Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cook's Ilustrated

America's Test Kitchen
It was our summer vacation at the beach and our little 18-month old Ava was going to bed around 8 pm in our room. We were staying in a room with a kitchenette and that meant we had to be really quiet and either read or watch TV.

I got hooked on PBS's America's Test Kitchen, the most popular public television cooking show, during our vacation in the Outer Banks. Visit the link above to find out how to make mouthwatering brisquet and mashed potatoes.

Have you ever wanted to have more in-depth cooking information, including pictures of batches of food gone wrong, taste tests and product reviews? Well, head on over to Cook's Illustrated . It's a deal that some of their information is online as their magazine is eight dollars!

You can also rent America's best of series at your library.

Thanksgiving week recap

Ava and Ethan riding on the John Deere Gator, Ethan's (2) birthday present.
Good morning!

Our Thanksgiving week was fun, restful and well, full. Yes, I know that's not the correct grammar, but it just seems to describe what our week was like since we have had pie for every major meal, including snacks. yum!

We had Thanksgiving at our Aunt Chris' and the turkey, mashed taters and multiple side dishes were amazing. Usually, we play boys vs. girls trivia pursuit, but this year we did not. Shaun told many stories and we just made fun of each other (in good fun). It's always really nice to get to share the holidays with family and we are really enjoy our fam.

Ava got to play with her cousin Nicky for the whole day and we didn't see her except when she was getting fed brownies by the "aunts."

Brandon and the girls visited Luke, Kelly, Ethan and Charlotte Saturday morning, while I worked out at the Dublin Rec Center. I really enjoy working out now and it's my mommy time. I figure it's cheaper than shopping and better on my waist than eating out every time. ha.

But, can I tell you, the workout was tough. I came out sweaty and tired. It was nice working out with Amber. It makes you really have to go and not make excuses when someone else is going with you.

The girls
Sophia has been on a kissing kick. She loves to pucker and kiss. She is down to a half feeding at night and almost weaned. I am trying to wean her slowly, espcially since she has a cold. She loves to cruise and take a step on Friday.
Ava has so many new words--some good and some bad.
As in: "Sophia, I hate this song."
"Is that what you are wearing dad? Cool!"
She also used awesome the other day. Is she a teenager?
This is Sophia's birthday week. She is one (holy moses) on Dec. 8. We are having a family party for her this Saturday for her and I can't wait to see her tear into the cake.
It is a little bitter sweet to see all of the baby things in the basement. It seems like this has been the longest year and then it seems so quick. I can't believe how quickly she has grown up.
She is such a mommy's girl still though, so I am okay for awhile!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Light Lane for bikes at night

This has to be the sweetest gadget I have seen. A light lane is made on the road for bikers who commute to work.

I recently rode my bike to vote at our precinct around seven and it was dark. In our subdivision I was ok, but by the time I was on the road, I felt really vulnerable. After a quick 5-minute trek to the church on road, I was regretting riding at night. I just hated driving there when it was only a little ways.

Both Brandon and I like to bike. Brandon's idea of fun is riding from Marysville to Plain City. He does it in 45 minutes or so and is super fast. I am not that fast. But, I do wish we had more bike lanes in Marysville.

He also is a stickler for bike rules. Like, don't ride on the sidewalk around him--it drives him nuts. Or the proper way to show cars you are turning right (no, it's not putting your right hand out--I was wrong). To make a right turn, use your left hand and point it up at the elbow and down with your forearm. Left turns are shown by raising your left hand.

And did you know that traffic rules were first made for bikes? So, when you are biking ride with traffic as if you were a car.

Have fun!

Little Cale and the Pioneer Woman

Christina and Cale got to meet the Pioneer Woman in Chicago and were featured on her blog site. So proud of them. Of course little Cale is just the cutest. Who wouldn't want to hug him?

See you at Christmas guys!

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's been going on in the last two weeks

Sophia and her binky

Momma Shmidt came down for a visit last weekend.

Sophia has started becoming a little girl at age 11 months. My little girl is getting so big. She loves to bend backwards to look upside down, loves to stand against windows and cabinets and is stopping nursing. Such a big girl. She lights up when either of us are in the room, but still has her mommy times. What a treasure.
Her favorite foods are whole-peeled apples, yogurt and applesauce.

