29 June 2013

Honey Lime Chicken Skewers

Grilling is in full force at our house.  While I'm not the main grill master (Jack insists on grilling with wood and I can rarely get the fire lit myself), I contribute to the main dish by doing the prep work.  This marinade keeps the chicken tender and adds a hint of zing, sweetness and, if desired, spice.  Serve over a salad or next to some confetti corn or edamame salad.
Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Cilantro, chopped as garnish (optional)
1 pound chicken, cubed

Combine all ingredients except cilantro and chicken.  Pour over chicken and marinate at least an hour before grilling.  Skewer loosely (don't pack chicken onto the skewers) and grill under tender and cooked thoroughly.
Enjoy!
Thank you Kitchen Meets Girl  for the recipe inspiration!

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28 June 2013

The Ungrateful Turtle

On the way to some errands, the girls and I spotted a painted turtle on the road, dangerously close to being run over.  I pulled over, grabbed him by the shell and moved him off the road but still in the warmth of the sun.

He was anything but grateful.

But, it's still important to help, even in the face of ingratitude.

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26 June 2013

Artistry to Me

The house across the street just sold.  On our way back from helping some new friends move in, we rolled down the window and shouted, "Are you moving in?"

"Yep.  You live across the street?"


"Uh-huh."


"You've got a lot of work on your hands."

We exchanging pleasantries and Jack rolled up the window, turned to me and said, "I don't think we've got a lot to do.  They should have seen the other house."
Farewell yucky, smelly carpet!
He's right.  Yes, this new house has been neglected and is in need of gallons of paint, new wiring, a good cleaning, new carpet, replaced windows, new landscaping, etc.  But, I think we're making progress.
I've started priming and painting sections at a time so I can visualize my progress.
I'm getting pretty good at the destruction part.  I mean, I did tear off siding and plaster and shingles and floorboards in Iowa.  Now it's carpet carpet and panels and funky mirrored columns.  I've also discovered it is possible to get vertigo in your own home.
Don't fall!
Most of the demolition is done for now and I'm slowly putting the ruins back together.  Though it's hard, dirty work, the reassembling part is (usually) very therapeutic and artistically challenging (it's tough color coordinating a house!).
Remember how bizarre this room was?  With some Kilz and new paint, it's almost all better.
Work to some.  Artistry to me.
The stairs are now carpetless, the potential, limitless!

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24 June 2013

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos

Every once in a while I like to have a meatless meal to save a bit on the grocery bill.  This is a great recipe because it may be without meat, but it still has plenty of protein (and taste!) to leave everyone satisfied.

Ingredients:

2 cups black beans, rinsed (if using from a can)
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheese (mozzarella, pepper jack, etc)
Sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, etc for garnish
Combine beans, onion, lime juice and seasonings, mashing slightly to help it stick together.  Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat and brush with olive oil.  Place corn tortillas on the pan and fill with a few spoonfuls of beans, topping with the cheese.
Carefully fold over and cook until golden brown.  Flip and repeat.  Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, salsa, avocado, etc if desired.
Cheesy goodness!
Enjoy!

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23 June 2013

The Entertainer

For quite some time, I've wanted to get a piano but it's been pushed to the back burner in anticipation of moves (don't feel too bad for me--Jack's been good about letting my horses come on most of the trips).  However, now that we're settled in, Jack took the initiative and jumped at the opportunity to lay his hands on one.
A coworker's father was getting rid of his 100+ year old upright for free, on the condition that it was moved quickly out of his home.  He estimated it'd take six to eight burly men to move it.

With the help of a few ramps, a borrowed piano dolly, it only took two men from church.  The piano now sits in our echoing great room where it has already been put to good use.
I am looking forward to feeling comfortable playing the piano on a whim again.  Maybe one of my goals will be to memorize and play Scott Joplin's The Entertainer like I was capable of doing in my teens (but choosing between piano lessons with an old lady I didn't care for, who also happened to be a music theory Nazi and horseback riding lessons, it quickly ended my piano playing career).
I'm also looking forward to teaching my girls.  Evelyn's getting the hang of some of the techniques.  Claire's got a little ways to go...
(And before you think I'm allowing her to decimate a beautiful old piano, I 1) couldn't help but laugh--that is just like Claire, 2) she was trying to watch the inner workings of the piano while she played like Jack showed her while I was playing and 3) I told her to get down and she hasn't climbed up on the keys again.  Lesson learned!).

