Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Cookies!

I'll add pictures of these cookies when we cook them on Christmas Eve (or Christmas Eve Eve). I didn't realize how similar these two recipes are until I typed them up! Both are great for little hands and I remember making them when I was but a wee tyke!

Snickerdoodles (my Mawmaw's recipe)

These are fought over every year and some "special" members of the family get their own containers to take home with them!

1 cup soft shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix first three ingredients together thoroughly. Sift together remaining ingredients and stir in to creamed mixture. Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of small walnuts and then room in mixture of 2 T. sugar, 2 t. cinnamon. Place about 2" apart on non greased baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned...but still soft (8-10 min). These cookies puff up at first...then flatten out with crinkled tops. This recipe makes about 5 dozen 2" cookies.....I suggest you double it to lessen the fighting!

Molasses Crinkles (from my Grandma Quaschnick)

3/4 cup Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger

Cream sugar and crisco, add eggs and molasses. Sift together dry ingredients and then add to creamed mixture. Chill dough. Roll into small walnut sized balls. Dip in Christmas sugar and multi-colored non-pariels. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. These also (as their name suggests) rise up and then crinkle when they are done.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Drinks: Hot Apple Cider

I love to drink my family's hot cider as soon as it gets cold outside. One of the keys to this cider is that when you buy a gallon of cider at the store check the ingredients for.........apple cider! You wouldn't believe how many gallons I see every winter labeled apple cider and the only ingredient that it contains is apple juice. I don't understand how they can do this, but an easy way to tell the difference is by the look: Here is a picture of cider (on the left) and juice (on the right). If you happen to buy a container that says it is cider, but you get home and discover that it is juice, never fear it will still be good, maybe not as good, but good never the less.

Here's an explanation of the difference:

Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice

Apple cider is essentially apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process that removes coarse pulp or sediment. Cider may or may not be heat pasteurized. Apple juice has been filtrated, pasteurized, and vacuum sealed to give a longer lasting, clearer looking product. Most juices add additional water and other ingredients to maintain flavor and clarity. Outside the U.S., the term "Apple Cider" typically means "Hard Cider" while "Apple Juice" usually will get you a sweet cider.

Okay, now that we've discussed the main ingredient here is the recipe:
  • 1 gallon of cider
  • 3 - 5 sticks of cinnamon
  • handful of whole cloves
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1/3c. light brown sugar
Place all ingredients into a crockpot and cook for at least 3 hours. You could also do this on the stove top of course, but do not boil the cider. Just cook below a simmer.

Leftover cider is great! Let the cider cool to room temperature and then pour through a strainer back into the original container and refrigerate. The butter will congeal on the top but, it reheats in mugs wonderfully.

You can also "starbucks up" your cider with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Yum-O!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Free things + Christmas music

I just found on Coupon Katie that every day this December through Christmas, Amazon.com is unveiling a new holiday song available to download free for a limited time. Even though they add a new song everyday, you can download the ones from past days as well. Many of the songs are by Christian bands so I think that is neat as well. You can also preview the songs before you download them (just because they are holiday songs doesn't mean you'll be adding them to your Christmas play list). To access the songs just click on the picture above and (if you haven't already) download amazon's mp3 downloader. Then you can put the song on your mp3 player, a CD, or just play it from your computer.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rain Boots, 5 stars

Guest post from Betsy:
I got mine at Old Navy, but you can find similar boots at Target, Walmart, and other stores. These are boots that children will wear without shoes; one tip is to buy a bigger size in the fall so they can wear two pairs of socks during cold/snowy weather. By the time summer rolls around, they should be comfy going barefoot in their boots!

Pros: Can walk through any wet/nasty substance without getting shoes or pantlegs dirty (if you tuck pants in or roll them up). This means that dog poop, mud, and other yucky things stay on the boots and at the door instead of being tracked in your house! They're also fairly easy to take off, facilitating removal at the door. Go puddle walking with flair and with no worries!

Cons: Can't think of any except that the fabric lined ones take a while to dry if water gets inside (like, um, if a well-meaning 2-year-old pours a cup of water inside while they're perched by the door...).

Well worth the investment. They hold up well, enable your kids to play outside in all kinds of weather, and are easy enough for the kids to put on by themselves. If you make the investment for your kids, you should get yourself some! Who's going to be going puddle jumping with them?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Giveaway!

Simple Mom is hosting a giveaway today, so head over to her site for a chance to win this:

Aunt Linda's Ambrosia

There are a ton of variations for ambrosia out there, but this is my Aunt's version and we really love it!
  • 1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 small or 1 large can of mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 large container of Cool Whip
  • 1 small package of Jello (cherry, strawberry, or cranberry)
  • 1-2 cups of mini-marshmallows
Mix the jello into the cool whip, then fold in the fruit and mallows. This year I actually forgot the marshmallows and it was still really good. Chill until set (just a couple of hours). You can of course also add pecans or coconut for an added texture, but we don't.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Aunt Betty's Crab Dip

This crab dip is soooooo good!

