He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

30 August 2010

Oma's Tomato Soup

We call it "Dutch" tomato  soup but there's actually little to nothing about this recipe that is Dutch other than the amazing woman who passed it on. There will come a day when I do a post about her, I'm sure, but for now, just know that my Oma {Dad's mom} was a beautiful example of domesticity and I think of her each and every time I bake homemade bread, make a beef roast or this delicious soup. This is an incredibly simple recipe and you may even already make it at home and not even know it. 

What You'll Need:
Tomato Base:  
Food Mill
Once Ready to Serve: 
1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 c Bread Crumbs (optional)
1 c Thin Egg Noodles (optional)
1 bouillon (optional)

One: Cut tomatoes into quarters or large chunks and place in large soup pot.  {We used BeefSteak, Better Boy and Cherry... really, you can use any tomato though Plums and Romas probably won't yield as much as the other, more juicy varieties.}Also, cut up one onion into chunks and break it up into the pot.
Two: Turn the pot onto medium/medium-high heat and cook the tomatoes down until they're soft and have lost a lot of their juice.

Three: Once the pot has cooked down, pour the mixture into your food mill and puree the liquid into a large pot.{NoTe: I have a different mill than many have. It was given to me as a gift. Any mill will do.}

If you're planning to can this soup mixture, at this point you can use a hot water bath or a pressure canner to process your jars for 20 minutes at 10 lbs.

Ready to eat it now? It's time to get the ground beef, bread crumbs and noodles out. 
Four: Add 1 beef bouillon to the tomato base in a large pot and bring your tomato base to a boil.  
Five: In a large bowl, combine beef and bread crumbs and roll out meatballs about 1" in diameter. Once all rolled, add the meat to the soup and continue to boil until the meatballs float {5-10 minutes}
Six: Add noodles, boil for 1-2 minutes and you're ready to serve. {NoTe: It is very tempting to add lots and lots of noodles. As a noodle lover I must warn you that it is easy to add too many noodles and end up with American Chop Suey. Moderation is wise.}
In our family, we always serve this meal with a loaf of Italian bread, some good Dutch gouda cheese and Maggi, a spice that is similar to soy sauce that adds saltiness. You can just add salt if you'd like.
And as they say in Holland,  Eet Smakelijk! {pronounced ate smock-a-lek}

29 August 2010

Roma Food Strainer - A Tutorial

If you're like me and you grew up with a food mill like this...

Pix Credit
then I completely understand why you may not like the kitchen anymore! Okay, that's a lie. I love the kitchen and encourage anyone to spend lots of time there but this old school food mill is enough to make any kid dread helping mom out with making applesauce and soup or whatever else you make with these things.
Anyway... I've done all the above complaining in order to make the the Roma Food Strainer seem all the better. If you notice in the following pictures, I can even get Sweet Hubs to help in the kitchen with this doo-hickey. That's gold!
So here's how it works and why you should get one if you make soups, sauces, purees of any kind in large amounts.

I use this to make "Dutch" Soup. It's a breeze!  

{Disclaimer: The "old school mill" works just fine and probably isn't all that bad. I just like this one WAY more. You're an impressive gal no matter which you use.}

26 August 2010

I'm Not Ignoring You...

I'm busy!! 

Tomatoes & Onions = Dutch Tomato Soup {Nope, Nothing Dutch About It!}   
         Plums & Pears = Miss Mak's meals for the winter
                   Green Beans = So I Don't Have To Buy Them Frozen
                              Raspberries = Chocolate Raspberry Sundae Topping {For Mommy}

25 August 2010

DIY Baby Food

Miss Mak is ready for solids. 

My little babe now sits in the highchair and eats big people food. 
I'm not ready for this...
emotionally or physically.
Food prep for CJ was a pain

Lots of blending. 
Lots of freezing. 
Lots of thawing. 
This time around it will be different.
I found this

It has saved my time/my energy/my mood. 
Fresh, nutritious foods for baby.
Steam it and mill it or
mill it right off the dinner table. 
I'm loving this.

24 August 2010

$4 CaKe PLaTe

 I saw this idea at Joy's Hope and LOVED it. I did my own variation and plan to do many more. 
For $4, you really can't go wrong! 

23 August 2010

{Easy Tomato Basil Chicken}

I stole this idea from a friend when I was in a pinch and it definitely did the trick. Thanks, Jess! 

What You Need: 
bone-in chicken
handful of cherry tomatoes
fresh basil

What To Do: 
Preheat oven to 350. Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay chicken, single layer, into a baking dish. Drop tomatoes and basil on top. Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until juices run clean. 

Serve With: Tomato, mozzarella and basil tray with crusty Italian bread. Enjoy!

20 August 2010

{Easy App.}

No, no. I'm not talking about anything cell phone related. I'm talking about what happens when I walk into the mom-and-pop produce place close by that sells fresh basil right next to the register. Shortly after I breathe in that beautiful fresh smell, I end up with this on my table.{We enjoyed this tonight with yummy tomato basil chicken.}

2 balls of mozzarella {plus} 2 tomatoes minutes out of the garden {plus}
a few stalks of basil {plus} balsamic vinegar for drizzling {equals} molto bene! 

