My kids don’t know it, but I rock!

23 02 2010

I’ve spent most of motherhood feeling like a failure. Maybe its because I never expected to be a mother or maybe its just something that every mother feels because we want so very much for our children. This afternoon was a nice exception. The temperatures have plummeted again and forecasters are talking snow and sleet tonight. For us Texas natives, this is just crazy! After I brought the kids home from school, I decided we all needed a nice cup of hot chocolate to warm us up. I drank instant cocoa growing up and I never thought twice about it.  Since I’ve changed my eating habits, I’ve found that I can’t stand the taste and I wanted to make something better. After perusing recipe after recipe on the internet, I decided I was over thinking the whole thing. I grabbed some a Dove dark chocolate baking bar and melted it into a saucepan with some half and half, milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Once it all melted into a creamy consistency (with little floating specks of dark chocolate), I poured it into miniature mugs (I use my espresso mugs) and topped it with some homemade whipped cream. The girls and I sat at the breakfast table and drank our hot chocolate and talked about the day and giggled over silly things. For this one moment, I felt like a great mom. I’m going to enjoy the feeling while it lasts!

Forgive the picture quality- its from my phone





My cupboards (and freezer) runneth over…

6 01 2010

I have too much food in my house. I know, this is a terrible problem to have. Unfortunately, for some weird reason I’m amazingly talented at stockpiling food, but I’m terrible at actually using the food that I buy. You would think that I had survived the depression or something. When I see a great deal on good food, I immediately snatch it up and stash it into the freezer and then never touch it again. Not because I didn’t like what I bought. But because I might need it later. You know, if there is a natural disaster or we have a random, spontaneous party or HEB gets hit by a meteor. Just. In. Case. Its gotten to the point that I can not fit one single piece of food into my already packed freezers. Yes, freezers.

So, I’ve decided that January of 2010 is when I break this cycle. I’m going to start using everything that I have. In order to do this, I’ve cut my grocery budget to $55 a week. This includes food, toilet paper, razors, shampoo, dog and cat food, pull ups, etc. I’m hoping this will force me to use what is available and it will allow me to save money for new plants for my garden that will translate into groceries later on. (My current obsession is my own berry orchard; blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and cherries.)  I initially arrived at $55 because I thought I would spend $20 at HEB, $10 at Kroger, $20 at the Farmer’s Market and $5 at CVS.   This great theory was blown out of the water when I spent $40 at HEB today. I may have to rethink this. I’m going to skip the Farmer’s Market since we still have produce from last week.

The problem is that I love to cook. When I get an idea of what I want to cook, I want to cook it that night. Even if it means running to the store for 3 more ingredients. Its going to be a challenge to make myself plan meals backwards working from the foods that I already have.

Tonight’s dinner cost $3.00. I made open faced chicken parm sandwiches with a side of potato soup. The soup came from my mom and I made the marinara from my leftover market tomatoes, the bread from scratch and topped the chicken with fresh mozzarella I had leftover from last night’s dinner.  I spent $3.00 on the chicken, which isn’t bad, but I could still do better. I have 3 or 4 things in my freezer that I could have made a similar meal with, but my heart was stuck on chicken. This is going to be a very challenging month.





Its the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse….

30 07 2009

If that tune is not running through your head right now and you aren’t mentally singing the rest of the song, then you don’t have kids. For all of you who do, you understand the obsession that is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This obsession is what prompted me to attempt a clubhouse cake for Taryn’s second birthday party. Admittedly, I was disappointed with the results, but Taryn didn’t seem to mind my disaster and I did learn that I’m capable of making marshmallow fondant.  The cake did taste great and I even found a frosting recipe that I like (which I promptly lost the next day.)

Taryn and her cake

Clubhouse Cake

The cake was a simple sheet cake (a mixture of Butter Golden and White because those were the boxes that I had.)  I’m still trying to track down the frosting that I used. I know that it had 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and a little bit of lemon juice that helped offset the usual overpowering sweetness of frosting. When I track down the recipe, I’ll post it here because it was fantastic. Even my brother in law liked it and he doesn’t generally care for frosting at all. The clubhouse is made of shaped rice krispies treats that I covered in royal icing and then covered in marshmallow fondant. It didn’t turn out anywhere near the picture in my head, but I’ll cut myself a little slack for my first attempt with homemade fondant. If you are interested, the marshmallow fondant tastes 100 times better than the crap that you can buy from Wilton.

I already have my next project. My aunt has just requested a helicopter cake for my cousin (he just received his flying license.) I’m thinking I’ll do that entirely out of cake. It’ll have grey icing. I don’t even want to think how you make grey icing. (name that movie!) Maybe candy for the details, but no rice krispies for that one. Wish me luck!





What the f$%@ was I thinking?!?!

17 07 2009

I’m trying to pack for my trip tonight and panic is starting to set it in.  Suddenly, I have complete understanding for The Bloggess and her “confidence wigs”. I wish I had one. Although I honestly don’t know how I would keep it on while I was dancing. For those of you who don’t know, I’m headed to Round Rock to get my Zumba Gold certification. Zumba is a latin dance class that is SO. MUCH. FUN. I’m going to get certified to teach a Zumba class geared towards older clients, fitness beginners or people recovering from injuries. I honestly don’t know how I got here. I vaguely mentioned something to my instructor and friend, Cornelia, about one day, maybe being interested in getting certified and next thing I knew, I had registered myself in a certification class. ME! IN A FITNESS INSTRUCTOR CLASS! This is crazy. This is stupid. I know I pick up coreography quickly. I know that everyone tells me that I do well at this class. I’ve had half a dozen people and two Zumba instructors encourage me to get certified, but a part of me is starting to wonder if that wasn’t just them being encouraging to the funny, fat girl that comes to every class.  I’ve had a little voice whispering for 2 weeks that this will be great. That I’m starting a great new chapter in my life. That this could open doors to places that I want to be. That voice has been completely drowned out by the screaming maniac now wailing in my head, “WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?!?! YOU’RE TOO FAT FOR THIS! You’re going to make a complete fool out of yourself. You’re going to collapse after the second hour. They’re going to have to call paramedics to give you oxygen!” That mean, psychotic voice has gained volume exponentially over the last couple of hours. The really sad thing is that I’m so nervous that I’ll I’ve wanted to do is eat all day today. I’ve been doing so well eating healthy foods and now on the eve of my certification, all I want is chips and soda. Great. Not really helping my self confidence here.