1/2 stick of butter
6-7 chopped scallions or 3-4 chopped scallions and half a medium onion chopped fine
1 8 oz. brick of cream cheese (not lite!), cut into small chunks
2 cans of 9oz. well-drained white lump crabmeat
Tony Chachere's and red pepper to taste

Put butter and onions in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese, and zap again for another two minutes. Add crabmeat and seasonings and zap for another minute.

Serve with Club crackers!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The much requested: BARK

My Aunt Linda made this for us last Thanksgiving and I couldn't stop eating it!! When I got back to Knoxville I was informed that it was called Cracker Candy. I don't care what you call it, I can't get enough!

35 saltine crackers(about one sleeve)

3/4 cup butter (don't use margarine)

1 cup brown sugar

1 8 oz. bag Toffee bits (I use about 2/3 of a bag)

1 12oz. bag mini semi-sweet morsels (I use a couple of handfuls of normal morsels)

Line rimmed cookie sheet with foil; place crackers in single layer, 5 by 7, on cookie sheet. Melt butter; add brown sugar and blend well. Spread over crackers, then bake for 5 minutes at 375 degrees. Immediately spread toffee bits and chocolate chips over crackers; set back in oven to slightly melt for 2-3 extra minutes. Refrigerate on pan until completely cool, then break apart. Place some aside in a container so that you actually get some after your guests eat it all.

Betsy also has a different variation posted on her blog called Pine Bark Candy. I see a taste test in our future!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Holidays (and the foods that go with them!)

My friend Betsy over at fulltummies brought up a good point this year at Thanksgiving. We have all these family recipes floating around, why not post them online so that every year you know EXACTLY where they are? My next couple of posts will be about our holiday favorites.

Here is a Thanksgiving favorite that I can't imagine Thanksgiving without. It comes from the Quaschnick side of my family and I bought a meat grinder for my KitchenAid mixer just so I could make it!!

Cranberry Relish

5 small tart apples (texture is more important than taste here, I'd go with granny smiths)
1 bag of frozen cranberries
1 6oz. can of Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice
Sugar to taste

I fit my meat grinder with the larger of the two plates, but if you have more than two sizes you'll know if your plate is too small if all you are getting coming out is juice! Wash, slice and core the apples. Feed the first three ingredients down through your meat grinder. The berries can be thawed, but I don't think it makes a difference. After everything goes through the grinder stir to mix ingredients well. After sitting 24hrs. in your fridge taste and add sugar as needed.

As you can see this recipe needs to be made ahead of time and it can easily be doubled for large crowds. Delish!

Another family favorite of mine is Pumpkin Cheesecake. The recipe linked here is Martha's, but this year I substituted the graham crackers crumbs for ginger snap cookie crumbs and it was AWESOME!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Review of Thomas and Friends Play and Go Storage Box

Here is a review I posted online at Toys R Us. Ethan likes this case and it is useful to bring a small number of engines to a different room or to a friend's house, I've just been disappointed mainly in the latches.

Originally submitted at Toys R Us

Thomas & Friends Play and Go Storage Box features a built-in track layout for portable play. It's compatible with Thomas Wooden Railway track for use in train layouts. And the Storage Box holds up to 16 Thomas Wooden Railway vehicles.

1out of 5

Cons: Falls Apart, Poor Construction

Best Uses: Young Children

Describe Yourself: Education Oriented, First Time Parent, Stay At Home Parent

This product does not have a good design. The little track on it has an outer loop and then an inner track. The track does not act as a figure-8, but instead once the middle track is taken the train is headed the wrong way on the outer loop.
Also the track looks like you could extend it but the ends of the tracks are four female ends so you cannot build onto the track that is on the outside of the case.

The latches on this product are terrible! They are plastic and will not stay latched for more than just a few seconds. I'm having my husband replace them with metal latches so that this can actually become a traveling toy. Also, the plastic troughs that hold the trains aren't really big enough to fit the wooden engines.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wild Mushroom-Barley Soup!

