Friday, August 24, 2012

Mmmm...What's for Dinner?

I have a dear friend whose husband has been informed that he must get in better health. She is a crazy busy high school teacher. So busy that, I often don't see her for the nine months that school is in session unless I make arrangements to get together. Then we try to see each other as much as we can during summer vacation.

Well, that being said, I have decided to try and research some easy (or tasty or both easy and tasty) recipes for her.

Tonight we had one of my own creations for dinner, Southwestern Quinoa. Quinoa is a great grain. It is gluten free and a complete protein. (If you haven't heard of it before, Jen Cafferty's article will give you some good information on it.) I love the nutty flavor of Quinoa and the slightly crunchy texture. To the usual black beans, corn and red pepper, I added hominy. My daughter saw it in the Mexican aisle at our local grocery store and wanted to try it. The kids ate this well (but my kids eat anything). This dish is different than most of the quinoa salad recipes that I find online because it is served warm and I did not add any acid(i.e. vinegar or citrus juice). Variations could include adding avocado/guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese. Really the options are limitless.

Southwestern Quinoa

1 Cup of organic red Quinoa (pictured, but any quinoa can be used)
2 Cups water*
2 beef bouillon*
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder**
1/2 tsp garlic powder**
7 oz (1/2 can) black beans
7 oz (1/2 can) corn
1/2 cup red pepper, reserve remaining red pepper
1/2 cup hominy, optional
1/2 cup cilantro, optional

Rinse 1 cup of quinoa in a fine mesh sieve to remove the bitter protective coating. Put quinoa in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and bouillon or 2 cups of broth. Add chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed (about 20 min). Remove from heat. Add lid to retain heat if you still need prep time. Salt and pepper to taste. (I didn't add any salt because the boullion has some in it and we don't use a lot of salt.)

To cooked quinoa, add black beans, corn and 1/2 cup of red pepper. Reserve the rest of the red pepper to serve as crudites. I added about 1/2 cup of hominy and 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. Stir and serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve cold. Garnish with pieces of fresh cilantro. Any of the amounts can be decreased or increased based on your preference. Makes 4 - 1 cup servings or 8 - 1/2 cup servings.

Suggested variations: cheese, queso fresco, guacamole, avocado slices, tomato, sour cream, salsa, green chilies, hot peppers, ground cayanne pepper, sriracha
*replace water and bouillon with 2 cups beef broth, reduce to 1 bouillon cube to reduce sodium to 282 mg per serving
**replace onion and garlic powders with 1/4 cup diced onion and 1 minced clove of garlic

I served this with a side of hominy (warmed up with 1/2 Tbsp butter, dash of salt and pepper),and red pepper and jicama crudites.

Nutritional Data: 1 Cup - Cal 226.4, Fat 3g, Chol 0g, Sodium 509.6mg*, Carbs 40g, Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugar 2.37g, Protein 8.9g, Vitamin A 7.5%, C 23.25%, Calcium 3%, Iron 15.25%   5 pts Weight Watchers Points Plus 

Friday, June 1, 2012


We were given a dresser and mirror by Mark's Aunt and Uncle. It sat in our house for a couple of months before I got around to cleaning it and putting it to use. I used some Stanley Wood Cleaner on the dresser, changed the contact paper and filled it with the girls clothes. Uh oh! No sooner had I finished then, we started finding stink bugs in the girls room. The girls were terrified. The beetles would hiss and charge at you. It was actually quite funny at times. After killing 3-4 a day and finally taking the dresser apart to make sure we had found them all, we were debugged. Now that it is warm, I took it apart again and took it all outside to give it a face lift. A coat of Kilz, two coats of Rose Sharon paint and some purple detailing paint and the dresser looks completely different. The girls are in heaven.

Just to keep them grounded, I stenciled on "True Beauty comes from a heart that serves GOD". I know that they may not recognize the truth of those words for years to come, but I hope that it plants a seed. Natalia has been very sure to show everyone she can her skill in reading the new words at the bottom of the mirror.

8 years of Mommyhood

My beautiful first born has turned 8. To celebrate, we had a few of her friends over for a party immediately after school. They had flower cupcakes, which she helped to bake. Then they had a "treasure" hunt to find the characters from the Brave Little Toaster. Our toaster was the final item to find and was sitting on our couch with a DVD of the Brave Little Toaster. Here are her pretty cupcake flowers (she didn't get to help decorate because we didn't want the frosting to soften the jelly beans. Who wasn't soggy jelly beans?)

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

I love pintrest. This year for our annual birthday cake baking session, I found cakes and posted them to pinterest. Then I let my little guy pick from the 6 or so example cakes I had picked. Thomas, airplane, kitkat bucket o'candy, and he picks a bug cake. We sure had a lot of fun assembling the cake. Even when the top layer broke in half. We meant it to look like there was a crack in the ground (well, even if we didn't, it still fit with the theme) We had cinnamon red ants and tootsie roll brown ants, a tootise roll snail, m & M caterpillars, gummy worms and frosting centipedes. Tobias spent most of his time carefully laying the rock candy path. He was thrilled!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Green, Green, Green

I was so excited to get cast in a community play. It has been far to long since I have been able to indulge in my passion to perform. I was equally as excited when the director asked us to acquire or make objects that could be sold after the play in order to raise support for Women's Space, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence.

