Friday, May 29, 2009

Food Friday - Gorgonzola-Ham Strata

This is the meal that Phil made me for Mother's Day!
6 large slices sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 C cooked ham
1 red bell peppeer, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
2 C milk
3 eggs
2 T Dijon mustard
black pepper to taste
2 dashes bottled hot pepper sauce
4 oz (1/4 lb) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/3 C chopped toasted walnuts (optional)

  • Spray a 7x11-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Spread half of the bread cubes evenly on the bottom.
  • top with half of the cubed ham, bell peppers, green onions, and mozzarella cheese.
  • Spread remaining bread cubes evenly over cheese and top with remaining ham, peppers, onions, and cheese.
  • In a blender, process milk, eggs, mustard, pepper, hot sauce, and Gorgonzola until cheese is finely crumbled.
  • Pour mixture over casserole and sprinkle with walnuts (if desired).
  • Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight, covered.
  • Bake (uncovered) in preheated 350 degree oven 45 minutes (until golden brown and puffed).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's Your Preferred Reading Material?




Eden's is The Atlantic Monthly

Tutorial Tuesday - Musical Squares

If you have a laminator (or access to one)
and if you have a toddler or preschooler (and therefore not much time), then
this is a project for
you!



Materials List:
  • Several (you determine the number) pieces of cardstock cut to squares (approx. 6" x 6")
  • Glue
  • Desired Images (found on the internet, made by yourself, cut out of a magazine, etc.)
  • Laminator
  • Source of Music
  • Scissors
Instructions:
  1. Decide what you want to teach your child.
  2. Find images that will meet your need (shapes, letters, numbers, colors, etc. - see suggestions below).
  3. Cut cardstock to squares.
  4. Glue images to cardstock. (Suggestion: use both sides, I did shapes on one side and vowels on the other thereby getting two games out of one.)
  5. Laminate cards.
  6. Trim laminate as needed.
  7. Turn on the music.
  8. Dance.
  9. Stop the music and call out an image (e.g. "Triangle!") and watch your toddlers scramble to find the right card to stand on.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 until everyone is tired and ready for a nap.
video
I know, it sounds simple but toddlers LOVE it and it is a great way to teach. Depending on what you are trying to teach your child, you can put various images* on the game pieces. You can find free clip art online by simply doing a search such as "triangle clip art" and then click on "images" when the results pop up.

*Some Ideas for different types of cards:
  • Alphabet Cards
  • Various Animal Cards
  • Number Cards
  • Shape Cards
  • Color Cards
  • Scripture Cards (images from different scripture stories)
  • My Family Cards (pictures of different family members: aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.)
  • Simple Word Cards (CAT, DOG, HAT, etc. - you could include an image of the item too)
Another variation is to layer your images so that you have a yellow card with a cat and a "C" on it. That way you can call out the color, the animal, or the letter.

Be creative and share your ideas in the comment section.

P.S. Any wonderful suggestions for how I can clean up that fireplace (seen in the video)? We haven't used it and it is driving me nuts!

Monday, May 25, 2009

She Loves her Honey Bear

An Essay in Pictures





Saturday, May 23, 2009

New Feature Coming Soon

Bamafam has a new feature it is
Tutorial Tuesday!

Each Tuesday I'll post a tutorial of one sort or another. This will continue for as long as I'm amused by this feature.

I've been doing some fun things and thought that I might as well share. The thing is, I really enjoy the "traditional" homemaking arts. I love cooking and sewing and finding ways to economize by using it up wearing it out, making it do or doing without (a pioneer saying often quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley).

I am not a fussy girl though. I don't do much that is really involved. I do things pretty simply. That is what I want to pass along to others. You don't have to have "mad skilz" or a great design sense or a closet full of cute fabrics, papers, or glue guns to enjoy the art of homemaking.

So, this may last for a month or it may go on for weeks, months, and years. I guess we'll see. Of course, if you like this feature, leave a comment to encourage me to keep at it. We'll see how this goes...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Food Friday - Sour Cream Stuff

This is Phil's favorite family recipe. His parents make this and he loves it. I've made it a couple of times for him but I don't seem to quite capture the essence of his mom's cooking. Even with that caveat, I share this awesome recipe with you.

3 T oil
2 T diced onion
1 clove garlic - minced
1 1/2 lb round steak - cubed
1 C slice mushrooms
8 oz (1 can) tomato sauce
1 C sour cream
1 t Worcestershire sacue
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
6 medium potatoes, pared
6 medium carrots, scraped or pared

  • Put oil in large skillet, add onion, garlic and meat then brown about 7 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms, tomato sauce, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper - mix.
  • Heat to boiling.
  • Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Put mixture, potatoes, and corrots into crockpot - mix.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Could you answer my slone please?