I love soup! It is so easy to cook and usually makes great left overs. The problem that I have is that I struggle to find a soup that my husband likes. Don't get me wrong he "likes" most soups that I make, he just doesn't think they are filling enough to count as a meal. Well, last night was a pleasant exception. This is a Rachael Ray recipe and usually I wouldn't just re-post a recipe that is already out there, but the version that her staff typed up and put online is terrible! Here is my version with notes where needed:Ingredients (my changes in italics)
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms I only used 1/2 ounce because it cost over $3
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/3 pound thick cut pancetta or prosciutto ends, chopped into 1/4-inch dice I kinda went crazy here and used 3/4 pound of bacon (what can I say I misread the ingredients list)
  • 3/4 pound cremini mushroom caps, wiped clean and quartered (these are also known as baby bellas) you can also use just cheap white button mushrooms if you using meat in the dish
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, sliced, washed and dried (or two onions but leeks are cooler)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage, very thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can diced, fire roasted tomatoes I found these for the first time! They are with the other canned tomatoes.
  • 1 quart chicken stock for vegetarians you can use mushroom stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 bunch kale leaves stripped from stems and thinly chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Place dried mushrooms in a medium pot with stock and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let mushrooms continue to steep as you prepare the rest of the soup.
Heat EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta or chopped bacon and cook until browning, 2-3 minutes (omit if making vegetarian version) then add cremini mushrooms and bay leaf. Cook 10-12 minutes to soften and darken the mushrooms. Add leeks and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes more. Add sage, rosemary, stock and tomatoes.
Remove softened dried mushrooms from the stock and chop. Add them along with their cooking liquids to the soup pot, taking care to leave behind any grit from the mushrooms in the stock pot. Stir in barley and simmer for 45 minutes. When barley is done add kale and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Bring soup back to a boil just until the kale has wilted.
Taste to adjust seasonings and serve in shallow bowls with cornbread (or if you forget to make cornbread like I did, toast).

Monday, October 5, 2009

"The" Cookbook

My friend Betsy had recommended this cookbook to me and at first glance I was not interested at all! It had no pictures, few illustrations, and no nutritional fact information; all of which have been previous requirements of mine for a cookbook. But oh friends, let me just tell you about this cookbook! Since getting it for my birthday a week has not gone by that I haven't made something out of it and usually I cook out of it 2-3 times a week! The title describes perfectly what this cookbook is about: everything! Want to roast some potatoes and pork and then use the leftovers for fried rice? Mark will tell you how! Or what about crepes and banana bread? He's got that covered too.

Here are some features that make this book "The" book to have in your kitchen:
  • Over 2,000 recipes with tons of variations. As a matter of fact, I don't know if I have seen a recipe in here that doesn't have a variation.
  • Basic ingredients. All of the recipes that I have made so far did not cause me to run to the store! His ingredients are simple things that you already have around the house.
  • Well illustrated techniques. Want to quarter a chicken? It is all drawn out here step by step.
  • Essential recipes are highlighted at the beginning of each chapter to get you started. This is especially helpful for me on chapters like beans, which I have never cooked before this year!
  • Charts, charts, and more charts! This man loves his charts! My favorite one yet is one that outlines different types of vinaigrettes into their different parts: oil, acid, flavors, etc.
  • Variation on top of variation: One title of a list reads, "11 More Ways to Vary Grilled or Broiled Boneless Chicken" Not only do these variations give you good ideas, but you feel freed up to make your own decisions and substitutions without the fear of failure.
  • Only 7 out of 56 people on Amazon.com gave this book less than 5 stars and not a single one gave it just 1 star.
  • Chapter Titles are: Kitchen Basics; Sauces, Condiments, Herbs and Spices; Appetizers; Soups; Sandwiches and Pizza; Salads; Vegetables and Fruit; Beans; Grains; Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry; Meat; Eggs, Breakfast, and Dairy; Bread; Desserts
  • My favorite chapter is Vegetables and Fruit. For each vegetable and fruit that you can find at the grocery or farmers market he tells you how to pick the right one and then has several recipes on different ways it can be prepared.
Weather you are new to the kitchen, new to cooking, or just need some new ideas you need to add this book to your Christmas wish-list. My sister already got his vegetarian version for her birthday.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Banana Bread

My family has a banana bread recipe that I think is just divine! It is a very dense bread and it is oh so good!

Here is the recipe for a 3 (or 5) banana bread:

1 cup sugar (1 1/2)
3 mashed bananas (5)
1 egg (2)
1/2 cup shortening (3/4)
2 cups flour (3)
1 tsp. baking soda (1 1/2)
1 pinch salt (1/8 tsp)
1 cup pecans (if desired) (1 1/2)

I melt the shortening and mix with the sugar, bananas and eggs. Then I add in the pre-mixed dry ingredients (muffin method). Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Ethan got this aquadoodle activity set for his birthday and it is great! It consists of a four panel page that has pictures that are only revealed with water. What is so great about it is that fine motor skills are not really needed. As the page dries the set can be used over and over. It is now in our "going out to eat dinner" kit.

