Monthly Archives: March 2014

Benefits of Having a 6 Year Old Girl

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If you have a young girl or even know a young girl then chances are you’ve been gifted at least one, but probably many, works of art throughout the years. My 6 year old just had her birthday which means she has, what seems to me, like a zillion artsy-fartsy projects-in-a-box waiting for her eager, little self to tackle. They have been sprawled out all over my table for about 2 weeks now and I finally just banished them to her art chest so we can eat at the table once more.

I have a love-hate relationship with her crafts. On the one hand I love them because they help aid her creativity and keep her busy but on the other hand I resent them because usually her anal side flairs and she gets in a tizzy if things aren’t exactly how she’d like them to turn out. There have been many torn up pieces of paper and what-have-you due to minor mess-ups but then again there have been some pretty amazing pieces as well. Remember this work of art?

As of now, I’m feeling the love for her crafts since I was gifted this gem-covered butterfly sticker for my iPad cover. It’s hard to misplace the sucker now with all that bling! As you can see from the picture, I was enjoying a little quiet time this afternoon with my glamorous iPad, butterfly sugar cookies and tea. It was delightful, just like my daughter.

I hope your gifts from the small love-bugs in your life are as great as mine! If not, let me know and I’m sure I know where to get an extra!

Cheers,
Colleen

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Quinoa Burger

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In a post earlier this month called Fun Happenings in Our Kitchen I mentioned that I had stumbled across a great quinoa recipe and it was imperative that you try it. Some of you did and I was happy to hear you liked it. Tonight’s dinner I took that little pattie to a new level and I must say I am very pleased with the results as was my husband.

Introducing, for the first time… The Quinoa Burger!

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That’s one whopping big quinoa pattie atop a toasted, pretzel bun with provolone cheese, spring greens, a juicy tomato and a Mayo-Sriracha sauce (thanks for the inspiration, cousin Emily!) It was a very satisfying dinner indeed although I think adding some potato chips under the bun for an little crunch could catapult this burger into greatness.

So there you have it, a meatless burger for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

For those of you who think the term “meatless burger” is an abomination I insist you set aside your judgment until you try it. For real! Just do it.

If you give it a go I’d love to know your thoughts or how you altered it to make it awesome.

Happy cooking!

Colleen

 

 

From the Field to the Table

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Yesterday I had figured on a chill day following my trip to the gym and the grocery store. I was pretty tired from all the fun we had on Friday and Saturday hanging with our good friends and staying up a bit too late as usual. Of course, those plans to chill were thwarted and as it turns out I was totally okay with it although I was tired.

So what was more important than chilling out on a Sunday?

Making Pheasant Pot Pie of course! My husband went hunting in the morning with his friend, John, and they took his young dog, Miri, for her first hunt. She did great and they guys ended up bringing home a handful of pheasants which they proceeded to pluck and clean in preparation of an afternoon of cooking.

First John made some stock by baking a few pheasants along with a base of celery, carrots and onion for about a half hour. Then he added herbs and water and simmered everything on the stove for a few hours. The stock was great and I can’t wait to reduce it and make a killer soup this week!

While John was working on the stock I was working on making the pie crusts. I’m in love with Cook’s Illustrated’s Foolproof Pie Dough recipe and use it as my go-to for all my pie crust needs. John typically only uses a top crust on his pot pies but I’m a double crust type of girl and so that’s how we made it. It’s a little bit more naughty that way but a lot more delicious (as least you’ll agree if you’re a crust-lover like myself!)

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Here’s my youngest as she protests using the word “please”.

As the stock simmered and the dough chilled I took a brief nap while the rest of the clan went on a pinball machine errand. My husband has been itching for one and so they went to the next town over to check a few out. They didn’t come home with one but at least their errand gave me a little bit of peace to recharge for the remaining hour or so of cooking and cleaning.