Slone?

What is a slone?

That is a question I've had for the past few days as Eden has been calling our phones - slones. What is up? She has been saying phone for months and all of a sudden she is calling it a slone?

I panic.

What if she is having some weird degenerative hearing loss and she is losing language skill instead of gaining it? What if she has some neurological disorder that is making her lose vocabulary instead of build it? What is going on?

I chill. I wait. I observe.

Then this morning the light goes on in my head as Eden is doing a quick inventory of the items in her purse: "make up, suh-l-fone, muh-ny."

Wait! That's it! Then I realize that when she was in the clerk's office at church last night she wanted to use the "phone" she said it correctly. It is a land line. She knows how to say phone. This slone business is her way of saying "cell phone."

Brilliant (not me, it took four days for me to figure it out) Eden!

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Teach Me"

Lately, Eden's favorite song is "Teach Me To Walk in the Light." The words follow:

Teach me to walk in the light of His love.
Teach me to pray to my Father above.
Teach me to know of the things that are right.
Teach me, teach me, to walk in the Light.

Sometimes during the day she will just walk up to me and say, "teach me, momma, teach me."

No pressure or anything!

So, we try to teach her good things. We try to teach her that she is loved by Heavenly Father and so is everyone else. We try to teach her to love others and to be nice. We try to teach her that we love her no matter what. We try to teach her to be kind and to share.

Today, Kendal and Trey came over for a little while. Now, keep in mind that Eden will sometimes say (out of the blue) "I love Trey!" She seriously loves him and his sisters and his mommy. Today, however, she was not in the mood to share. Instead of "I love Trey" what I mostly heard was "Stop it Trey, that's mine." Trey was a very good sport and tried to keep his friend happy but Eden was just not going to be happy. It was so bad that she actually chose to take a nap two hours early when I told her she'd have to take a nap if she couldn't choose to be happy without one.

That is when I decided upon the topic for tonight's Family Home Evening lesson.

While she slept I prepared a lesson on sharing.

Here is my well executed lesson plan:
While holding hands and walking in a circle the three of us sang, "Sharing with friends is fun to do, fun to do, fun to do..." Then she got to insert her friend's names. We included Trey, then Bayley, next was Kendal, then Erin, and finally Corrie. Then I showed her pictures of children sharing toys and we talked about how happy they were. Finally I got out my sewing measuring tape (which Eden loves to play with) and I shared it with her, then Daddy shared his brush (she loves his brush for some reason) and then she shared a toy with both of us. We cheered and clapped and talked about how happy this made us.

See, I'm a good teacher!

Yeah, that is what I thought until I said, "so the next time Trey is here what are you going to do?" and she replied, "say STOPIT TREY, THAT'S MINE"

I guess I've got some work to do with this "teach me" business.

Happy Report

I thought you'd all be glad to hear that Happy has thus far remained true to his name. He is a happy little fish. He's doing well. This morning Eden awoke, ran into the family room, put her face up to the glass and said, "hi fishy, I missed you!"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Food Friday - Freezer Tips

Phil says that I'm the queen of freezing food.

As the Queen, I shall bestow upon you some wonderful tips about things that I've successfully frozen and then used. For me it is largely about convenience. I'm lazy like that.

