31 May 2012

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Corn Chips

If you've got some older corn tortillas (and no backyard hens or hogs to throw them out to, haha!) here's a simple recipe to make a sweet, crunchy snack in about fifteen minutes.  These are baked rather than fried so they aren't drenched in fat either.  That being said, they'd be delicious served hot with some vanilla ice cream and caramel topping.

Ingredients:

Corn tortillas
Olive oil, cooking spray or water
Cinnamon sugar
Dash of salt, optional
Cut the tortillas into quarters.  Line in a single layer on a baking sheet and either drizzle with olive oil or spritz with cooking spray or water.  Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar and a pinch of salt, if desired.
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake the chips for five to seven minutes on one side or until they begin to turn golden.  Flip over and sprinkle or spray oil or water and cinnamon sugar again.  Return to the oven for another three to five minutes (or more, depending on how crunchy you prefer them).  Remove when they turn golden and reach the desired texture.
Enjoy!

A Weekend of Remembering

Grandpa Lamb was a pilot for the Nebraska Air Guard.
We thoroughly enjoyed Memorial Day weekend, partly for the chance to spend an entire extra day with Jack but also to reminisce about some important memories.  I reflected on the great tradition of military service in my family, from my brother, father-in-law, grandfather and several great uncles who fought, were wounded and died in WWII.  My entire family used to place flowers on the graves of our relatives while listening to my grandmother tell her rendition of the stories.  It wasn't a day, however, to only remember those who had served in the armed forces but to be grateful for all of our ancestors who preceded us.  We are each a culmination of our predecessors.
On Saturday, we took a trip down to San Antonio and strolled around for a few hours.  We looked at the Alamo but by the line wrapped around the block, we knew we weren't going to be able to stand in the scorching sun with two little children for as long as it would have taken to wait our turn to enter.
We marched down to the river walk and enjoyed everything from gaping at the adorable ducklings paddling after their parents to leaving nose-smudge marks on several chocolateries.  Claire eventually fell asleep in the stroller so we knew our time was growing short.
Had the girls (and Jack for that matter) not been groggy and ready for a nap, I would have paid to to have the gorgeous dapple grey Percheron I spotted taxi us back to the car.

Carrying a small child while pregnant is a lot like carrying a brass sousaphone.  We were all red in the face by the time we made it back to the car--climbing into it was like willingly subjecting ourselves to heat box torture.
Sunday was full of church and resting but Monday, we ventured out again.  We went to the park and let the girls run in the splash pad before heading up Jacob's Ladder.  After being redone in the early 1900's, it's really more a staircase of steep, gigantic steps.  My legs are still burning.

We spent the evening at a friend's house, barbecuing, swimming and watching their fat hens scratch around.  It was wonderful to be in the country again and though we each received a few nips from the stealthy mosquitoes, we also glimpsed a few fireflies and were serenaded by the cicadas.  All in all, it was a superb weekend of remembering those who went before us and being grateful for what we have now.

30 May 2012

Watermelon Frosty

This frosty little drink is tons healthier than sugar-packed shaved ice and slushies because it's made with fruit and sweetened primarily by honey (although it can be sweetened to taste by any sweetener of choice).  It's a great way to use up some watermelon and to cool off on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:

2 to 3 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup water (use more as needed but be careful not to use too much or the taste will be lost)
Strained juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
Sweetener to taste--try honey, maple syrup, sugar, low-cal sweetener, etc

It's a great way to let kids help in the kitchen as long as you keep an eye on them to make sure they aren't pushing buttons when they shouldn't.
 Place all ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth.  Serve immediately and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

29 May 2012

Almond Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

If you're in need of a yummy chocolate frosting for cakes, brownies or pastries, here's one to try!

Ingredients:

1 cup salted butter, softened but not melted
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon almond extract
4 Tablespoon evaporated milk (or milk or heavy cream)

Cream butter for about a minute until smooth.  Sift in the cocoa and powdered sugar (try using a small cullender), blending well with the butter (if you'd like a stiffer frosting, add additional sugar).  Mix in the remaining ingredients until smooth and the desired consistency, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Spread on cooled desserts and enjoy!
Or, you know, just eat straight from the bowl and mixers.

28 May 2012

Homemade French Fries

I know, I know.  French fries aren't exactly "healthy" but sometimes, they're the perfect side to a summer meal when nothing else will do, so why not make them from scratch?  There's not too much to them and it only requires three ingredients.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 potatoes
Salt
Oil for frying
Wash, peel and cut the potatoes into thin strips.
When the oil is hot, carefully place in the potato strips.  Cook for about five minutes or until they start to turn golden.  Remove, place on a paper towel lined plate and promptly put in the refrigerator.
When the fries have cooled, return them to the oil for about ten minutes, or until they brown sufficiently.  Remove to a fresh paper towel and salt lightly.  Let rest a minute before serving.
Enjoy!