Once the stock was finished, John got started on the filling as I deboned the pheasants used for the stock and both of us in the kitchen were thrilled as John’s wife, Lesley, and my husband took the dogs and the kids for a hike in the back woods. It’s so much nicer to cook when you’re not being pestered by little beings tugging at your leg and insisting on being held. Of course, they all came back just as I was about to tackle the most messy, attention demanding part; rolling out the dough.

For some reason, despite following the directions completely my dough was very crumbly. I do usually add a little extra vodka or water to the dough to make it more moist but this time I wanted to see if I could make it look like the picture looked without tinkering with the liquid requirements. I should have known better. The dough was very difficult to roll out/keep together but with the help of a lot of flour and parchment paper we got the job done and put the pies in the oven. A quick 30 minutes later, in which time we were able to clean up the kitchen, dinner was served.

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I’m obviously no food photographer and I won’t be winning any awards for the aesthetic appeal of my pie crust but dang was it tasty and I’m thrilled that I have 3/4 of a pie left for lunch today! So, despite the fact that I was tired and hadn’t planned on spending the day in the kitchen I can’t complain. I love cooking with friends and I love when we are involved in every single process of getting the meal on the table.

Today could be a replacement chill day since it’s Spring break but let’s be real, if I don’t do some sort of organized activity with these kids they’re going to drive both myself and each other crazy. Guess I’d better get off my butt, get some clothes on theirs and go gallivant around town for a while. Maybe I’ll pull the car up to their favorite inflatable play place and make their morning… sounds exhausting! At least I have left overs to recharge us later.

Happy Monday, friends!

Colleen

What Early Spring Means Around These Parts…

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Spring means flowers! It also means that I get to prove just how non-existent my green thumb is. 48 hours ago this was a beautiful hydrangea given to me by my Grammy. I killed it. Probably too much water but I swear I drained the excess… Ugh! It’s just a good thing my husband is the one that gets our garden up and running!

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Despite my lack of floral skills I must say I’m a pro at cleaning the yard of dog and chicken poop. I’m not sure how highly regarded that skill is but boy-oh-boy I can sure shovel shit with the best of ’em. Spring really makes it disgustingly apparent how lazy we were over the Winter at waste removal. Due to all the snow this Winter our chicken tractor didn’t get moved around too much as you can clearly see by looking at this shot of the yard below. 

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I lost track of how many 3 gallon buckets worth of waste I dumped over the back fence after 7. Those are some highly fertilized sections of lawn! After all that chicken clean up I came upon the location where my oldest dog had been dumping out all Winter long and although I appreciate the way he kept his feces confined to one area out on the periphery of the lawn, I was a bit surprised by the quantity I had to scoop. I have to be honest though, I didn’t even hate doing all this yard clean up. The weather was warm, the sun was shining and my toddler was confined to her crib despite the fact that she was protesting her nap for the third straight day.

Spring also means T-shirts and happiness. These kids definitely got the memo. They are mid-happy dance here.

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I think I’ve smiled more over the past 3 days than the past 3 months just because I get to hear the gleeful shouts from my minions as they explore their backyard again. They’ve rediscovered the joys of swinging on the playground, riding their bikes and driving their jeep. It’s been a fun few days and I’m happy for the change of pace that this thaw has brought us, mud be damned!

Spring Break starts today for my kids and we are excited to sleep in, play hard and continue enjoying Spring, even though the temps are going to dip back down for a while.

I hope the weather is favorable for you like it has been for us.

Cheers,

Colleen

 

 

 

Made It!

