Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vacation so far

We've had an amazing trip to Oahu and the Big Island so far.  Here's a little glimpse into what we've been up to.  Our first week was amazing spending some fun time with my parents and our second week has been family time.  Little has gotten over her hatred of sand between her toes and spent about an hour in the ocean today.  Middle is a voracious swimmer and I'm amazed at her stamina - ocean, pool, it doesn't seem to matter to her.  Big loves everything about Hawaii and has spent hours looking for geckos, chasing fish, and regaling us with facts about animals.

I used to think that other people would be bored by my vacation photos, but I love living vicariously through my friends and if you don't like it, you can check back here for some regularly scheduled recipes in a week or so!

Until then . . . Hawai'i Vacation 2014 so far . . . 

This may represent more than any picture below, what vacation has meant for our family:  no scheduled activities or to-do lists and not even ONE thing on the calendar this week!

The night we arrived was the most amazing sunset I've ever seen




Swimming with Grammy
Tour of a Kona Coffee farm
Future marine biologist



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Basil Chicken

Summer is flying by!  I can't believe the 4th of July is behind us.  We're taking our big family vacation soon so the blog might be a little quiet (I know I haven't been doing great updating recently anyways) but I hope you and yours are enjoying the warm summer weeks as much as we are!

Here are a few pictures of the girls and some of our fun summer memories so far:
Meeting my new nephew!
A trip to WA to see my BFF and a visit to the Children's Museum in Olympia


Then, a drive to Eugene to see my sister receive her PhD.
Celebrating our little sister's accomplishment!
World of Color with friends
Date night with family at the Hollywood Bowl
Swimming with cousins
4th of July Freedom 5000 in Claremont
Baby girl started walking!  She seems so big all of a sudden.
A few of the recipes I've made recently have been inspired by what's growing in our garden.  The basil and jalapeños in this recipe were garden fresh and we all liked this a lot.  My husband and I (as usual) wanted a little more heat so I probably would use more jalapeño next time but it was nothing a little Sriracha couldn't solve.  The texture went from runny to very thick quickly so keep your eye on it when you mix in the cornstarch & coconut mixture.  



Basil Chicken in Coconut Sauce (4 servings)
from Baked Bree

1 pound chicken breast, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 T olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1-2 jalapeños seeded and chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14oz) can coconut milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
3 T fresh basil, plus more for serving
1 T fresh ginger, grated
cooked rice for serving

In a small bowl, combine the spices.  Add the chicken pieces and the spices to a large ziplock bag and toss / massage so that the spices cover all of the chicken.  You can let it sit at  room temperature for 30 minutes or do this ahead (I did it in the morning) and let it sit in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook.

Dice the onion, garlic & jalapeños.  Grate the ginger and set aside.  Cook the onions, jalapeño and garlic in a large sauté pan with the olive oil for about 2 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.  Transfer the mixture to a plate.  Add more olive oil if needed to just coat the pan and cook the chicken until brown on both sides.  If your pan isn't big enough, you can do this in two batches.  Take out of the pan add to the vegetables.  Mix the coconut milk and the cornstarch together.  Add to the pan and cook until it just starts to thicken.  It should come to a bubble but not boil vigorously.

Add the chicken and vegetables back to the pan, adding the ginger and basil.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice and additional basil.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Homemade Ice Cream Treats


Last week we had friends over for supper and their son has a dairy allergy so I made two batches of sorbet in the ice cream maker for dessert.  Both turned out yummy but I particularly liked the peach.  I added some no-dairy creaminess to that recipe because I thought it would go great with the peach flavor . . . and it did!  I don't like super sweet ice creams and I thought the sweet, ripe summer fruit didn't need too much additional sugar.  For both of these recipes, taste the mixture and adjust it according to your preferences.

I hope you're enjoying your summer as much as we are!  We have had some fun outings, good visits with friends and family, lazy afternoons, and warm nights.  Here is one of my girls' favorite summer songs this year (Lisa Loeb cover of the song from the 80s movie "Meatballs")



Dairy free Peach Ice Cream (makes 1 qt)
adapted from Gluten Free Goddess

About 4 cups of peaches, peeled
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Take one cup of the peaches and dice them small and set aside.  Put the remaining peaches in a small saucepan with the brown sugar and cook over medium heat mashing for about 3-4 minutes (you want the sugar to dissolve and the peaches to soften up).  Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.  Add the coconut milk, almond milk, and vanilla and blend until combined.  Stir in the diced peaches.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cold.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Strawberry Sorbet (makes 1 qt)

2 lbs strawberries, stems removed
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
juice of 1 lime

Make a simple syrup by combine sugar and water in a saucepan and heating until the sugar has dissolved.

Put the strawberries and lime juice in a blender and puree.  Add the simple syrup and combine.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cold.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cereal Bars


Another Pinterest victory!  I have made a few variations of granola bars but I think these are one of my favorite homemade bars so far.  There are only a few ingredients, they came together super fast (no baking) and everyone liked them.  My kids wanted chocolate chips next time but I think they're plenty sweet from the honey and don't need sugar.  I put the pan in the refrigerator to help it set up and so it stuck together better and it kept for about a week and a half.  I'd slice pieces as I needed them and put them in baggies to send with my kids for snack (or for myself for breakfast on my way to work).