  • I've already blogged about freezing cheese. See here for that.
  • I've already blogged about freezing fresh chicken strips or breasts so that they aren't all clomped together when you are ready to use them. See here for that. Also, this same concept works for pork chops or steaks or any other kind of meat.
  • Did you know that you can freeze fresh spinach? I wasn't sure so I did a little googling and found that about half the people said "no way!" and the other half were divided in the ways you could do it. Some said to blanch it first, some said it had to be fully cooked, but some said to just buy the washed and dried stuff and stick it in your freezer. I like that idea. I had just purchased a HUGE amount at Sam's Club and was anxious to not waste it. So I pulled out my trusty qt. sized freezer Ziploc (no, I'm not being paid) and made several serving-sized bags and threw them in the freezer. It worked great! Here is the important tip: don't thaw it out. Take it straight from the freezer and steam it immediately. I've made several batches of spinach pasta (see here for a great tutorial and recipe) and it really does work great. You can use it in anything that calls for steamed or cooked spinach. Obviously it doesn't come back well enough to use in a green salad or anything that calls for raw spinach.
  • I hate fatty hamburger. I've been paying the $4/lb for the really lean stuff but then I see the 80% stuff on sale for $1.50/lb and I think, "even when I subtract the weight of the fat it is a better deal." So what is a frugal-and-trying-to-be-healthier girl to do? Well, I bought the 80% and fried up the whole thing (several pounds). Then I drained and RINSED it to get all that yucko fat off. Then I took out the Ziplocs and created several bags of pre-cooked ground beef. This has been AWESME because I can pull it out to make any number of things (tacos, sloppy Joes, spaghetti, pasta bake, etc.) and my meat is already cooked. One less step for me and one less pan to wash for Phil. If this isn't a win/win I don't know what is. I got cheap meat, made it less unhealthy and I get the convenience of pre-cooked meat. Voila! (Oh, I still buy the expensive 95% stuff for those rare times we have hamburgers or some other recipe that won't work with pre-cooked hamburger - like meatloaf or something.)
  • Cottage Cheese freezes pretty well so if you find a good deal on it, stock up and put some in your freezer.
  • Butter freezes just fine so you can stock up on that too when there is a sale.
  • If you grind your own wheat into flour, you should freeze the flour that doesn't get used immediately. It retains the nutrients better in the freezer than at room temperature.
  • Bacon bits (either that you create or if you buy the big bulk bag) can just be kept in the freezer and then used as needed. They will last much longer in the freezer.
  • Yeast should be kept in the freezer and just used from there. This will keep your yeast much fresher and it will perform better for you. While we are on the topic of yeast, I highly recommend Fleishman's Yeast found at Sam's in bricks. I open one brick and dump it into a freezer Ziploc and then keep it in the freezer.
  • Freezer jam: it is so good. My only concern is that it requires so much sugar. I finally found some pectin that uses less. Now I buy Ball Freezer Jam pectin. It takes 1 1/2 C sugar to 4 C berries (instead of equal parts) and it is EXCEEDINGLY easy. Just follow the recipe on the pectin package.
  • My freezer also has lots of frozen veggies. Whenever there is a deal on frozen corn or beans or broccoli (Eden's favorite) or stir fry or whatever, I stock up.
  • Cake freezes great. Make cupcakes and freeze half of them for the next time. (Frosting freezes ok but it is messy so it works best to freeze them before frosting.)
  • Breads and rolls freeze pretty well too. This recipe freezes and then thaws out really great and tastes yummy after freezing too!
  • Pizza dough freezes well. This recipe is the one I use and it makes two pizzas. We don't eat two pizzas at a time and so I take half the dough and put it in a freezer Ziploc (really, no payment) and then I have a pizza crust just waiting to be used. Do not defrost in the microwave though. It will kill the yeast and your dough will be flat and tough. Take the dough out of the freezer at least two hours before you intend to use it.
  • And now, for my number 1 favorite thing in the freezer:
Ice Cream!

What's in your freezer?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Help! I need YOUR wisdom and experience!

...again.

We use plastic grocery bags as liners for all the garbage cans in our house. I've always thought this was a good way to reuse and it means I don't have to buy garbage liners. So now the new craze is to have reusable grocery bags. I like the idea of being green but then what would I use in my garbage cans? Does anyone have a good solution?

...and also...

We want to buy a grain mill. I've been using whole wheat flour in my baking. We love it. It is expensive though. Freshly milled flour retains more of the good stuff. We'd like to buy wheat and grind our own. Does anyone out there in cyberspace have a mill that they love? Do share. Please?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just Happy, Not Sad

Last Friday Eden and I went to feed the fish. They were looking at the ceiling. Eden's reaction?

"Just happy, not sad."

We bought two new fish, one has already died.

The remaining fish's name?

"Happy"

Let's hope that "Happy" stays that way.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Food Friday - Tortellini Soup

Boil one cup of cheese-stuffed tortellini in
1 1/2 C of water for about five minutes.
Add one can of Tomato soup. Stir

Optional: add Italian spices and/or some cheese

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

You don't say?

Eden is great with the compliments. Yesterday we were playing the "adjective game" (wherein I say, "is mommy ... fill in the blank with an adjective." It went something like this:

Me: Is mommy big?
Eden: Yes!

Me: Is mommy funny?
Eden: Yes!

Me: Is mommy .... pause to think of something
Eden: Cute? Yes!

Very nice.

*****

Today we were driving around and Eden suddenly said, "Who's that mom?"
Me: "Where?"
Eden: "Up there, oh fishies." It was then that I looked up in the sky and saw two huge helicopters. They do look like fishies. What a cool thought, these huge fishies flying around in the sky!

*****

Eden is kind of potty training. We haven't gone full speed ahead with it but she goes on the potty a few times a day. Just now at dinner she spilled some water on her shirt. It must have seemed like going pee pee because she said, "Oh, I'm a toilet!"
Phil: "you aren't a toilet!"
Eden: (with her most quizzical voice) "I'm a potty daddy?"

This kid cracks me up!!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Birthday Pictures

Birthday Pictures
(finally)

Birthday dinner: lasagna, cheese toast, broccoli

Swingin' with dad at the end of the day:

Eating the kitty cake:

Kitty and kittens:

Birthday bike ride:

This I Believe (too)

I believe in making bread.

