Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Go Pack Go!!!

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned my family bleeds Green & Gold. But not Oregon Ducks' Green & Gold my friends, but Green Bay Packers' Green & Gold!!!

You see, my dear husband was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so in his mind, there simply is no other football team. Period.

So if you follow the NFL at all, it's not hard to see why there is great rejoicing right now at our house. Our beloved Packers are 6-1, after beating a determined Denver Broncos team last night, IN overtime & IN Denver :-)

A little background: BD (before David), I was a faithful Seattle Seahawks fan, as we had lived in Seattle for a couple years, when I was growing up. Every Sunday afternoon you'd find me sitting in front of the TV, watching the game, and cheering for the Seahawks. Often this would cause my poor cat great distress, as she'd sit on my lap, and then nearly go through the roof when I'd jump up to celebrate a touchdown.

Then I met David, and the things you'll do for love...I traded in my blue & green for green & gold. In fact several years ago, when the Packers were playing the Seahawks in Seattle, we drove up to the game, and guess which team I rooted for--Yep, the Packers--I think if I hadn't, I would have probably walked home!!!

Anyway, now this obsession/sickness has been passed on to our darling daughter. Sigh. We can't even drive by a football field without her shouting, "Go Packers!" And every football game is the Packers. And every football team is the Packers.

With that in mind, I've posted some pictures below of Kyra in Daddy's Brett Favre jersey, carrying on the Packer Fan legacy...

Touchdown, Packers!

Off to spread the love...

Hoping I haven't jinxed them,

Monday, October 29, 2007

It has begun

The other day we were at a restaurant, and Kyra was in need of a diaper change. I'm always a little leery of changing her in public places, because you never know if they're going to have a nice baby changing station, or if you'll be making a trip out to the car's back seat.

This particular restaurant did have a changing station in their restroom, although it was right by the sink, and not in a stall--not very convenient if someone else needs to wash their hands...

Anyway, I was in the process of changing Kyra, and an elderly woman entered the bathroom, and went into one of the stalls. She did her business, and when she was finished, my precious daughter yells out, "Lady done going potty!"

Needless to say, I was mortified. Not knowing exactly what to say, but knowing I needed to acknowledge Kyra's identification of this process, as we're in the beginning stages of potty training, I said sheepishly, "Yes, honey" or "You're right", or something like that.

Then I hear this snicker from the stall, and know that at least this person has a sense of humor. Thank goodness! I also knew I couldn't get Kyra cleaned up, finished, and out of there, before this lady emerged from the stall, so I knew I'd have to face her.

The moment of truth came: She walked out, smiled and then said, "Don't you hate these (motion-sensor) towel machines that make you wave your arms at them? I always feel so silly."

Kristin wipes her brow in relief.

I know that those days are coming...When your child's innocent comments make you feel like you're in a Southwest Airlines' "Wanna get away?" ad. I only hope that when they do, I'll be surrounded by folks as gracious and understanding as this woman was.

Happy Monday, friends, & Go Packers!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chicken Risotto

For this week's culinary delight segment, I decided to post one of my favorite recipes, and one that doesn't last very long around our dinner table: Chicken Risotto.

Now before you go and say, "Oh, risotto's good, but it takes so much babysitting, with the adding of the liquid, etc!", I promise this recipe has all the goodness of a yummy risotto, without all the extra time & effort.

Chicken Risotto
From the Internet--site unknown


6 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 cups chicken broth (2 14 oz cans)
1 teaspoon basil
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

In large skillet (we use our cast-iron which works really well), melt 2 tablespoons butter.

Add chicken and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from skillet.

Add remaining butter, rice and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until rice is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms and onions. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth and basil. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Gently stir in chicken. Continue simmering until chicken is heated through and rice is tender, about 5 minutes.

Top with cheese and serve immediately.

Be sure to get out and enjoy the beautiful sunshine on this great Fall Day, friends!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My twin...

They say everyone has a twin out there. I'm not talking about those people who were born as one half of a set of twins. The twins I'm referring to are often complete strangers, who happen to look a lot like us.

For instance, I've been told in the past that I looked like Pam Dawber, of Mork & Mindy fame.

I don't know that I see the resemblance, but that's ok.