In addition to Thomas, there are also Dora and Sesame Street versions of this kit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Temporal Thermometer *Revised*

Philip and I were first introduced to this thermometer in our childbirth classes and it is awesome! A temperature reading comes up as fast as you can swipe this thermometer across your child's forehead. In the time it takes a digital thermometer to register a temperature you can take 3 or 4 readings with this one. I know most pediatricians will ask for a rectal temp, but so far mine has taken my temporal readings (even when Ethan was really young). I know this thermometer is more expensive than a digital one, but we did get a coupon from our childbirth classes and even if you don't have a coupon, it is worth the cost.

Revision: This thermometer has worked relatively well for us for about 2 years. However, recently when Ethan was running a really high fever (over 103) for some reason the thermometer was only registering 99 or 100. I could tell just by touching Ethan that his fever was much higher and another reading with an under-the-arm thermometer proved me to be correct.

My recommendation has now changed for this tool....it is neat to have to get a quick reading, but when you are in more serious situations it is good to have a back up method.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Saving my bookmarks online!

Do you use delicious? When I first heard of it I didn't think anything of it, but now I have to admit that I am a delicious addict! Delicious is a way of storing your favorite bookmarks online. I first started using delicious to get rid of my Everyday Food magazines. I wanted the recipes out of them, but I don't want to store the magazines anymore. The good thing about their magazine is that 90-100% of the recipes are available for free online. I just bookmark the ones I had earmarked and then I am free to pass along the issue to the next lucky reader!

One online benefit is that I work on probably 3-5 different computers during an average work week. Instead of waiting till I get home to bookmark something, or worse, saving that one email for weeks until I'm at the right computer; now I just hit my "Bookmark on Delicious" button and, "BAM!" I can save a bookmark from wherever I am and access it later from any computer! After you save a link you can also see who else has it saved on delicious and then browse through their bookmark collections.

There are two other really great things about delicious. Number one is that you can share your bookmarks with other users on delicious. Betsy is in my delicious network and we can send each other bookmarks. Tags are the other great thing about delicious! Want to find a chocolate brownie recipe? If you are looking at my account you can just type in those tags and it will pull up all of my favorites.

You can see all of the tags I have used down at the bottom right hand side of this blog. If you are on Delicious please add me to your network!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Favorite Thing: God

I'm participating this summer in a bible study that is reading a book called "Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God". In the second chapter Francis Chan points out that our next breath here on Earth is not guaranteed. This morning at our study, our leader asked the question, "How would you live your life differently if you knew you only had a week left to live?" I waited a long time to answer the question because I was fully aware of the repercussions of my answer. Why should I be living any differently when I don't know that my next breath is guaranteed? One of the ladies next to me suggested that she would write up her testimony and email it to all her friends. Instead of email I'm going to post my testimony here on my blog and then on my Facebook account. Here is my testimony:

When I was six or so my mom began bringing my sister and I to church. I remember her faithfulness in bringing us to church almost every Sunday through out the rest of my childhood and into my teenage years. I went to confirmation classes in middle school, but I really didn't experience the Christian faith until I was in High School.

Let me clarify what I mean by experience. In church I was taught that God was the creator of the Earth and everything in it, Jesus was the only true son of God and that he came here to die for our sins. We also learned that belief in Jesus was the key to eternal life. John 14:6 says, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." It wasn't until a youth retreat in Baton Rouge (when I was a sophomore in high school) that I had someone challenge me with what it truly meant to be a Christian. He explained that believing in God and Jesus was not enough. James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder."

Our belief in God does not save us from our sins. We must accept God's forgiveness through his Son and this true acceptance leads to a change in our life. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

That weekend, when I accepted Christ as my Savior, I made a choice to make him first in my life. I started living for him and I was truly a new creation. I remember feeling this joy in my life that I had never felt before. I started serving Christ any way that I could by teaching and leading the youth in my own church. Of course I still sinned, but for those sins I truly felt remorse and then forgiveness.

God has seen me through some real trials in my life. Periods of extreme selfishness and/or pride, holding on to past sins, and the hospitalization of my newborn boy. How faithful he was during these times! I have felt His gentle (and not so gentle) prodding to change and be more like Christ. I have experienced His grace and His peace and I've seen His sovereignty be evident in my life over and over again.

Now I live my life knowing everyday that God is watching over me and that if I died I would meet him in heaven. Instead of rightfully being convicted of my sins and sent to hell, Jesus would stand in my place and cover all of my transgressions. I will spend the rest of eternity with Him!

Would you live any differently if you knew this week was your last? What has God done in your life that you need to share with others? Do you know where your soul will spend eternity (heaven or hell)? Have you surrendered your life to Christ?