I love the texture and taste of homemade bread. I love the smell of a well-cooked crust. I love knowing which ingredients I and my family are eating ... no mystery chemicals this time.

I especially love the excitement of my daughter when it is time to take the bread out and she has waited patiently (or not so) to get to taste the first piece. She does a little jig, then a giggle, and her hands involuntarily plunge out in the "give me" stance. I ask her what she wants on it. "Honey bear, honey bear" is invariably the reply. We watch the butter melt then add the honey from the bear-shaped bottle. It melts too.

She eats.

I wait.

Finally, after mouthfuls of crust and innards have been disposed, I hear the critique, "it's 'ummy, mommy, 'ank you."

My husband comes home and the bread is no longer hot. Only faint hints of the fresh bread aroma remain. I serve him dinner. I include some bread. The scene nearly repeats itself. "This bread is so good, honey. It turned out great again, you rock." He thanks me five more times before our heads occupy our pillows.

Baking bread definitely makes sense in a cost/benefit world. It costs me a little bit of time and a few ingredients but the benefits go beyond healthier eating or more economical feeding. The biggest benefit is the love.

Bread making is all about love.

I was talking to my mom a few weeks ago and she had just taught a bread making class for Enrichment*. Most of the women who signed up to attend were younger mothers. As my mother prepared and prayed about this assignment she was convinced that her real purpose was to teach these women that bread making is all about love. You can buy good bread (especially in Utah where there are bread stores everywhere), that isn't necessarily the point. The point is that in baking bread you show others you care for them.

I had a friend from graduate school who made bread. He once said to me, "I'll never use a bread machine because how else can I knead the love into my bread?" He knew that bread making is about love.

As I was thinking about this concept, I thought about how often Christ is referred to as the "Bread of Life" in the scriptures. We are told to partake from the Bread frequently and generously. Each week we partake of the Sacramental bread in remembrance of Him.I think there is no coincidence that He chose to compare Himself to bread. Bread sustains and comforts. Bread fills and satisfies. Bread is love. Think about it, is there any other kind of food that even makes sense when you try to use it as an analogy for Christ? I've tried to earnestly think of a few and they just sound lame. Spinach is very fortifying but that definitely doesn't work. Chocolate is comforting but still falls short. Hot oatmeal warms and fills but ... nah.

I believe in bread making. It is one of the ways I show love. In eating it with excitement, delight, and enthusiasm, my family returns that love.



*Enrichment is short for Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment. At least once a month women from congregations of the LDS church get together to learn and share and do in ways that are enriching to themselves, their families, and others. It is fairly informal and usually is held in someone's home. For more information go here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dumpster Diving

Today Eden and I pulled into the garage after a trip to Winn Dixie. I took one load in and was on my way for a second load when I realized Eden had been detoured. She was standing at our trash can we keep in the garage - kind of a pit stop on the way to the big dumpster.

What was she doing at the trash can?

Why, she was sticking her fingers in the tossed out ice cream carton. I mean really, who could resist even the remnants of Rocky Road?

A cute story perhaps, but it is showing a bit of a trend with her.

A few weeks ago when we went to the Aquarium with my nephews we were passing through the food court to get to the family bathroom (so cleverly positioned past the fries and hamburgers and soda). Well I couldn't get Eden to keep moving (because, of course, she had to walk by herself!). I then realized that she was watching a man throw away an entire basket of fries. Once they were deposited into the trash Eden went in for the kill. I barely stopped her from nabbing one of the fries.

The best part of this whole story was when we got home and I had the following conversation with Phil:

Me: We saw the ultimate in white trash hickdom today.

Phil: Really?

Me: Yeah, we totally watched someone as they watched someone else throw out a basket of fries and then...

Phil: Na-uh!?

Me: Yes, the person totally put their hand in the trash to go after the fries.

Phil: No way!

Me: True story. And the best part is that it was your daughter!

He was relieved to hear that I stopped her before the deed was done.

I love my little 'bama baby!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Food Friday - Chicken Tikka Masala

I LOVE Indian food and especially chicken Tikka Masala. I'll be honest, I haven't tried this recipe yet (I don't have a grill) so if you try it, let me know how it goes for you. Phil found this on allrecipes.com.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes + 60 Minutes in fridge to marinate chicken
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Ready In: 2 Hours 20 Minutes
Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 long skewers

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Preheat a grill for high heat.
3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.
4. Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Nutrition facts (per serving):
Protein 24.6g. Carbohydrates 14.3g. Cals from Protein 23%. Cals from Fat 62%. Sodium 4553mg. Calories (kcal) 14.3. Total Fat 28.9g. Fiber 2.3g. Cals from Carbohydrates 13%. Cholesterol 143mg.