Month: November 2015

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately: Healthy Kids

This week has been rather difficult. And as another installment of my Thursday “Loving Lately” was approaching I was struggling to find something to write about. It’s not that I don’t love short cuts to appetizers, special things that only come this time of year or finding great deals on some of my favorite things. It’s just that I don’t have time to be normal when I’m nursing my 4 kids with high fevers, some throwing up, and a couple with the crazy rashes that go along with “Hand Foot and Mouth” back to health. Then I had a Pollyanna moment. (Sometimes you have to force those.) There is nothing like having a sick child (or all four) to make me appreciate how blessed I am to have healthy kids.

I could go on about this forever, because I am a mom. And like most moms, when you have a child with a high fever all you can think about is getting them through it. And I don’t take for granted that I am so blessed to know that they will get through it. I am truly thankful. We’ve had a particularly difficult time with our youngest, Noah. (click here for more info.) We spent a lot of time at doctors offices and a little time in Children’s Hospital in Detroit. It was particularly scary when we discovered he had an alarmingly low count of a particular antibody, the one that helps your immune system fight off infection. The relief was so great it is hard to express when they ruled out the most serious (and often life-threatening) illnesses. And even though I was relieved, there was a part of me that was that was struck for all of the kids in the rooms around us and their parents who may not get the same news.

Our diagnosis was positive, but we weren’t out of the woods so to speak. He still needed a lot of attention. We’ve come such a long way that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t that long ago when things were really bad. So today I am loving that although my kids have rashes and mouth sores, they are past their fevers and the rashes will fade; because they are healthy and I am very blessed.

Barefoot Contessa’s Popovers

Let me tell you why I think popovers are amazing; because I want to be the type of person who makes fresh loaves of bread. But I’m not, yet. I love the idea of freshly baked rolls with pats of butter to go along with dinner (ok, maybe not every dinner), but admittedly I am intimidated by the whole active yeast, proofing, not over kneading process. I have on more than one attempt tried without success. But what little basket of baked starchy goodness is there to save the day? The popover! If you can bake a muffin, you can make a popover. It’s a quick easy batter with ordinary ingredients that results in a tasty buttery bread soufflé that perfectly accompanies any roast, sour cream and chive mashed potato with buttery peas. (At leasts that’s how I served them.)

From Barefoot Contessa’s Parties!:

1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

3/4 tsp kosher salt

3 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 cups whole milk at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Generously grease aluminum popover pans or custard cups with softened butter. You’ll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.

Serve hot.

*I used a large popover pan with 6 cups and they turned out beautifully. And to my blogging friend at Culinary Jumble, I will be getting to your roll recipe very soon!

Side note: Contrary to the specific instructions you might want to check (using your oven light) for done-ness, puffed and lightly browned, at around 25 minutes. Thank you Sableyes;)

Erica’s Sprinkle

When you have your first baby, you are given a party where gifts are bestowed upon you like rain. It’s called a shower and it is supposed to set you up in preparation with the things you and your newborn will need. Of course, by the time the next baby comes around you (most likely) still have all of the major items you need, plus experience so the transition is much easier. However, isn’t fun to celebrate the new baby anyway? And what mother wouldn’t mind a couple new onesies, stocking up on diapers and a few new outfits! Enter the “Sprinkle,” a gathering in honor of a mother-to-be (again) and the new baby. It is especially fun when the first born was, as in this case, a girl and the next arrival is a boy. Because it’s fun (and honestly refreshing) to add a little blue to the waves of pink. The theme of this party was woodland. The cake looked like a log and was adorned with forest animals.

IMG_6018

It’s perfect for this time of year, when there is a little chill in the air… and we can bust out the lumberjack inspired flannels.

Mom and dad (and uncle) to-be.

Mom and dad (and uncle) to-be.

The restaurant is a rustic lodge inspired eatery with open log beams and buffalo plaid covered stools. The centerpieces, made by Aunt Rachel and Uncle Ryan (from a fallen tree right in their back yard), were like something you could find along the edge of a picture perfect forest.

image

The cake wasn’t the only place the little woodland animals showed up.

image

True to a hike in the woods, everyone got to take home a couple varieties trail mix.

image

We can’t wait to meet you Maxwell!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps – PF Chang Style

Are lettuce wraps like perfect or what? They’re a little sweet, a little salty, a little crunchy, a little chewy… They just check off every box for taste pleasing. But the best part is that since the carrier for deliciousness is lettuce, they are totally guilt free. (At least that’s how I rationalize.) They are great as an appetizer, or in my opinion a meal in itself.

The following recipe is adapted from food.com and I think it’s just right. (Also it can easily be doubled, or quadrupled…)

3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water chestnut, diced into pea-sized pieces
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 -5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Stir Fry Sauce (*Double for topping)

2 Tbsp Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Brown sugar
1/2 tsp Rice wine vinegar
1 tsp Teriyaki sauce (For reserved sauce)

Saute chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until done. Remove chicken from the pan and cool.

Keep oil in the pan, keep hot. As chicken cools mince water chestnuts to about the size of small peas. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as the water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add chicken, garlic, onions, and water chestnuts to pan. Add stir fry sauce (1/2 if doubled) to pan, saute mixture a couple minutes.

Oh yeah.

Oh yeah.

Spoon the fabulousness into pocket of rinsed and crunchy lettuce. Add Teriyaki to remaining half of stir fry sauce and top chicken mixture with that tasty dressing!  Take big bites (your mouth says ‘thank you’). We also had other optional sauces like Teriyaki and Asian Zing (from Buffalo Wild Wings), but the stir fry sauce is my fave.

