Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cutest Apron Ever

My daughter loves to help me cook! Sometimes she is a really good helper and other times she is more in the way than anything. I like to let her help though. I want her to enjoy cooking and being int he kitchen like I do. Actually my youngest son loves to help out in the kitchen as well and I will be making him an apron, too, just as soon as I find some more boyish stuff to make it with. One thing they both love is to wear one of my aprons. I figured I might as well make them their own!

This apron took me all of 15 minutes to make. All you need is a hot pad, a tea towel, and some ribbon. Cut the tea towel in half and sew it to the bottom of the hot pad. Measure out some ribbon that will be long enough to wrap around and tie the apron on the back. Sew this right along where the tea towel and hot pad meet. Next, measure out some ribbon that will be long enough to go around their neck and slip on and off fairly easily. Sew this to the top of each side of the hot pad. Viola! A sweet little apron!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quinoa Bites

I've seen this recipe on Pinterest and have been dying to try it! We don't eat meat (I feel like I say that a lot, but it kind of explains why we eat some strange stuff) and I love quinoa. We just had them for dinner and the kids LOVED them and even asked for seconds. I would call it a success. They are really yummy and pretty easy to throw together. I'll definitely make them again. I did make some changes from the original recipe. It called for carrots instead of peppers, but my kids ate all the carrots. I also doubled the original recipe to accommodate my family. Ok, here is what you need:

*You will need 4c cooked quinoa, so make that first while you are chopping up your other stuff. 1c uncooked quinoa plus 2c water is what you will need for 4c cooked quinoa. Cook according to the package, it's a lot like rice!
*In a big bowl add 2c diced peppers (any kind you want, I used a combo of red and yellow since it is what I had), 4 cloves chopped garlic, 1/2c chopped cilantro, and 1c chopped green onion

*Isn't it pretty?
*Next add in your cooked quinoa, 1c Parmesan cheese, 4 eggs, 1tsp season salt, 1/2tsp pepper, and 4Tbps flour.
*Mix it all together

*Grease a mini muffin tin and place 1Tbsp of the mixture in each cup
*Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until they are nice a golden brown
*We had ours with Thousand Island dressing and applesauce
*My doubled recipe made about 50 bites

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave, had a lot to live up to in my mind. I am the kind of person who gets very attached to books and characters and, before this book, I had just finished The Hunger Games series. I was definitely in one of those "oh my gosh, I will never in my life read another book that is this good" kind of mood. I get in those often after reading really good books.

My brother is the one who bought this book for me. He is a high school English teacher, lover of good books, and all around awesome person. I know that anytime he recommends a book it is going to be good. He got me this one as a Christmas gift this year. He said he couldn't wait for me to read it because it was so good and he wanted to talk with me about it. Fair enough, I started the next day and quickly made my way through the entire book.

I will keep in step with what Cleave has put on the back cover:
             "We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It truly is a special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it so we will just say this: This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face."

This book reveals the story of what happened to these women a piece at a time. It leaves you turning the pages as quickly as you can, wanting to find out the whole story. Every time you learn a new bit of the story, you think that must be it. That has to be the worst of it. But the tragedy continues to unfold. Although the story is tragic, it also has hope sprinkled in throughout. You want to like these characters and you want good things to come to them.

One of my favorite characters in the books, is the little 4 year old who goes by the name Batman. He always wears the costume and is on a mission to fight the "goodies" and "baddies" of the world. Cleave captured the 4 year old mindset so perfectly. As I was reading it, I couldn't help but think of my own little 4 year old and feel a connection.

Overall, this is a wonderful book with a wonderfully tragic story. I don't know how Cleave got inside the heads of a Nigerian girl and an English woman so well, but the voices he gives them are spot on. The story makes you question yourself, and what you would do in a situation like theirs. I'm all for books that challenge you and make you think, and this is definitely one. I hope you will read it and enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

The inspiration for this yummy, warm, Monday morning breakfast came from a combination of 2 things: a lone can of pumpkin I found in my pantry and a late night pin fest on Pinterest. As always, I cook for an army so feel free to adjust this recipe as needed. The kids are eating it right now and have already asked for seconds! Perfect for a chilly, winter morning. Here is what you will need:

*Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch pan
*In a medium sized bowl combine: 1 can pumpkin, 1/2c brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2tsp vanilla, 1tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp salt, and 3/4tsp baking powder.
*Mix until smooth

*Stir in 1.5c milk and 2.5c oats
*Pour into your  greased pan and cover with foil
*Bake 30 minutes, remove foil, and bake for 15 more minutes
*Serve right out of the oven
*We had ours with hot chocolate. Yum! A good breakfast indeed!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chewy Breakfast (or anytime) Bars

Can I tell you how much my kids and husband LOVE these? The whole pan will be gobbled down in a single day. Of course, they may last longer for you if you don't have 5 growing kids and a growing husband to feed. I love that these are easy. I love that they are filling. I love that you can make it up as you go and add in whatever you want. I love that I know exactly what is in them unlike most of those boxed ones you buy at the store. Like most of the things I make, I kind of read a bunch of recipes and then make up my own! Here is what you will need:

*Pre heat your oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 pan
*In a large bowl, combine 2c oats, 1c flour, 1/2c wheat germ, 3/4c brown sugar, and 3 tsp cinnamon
*Now is where you get to decide what you want in your bars! This time I put in some coconut, slivered almonds, and mini chocolate chips. Next time I want to try some craisins or other fruit.

*Next, make a well in the center. This is where we will add the wet ingredients which include: 1 egg slightly beaten, 1/2c honey, 1/2 oil, and 2 tsp vanilla

*Mix until well combined. Honestly, using your hands works best!

*Press mixture into the 9x13 pan

*Bake for about 15 minutes, but keep a close eye on them. You want them to just be turning golden around the edges. If you overcook them, they will not keep their chewy consistency after they cool. I have a super, duper awesome oven from the 60s that cooks things super hot and super fast, so it takes just under 15 minutes.
*Let them cool completely and then turn them out and cut them into bars.

*Store in an airtight container. I wish I could tell you how long these last, but like I said, mine never last longer than a day! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Inspiration

I love how New Year's is like one big reset button. Although it is really just in your mind. January 1st is a day like any other day of the year, and there is nothing saying you can't reevaluate and reflect on your life on any day of the year, but it just feels special. I think it is very important to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new one.

2011 was an eventful year for my family. I graduated from nursing school, passed boards, and found a part time nursing job. We moved into our new home, which I continue to love more and more everyday. Lastly, we found out that we were going to be welcoming a 6th child into our family! The first time we have truly been surprised by a pregnancy, but we could not be more excited!

Now, my goals for 2012. Simple really: walk more, read more, sew more. 2 of those pertain to this blog so I will focus on those for now.

Read More: Nursing school kind of put a damper on that whole "reading for fun" thing. Studying for multiple tests a day didn't leave much time for that.  Since then though, I have read some amazing books that helped fire my love of reading back up. I am reading a wonderful book right now that I can't wait to write about on here. I also have several other books lined up on my Kindle for the coming months.

Sew More: I finally did it. I made Christmas jammies for all 5 of the kids. It is something I have wanted to do since my youngest was a baby, but had always found an excuse not to. It really gave me a lot of confidence and a new drive to do more. I have some projects in mind including stuff for the kids and some stuff for the house, too. I'm not good at thinking of things to make for myself, but I'm hoping to try some of that this year as well!

I'm going to try and be gentle on myself and not set crazy goals or deadlines for finishing books or projects. This is supposed to be a hobby and be fun. And of course, I will still be cooking up a storm! That is one thing I've never stopped doing and probably never will! Join me!