If you have a blog I would LOVE to read your testimony! If you post it please leave a link here in the comment section:

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Children's Catechism

All Christian moms worry about teaching their kids enough about God and bringing them up in a way that will glorify Him. The Children's Catechism is a tool that my friend Betsy introduced me to and we are having so much fun teaching Ethan about God. He is only 23 months and he can answer the first three questions! We have even printed out the first 10 questions and posted them in the library.

Do you use the Children's Catechism? How else are you raising your children in the way that they should go?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fun Free Stuff to do with my Kiddlet! (updated)

Okay moms out there! I know you all have a favorite fun free thing to do with your kiddlets and with summer approaching I would love for you to share your ideas.

Today I was poking around on the internet and found that our public library is having a magician, storyteller, and the zoo tour around town all throughout the summer. Also, they have weekly story times for all ages of kiddlet! If you haven't participated in the past the summer reading programs are great (there is even a program for adults). Just fill out the required paperwork and pick up your prize at the end of the summer! One other really cool thing they do is the "Children's Festival of Reading" at the beginning of summer. This year the event is planned for May 30th from 10-3pm. We didn't make it last year, but I am excited about taking Ethan this year.
Free Movies! Selected G & PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. First-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity. Around Knoxville you can see movies at: Knoxville Center Mall, West Town Mall, and Turkey Creek. Movies this summer include the "Pirates that Don't Do Anything", "Kung-Fu Panda", and "Horton Hears a Who". It looks like there is a different PG and G movie every week so the selection is huge! I have never attended these and I wonder how early you should get there to guarantee a seat, or if it is worth going because of all the noise/distractions. Let me know if you like (or dislike) going to these!

Of course parks and splash pads are always fun to visit. I know last year when I was in Stroller Strides the splash pad a Carl Cowan would be totally empty in the morning. I'm excited that this year Ethan is old enough to visit and have fun at such places.

Every Wednesday (11-2) and Saturday (9-2) from May to November our Market Square will be hosting a Farmer's Market. We are trying to eat more locally since I am reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" so this market can really help!

Other things I could think of are:

Here is a link to an article that has more "free things to do in Knoxville" listed.

So, what is your favorite free thing to do during the summer? Leave a comment so that we can all enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

LaSource 60 Second Fix Manicure Set

Sometime late last year a friend and I were walking in the mall and she said, "Oh, we have to go into Crabtree & Evelyn to get our hands massaged!" Once we were there we walked over to the sink and first scrubbed our dry hands with the Hand Recovery repair treatment. When they were good and scrubbed we washed the treatment off and wow! It makes your hands so soft! This is great to use during the winter or even the summer when you are washing your hands a lot from being outside, changing diapers, etc. Then after you scrub there is an amazing Hand Therapy moisturizer that is not too oily or too fragrant like most lotions.

I've been a believer/user of this product ever since then. In the 60 second fix kit is a tube of the scrub that exfoliates and then a bottle of the lotion to seal in the softness! The great thing about this, is that the mini-kit is only $10.00! That makes it a great gift for teachers during this time of year! The fragrance is rather mild so I would bet that even the pickiest teacher would enjoy this kit.

There is also a gardener's version that just has a different "herbal" scent. I bought a bottle of the hand soap and it smells great. Not to strong, but great to wash your hands in after a long day outside in the dirt or after a soak with some dirty dishes!

Great tip: all of the LaSource products (and some others) are buy one get one half off right now!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chicken Quesadillas and Simple Sopapillas

This is one of my favorite meals to cook because it really helps me use up various leftover ingredients, and my family loves it! This week I had leftover shredded cheddar (from soft tacos last week), left over chicken (from power cooking) and an extra onion (also from power cooking).
Chicken Quesadillas (ingredients in italics)

Start off by cooking one onion in a little bit of olive oil until sweet and tender. Then cook chicken (I used three breasts) in saute pan by using my favorite method or tonight I just used my grill pan and grill press. Let the chicken rest and prepare a pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil on medium low heat. After the chicken is sliced up throw a flour tortilla down in the pan and on one side of the tortilla sprinkle cheese, chicken and onions. Fold remaining side over. Let the first side brown for about a minute or so and the flip. Brown sides until desired color is reached and serve with sour cream. Like I said before, what is so great about this meal is that the only thing I had to purchase was the tortillas. I already had the rest of the ingredients on hand.