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So about two and a half weeks ago I was sitting on my butt twiddling my fingers, a little bored. Sure there was housework to be done but I figured that could wait as I sat on the couch with my little ones, or rather as I sat and my little ones crawled/wrestled/jumped all over me. It’s a novelty having mom just sit on the couch and chill. I really need to do it more often. Any who, what I was really doing was conserving my energy for the upcoming slam that included baking 9 dozen sugar cookies for my oldest friend’s wedding, 3 dozen sugar cookies for my daughter’s 6th birthday party, 1 very specific birthday cake, 3 dozen birthday party cupcakes along with a small cake for blowing out the candles/spitting all over, and 4 dozen sugar cookies for a 100th birthday celebration. I did that in 9 days. Never mind the fact that my twin and her hubby came into town for the wedding, stayed up until 2:30am both nights and boogied our butts. Basically it left me worn out but now that I’m on the other side of it all I can breath easy and smile because, well, it’s over for one and for two, everything went over very well. She here’s a photo recap of the craziness…

Below are the sugar cookies for the wedding. There were 3 dozen of each, all tied up in little treat bags and I really wish I had taken a photo of all the bags sprawled out on my table. It was a sight! I’ve included a pic of the beautiful bride, Jessica, and my oldest buddy, Mike. Last comes my favorite picture of two of my munchkins spoiling their dinner while agreeing mom’s cookies take the cake.

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Despite the bad lighting I love this next photo as well. It includes all my nearest and dearest people in the world. From left to right: My brother-in-law, Chace; twin sister, Kelly; mom, Anke; husband and kiddos; myself; and my “little” brother, Brenden. They are my happy place.

My favorite people in the world. My BIL, sister, mom, husband and kiddos and my brother.

My favorite people in the world. My BIL, sister, mom, husband and kiddos and my brother.

Thrown into the week of baking and crazy fun was my daughter’s 6th birthday on Wednesday followed by her glow party at Pump It Up on Friday. She wanted a Supergirl theme with the standard colors, nothing girly but was specific that her birthday cake be a pink angel food cake with chocolate frosting and including the Supergirl logo on it. This is what I came up with:

She was happy with the result after I explained that the Supergirl logo had her initial in it instead of the 'S'.

She was happy with the result after I explained that the Supergirl logo had an “L” for her name instead of the “S” for Supergirl.

There were 29 kids at the party... It was wild!

There were 29 kids at the party… It was wild!

A quick cake needed to be whipped up so Super Girl could blow her germs all over it

A quick cake needed to be whipped up so Super Girl could blow her germs all over it

This shot, although dark and blurry, cracks me  up.

This shot, although dark and blurry, cracks me up and shows exactly why I didn’t want her blowing out candles on the cupcakes!

3 dozen Super Lilly cookies were handed out as favors.

3 dozen Super Lilly cookies were handed out as favors.

And of course a few tropical/St. Patrick's inspired cookies needed to be made for my sister and her husband's first anniversary this past Sunday.

And of course a few tropical/St. Pat’s inspired cookies needed to be made for my sister and her husband’s first anniversary which they are celebrating back where the magic happened; The Dominican Republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took Sunday off from baking and partying to recover a little and to clean the pigsty that my house had become. Monday I went back to the kitchen, grabbed the flour, sugar and such and got down to business. This time I was baking for a very special occasion. My Grammy’s best friend, Libby, who passed away in December would have turned 100 years old this past Wednesday and there was a big celebration at her senior apartment building in her honor. Libby was a lover of butterflies so it was a no brainer what type of cookie to bake:

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Spending the morning with some lovely blue hairs and my littlest lady who was running amok to everyone’s delight was a great way to end my marathon of baking and partying. I have quickly switched gears and am busy enjoying Spring with my minions and mutts and all the mud that goes with it!

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It’s nice to be back writing again and to have the flour and sugar wiped from my countertops!

Happy Spring, y’all!

Colleen

 

High Personal Standards

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So yesterday my kindergartener came home and immediately I could tell something was wrong. She was sullen and B-lined it for the house instead of throwing her backpack down and running to play in the snow. Immediately I inquired what was wrong. She went straight to her backpack, pulled out her folder and handed me this paper:

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This is the first piece of classwork that has needed to be fixed and returned. I turned the paper over and on the back side they were suppose to write out the names of eight pictures such as bed, cap, peg, wig and so on. She spelled two wrong and simply did not do two others. As I was inspecting her work she burst into tears and couldn’t look at me. She was so disappointed in herself and thought the world was ending. I guess she is a lot like me after all!