Ava is my little sweetie. She is my gentle tomboy who likes playing mommy. Ava loves to play with her friends and her best buddy is Ethan. They are like twins, although they are cousins. She also loves Dora and Calliou and has to have her juice first thing every morning (usually, I have to tell her "can you say something nice instead of "I want my juice!"
She is getting more independant and likes to be away from us with family members like her grandparents or aunts. Her favorite foods are pizza, yogurt and berries.

Nice day for playing outside

Sophia (11 months) in her ride, that's how she rolls.
Sophia crawling to her favorite riding toy out front.

Ava and Sophia playing in the leaves.

Fun fall day with mom.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A quick and easy how-to on making pumpkin puree

Once you use this recipe to roast pumpkin puree, you won't want to use the canned stuff. I used to be really intimidated by pumpkins and roasting them, but it's literally as easy as cutting up the pumpkin and roasting in a hot oven. Try it with your pumpkins today!

The finished product

Cut up pie pumpkins (smaller versions of pumpkins). Put on a baking sheet with aluminum foil with 1/2 cup of water.

Roast until fork tender, 40 minutes. Take a spoon and take the pumpkin goodness out. It's yummy, carmalized goodness. Freeze or use within 4 days. I like to put 1/2 cup of puree in the kids' macaroni and cheese. They never know it's there and they get some veggies.

Don't waste the seeds!

Brandon loves eating them. Take the seeds out of the pumpkin and wash in a colander. Pat dry. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over seeds. Season with kosher salt and chile powder. Roast until crackly and toasted 20 minutes.

Scooping out the seeds from the pumpkin and toasting them makes a great snack or treat for your salad.

fab food

Mom trying the thanksgiving food.
Mom and I pre-show.

Fab food

Mom trying the Thanksgiving meal prepared by Tyler Florence, including a bacon wrapped turkey with sage butter.
Trying to get an autograph after the show so I didn't have to stand in line. It was crazy. People kept on shouting his name and trying to get his autograph. No luck. Hourlong line for me.

Sandra Lee came in during the show to try a bite of food.

The kitchen after the show.

Tyler Florence signing autographs. He said he liked how my cookbook was so used. He was really nice and really down to earth. It was nice to meet someone who loved teaching other people how to cook and was so passionate about the art.

Fabulous food show

In line waiting to meet Tyler Florence at the Cleveland food show.
There were more than 500 booths and vendors with samples and products. The salmon was ok, but I would have put some kind of sauce with it.

Here was the view walking to our seats for the Tyler Florence cooking demo. Each ticket allowed the person to see one celebrity chef performance, but we went to two because there was room.

Me in front of my love, Mr. Wolf. love it. love it. Hate that my camera is acting up.

Sandra Lee asking for volunteers to cook with her. At her show, she let people in the bleachers and reserved seating sit in the $150 gourmet seating, which was nice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why is it so hard when your babies grow up?

My little Soph is turning 1 very soon. One year old. Gulp. Telling people I have two kids, not just one, makes me feel young. I don't know why. It should make me feel old, but realizing how far our life has come in so few years is really mind blowing.

Three years ago, Brandon and I were sitting around going on dates all the time, eating out, cleaning maybe once a week, doing laundry perhaps every other week and never having a full fridge or dishwasher.

Fast forward three years and now we always have a full dishwasher and laundry bin, though usually our fridge is empty at the end of the week.

How did we get here? We didn't plan it.

It was just one small step after step after step.

Ask Brandon. I am the biggest planner you will ever meet. I live to plan. When I was young my poor mom would get questions like, "Who is coming over tonight?" "What are we doing today?" "What are we doing next year?"


Now, I like to plan, but look forward to leaving things in God's hands--most of the time at least. Things like how many kids we will have, what job I will do in the future or who my girls will fall madly in love with are in His hands, not mine.

Someday our babies will grow up, walk and leave to fulfill their own dreams.

Who doesn't love the Pioneer Woman?

I love this quote from her.

"I think that's really the moral of all this. You can go ahead and feel free to make all the plans you want in life, but who knows where you'll really be in 15 or 20 years. I look around and I don't recognize anything about my life."