Peanut Butter Honey Cereal Bars (12 bars)
from Chew Out Loud

4 cups toasted oats cereal (I used plain Cheerios)
1 cup dried berries (cranberries, blueberries) or raisins
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts (or plain)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (or other nut butter)

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl to combine.  Heat the honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan while stirring until smooth and combined.  If it seems too hot, like it will burn you when you press the mixture into the pan, let it cool for a few minutes.

Pour the peanut butter mixture into the cereal mixture and stir to completely coat the cereal mixture.  Dump it into a lightly greased 8x8 pan and press down really well (I used a piece of waxed paper).  Let it cool completely before slicing. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Daddy & Big
Holding Middle

Minutes after Little was born
Art with Daddy
Games before bedtime
Racing cars
Playing with Little
My kids and I have something in common - we have great dads.  My father has always been one of my biggest fans and one of the most encouraging people that I've met.  Even when some dads might steer clear of some topics, (like the trouble I had breastfeeding), my dad would ask me how it was going and tell me I was doing a great job.

My husband is a great dad.  Watching him with our babies made me fall in love with him even more and he is a very involved, attentive father.  I recently read this article about how dads sometimes get a bad rap for being the "lesser parent" and not as competent as moms.  I totally agree with her point of view that it needs to stop, especially with how so many dads today are involved in parenting.

Here are links to my husband's favorite recipes on this site:






Happy Father's Day!



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sunday supper


On Sundays, we get home from church around 6:30 and with early school & work mornings, we try to have supper and get the kids to bed by 8pm (especially when it's not summer vacation).  I sometimes try to make a crock pot meal but a few weeks ago, I made this new pasta.  It was really tasty and came together quickly.  Boiling the water for the penne took longer than the rest of the prep.  My husband is a fan of pasta without red sauce and I often do a sausage & olive oil pasta but the mushrooms and spinach tasted great in this version. 

Spinach, Mushroom & Sausage Penne (2 servings)

2 links spicy italian sausage
1 large shallot, diced
3 oz cremini mushrooms, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper
olive oil
1.5 cups penne pasta
grated parmesan cheese

Cook penne according to package directions until al dente.  Drain.  While the pasta is boiling, brown the sausage in a large skillet.  Remove the sausage from the skillet and drain & wipe out the oil.  Add a little olive oil to the same pan, and then add the shallot and mushrooms.  Saute until the softened and just starting to brown (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the garlic and stir for a minute.  Add the spinach and stir until wilted.  Remove from heat.  Add the cooked penne and the sausage to that skillet.  Drizzle with a little more olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.  Put it back on the stovetop over medium heat and sauté for a minute or two or until it's all combined and sizzling.  Serve with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Last day of school!


Yesterday and today were the girls' last days of school.  I keep waiting for Big to realize that kindergarten and her year with her amazing teacher is really over and for her to get all sad about it like she's done with transitions in the past.  But so far, so good.  In the hall of the preschool, after only 1 year of two-day-a-week school, Middle did a little woohoo fist pump and jump in the air.  So funny considering how easy she has it and what a long educational road she has in front of her.  But I get it - not having the schedule and rhythm of school weeks feels so nice in the summer.  I'm just trying to make it there . . . I've graded 154 essays and 28 debates since last week and I have 60 quizzes and 60 exams and two more days on campus before I can be DONE for a few months.

To celebrate summer break, Middle and I made a batch of our favorite ice cream - Coffee!  I usually don't let her have more than a bite because of the caffeine but I made this decaffeinated.  It was honestly, the best ice cream I've made.  Not super sweet, perfectly creamy, delicious.  Middle's addition was the chocolate chips but I think it would have been better without them so I'll leave them out of the recipe below.  I can't believe it took me this long to make coffee ice cream.  Hope you have a good start to the summer!

Coffee Ice Cream (makes one quart)
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1.5 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 cups whole coffee beans (I used decaf)
pinch of salt
1.5 c. heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until warm and steamy, but not boiling.  At this point, cover, remove from the heat and let it steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Put a medium sized bowl on top of a larger bowl filled with ice.  Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into that medium sized bowl.  Set a mesh strainer over the bowl with the cream and set aside.

Reheat the milk & coffee mixture until medium heat until it gets hot and steamy again (but don't boil).  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together.  Temper the egg yolks by whisking constantly while adding a couple of tablespoons of the hot milk mixture at a time.  You don't want to cook the egg yolks, but raise the temperature.  Then, whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the coffee bean & milk mixture and stir constantly.  Keep stirring over medium heat with a spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the custard thickens and coats the spatula.  You're looking for it to be thick enough that if you run your finger across the spatula, it won't run.  This took me almost 10 minutes.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream.  Press on the beans to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible.  Then, discard the beans.  Mix in the vanilla and stir until cool.  Chill completely in your refrigerator and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to your maker's directions.