Cherries!!!

13 07 2009

Hooray for Kroger’s 99 cent sale on cherries. I stocked up on almost 8 lbs and I’m honestly seriously considering going back for more. The last batch of cherry jam turned out amazing, so I think that’s the fate of most of these new cherries. (Even though the last thing my family needs is more jam!)

cherry jam

cherry jam

*Photo courtesy of ReinventingJess

I love this stuff. Its amazing in PB&J and perfect on toast all by itself. I know it would be perfect on top of cheesecake, but I haven’t had the excuse to make one yet. The recipe is so ridiculously easy that pitting the cherries is the longest part of the process for me. Well, that and cleaning the kitchen.  Here is where I found the recipe. I’ve used plenty of their other recipes for fresh fruit; I highly recommend them. This is the simple version of the recipe:

4 cups of pitted cherries

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2.5 cups of sugar

1 box of pectin

* I did find that when I pulsed the cherries in the food processor, the jam had a more even consistency and it set up much better.

I’m sure I’ll save a pound or two for something more interesting. My last cherry pie turned out pretty well, so I’m thinking maybe some individul cherry turnovers or the classic cherry crumble. Assuming, of course, that we don’t eat them all in snacking before it comes to that. I just know that at some point next winter, I’m going to be dreaming about the taste of fresh cherries and it would be such a treat to be able to pull out some wonderful desserts from the freezer. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself and my hubby as I keep running back to the store to get more cherries.

Here’s the cherry pie that I baked for the fourth. My photography skills are seriously lacking, so please forgive the lighting. It tasted much better than it looked and I was quite pleased since this was the first pie crust I’ve ever made from scratch.

cherry pie





Kiwi Daquiri Dessert Sauce

6 07 2009

Kiwi Daquiri Dessert Sauce

Kiwi Daquiri Dessert Sauce

(Pictures taken by ReinventingJess)

This was ridiculously quick and easy to make. I came across the recipe on the back of the packaging for some adorable little 8 ounce Ball Jars that I had bought for Cherry Jam.  Speaking of these adorable jars, my daughter informed me that she did not like them. In fact, I was told that I’m not allowed to buy them any more. That’s right folks, my shopping decisions are now made by a 3 year old. Anyway, back to the jam. The Ball recipe lists this as a “jam” but it is waaaaay too sweet for jam. In fact, if I make it again, I think I’ll cut the sugar in half.  Even though it was sweeter than I prefer in a jam, it was perfect as a dessert sauce. I poured some over vanilla ice cream and it tasted wonderfully decadent. I have plans to eventually try on top of plain cheesecake, or maybe as a base sauce for a mousse. From start to finish, it took me about 45 minutes (and that includes the 10 minutes that I ran to Wynk’s house for some green food coloring.)

Kiwi Daiquiri Dessert Sauce

  • 2 cups crushed peeled kiwifruit (about 5 medium)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 1.75-oz pkg Fruit Pectin
  • 3 cups sugar (*like I said, I would cut this back some)
  • 1/4 cup rum (I used coconut rum!)
  • 3 drops green food coloring, optional

1.) Prepare boiling water canner. Heat Jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use.  Set Bands aside.

2.) Combine kiwifruit, pineapple juice and lime juice in a saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring frequently. Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Immediately stir in rum and green food coloring. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

3.) Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe Rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

4.) Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours.





Summer Veggie Pasta

25 06 2009

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(all photos are courtesy of Wynk)

This is the perfect time of year to start eating seasonally.  All of the best stuff is in season and this dish is great for blending all of those summer flavors. Its simple and still very flavorful.

Here’s the rundown.

Get a nice assortment of in season veggies. These represent a combination of what’s in season (and on sale!) and in the stores right now and what was available in my own garden.

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Then just chop them up. This is the only really time consuming step of the entire process. Don’t be too stressed about making the sizes perfect. I just hack away and tell myself I’m aiming for the “rustic” chop.

Then just dump all the veggies in a roasting pan and drizzle with EVOO (yes, I’m a Rachel Ray fan) and sprinkle a healthy amount of seasoning (I used McCormick’s Garlic and Onion seasoning).

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Roast in the oven under the broiler at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until everything is soft and cooked and the cherry tomatoes burst.

Drop the pasta.

Make the pesto. Everyone’s pesto is a little different (and mine is always dependent on what I have on hand.) Dump the basil, mint, sauteed garlic cloves, and toasted nuts in the food processor. Stream in EVOO while pulsing until it gets to the desired consistency. Then add in a generous handful of your cheese. (I usually use parmesean, but I happened to have Romano on hand today.) If you have a lemon, this is good time to add in some zest and a good squeeze of lemon juice, too.

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Reserve 1 cup of starchy cooking water from the pasta and drain the rest once its al dente. Put the pesto in the bottom of a large serving bowl and stir in the reserved water. (It will look thin.) Add in your pasta and roasted veggies. Stir until the pesto is evenly distributed and top with more cheese. Enjoy!

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