Dessert: Simple Sopapillas

So, I don't know about your family, but we have a hard time finishing an entire package of flour tortillas. This method is from a friend and it is a great way to use up those extras! In the same skillet you used before pour about a quarter of an inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium high to high heat. You will know the oil is ready when a piece of tortilla immediately begins to bubble. Fry your tortilla on both sides (they will puff up but that is okay) and then transfer to paper towel on wire rack. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and enjoy! I know it is traditional to add honey on these as well, but I was so eager to eat these that I forgot. I also forgot to take a picture!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Power Cooking

I love power cooking and I've been meaning to write a post about it, but Betsy already has so I'll just link to hers!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cafe 4

So the first thing that brought me to Cafe 4 was my free cupcake coupon from the school coupon book. My office mate and I decided to head there one day for lunch. Cafe 4 is located on the Union Ave end of Market Square and they have both indoor and outdoor seating. I was pleasantly surprised by the menu choices and we happened to get a great waiter. When asked what he suggested he named one item from each area of the menu (genius)! Theresa and I both took his suggestion and ordered the Lobster-Bacon Flatbread and the Pulled Short Rib and Grilled Cheese (that's right a grilled cheese with pulled short rib meat!)

I had never had lobster before so Theresa let me have a square of her flat bread and it was really good. It had applewood bacon and smoked gouda cheese. There were greens served on top and although Theresa said they were good they were a little akward to eat. My sandwich was amazing. It had a "red onion" marmalade on it that tasted like onions brewed in red wine and it really was delicious! The rib meat was deliciously tender and the concept of combining this with a grilled cheese? GENIUS! My sandwich was also served with in-house made fries and they were also really good.

After lunch we headed over to the bakery counter to collect our free cupcakes. As we were standing there two TVA employees came in behind us and seemed really upset that they couldn't find an item in the bakery case. Theresa had to find out what they were so upset about and so she asked them. "Only the best lemon bars I've had in my life!" the one man replied. They were out the day we were there but they assured us that we should try them the next time we drop by. I can't wait to do so!

I ended up choosing a gigantic mocha cupcake for my freebie. Other flavors were lemon, chocolate mint, and the list went on. My cake was actually a little dry but I'm betting it was because I didn't eat it until the next day. It was actually big enough for me to split with a friend and the mocha icing more than made up for the slightly dry cake.

If you can't tell my mouth waters anytime I think of going back there. If you have never been, make plans to go soon. If you have been tell me what you had and how it was.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Food! Specifically, Beef Bourguignon

One of my all time "favorite things" is food! I know this blog started out as a mommy's guide to baby and preschool items, but I will now also feature favorite recipes and restaurant endorsements (no bad reviews here). By no means will this become a food blog, but there are just some local restaurants that I have had great expierences in lately and I just have to share!

Today as I was making Beef Bourguignon I thought, "This is a really straight forward dish that a ton of people would love, but most would be too intimidated to make." Do not be intimidated!! You can ace this dish if you can:
  • dredge meat in flower
  • brown dredged meat
  • chop things
The recipe I make is from Martha Stewart and was published in her Everyday Food magazine years ago. Even though the name is fancy (use this dish to impress guests) the methods are simple. Here is my quick run down. After cooking bacon, brown dredged meat in fat. Remove meat and add chopped vegetables. After these soften add back the meat (and bacon) and dump in wine! Let cook for 3-3.5 hours (while you visit with your guests). 30 minutes before dinner you can roast off some mushrooms and onions and add these at the last minute for flair!

Okay, there are a few more ingredients to this recipe, but I promise the steps are really that easy and you and your impressed guests will love it! I also serve mine with roasted potatoes that also go in the oven 30 minutes before dinner so that is easy! You could even make it a day ahead of time and just heat it up before your guests arrive.

For wine I suggest a Cabernet Sauvignon. In the past we have used the one from Biltmore, but today we picked up one from Chili (at about half the price) and it was really good. The most important thing when choosing your "cooking" wine is not to get a "cooking wine"! When wine cooks it increases in flavor, therefore you need to start with a wine that is good to drink to begin with.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you thought of it! Also, what is a "fancy" dish that you love that is really not so fancy to make?

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Free Chick-fil-a!!...wait, there's more!

In an effort to promote their new yogurt parfait Chickfila (at least the Knoxville locations) is giving away free breakfast for the rest of the week! You can get a free breakfast entree of the day per person (breakfast ends at 10:30).

Here's the schedule (obviously they're trying to promote their new yogurt parfaits):
Monday: Sausage Biscuit (I missed this one)
Tuesday: yogurt parfait
Wed: 3-count chicken minis
Thurs: yogurt parfait
Friday: chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit
Sat: yogurt parfait


Today I went to Chickfila and got my two yogurt parfaits and discovered they are also offering free coffee for the entire month of April....mmmm I love coffee!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A new discovery: Consignment Sales!

