrangle her back into her enclosure when she's discovered escaped.
And where is Alice?  Not in the confinement.
But every once in a while, her plan backfires.
Her cute little horns were her downfall--she got her head through but it was too much of a trick to pull them back through and was consequently stuck on her knees for a few hours until she was discovered.  Oddly enough, she hasn't tried escaping since.  It must have been a huge blow to Houdini's confidence.

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20 September 2012

Crock Pot Black Bean Enchiladas


I love a good enchilada recipe and this one is not only delicious, it's healthy too!  Plus, it can be made in a crock pot or in the oven and the leftovers can be frozen for a future meal.  It also can be a vegetarian meal depending on whether or not you want to include meat.  Needless to say, these enchiladas are versatile!

Ingredients:

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, grated and divided in half (cheddar, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, etc)
2 jars salsa or enchilada sauce
12 6 to 8 inch corn or flour tortillas
1 cup cooked meat (ground beef, shredded chicken, pork, etc) (optional)
In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients (including the meat, if using) except half the cheese and the salsa/enchilada sauce.  Pour 1/2 jar of the salsa or enchilada sauce in the bottom of the crock pot.  Fill the first four tortillas with the veggie filling, roll and place side by side in the crock pot.  Cover with about 1 cup of salsa/sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
Continue layering filled tortillas, salsa and cheese for two more rows.  Turn the crock pot on high for 2 to 4 hours (or low for 6 to 8 hours).  Serve hot!

If you'd rather bake these in the oven, place the enchiladas in a 9x13 pan and cover with salsa.  Place aluminum foil over pan and bake at 400F for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Enjoy!
(Thanks to The Kitchn for the recipe inspiration!)

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Pony Ride

After dinner, we decided to head out and enjoy the nice weather.  We collected some rocks, found the eggs in the hens' nest box, moved the goat's cage to fresh grass and ran with abandon.  Then Claire wanted a pony ride from daddy, so he obliged.  The only thing funnier than watching Jack amble across the yard on his hands and knees with a delightfully squealing Claire on his back was the reaction of the horses:
Of all the things to spook at, a dad imitating one of them is apparently the freakiest.

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19 September 2012

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars


Here's another recipe I tried out on friends and it was very well received (I think the only one who was disappointed was Jack because he didn't get more than one bar).  There's a little bit of preparation involved but it is well worth the effort, as anything involving cheesecake is!
Ingredients:

Crust 
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F.  Line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper, spritzed with cooking spray.  Combine ingredients and press into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for about six minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.
 
Filling
 
10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend ingredients until smooth.  Pour evenly over baked crust.


Cookie Dough

5 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Blend together all ingredients except flour and chocolate.  When the butter and sugar mixture is well combined, slowly add in flour.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls over the cheesecake mixture.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until set.  Drizzle melted chocolate over the top after cooled.
Enjoy!

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18 September 2012

Nail Lips



Nail Lips is a common condition that occurs when there's no one around to hand you nails so you've got to tuck them in your lips.  Often, it results in dark strips across the upper and lower lip that can be embarrassing should you answer the door without first checking yourself in the mirror.
Who knows?  It could become the next fashion trend, like tool belts.


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Monster Cookie Bars

This past week was filled with parties and get-togethers which begged the chance to try out a few new recipes on friends and family (thus preventing me from being stuck with an entire pan of goodies to deal with!).  I have been eyeballing these Monster Cookie Bars for a while and in a rush to make a treat before heading out of town, decided it would be a good idea to make these.  I'm happy I did.  They are facile and so yummy.

Ingredients:

9 graham crackers
4 Tablespoons butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cups plain M&Ms
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper spritzed with cooking spray.  Crush the graham crackers in a gallon sized Ziplock bag to a uniform size.  Add in the butter and microwave for about thirty seconds or until melted, then mash the graham crackers and butter together.  Turn out onto the parchment-lined pan and press firmly and evenly.  Spread the sweetened condensed milk over the top of the crumbs.
Sprinkle the oats, M&Ms and chips over the top of the graham crackers and gently press down.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until browned and heated thoroughly.
Enjoy!
 (Thank you to Farm Girl Recipes for the delectable recipe!)

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14 September 2012

Tip: Freezing Bananas

When you've got a batch of ripe bananas, simply peel them, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag.  Then when you're ready to whip up some chocolate chip banana muffins or a citrus berry smoothie, the bananas will be all ready (and not stuck together or with an icky black skin)!

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13 September 2012

Chicken and Veggie Couscous


I have loved couscous ever since I was introduced to it a few years back in Montreal.  It's nice to have something a little different than just rice and when combined with some cooked chicken and sauteed veggies, it's a complete meal!

Ingredients:

1 chicken breast, cooked and diced (this is a great recipe for leftover chicken)
1 box seasoned couscous (use whatever flavor you like--it'll be delicious whatever the seasonings)
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tablespoons oil
Sesame oil (optional)
Prepare couscous according to package directions.  Meanwhile, saute veggies in a hot frying pan with oil until tender.  Add the cooked chicken.
When the couscous is finished, combine with the chicken and veggies.  Stir until all ingredients are well combined.  Drizzle with sesame oil if desired.  Serve hot.
Enjoy!


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