Sunday, January 24, 2010

Taking a little break

I think I need a little break from blogging. Kids, work, life in general is a bit stressful right now and I need to make things very simple for the time being.
I'll get my second wind before long...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meatless Fridays

This past summer I grew spaghetti squash for the first time.
I was not disappointed!
I really love this squash and was able to freeze TONS of it for use throughout the year. This is one of those recipes utilizing my summer garden squash. I'll also use chard instead of kale because that's what we have growing right now.
And for those wondering, yes, it REALLY does look and taste like spaghetti!
I've fooled JP and Danny so many times into eating it....cause I'm a good mom like that!
This week's meal is quick, good for you, and super economical if you grow your own vegetables!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Spaghetti Squash and Kale Gratin

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
5 cups chopped kale - You can also use swiss chard or spinach!
1 T olive oil
½ tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp black pepper
¾ cup cottage cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan, divided
1 egg
½ cup sour cream

Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Roast the squash in a 400 degree oven until soft, about 25 minutes. Allow them to cool before scraping the flesh out with a fork. (The flesh will easily come out in strands that look like spaghetti.) Set the flesh aside, and discard the rind. Chop the onion and garlic, and chop the kale very finely.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add the olive oil to a large pan, and cook onion, garlic, thyme, and some black pepper until onion is soft. Add the chopped kale, stir, and cook until the kale leaves are wilted. Turn off heat. In a small bowl, mix cottage cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, egg, and sour cream. Gently mix the cooked squash into the kale, and then stir in the cheese mixture. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread mixture in baking dish and top with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan. Bake 35 -40 minutes, or until top is golden.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Farmer in Training

Early last Fall I bought some seed packets for the garden boxes Doug made for me. Danny and I turned and composted the soil, made little rows, and lovingly planted the tiny seeds.

Dan is now enjoying harvesting his vegetables....

...and eating them!

Did you hear me?
This kid is eating vegetables!!!

I think I may have to go lay down...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our little Danny turns FIVE!

Happy birthday my little baby bluebird!
It's been a wonderful adventure so far, we love you so much!

Please don't be in too big of a hurry
to grow up!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Year - New Look!

Thought I'd give the blog a little makeover for the new year!
There are still a few kinks to be worked out, but overall I really like it!
Tell me what you think.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meatless Fridays

This week's meatless meal is easy to make with virtually no clean up afterwards! We've eaten this so many times I've lost count and it is a great way to use up leftover veggies and goodies from the garden.
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Fish baked in parchment

Tear off pieces of parchment to accommodate the portions of fish you have. Place fish in center of parchment, season with salt and pepper, then the rest is up to you!
We like to place leaves of bok choi or swiss chard in with the fish as well as thinly sliced onion, zucchini, and lemon.
Fold up your parchment like a package being sure to enclose everything (you don't want the juices to leak out!). Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Serve right out the packets! Everyone ooohs and ahhhs when their little package is opened and the smell hits their face! When dinner is over, just toss your packets in the trash-dishes are DONE!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The half-time show

Last Thursday was the BIG game between Texas and Alabama. Everything came to a stand still while the game was playing, but as soon as half time rolled around, THE REAL GAME WAS ON!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Living the Liturgical Year

The Baptism of Jesus

With this Feast, Christmas ends liturgically, though it continues on in spirit and as a liturgical cycle until Candlemas when we recall Mary's post-birth Purification and Our Lord's Presentation in the Temple.

Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus. Over the weekend, we made Holy Water fonts for each room of the house and read and discussed the Bible story. Sunday we all renewed our Baptismal promises.

Doing these projects and studies as a family is really helping the children grow and understand the also brings us much closer as a family. I know that I'm enjoying it as much as the children!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Southern Sunday Supper

Mrs. C brought us a wonderful ham this week and I've been steadily using it up. This morning I used the last of it for a hearty breakfast of ham, homemade biscuits, and country gravy.
Before running off to church, I put the ham hock into the crock with a packet of dried black eye peas, chopped onion, garlic, and seasonings. This is going to be sooo good for dinner on a cold winter night like tonight! I can hear that hot buttered cornbread calling my name right now!

And now that dinner's done...I'll have plenty of time for a long Sunday afternoon nap!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Meatless Fridays

We LOVE Mexican food and could probably eat it daily! This week's meatless recipe will surely satisfy any cravings you have. It's cheesy, spicy, and sweet goodness on a plate...and don't forget the sour cream and salsa!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes - optional
butter for browning tortillas
flour tortillas - try making your own with this super simple and delish recipe!
shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in beans and corn, then add sugar, salsa, and pepper flakes; mix well. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Melt 2 teaspoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet, sprinkle evenly with cheese, then top with some of the bean mixture. Place another tortilla on top, cook until golden, then flip and cook on the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bed warmer

It's COLD here in south Texas!
Usually cold means lower 60's...but thanks to global warming, the nights are dipping down into the low 20's and 30's!!! Not only is it cold, but it's damp, and nothing chills me more to the bone than cold and wet. I usually relish sliding into cool bed sheets at night but it takes me more than a miserable 20 minutes or more to warm up - so I decided to remedy that!