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22 June 2013

Brookies

These guys are helping me feel LOTS better.
This month has not been in my favor.  The truck broke down five times.  My phone is broken.  Both mowers are broken and our yard is starting to be the embarrassment of the neighborhood (it wouldn't be so awful if we didn't live in a veritable retirement community and I wasn't competing with the elderly gentlemen that spend all their time grooming their lawn).  The girls have been sick, teething or batting infections of a various and random nature. I just got called to be the Relief Society president of our new ward (couldn't I have been a counselor instead Heavenly Father?), the horses have been practically eaten alive by the flies and so on and so on and so on.

Fortunately, things are looking up.  Jack's bringing me home a piano today.  I bought enough hay for the horses to last all winter and it was less than half the price I paid last year.  Jack put up a clothesline for me (take that electric company!).  Kate's teeth are almost all in, the girls are healthy, the fly spray for the horses is working like a charm, Jack is a master mechanic and not only is he getting a refund from the shop that "fixed" the truck twice, I think he'll be able to repair the problem himself which means we're back to two vehicles.
And I recently discovered the "brookie" recipe--the perfect combination of cookies and brownies.

Ingredients:

Brownie
1/6 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter and combine with the cocoa.  Cream in the sugar, vanilla and eggs.  Sift together the dry ingredients and combine until smooth with the cocoa mixture.  Spritz an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with cooking spray and pour in brownie mix.

Cookie
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, soft
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup and 2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Cream together the butter and sugars.  Add vanilla and egg until smooth.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Drop by spoonfuls over the brownie mixture.

Bake the brookies for 20 minutes uncovered, ten minutes covered with aluminum foil and the last five to 15 minutes uncovered (it keeps the cookies from burning while giving the brownies time to bake).  Total bake time 35 to 45 minutes, depending on how gooey or crunchy you'd like your brookies.
Feel better.  I know I do.
Enjoy!
Thank you Pinch of Yum for the recipe inspiration!
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21 June 2013

Back In The Saddle

Though it has been since late January that I've been in the saddle, it's been years that I've been on a trail ride.

I used to ride the trails around Nebraska regularly with a high school friend who had a trailer--we did everything from swim with the horses until only their heads bobbed above the water to climbing the highest buttes near Fort Robinson.
When we first moved in, the neighbors asked, 1) "Are you the new owners" and 2) "Do you have horses?"  I think it was a blessing for both of us that number two was true.
My sure-footed steed for the ride, Preacher.
Diane the neighbor took me and her two horses to the Vandalia trail, not ten minutes from our house.  She rode her spotted Rocky Mountain horse while I mounted Preacher, a sure-footed 18-year-old Tennessee Walking horse.  We set out with a friend of Diane's and explored the trails.
Some of the "fun" of young horses--you get to dismount regularly and show them how to do it.
Other than startling at a bicyclist and a hiccup at the creek crossing, the trip was uneventful but educational. It was my first time on the back of a gaited horse.  Their running walk is quite the ride.
My 75-year-old neighbor still rides regularly.  I only hope I can say the same when I'm her age.
I'm hoping to take Stoney and eventually Dancer with the group now that I know the trails.  I've even daydreamed about a trail-riding date with Jack.  I just need to get serious riding my horses in between raising children and fixing up our home.
Or have the girls do the training.

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18 June 2013

Does This Count?

One of my "fun" goals is to attend a major music concert.  Does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir count?
Indy's on the list!

Last Friday, our girls and a neighbor came with us to enjoy the beautiful, vibrant music put on by the choir and orchestra.  It was amazing.
An iconic hymn that the choir and orchestra performed: Come, Come Ye Saints

I'm crossing it off my list but am still hoping it's merely the commencement of my concert attending career.
One of my favorite hymns: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  Lucky us that the choir and orchestra performed it.

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16 June 2013

Real Men

Jack is a real man.
He flies planes!  Okay, our neighbor's plane...
He's not ashamed to read princess books to his daughters or sing them songs before bedtime.
Or sew.
Or to swing with them.
He still picks and plants flowers for us.
Our wildflower patch, sown by Jack's hand.
And encourages us to develop our talents.
(Including babysitting so I can go riding).
He even takes an interest in our talents and hobbies.
"Training" Dancer for me.  He even remembered a helmet!
When we have a disagreement, he is quick to apologize and usually goes and builds something useful.  Like the clothesline I've been wanting to put up.
He values education.  Knowing my first career choice was homemaker, he willingly postponed his education in Iowa so I could finish mine in Nebraska.  Women and children are important to him.
He is a great ponderer.  Especially while grilling.
Before becoming a father, he first became a husband.  He loves our children but one day when they fledge and begin families of their own, we'll still stick together.
Goofy is his middle name.
And as much as he serves and loves us, he does the same for others.
That's him throwing hay on the trailer for us and our neighbors while I sat, hugely pregnant in the truck.
I picked the right guy.  Jack is a real man.
Happy Father's Day to all the real men.

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