I thought it would be really fun to create some items that had lines from the songs or the play. I was given a solo about a girl who wished she had lived in a mansion with white pillars. I wanted to stitch a mansion with some of the words from my solo. I started my search on the web, but just wasn't finding anything that would fit. I stumbled upon a picture of the Herlong Mansion Historic Inn in Florida.

This is my ORIGINAL design inspired on the Herlong Mansion. I have to say that I was very excited as I have never before created my own design. I have always relied on someone else's pattern.

And the Ants Go Marching Four By Four...

The little one stopped to shut the door and they all go marching down to the ground to get out of the rain...

Well, I, for one, can sympathize with the poor ants wanting to get out of the rain. March should be renamed to marsh. Yuck! But I digress...

My little man wants to have a bug cake for his birthday. As you may know, our household tradition is for the birthday kid to assist in making their cake. He is very excited about constructing bugs out of M & Ms. I thought it would be fun to make invitations with him also. My bright idea turned out super cute and wasn't too difficult. Even with an almost 4 year old who's attention span didn't last as long as the project.

Ant Invitations:

Black Construction Paper
Orange Construction Paper (or other color)
Pipecleaners (3 pipecleaners make legs for 2 ants)
Circular object or stencil (we used a glass)

Trace three circles on black construction paper. We traced 2 medium circles and 1 large circle. Cut circles out. Glue circles together overlapping enough to provide structure but not too much so that you lose the circular shape. We used the large circle for the bottom of the ant. At my daughters insistence, we drew lines across the large cirle to mimic the lines that sometimes show on the bottom end of ants.

Trace and cut out a cirle of the orange paper that is the same size as the circle used for the ant's head.
Use glue to adhere one edge to the underside of the ant head. The goal is to have the orange paper "open" like a mouth. Chose to write your party information before or after gluing the orange paper in place. (I found that it was easier to write before I glued)

Cut two strips of black paper approximately 5" by 1/4". Wind the strips around a pencil or a pinkie finger. Slide the strip off to maintain the curl. Add glue to the end of one strip and glue to the head for one of the antenna, repeat for the other antenna.

Take pipecleaners and cut in half (ours were about 5 inches once cut). Shape the pipe cleaners into a "U" and tape to the underside of the ant: one at the joint of the head and middle, one at the middle and one at the bottom. We bent the legs again to give each side a "knee".

You can add other embellishments: googlie eyes, tongues (it kind of reminds me of the Cootie game)

Now they are ready to be hand delivered.

My little guy posing with his ants and a "slice of orange". He cut out the ant on the left.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Errant Art

I bought a picture frame but, when I got home, I discovered that it was actually a legal document frame and was too large for my standard 8 1/2 x 11 photo. I had set it aside to return for the right size. Well, I waited to long and Tobias broke the glass. I decided to throw it away, because I could no longer return it and it would cost more to replace the glass than the whole frame. Before I did, I decided to repurpose it. I used some Aida cloth and some stuffing and turned it into a padded earring display. It worked really well for all my shepherd hook earrings, but I favor the ones that have a hook and clasp. I also decided that I didn't care for the plain white background. So the following picture is a work in progress and will be followed by a finished product picture in a few days (or weeks).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hey, What's For Dinner?

Here is the new menu:

Monday ~ Chili, Pasta and Cheese accompanied by cauliflower
(it was supposed to be Scalloped Potatoes, but the timing didn't work out)

Tuesday ~ Scalloped Potatoes accompanied by beets, relocated from it's previous place on Monday

Wednesday ~ Pizza with Pineapple for the kids and with olives, sauteed mushrooms and garlic for the grownups

Thursday ~ Salmon with roasted brussel sprouts and carrots (the vegetables are my kids favorite, believe it or not)

Friday ~ Thai inspired Peanut Chicken and cauliflower

Saturday ~ Possibly using a gift certificate for PF Changs that I have been carrying in my purse for at least the last 12 months (maybe longer)

Sunday ~ Still in negotiations

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekly Menu

I am not a breakfast person. Not really fond of eggs or bacon and sweet stuff makes me feel sluggish. I've settled, recently, on steel cut oats mixed with peanut butter. I love the chewiness of the oats and the peanut butter is just the right combination of sweet and salty. Mmmm. Lunch is either soup, salad or a half sandwich.

Here is dinner:

Monday ~ Turkey Sliders and Baked Yam Slices

Tuesday ~ Pumpkin Chili (with Tomatoes and Pumpkin from our summer garden)

Wednesday ~ Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Green Beans

Thursday ~ BUNCO! Chicken Cacciatore

Friday ~ Date Night (It's a surprise)

Saturday ~ Burritos

Sunday ~ Soup (Yet to be determined, but thinking about Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder)

Sunday Traditions

Every Sunday, we all pile on the couch and watch America's Funniest Home Videos while eating popcorn. I love listening to my family laugh. I was also laughing at Natalia as she repeatedly said, "oh, that's not safe." I have to admit I am not opposed to using the videos to support safety. I have been known to ask the kids if they remembered what happened to someone on AFV that was doing the same thing.