I made a bed warmer from some scraps of material and rice.

I made it just a little smaller than standard pillow size. I also sewed rows and filled the channels with rice. It keeps the rice in place instead of being a giant dead weight. Just pop the bed warmer into the microwave for five or more minutes then place it in bed. I always put mine where my feet will be first! I go get in the shower and when I come out I move it around to warm up my bum spot while I brush my teeth.

Let me tell you, it is DIVINE!
This rice bag is also good for general aches and pains...just heat for 2-3 minutes instead of five!

Of course, I mean no disrespect to the
original bedwarmer...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One hot tamale!

I made a big batch of tamales for the second time in my life last week. The first time was an utter failure, but this time I did my homework. They came out pretty good and my boys managed to devour five dozen of them within a week!

They're pretty easy to make IF you make it into a two day process!

First, I made a trip to the Mexican market. I got some pre-made masa and a bag of dried ancho chilies. The chilies were still pretty fresh and I had no trouble splitting them open and removing their seeds:
After de-seeding the whole bag, I placed them in a large pot and covered with water (or you could use beef stock). I added a couple of chopped cloves of garlic, cumin, and onion powder and brought it to a slow steady boil. Cook the peppers until tender. Transfer peppers and some of the juice to your food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
You now have a beautiful mole sauce!
Store overnight in the fridge (it really helps the flavors to blend).
Then I put some pork shoulder into the crock pot with some onion, garlic, and other spices to cook overnight.
The next morning, I put my corn husks on to soak in hot water (at least one hour if not two!)
I shredded the pork and mixed it with the mole sauce. Then I strained the meat juices and mixed some in with the masa. The masa should be the consistency of smooth peanut butter.
I set up shop at the kitchen table with everything in reach.
Take a corn husk and spread on the masa in about a 4x4 inch square. The first couple of tamales I did with my fingers and it was too thick! I soon learned to spread it with a spatula to be thin:
Next, place the shredded pork/mole mixture down the center of the masa:
Roll the tamale up and over the meat mixture:
Fold up the long end of your corn husk:
And roll the rest up into a perfect little package:
Place tamales standing up in your tamale steamer and steam for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Whatever you do DO NOT let the water dry up!
Place some pennies in the bottom of the pot to signal when the water levels get low!
Like I said, the boys devoured all five dozen of these within a week!
These were also very economical to make. Here's a cost breakdown:

10 lbs pre-made masa = $6.00 (I only used half and saved the other for another future batch)
5 lbs. pork shoulder = $10.00 (I also only used half of the meat mixture and froze the rest!)
1 bag of ancho chilies = $5.00
Total = $21.oo for five dozen
(and actually the number is closer to TEN dozen because I still have enough ingredients to make more!)
Tamales sell around here for $7.00 a dozen. Which means if I bought them I would have spent $35.oo! I made a savings of $14!

Next weekend I'll try my hand a green tomatillo and chicken tamales!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kyle at the Texas Bowl

Kyle, along with many other Boy Scouts from the Houston and surrounding areas, attended the Texas Bowl opening ceremonies by escorting a HUGE American flag onto the field. Since Navy was one of the teams playing, the Navy band played the Star Spangled Banner. It was quite a profound moment for our young man....

He thought the game was "pretty awesome," too!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Living the Liturgical Year

Feast of the Epiphany

This past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany!
After a beautiful Mass at our parish, we had Father bless some chalk.
Doug used the chalk and holy water to perform a house blessing.
(You can find the blessing and a short summary of the Feast Day here)

After the blessing and readings from the bible, we celebrated with a King Cake in honor of the Magi who traveled so far by faith to adore the One True Lord.

Danny thought "it was fun!" and that we should have blessings and cake every Sunday!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Meatless Fridays

This week's meatless meal is easy and affordable. It's a great way to use up leftover veggies from the week. Make up a batch of Artisan bread (with a little roasted garlic added!) and you've got a quick, comforting supper.
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Pasta Primavera

Your choice of veggies, cut up into bite size pieces.
1 tomato seeded and chopped, or a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/4 cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups cheese - Parmesan or an Italian blend
fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
1 lb. linguini

Start the water for the pasta and cook it to package directions. The veggies can be added to the boiling pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking time if there’s room in the pot, or you can steam them separately until they’re tender crisp.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Saute the garlic in the butter. Stir in the half and half. Whisk in the cheese and let it melt into the sauce over medium heat. Try to keep it from boiling. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and veggies and put them back into the large cooking pot. Add the sauce, tomatoes and basil. Toss it all to combine. Serves about 6 people.