*Edited from the original, with updated sauce information.

Classic Deviled Eggs

This dish has been around as long as I can remember. I suspect most people can say that. It’s just a classic appetizer that has frequented every holiday and many gatherings I’ve attended. So it is imperative that this be a part of my collection of recipes. (Which actually is my mother’s recipe). I hear they are making a comeback, I didn’t know they were gone. None-the-less, crazy kids everywhere are adding spices like chipotle, topping them with pulled pork and smoked trout, and even making them look artsy like cracked eggs. 

12 eggs

1/2 cup Miracle Whip

2 Tbsp Mayonnaise

1 Tbsp Honey mustard

2 tsp Horseradish sauce

1/2 tsp Season salt

1/8 tsp ground Pepper

Paprika for topping (optional)

Parsley for topping (optional)

Place eggs in a sauce pan and fill with enough water to cover eggs by an inch. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Gently drain and replace with cold tap water (more than once if necessary) until eggs are cool enough to handle. Peel, rinse and pat eggs dry with a paper towel. If time permits, seal eggs in an air tight ziplock baggy and refrigerate until cold, overnight if possible.

Slice the eggs in half, lengthwise. Gently remove the yolks with a small spoon and place in bowl, setting whites aside for now. Mash egg yolks with a fork until crumbly. Add Miracle Whip, mayonnaise, honey mustard, horseradish sauce, season salt, and ground pepper. Mix until creamy. If it seems to dry add more of the condiments you like a teaspoon at a time. (If it’s too wet boil some more eggs. Ha ha ha.)

With a small spoon carefully fill the egg whites with yolk mixture, garnish with optional toppings and place on serving dish. Eggs can be refrigerated until serving (within 24 hours). They can be stored after the party for several days, but they might not look as pretty.

Other optional toppings include chives, sliced olives, pimentos and bacon bits.

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately #1: Seasonal Parties – Harvest Celebration

Admittedly, I am not crafty. But I know people who are! My mother for example has an artistic flare that passed me right by. She gets inspired by her six grandchildren and makes every season come alive in fun and innovative ways. And although I may not come up with these ideas, I certainly appreciate them! How adorable are these little pumpkins? And better yet, they are delicious, because they are Rice Krispies Treats! I know what you are thinking. Do they have organic food coloring? Well I like India Tree’s natural food dyes. (But I’m not saying that’s what my mom did.)

IMG_1976

Our gathering took place at the family cabin, and at night for a little ambiance we lit a pumpkin style lantern. Originally made to light the way outside, the lanterns were made from repurposed hanging flower pots. The hollowed and carved pumpkins are set on a bed of colorful leaves and filled with a candle. Creatively my mother used paper bags and coffee filters for the bow! (People need to get creative in the woods.)

IMG_1987 IMG_1990

For entertainment we the kids played rounds of tic-tac-toe. Who needs pencils and paper when you have pumpkins and sticks?

IMG_1973

Not really true to character she also made some pumpkin cake pops, covered in white chocolate and sprinkles. -That is to say carrying out a theme is all her style, but molded bakeware is more of my thing… So I’m pretty sure I’m rubbing off on her.

The party included good eats, and fun drinks too… which I’ll be sharing with you in the future. But for now I’ll leave you with this:

IMG_2007

Because even though they’re not organic, they are a Michigan company. And you know I have to make a plug for my Michigan companies. 😉

Sidenote: I’d like to give credit to the sites my mom uses for ideas which are partially hers and some variations of things she saw on the world wide web, so I will in-part simply credit the internet.

Something

You know that scene in Somethings Gotta Give, when Diane Keaton is sitting at her desk in the bedroom of her Hampton’s home? …There is French cafe music playing in the background and all of her creative juices are flowing. I Love that. Sometimes I think I could write a play, or at least a few scenes; like the Pixar Shorts of a play. I’ll act the whole thing out in my head. There have been times when it seems so funny I can actually make myself laugh out loud. And I’ll think “this is really good.” But two days later I can’t remember a single word. And I think I should have written that down. What’s up with that?

And why don’t I have a really cool desk in a spacious room with tons of natural lighting and 10 foot ceilings… at my house in the Hampton’s?

Hershey Kisses Peanut Butter Blossoms

Does everyone in the world make these cookies? Well for the one person out there who may not have had them, this recipe is for you. Because something this special deserves to be had by all. And if you haven’t had them, please do yourself this favor. These cookies are the perfect little chewy packages of peanut butter and chocolate. They are like the best little sweet one-bites ever. (Ok, maybe they’re like 2-3 bites.) Now if only Hershey would make organic kisses, what a wonderful world it would be.

Via a Hershey Kisses magazine ad cut out a decade ago:

48 Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates

1/2 cup Shortening

3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter

1/3 cup granulated Sugar

1/3 cup packed Light brown sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Granulated Sugar (for rolling)

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates
  2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl. Add 1/3 cup granulated and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into mixture.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar; place on engrossed cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a Kisses Chocolate into center of each cookie. Rem from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

I’d like to add that this recipe can be easily doubled, which I do when bring them to a gathering (or up north for a weekend getaway at the cabin)… because they go fast. Everyone from kids to adults love them. I remember my Aunt Lynn making these when I was a kid. They seemed so special, probably because they were enjoyed on a holiday. But don’t wait for a holiday. You should enjoy them today. And every day. And you should share. And then every day will feel like a holiday. And work will be that much better. (Unless someone has a peanut allergy.)