My sweet, sweet girl.

She is so hard on herself and struggles with not being perfect, especially when it comes to her school work. Her dad and I just try to emphasize with her that it’s the way she reacts to making mistakes and how she goes about fixing them that is most important, not necessarily the mistake itself, at least not in kindergarten!

So as my heart broke a little for her as she silently sobbed, I dropped to my knees to reassure her that mistakes happen, even as adults, and that she is still an amazing student and that we love her so much. It took a few moments of reinforcing those points and getting her to agree that all would be well once she fixed her mistakes and put the paper back in the folder for her teacher.

I must say, I can totally relate to my daughter on this. I went through school with a firm belief that school work was meant to be done correctly, on time and with a high level of effort. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times when that firm belief was swayed by outside influences and I brought home papers like the one above and boy did I feel terrible! In the long run, holding myself to a high personal standard served me well even if it made my mistakes and failures that much harder to bare. I hope my daughter continues to hold herself to these same high standards and can learn to forgive herself for the mistakes she will make and knows she has a mom and dad that will always be there with open arms and encouraging words to help her along the way.

Doesn’t life come full circle in interesting ways! I just hope sharing my experiences with my children will help them in some way down the road but I know they’ll have to learn most of it on her own. The joys of parenting 🙂

I’ll keep allowing myself to make mistakes. I hope you’ll do the same for yourself!

Cheers,

Colleen

 

 

 

Fun Happenings in Our Kitchen

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There are a few fun and/or delicious things that have been happening in our kitchen lately. Come and take a look and maybe find a little inspiration to try some new things.

First off, I made some AMAZING quinoa patties compliments of Mel from Melskitchencafe.com. I’d post a picture of them but we were all happily stuffing our faces so the camera was far from my mind. Quinoa, if you’re unaware, is a wonderful superfood that can be substituted for rice/potatoes/pasta and is high in protein, fiber, magnesium and iron. My kids are a little less enthusiastic about quinoa but when it comes to these little patties I’ve been called “an amazing cook!” by my 5 year old and also told, “You should be a chef!” That’s quite an endorsement from a kid if I do say so myself so go check them out. We ate them dipped in ketchup and sour cream with cottage cheese and fruit for sides. It was a very satisfying, meat-less dinner.

Another awesome dish from Melskitchencafe.com that I made this weekend is The Ultimate 7-Layer Dip. It’s a little labor intensive but well worth it. It’s suppose to be an appetizer for 6-8 people but they way I stood around this dish with a few friends and annihilated it I had to count it as my dinner! Again, there’s no picture for you to enjoy but if you jump over to Mel’s site you’ll quickly fall in love with her great food blogging and be able to put a visual to this dish that I am drooling over as I type. It’s getting a little messy over here…

Pull it together, woman! Moving on…

My left-over Super Hero sugar cookies that I made for a baby shower were a fun accompaniment to the few delicious dishes I was whipping up this weekend. It was my first attempt at these aside from Spiderman and the learning curve was huge so next time I expect them to look even better.

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Much to my son’s dismay they are now all gone but I’ll soon be whipping up 10 dozen for an upcoming wedding so he won’t be deprived of sugar cookies for too long!

 

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A little non-edible kitchen fun happened when my bored son needed a little excitement. It’s the simple and always pleasing baking soda and colored vinegar reaction. He was eager to show his sister the awesome color combinations he made and of course she needed a chance to experiment with the bubbly, color fun.

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My daughter left her tray out over night to show her dad the next morning. Of course her little sister started playing in it and eventually learned that baking soda doesn’t taste as good as quinoa patties and 7-layer dip although it does look prettier!

As for this week, I’m going to try branching out some more with sweet and sour chicken, chicken and sweet potato soup and a chocolate flan cake all from Melskitchencafe.com.

What’s your favorite thing to whip up these days and what’s your favorite place to get great recipes? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers to staying motivated in the kitchen!

Colleen