This spring I was introduced into the wonderful world of consignment sales! First the preschool that my son attends had a clothing sale and last week I went to one of Knoxville's bigger if not biggest consignment sales, Duck Duck Goose. I remember when I first got pregnant one of my friends was trying to tell me the benefits of going to consignment sales and I would have none of it! I wanted my new son to have all new things! HAHAHA! How nieve was I?

At both sales I was wonderfully surprised by the quantities and qualities to choose from. At the Duck Duck Goose sale I was in awe at the number of potty chairs, bath tubs, and diaper genies (and that was just in one very small hallway). In my son's shoe size alone there were six Rubbermaid tubs to look through! I didn't even look at the clothes because that wasn't on my list! Consignment sales are great because we all know that kids (at least for the first two years) don't wear clothes for more than six months and we as parents definitely don't get the wear out of the clothes that we could.

So after going to two sales I have a few tips for first time shoppers:

Go with a list! A specific list with quantities, sizes, colors, etc. On my list for the Central Baptist sale was overalls and shoes. I found two pairs of great looking overalls and I might have picked up one dress shirt (that was reasonably priced) and I looked for shoes, but didn't find any that fit my specifications. For Duck Duck Goose I wanted to find a train table, potty chair, and more shoes (some for me and some for my friend Betsy). Although all the train tables that were left were overpriced, I did find a great potty chair, three pairs of shoes and a book for $14! A list is helpful for many reasons. Even though in both cases I bought something that wasn't on my list, the list helped me stay focused. I could have gotten bogged down looking at all the adorable clothes at great prices, but we don't really need any clothes right now so that is not a good use of my money or my time away from my family. I also noticed so many moms that looked like kids in a candy store; they had a hodgepodge collection of things that barely fit in their arms and as our line snaked through the sale they collected more, and more, and more stuff! Remember that a deal is only a deal if you need it AND you can afford it!

Go with a budget! Even better is to go with cash! We all know that going in with only cash sets definite unbreakable limits. At each sale I had an idea for how much I would pay for each item on my list (no more than $10.00 for a potty chair) and that help me budget the total maximum that I would spend. Since I found a potty chair for only $5.00 I was able to buy a book for $2.00 and still be well within my budget.

Go early and be prepared to be there for a while! This is especially true for big sales like DDG. I got to go in on an early admission day and I still waited in line to check out for 45 minutes. I even got to go through the "quick" 10-items or less lane! At the smaller sale I had no problem walking in, picking out what I wanted and checking out. Just be prepared to camp out for awhile at the larger sales.

Go prepared! I saw a few ladies at the big sale bringing in laundry baskets with them. Smart cookies those women! If you are shopping for an entire spring/summer wardrobe I would suggest bringing a basket or other carrying device (your arms can get tired waiting in line).

Go to one! I found great deals at both sales so my #1 piece of advice is to ask around in your moms group and make plans to go to the next one (planning child care would make it even better)!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Free Chick-fil-a!!

This special has been extended for the month of March!!! I'm so bummed that I've missed it so far and that I'll be gone next Thurday morning. If you didn't catch my post in February you can read it below:

FREE Breakfast! That's right, this morning I had a free breakfast. Chick-fil-a is running a "box top" promotion in the month of February. If you live in Knoxville you can claim your free breakfast on Thursday mornings by bringing in any cereal box top. I know other cities do this in the month of February so check your local Chick-fil-a restaurants. In Knoxville the restaurants will donate the box tops for education to local Knox County Elementary schools! This morning the featured breakfast was a chicken sandwich, but it's my understanding it will be different every week.

I do love Chick-fil-a for other reasons! They are a great place to eat with toddlers. I would actually rather go in at a Chick-fil-a then go through the drive through (like all other fast food places). If you go up to the counter with your little ones they will offer to bring your food to your table. For every kiddo they will give you a disposable place mat that you can just lay thier food out on. If you don't see any placemats on thier high chairs just ask them, they probably have them behind the counter.

I also use to think to myself, "Who can really eat a 12 count chicken nugget meal?" Well, now that I have a little one with me I usually get the 12 count value meal and I eat the normal 8 and Ethan gets 4. At most Chick-fil-a restaurants there is also a person who comes around to bus the tables of your trash.

My favorite location in Knoxville is Turkey Creek. For some reason I think they are a tad bit more accomidating, although I haven't had a bad expeirence at Bearden Hill, they might just offer to do less for you.

All in all I give Chick-fil-A 5 Stars for toddler friendliness and an extra gold star for FREE breakfast!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Old Navy

So I like clothes, but I love cheap good looking clothes! That's where Old Navy comes in. I already knew to shop their sales and my friend Betsy gets killer deals on her boys clothes from their website. My husband also loves (and looks good in) all of thier mens polos and he even bought a nice wool jacket there this winter. I also in addicted to their simple, cheap, but durable flip flops (I already bought my two pairs for this season).