Recently, however, we were sitting at the dinner table, and Kyra had just noticed her new plastic kids' plate had a picture on it. All of a sudden she puts her fork down, points to one of the characters on the plate, and says, "Mommy!" I said, "What is it, sweetheart?" She says, "No. That's Mommy!"

Here's what was on her plate:

Does anyone else see what's wrong with this picture, other than the fact that there are no girls in it??? And as I'm not accustomed to wearing a plaid shirt or a cowboy hat, for that matter, why she would think I looked like Woody, is beyond me.

I guess all I can do is take solace in the fact it could be worse...She could have pointed to her Bob the Tomato plate & said, "Mommy"...

Feeling like I somehow grew a pull-string,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Simple Pot Roast

Happy Thursday, and with it being a blustery day and all, I thought I'd post a good "down-home, warm-your-tummy" dish for this week's Culinary Delight.

Now I have to confess something: My Crock-pot has a high place of honor in my kitchen, second only to my coffee/espresso maker :-) I mean, if I can throw dinner together, and then not have to worry about it for 8-10 hours,
whoo hoo! more time to play with Kyra or take a nap!

So for a recipe to NOT involve the crock-pot, and still be one of my favorites, it has to be really good!!!

When David found the following recipe in Cook's Illustrated magazine, he said, "We should try that some time. It looks really good." To which I replied, "Oh honey. We already have plenty of pot roast recipes, and besides, it doesn't use the crock-pot!", and I filed it away with the rest of our cookbooks.

Then the other day, I knew we were going to be home all afternoon, because it was Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers game was actually on TV! It was also a day like today, weather-wise, so I pulled out the non-crock-pot pot roast recipe and decided to try it.

As it was roasting in the oven, and I was having to turn it every 1/2 hour, for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, I kept saying to myself, "I hope this is just awful, so I'll never have to make it again! What a pain! Nothing like my nice easy crockpot!"

Well, my hating it was not to be. In fact, it was down-right delicious! Grrrr! So, if you have several hours to dedicate to this "simple" pot roast", it's definitely worth the effort.

Simple Pot Roast
Serves 6 to 8

1 boneless chuck roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
1 small carrot, chopped medium--more can be added if you prefer
1 small celery rib, chopped medium
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup canned chicken broth
1 cup canned beef broth--can use 2 cups of chicken or beef if you don't have one or the other
1 sprig fresh thyme--
can use 1 tablespoon dried thyme
1-1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dry red wine

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly pat roast dry with paper towels; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Brown roast thoroughly on all sides, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer roast to large plate; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add onion, carrot and celery to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth & thyme, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.

Return roast and any accumulated juices to pot; add enough water to come halfway up sides of roast. Bring liquid to simmer over medium heat. Then wrap pot lid in foil (I know this sounds strange, but just go with it--it seals the gap between the lid & the pot to keep in the steam), and cover the pan tightly with the lid. Transfer pot to oven.

Cook, turning roast every 30 minutes, until fully tender and meat fork or sharp knife easily slips in and out of meat, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Transfer roast to carving board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow liquid in pot to settle about 5 minutes, then use wide spoon to skim fat off surface. Boil over high heat until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Add red wine and reduce again to 1 1/2 cups, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Using carving knife, cut meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices, or pull apart into large pieces; transfer meat to warmed serving plate and pour about 1/2 cup sauce over meat. Serve, passing remaining sauce & veggies separately.

There you have it. It's not meatloaf--remember today is National Meatloaf Appreciation Day, but it is in the meat family, and in my opinion, this is much, much better!!! :-)


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Visiting the Great Pumpkin

It's not often we get a beautiful, warm, sunny, blue-sky day in the fall. But when we do, we try to savor every last minute. And as it's also October, that means our annual visit to the Pumpkin Patch!!!

We decided to make a change from previous years, and try Lake View Farms, out in North Plains. Our
MOMs group had a play date there this last Thursday, which we weren't able to attend, so as a family, we thought we'd try it out.

Unfortunately it was a very short trip, as we didn't feel like paying $3 a person just to get into the pumpkin patch. I know that $3 pays for the train & boat ride, and $1 of that went towards the purchase of your pumpkin, but after all that, you still had to pay for the pumpkin itself. Maybe we've been spoiled, but somehow it seems wrong to have to pay to get into the patch.