27 May 2012

A Day For Mothers

While most of the time, we try take advantage of our precious Saturdays and catch some extra sleep (although explain sleeping in to little kids), the day before Mother's Day, we decided to take a different route.  Instead, we woke up earlier than normal and with the girls, drove up to Dallas to attend the temple, a very sacred and holy edifice to us.  We traded babysitting with some friends and while we each went inside and enjoyed time together as a couple.
Watching the fountains with their friend.
I'm always reminded how blessed I am when I go.  Not only have I been fortunate to snag such a wonderful guy to be my husband, he's also an incredible father, doting unabashedly on his daughters.  In a time when traditional family and marriage are sometimes looked down upon, I am certain that marriage, then children is  the correct order and adhering to it has been a blessing and protection to our family in the sometimes stormy world.
The temple also reminded me of the eternal nature of families.  What better reassurance could there be to a woman that her husband and children will be with her forever, even after death?  I can't think of a better admonition or appropriate Mother's Day eve gift.
Of course, we had a bit of fun too.  We bumped into some friends who mentioned Medieval Times was having a special for mothers, so we drove over and waited for the show to start while the girls passed out in their car seats.
Our knight lost in the first round.  Oh, well.  It was still fun.
Come Mother's Day, it was full of church, napping, video chatting with mothers and grandmothers and Evelyn, screaming excitedly, "Mom!  We're going to make you a card!" before Jack could even hand her the paper and crayons.  It was a wonderful Mother's Day weekend that prompted me to remember how fortunate I am to be a woman, wife and mother.  I hope everyone else took the chance to celebrate womanhood too!
Can't you just feel her excitement?

24 May 2012

Anything Goes Trail Mix

I love a good trail mix but I they can get pretty pricey at the store and I don't always have the right ingredients to make other recipes.  So, I like to make an "anything goes" trail mix that can be made in any combination of ingredients.  It can either feature nuts or primarily crackers and pretzels--it's all up to the maker.
(As a side note, this is also a great recipe to use up cracker crumbs--our animal crackers were in pieces after Evelyn carried the bag around like her baby for an afternoon but in a trail mix, it doesn't matter that they aren't whole).

Here's How:

Combine about 8 to 10 cups of any of the following ingredients:
  • Popped, lightly salted popcorn
  • Mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
  • Roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, almonds, pecans or mixed nuts, etc
  • Raisins, craisins, dried dates, dried apricots, shredded coconut, etc
  • Chopped graham crackers, dry cereal (Cheerios, Chex Mix, Granola, etc), rolled oats, animal crackers, mini peanut butter crackers, etc
Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a small saucepan, melt together 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup honey or brown sugar and a dash of salt.  Bring to a rolling boil for one minute.
Spread dry ingredients on a large cookie sheet.  Drizzle the butter mixture over the top and place in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Stir trail mix once during baking time.  When done, let cool slightly on the pan then remove to a sheet of aluminum foil to finish cooling.
After cooling, add any of the following ingredients:
  • Miniature marshmallows
  • M&Ms
  • Semisweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, etc

The combinations are endless but no matter how it's made, it turns out lightly sweet and scrumptious.
Enjoy!

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Looking in our pantry, I discovered I had all the necessary ingredients to make homemade oatmeal cream pies.  They've got some nostalgia attached to them from eating a few of the store bought versions during special occasions in my childhood but, like most things, homemade is better.  Bake the cookies and fill them with either marshmallow fluff (pictured), cream cheese frosting, vanilla ice cream or cool whip.
Kid tested and approved!
Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Beat in egg and vanilla.
Sift dry ingredients together, minus oats and chips and combine with the butter mixture.
Fold in oats and then the chocolate chips. 
Heat oven to 350F and lightly grease a cookie sheet.  Form large spoonfuls of dough into balls and press gently to flatten (and don't forget to make an even amount!).  Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are golden, but not overbaked.  Remove and cool on a cookie sheet.  Spread with filling and enjoy!

23 May 2012

A Proper Birthday

Evelyn finally had a proper birthday.  Though we always celebrate and shower her with gifts and attention, this time I made her an actual cake and spent the day doing just what she wanted.  Now that she's old enough to appreciate the effort, we made a bigger deal about the celebration than we did for the girls' last birthdays.

We swam and went to the children's museum...
...made a cake together...



















...video chatted with both sets of grandparents...
...and sang happy birthday three times for good measure.  Claire even joined in once she'd heard the melody a few times.
It seems like once babies started showing up in our family, life began to be measured by them.  I can hardly believe it's already/only been three years.  Time flies when you're having fun!  Still, we're looking forward to many more of years of bliss.

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