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

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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.





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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All Cooked Out

23 06 2009

I love to cook, but I definitely overdid it for Father’s Day. I promised my mom that I would bake some oatmeal raisin cookies for my PawPaw who was going to be passing through that day.  Since I was cooking Oatmeal Cookies anyway, I thought I would surpise my hubby with some Oatmeal Creme Pies for Father’s Day.  Then I realized when I was cooking him breakfast that we didn’t not have anything breadish to put jam on. (We live on jam at our house. We didn’t used to, but then a friend showed me how to can and I made jam like crazy and then she shared her jam and now jam is all The Thing here. ) Anyway, we didn’t have any bread, so I decided that since I was baking I could just whip up a batch of biscuits, too. I’m sure for some people this isn’t a big deal, but I had never actually made biscuits before. (Except Cocoa and Biscuits, but that’s another story.) So I tried a new recipe that was ok, but the temperature was way too high and the I rolled the biscuits to thin, so I made another batch so I could get it right. Sometimes its hard being a perfectionist.

Are you tired yet?  I was pretty tired by this point.   Here’s where I took a break and threw the kids in the car to try and see my grandfather and my Uncle Dominic and Uncle Larry who were supposed to be at my Mom’s at 12:45.  They never showed. At 2:15, they were still a half hour away and I couldn’t wait anymore.  My kids were already up way past their nap time, and I didn’t want to risk the certain meltdowns if we tried to wait longer. So that was generally a waste of time, but it did give me a break from cooking.

I should have stopped here. I didn’t.

I’d already told my hubby and my brother in law that I would cook Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for them and I’d already taken all the meat out for it. And, since I was cooking gumbo anyway, my Mom wanted to know if I would go ahead and make some Egg and Potato Fricasee. So I started that. Now, if you haven’t cooked gumbo before, let me explain something. Cooking gumbo is not that difficult. Its actually pretty easy. The exhausting and laborious part of gumbo is cooking the roux. You get to stand over a skillet (or in my case, since I was cooking so much, 2 skillets) for a couple of hours, slowly stirring flour and oil and until it browns and starts to look like this.

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This flavor filled paste of goo. Then you chop up a bunch of veggies and throw them in the roux after you’ve taken it off the heat. (The roux stays very hot for quite awhile)

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After all the Cajun Trinity (celery, onion and bell pepper) has cooked, just throw the roux in a pot, throw in whatever else you are cooking and add water until you get to the desired consistency. Gumbo is more of a soup and Fricasee is more of a thick gravy. I wish I had pictures of the rest of the progress, but I didn’t take these myself. My friend, Wynk took the pictures and she had to go back home to mow her lawn before I could finish.

Oh, I almost forgot- while I was cooking the roux, I thought it would be a fun treat to cook some stuffed jalepenos, as well. (just for kicks)

So, to sum up, I cooked

  • 2 batches of biscuits a
  • batch of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • a batch of  Oatmeal Creme Pies
  • a breakfast of sausage, bacon and eggs
  • Stuffed Jalepenos
  • Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
  • Egg and Potato Fricasee

All in one day. Because I’m an idiot. Oh, and I love my husband. I spent 2 hours cleaning the kitchen that night and it still wasn’t completely clean. So what did my kids get for breakfast this morning? Pops cereal. And what did they have for lunch? Sonic. And what did they have for dinner? leftover gumbo.  I was so cooked out that by the time I made it home to eat, we were out of rice and I just ate my fricasee plain. (my 1 cajun reader is shuddering at the thought right now). Because I was too tired to cook rice! Maybe this won’t turn into a cooking blog, afterall. 🙂





2 steps forward and 1 step back

17 04 2009

I ate like crap today. In the midst of my obsession with fresh, I took a break and ate a party time sausage in a tortilla, a peanut butter and jam sandwich (although the jam was made by yours truly) on white bread and a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Not exactly garden fresh kind of stuff. In fact, I didn’t eat a single vegetable today (which is pretty odd for me). I think some of it has to do with the fact that I didn’t work out today or yesterday. Yesterday I went to the gym with every intention of enjoying my Pilates and Zumba classes, but 15 minutes into Pilates, I realized that my allergies were not going to allow me the oxygen or the necessary equilibrium to finish. Today I just wasn’t very motivated. Whenever I take a break from the gym, my eating habits tend to regress. I don’t think that was the whole story, though. I checked out Harvest For Hope by Jane Goodall from the library today along with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to reread. It feels very ironic to be poring over reading material about the gluttony of the American Way while I eat mint chocolate chip ice cream, but it feels a bit like Mardi Gras for me. I know that the more information I take in about our food sources and the effects that they have on our world (and our health), the more concerned I will become with it. I understand why most people don’t want to think about this kind of stuff. You can’t educate yourself and then ignore it. At some point, you have to act on that knowledge. I can foresee a point in the not so distant future when I won’t allow myself to indulge in convenience foods at the cost of my conscience. So for right now, it feels like that last guilty splurge before a long Lenten season. Even though my main concern is the health of my family, a part of me feels like a kid whose about to have my candy taken away.