So we left rather grumpy, and thought a little lunch might turn things around. After a stop at the
Rock Creek Tavern, we spotted a sign for another pumpkin patch just a mile or so up the road, called the Plumper Pumpkin Farm.

You know that feeling you get when everything just seems to come together? That's how it was when we got out of the car, and started walking towards the patch. And notice I said, walking towards the patch. Yes, you could literally park & be within a few steps from the patch itself. And the best thing was, they have no admission fee to the farm :-) I felt like we had left Pumpkin Disney & landed right at a family friend's farm, it was that great!

Now don't get me wrong. They too had the petting zoo area, and a corn maze, and pony rides, and a giant slide, but it didn't feel like they were pushing all these things on you. If you wanted to do them, you could, for a small fee. But you didn't HAVE to! They also had big bales of hay set up all around so you could take pictures, or have the kids climb on them, and a bunch of nice picnic tables to sit down at if you wanted a little snack time.

We finally chose a big round 19lb pumpkin, and 3 little ones that Kyra picked out herself--Our grand total: $6.25--$0.25 lb for the large pumpkin and $0.50 a piece for the little ones.

We also took lots of pictures, which I've posted some of them below--the first one is from last year's trip...I can't believe how much Kyra has changed in just a year!!!

Kyra & Daddy
Pumpkin Patch 2006

Kyra & Daddy
Pumpkin Patch 2007

Mommy & Me at the Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkins make great seats!

Do you have a license for that, young lady?

Hay there!!!

All in all, we had a great time and we'll definitely be going back there next year.

Happy Saturday friends!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Marshmallow "Rios" Bars & Honey Peanut Squares

As promised, here are not 1 but 2!! yummy desserts that you can probably whip up from what you have in your pantry---especially if you have little ones! By the way, you might know them better as Cheerios, but in our household, for some reason??? we started calling them "Rios", and the name stuck.

Marshmallow "Rios" Bars
originally from www.Cheerios.com

Prep time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
Makes 24 bars


3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 bag (10 1/2 oz) miniature marshmallows (6 cups)
5 cups Cheerios cereal

Grease 13x9-inch pan. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows; stir constantly until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in cereal until evenly coated. Using buttered back of spoon or hands, press mixture firmly in pan; cool. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.

Honey Peanut Squares--my husband prefers these!!
originally from Cheerios.com

Prep time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hr 15 minutes
Makes 36 squares


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey or light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups Cheerios cereal
1/2 cup salted peanuts

Grease 9-inch square pan. In large saucepan, heat sugar and honey just to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Stir in cereal and peanuts until evenly coated. Press evenly into pan, using buttered back of spoon. Cool 1 hour. Cut into 6 rows by 6 rows and store loosely covered.

A confession: Neither of these treats last very long in our house, but luckily they don't take very long to make either :-)


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Letter of the Law

I was heading to a meeting yesterday, and in order to get there in a fairly quick amount of time, I decided to take the highway. What I didn't count on were the ramp signals, already on, at 1:15 in the afternoon!!

So, like a good little girl, I waited and waited and waited, in the lane for single occupant vehicles, which was quite long for that time of day. And let me tell you, you have a lot of time to observe the things around you when you're moving 0 miles per hour.

One of things I noticed was the traffic stacking up behind us. As one car was allowed to go, 3 more were added to the queue, until there was literally a solid line of cars stretching the entire length of the ramp, all the way back to the intersection.

I also like to watch the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane to see if people are truly obeying the "more than one person in the car" rule. Actually, I don't know why I do this, because it inevitably just makes me mad, because there's always someone who feels like the rule doesn't apply to them...

And just as I'm thinking this, a big yellow school bus goes by in the HOV lane. Now normally buses are allowed to use that lane because they carry a large amount of people, thus meeting the criteria. However, this particular bus was completely empty, except for the driver.

Here then was the rub: Buses are allowed to use the HOV lane--it's even posted on a sign above the lane. But is it right for them to use that lane if they are not carrying any passengers? In other words, they are the same as any other single occupancy vehicle because only one person is on board.
Should they be allowed to use the HOV lane, regardless if they have passengers, just because the sign says they can? Or should they use the regular lanes when not carrying anyone else?