It even got better this morning because read over on a the diaper diaries that Old Navy puts out a weekly online flyer. In this flyer are "hidden" deals like 5,10,15, and 20% off an in-store purchase and get this, even $50-75 off of $100 purchase! To find them you have to scroll your mouse over the pictures and find places that your arrow to turn in to a clickable finger. The coupons go quick, by the time I checked there were only %off coupons left. If you want the 20% off coupon (and it is still available) watch for the green banner in the upper right hand box to scroll by and then click on it. I will be checking back every week in hopes that I get $100 worth of clothes for $25! You can even subscribe to the flyer down on the bottom left hand side and when you do you get an online coupon emailed to you. Happy Shopping!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My son eats soup!

So my son picked out this can of soup at the store a few weeks ago. He is all about the movie Cars so I indulged his request and as he was eating his first bowl of soup I noticed that he was also eating the few carrots that were included in this chicken noodle soup. Ah ha! I thought. I have since made him this soup with a half of a can of mixed veggies and a half a can of chicken breast. He loves it! He eats most of the vegetables (he still picks out the green beans) and most of the chicken along with the noodles. The great thing about these noodles is that they are perfect for little toddler hands. The are flat and about nickel sized so they are also easy to scoop with a spoon.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simple Mom

Betsy sent me a link last week to one of the coolest blogs/websites I have come across in a long time. Originally she sent it to me for her simplification ideas. Couldn't we all use a bit more simplification in our lives? Well, after probably 2 hours (and 10-20 tabs) I have found so many cool things on her site I just had to share it. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • She has a book club and 2 of the 6 books for this year are ones that I have mentioned here on this blog as must-reads. I have posted a link to the book club on the right=>
  • The thought of having a home management notebook really is just a brilliant idea. Big shot executives have planners, why do we think as housewives we would need any less? I have a planner for work, and honestly I never thought to use it for all parts of my life. Even if I thought of it I didn't execute that plan well until last week. It is still a work in progress but I'm getting there.
  • The Daily Docket! I love planning out my day the night before and especially highlighting the Three Most Important Tasks. Identifying these and actually writing down what I want to get done at work everyday (and the times they should be done by) really keep me focused and at the end of the day I have accomplished so much more.
  • I have to admit I am not a very good housewife. I don't really notice that things need dusting or mopping for that matter. But with my new Weekly Home Management checklist I know where to start. I have also started reading the Fly Lady's book and I think this will fit right in.
  • Simple mom has also introduced me to the idea of storing all of my online recipes in one place. Tonight I made a del.icio.us cook book. Delicious is a social bookmarking site that allows you to keep all of your internet bookmarks in a web-based location so you can access them from anywhere in the world. This didn't seem so cool to me until I thought about it in light of all of my favorite online recipes. I have been looking for a way to purge my Everyday food collection because it is such a hassle to search through. Since all of thier recipes are online I can now save my favorites to delicious and pass on the magazines to someone else.
  • Online menu planning is also a great idea. You know how I feel about my google calendar, it is great! What about using it to plan your weekly or monthly menu? Genius! Here is a picture of my google calendar with all of my options shown:
    The items shown in brown are my meals for next week!
Not all of the posts on simplemom are original (some are pulled in from other sites) but I continue to get inspiration from this collection of tips and tricks of being a mom, house manager, and wife.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good Reads

This site is so cool! Not only can you make a "wish list" for the books that you want to read, but you can also see what all your friends are reading too. This site has really helped my not buy books that I want to read in the future. Instead I just add them on to my "to read" shelf and they are saved forever. I love getting email updates of what my other friends are reading too.

Recently my friend Allison posted a list on her blog of all the books she read in the last year. I can't remember all the books I read last year so I just went on Good Reads and sorted my "read" shelf by date.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Contour Changing Pad

We have used this changing pad on top of our changing table since Ethan was born, but last week I discovered a new use for this pad. While packing late at night for an upcoming vacation Ethan started crying. I thought this was odd....until I got upstairs. We had our first case of a stomach bug. Yuk! Well while I cleaned up his bed I laid him on the changing table and he just curled up in a little ball. We then moved the pad to the floor of the bathroom where Ethan and I spent the night. It worked great! It was just like a little portable bed. Who knew?

I do have to admit I have never used the straps that come with this pad. We also have the boppy changing pad cover on it which makes it very soft.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Average Millionaire

According to Dave Ramsey the average millionaire reads one non-fiction book a month! This month I will focus on some of the great non-fiction books I think you should read in 2009.

I've already reviewed
Soon I will post reviews on
This year I will be reading
Do you have a book that you think we should read? Send me your review and I'll post it here. Happy reading!


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