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cleveland Fabulous Food Show

Visit this site this Sunday for postings about the Cleveland Fabulous Food Show this weekend. Going to post pictures of the exhibits and chefs.

Comment below if you are going.

What to make for dinner.

Kids are fickle. You can make a gourmet meal and all they really care about is if ketchup is available. So, I love recipes that are nutritional and kids love. Plus, recipes that are tasty and quick.

Head to Giada at Home on Food Network and sample her baked macaroni and cheese cupcakes. So good. We made them tonight sans bread crumbs and loved, loved them. I loved how the cheese got all brown and bubbly.

I just used broccoli and peas for the veggies--that's all we had.

P.S. My sister, Rachel, and I were discussing why we love Giada or Barefoot Contessa versus a cook like Rachel Ray. Rachel thinks it's because we love looking at their life and getting a glimpse of what it would be like to be glamorous and pampered.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite chef?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fall cutout cookie party with mom and dad

Look dad!
We used maple flavoring instead of vanilla, which was a huge hit.

Ava is really enjoying this!

sprinkle, sprinkle.

More sprinkles, more sprinkles.

Where my girls at?

in my bedroom. too quick for a normal camera to capture.
sick and grumpy.

tired and ready for lunch.

happy to be with her buddy, ava.

C'mon mom, get your slr camera already! You can never keep up with us!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Are you ready for a sick household? 10 things you need right now.

As our family is somewhat on the mend, I kept on thinking how much stuff we did not have or we just used really quickly in our house. Making trips to the store when you are sick is not fun and is dangerous when you are contagious. I am no expert, but thought it might be helpful to post some pantry items you should have in your kitchen and house during flu season.

Take what you want from it!

I was just really suprised at the lack of information on the Web about what to do when your family has the flu.

  • One or two cool mist humidifers- helps kiddos breath=more sleep time for mom and dad
  • Medical style nose bulb (the safety first one i had was awful-children's hospital gave me a medical one)
  • Ginger ale in cans, or my favorite, Orangina - lasts longer
  • Temperal thermometer-it's worth the money. Have you ever tried to make a toddler hold still for one minute with a thermometer? Not fun. Kelly, my sister-in-law, recommended the Exergen brand.

  • Tissues-more than one box
  • Cough drops-went through two big bags
  • Vaseline - to put under nose of kiddos after multiple wipings. Poor Sophia was red.
  • Jello-
  • Ibuprofen
  • Grace. Grace for your messy house. Grace for whiny kids. Grace for mountains of unwashed laundry. Grace for snotty noses. Grace when you are up all night with baby. Grace when you are short on sleep on long on kids who need you and your husband.

Psalm 23
A psalm of David. 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Fall applesauce in a crockpot

Applesauce: the finished product
Pulse apples and company in a food processor with cider or water to make a smooth applesauce.

Ava helping me wash and prep apples for our crockpot applesauce. The red pjs are her princess pjs.

Fall apples are usually friendly on your budget when in season. You can usually find on sale for under a dollar per pound.

Fall apples are fresh, delicious and taste oh, so sweet. I love to go and buy bags and bags and try to preserve some of the fresh taste for the winter months when apples that taste like plastic abound.

Canning is good, but I love the taste of frozen applesauce, which is still a little slushy. Maybe because my mom used to serve it to us this way. It's just so good.

Here's how to make a simple and fresh applesauce in your very own crockpot.

Fall applesauce in a crockpot


crockpot and apple corer

3 lbs of apples (any tart apple will work. I used gala and Mcintosh apples)

1/2 cup of apple cider

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup of brown sugar (may substitute white if you do not have brown)

1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice depending on how tart your apples are

Making the applesauce.
1. Peel, core and cut apples into fours

2. Add to crockpot along with rest of ingredients

3. Cook for four to six hours, or until apples are broken down and yummy

4. Add more cider or water if apples are too thick.

5. Blend with more water in food processor or blender if you would like to have smooth, leave as is if you like it more chunky.

Freeze in Ball freezer jars. These plastic 16 oz jars are amazing because you can stack them on top of each other and they screw on. Love them. I got mine at Whole Foods, but Amazon has them cheaper.