I know, I know. With all the problems there are in the world, some of you are probably saying, "Get a life. This is SO not a big deal, and not worth wasting any brain power on". But it was something that made me go hmm, and I was just wondering what other people thought...

Also, be very excited :-) This Thursday I promise to post a very yummy & easy dessert--so easy you'll wonder why you've never tried it before!


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Magic Meatloaf Part Deux

Dinner is over. The meatloaf has been sampled. The vote: 1 for, 2 against.

David thought it was great!!!, and promptly served up a thick slice between two pieces of bread, slices of cheddar cheese and a huge dollop of yellow mustard.

Kyra & I, on the other hand, thought it left a lot to be desired. I tried mine with more ketchup, as it seemed a little dry. Not a big improvement. Kyra took a couple bites, and that was it for her.
We finished up with an old favorite, Mac & Cheese.

So, if you like meatloaf, you'll like this recipe. If not, I apologize and promise I'll post something really yummy next week, like another dessert :-)


National Meatloaf Appreciation Day is coming--October 18th

Today is Thursday, and thus, another recipe day! However, I was doing a Google search on "National Blog day" (thanks Jay!), and I found a site announcing that this coming October 18th is National Meatloaf Day.

Now what's really funny about this is, I never make meatloaf. I'm just not a big fan ("Meatloaf, Smeatloaf, Double-Beetloaf, I hate meatloaf!" says Randy, from the classic movie, A Christmas Story) as most meatloaf is either dry like shoe leather, or drowning in ketchup. But David likes it, and as I had some ground turkey to use, I decided to pull out the old crockpot and make meatloaf!!

So, not only do I get to post today's recipe, but I can contribute my meatloaf experience to the Meatloaf Appreciation Roundup, and take care of dinner tonight :-)

Crockpot Magic Meatloaf
from the Rival Crockpot Recipe book
Serves 8


2 pounds ground beef (or ground turkey)
2 eggs
2/3 cup quick cooking oats
1 package dry onion soup mix (recipe to follow)
1/2 cup ketchup

Reserve 2 tablespoons ketchup. Combine ground beef, eggs, oats, soup mix and remaining ketchup. Shape into a loaf. Put in Crockpot. Top with remaining ketchup. Cover; cook on Low 8 to 10 hours (High: 4 to 6).

Dry Onion Soup Mix
from Ellen's kitchen

7 oz beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup instant unsweetened tea powder (I used the contents of 2 cold-brew iced tea bags)
adds color and tang without more salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups dry minced onion
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1/8 cup onion salt (if you don't have onion salt, just use a pinch of regular salt)
2 tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine in order listed, mix very well but don't use blender. Keep the mixture in an airtight container. Makes 2 cups (equivalent of 8 envelopes). 1/4 cup mix equals 1 envelope commercial soup mix.

Making onion soup? 1/4 cup mix to 4 cups boiling water. Stir well until powder is dissolved.
Onion dip? Add 4-5 tablespoons to 1 pint of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Let me tell you--it smells absolutely fabulous at my house!!

Looking forward to Meatloaf sandwiches,

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Good Intentions or Foot in Mouth Disease???

We've all been there. You're at a party, or a gathering where there are multiple conversations taking place at once. You can't help but overhear some of the other people, either by close proximity or the overall noise level.

All of a sudden, you hear something from another conversation that makes your jaw drop towards your knees. You stop, sometimes even asking the person you're talking to, to be quiet for a minute. You can't believe what you just heard. Did that person really just say that?

The following are real-life jaw-droppers heard recently:

  1. "I would never let MY child get that dirty in public. What an embarrassment!"--conversation between two women, overheard at a public park where some kids had discovered that dirt & a water feature could make some really nice mud.
  2. "My children don't like you"--overheard at a restaurant, said by one half of a "couple" who obviously were on a first, and most likely, last date.
  3. "If you were a better mother, you wouldn't let your children run wild in the store"--comment by an observer to a haggard mother of three very active little ones.
Do these people truly think they're being helpful, or is there a huge disconnect between their brain and their mouths?

And I guess the real question is: As observers (not actively involved in the conversation), do we have any responsibility, or do we mind our own business (and blog about it later!)?

To go one step further, what if you are involved in the conversation? What is an appropriate response? Do you mumble something, and walk away? Or do you use it as a teaching moment?

Would love to hear your thoughts,