18 August 2010

rePUrPoSEd ShIRt to SleEp SaCK

Our sweet Miss Mak is not the professional sleeper that CJ is. She almost always manages to find an excuse to wake up and fuss for a little while in the middle of the night. Usually it lasts only a minute and she's back out but, most often, her reason for waking is cold feet. Hubs has the same problem. It's uncanny how much their feet are alike. CJ has my chubby, round feet while Mak and Hubs have narrow skinny feet and the two of them share the problem of poor circulation. Sometimes Hubs wears socks to bed but ends up kicking them off and, again, Miss Mak is no different. She wiggles out of her socks and ends up with chilly toes by 2 a.m.. All that is to say ""a sleep sack should fix the problem". If she has been pulling her socks off, she can no longer get to them. If the sheets have been helping her rub them off, there will be no friction with this thing. Even if they, through magical intervention, decide to go off duty and walk off her feet, the sleep sack will keep her little piggies warm which means quiet, sleeping baby which means well resting, more patient and much prettier mommy. 

Thanks, Shannon {luvinthemommyhood}, for hosting Lindsay who shared Daddy's Shirt to Sleep Sack Tutorial.

{Mandarin Chicken}

  Yes, there is sugar in this. Yes, it's worth it. I promise. 
I wouldn't share it otherwise. Enjoy.

What You'll Need: 
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 T lemon juice
1 t vegetable {I used olive oil}
1 t minced fresh garlic {I used 1/2 t dried}
1/2 t  minced fresh ginger {I used 1/4 t dried}
6 skinless chicken thighs {I used 4 boneless skinless breasts}
1/4 c water
4 t arrowroot {I used flour}

Mix sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, oil, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan. In a small bowl, mix water and arrowroot together and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil then set to simmer for 5 mins or until sauce thickens and turn off.
Meanwhile, grill chicken with just a little oil to keep it from sticking. Cut up cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces.
I served mine with cooked rice and drizzled the sauce over top. 

Muy Delicioso. Or should I say 好极了? {I hope that's what that says}

16 August 2010

Musings of a Chocoholic

microwave s'mores: for the days i wish i hadn't passed by the snack aisle at 
the grocery store in the name of being healthy

It has been one of those weeks {yes, I realize it's only Tuesday}. I think I'm still  recovering from last week and the painting extravaganza which I participated in for the church's nursery. Three days of painting, including after church on Sunday. And there were people who were there more than me! Crazy people. Then, my in-laws popped in from out of town for a few hours before they headed up to Vermont and you know what that means... a cleaning frenzy to keep my unsuspecting mother-in-law thinking I'm a psychotic-neat-freak who makes sure her husband never goes to bed with crumbs on his feet. HA! Anyway... I figured since my brain is out of commission I'll just blab a little. By the way, Sweet Hubs says I'm shameless for making microwave s'mores. I don't care. 

I have fallen for a little photo-editing site called picnik.com. You can manipulate your uploaded photos with some pretty nifty effects and if you pay a little you get even more options/fonts/effects/styles to choose from. {I'm a big fan of the vignette, softening and selective black and white features.} You should try it!

I'm a bit of a Big Bang Theory lover. Yes, I know their theme song is wrong, WrONg, WRONG but I can get past it because Sheldon makes me laugh. "Bazinga!"

The very word "coffee"... the way it's spelled...the two "f"s and two "e"s... the way it sounds when it pours into my favorite mug... all of that puts me into a coma until I satiate my appetite with a cup. mmm! 

I have a fairly decent memory so I am very much against watching movies more than once which drives Hubs crazy!

Sometimes I browse Pottery Barn's site just to get ideas and then go to Knock-Off-Wood to see how to make them. But I don't actually make them.

After 5 months of Miss Mak being an angel baby {I mean fantastic, couldn't be more pleasant to have around at all times} she had a week long stretch of crabbiness that seemed like it would never end. Praise the Lord, she's back to normal. Like the weather in New England, if you don't like your babe's mood, wait a minute, it will change. 

I don't carry my camera around enough. I am constantly wishing I could capture something I'm seeing to share with Hubs or... you. {This is where I pretend people actually read my posts.}

It took me only 7 months to find something to put over the changing table in Miss Mak's room. What a relief! 

Hubs makes fun of me for taking pictures of everything I do just in case I decide to blog about it. 

Hubs is a far better husband than he'd ever let me share. He has a reputation to keep after all.

Sometimes I get itchy to decorate but I'm on a budget since we're saving to buy a house. Instead of buying something new, I re-arrage the furniture and artwork I already have. It drives Hubs cuh-raze-ee! 

I don't like to play with my kids. I hate to say that but I mean it. I love teaching them, meeting their needs and snuggling with them and I'm happy to do it day in and day out but I have to force myself to play with them for 10 minutes a day. Thank the Lord for Sweet Hubs who would rather play than anything. 

I love to play Dr. Mario on the original Nintendo gaming system. 

Bill Cosby, in The Cosby Show, reminds me of my dad when I was growing up except my dad is white and never finished high school. The similarities are shocking.

I am too lazy to garden. You should see my front yard... nuthin' but weeds. Maybe when the kids are older I'll start to care {or maybe I'll just send them out to do it}

I heard a story a few weeks ago about a toddler from Arizona who got out of the house when his family was napping and wandered around for 3 days before they found his body in the desert. I cried. I'm not sure I would have before having kids. 

I thank God for my beautiful family every night before I go to bed. I wonder if my kids will ever appreciate that. 

My 2 year old, who, I'm told, should make me want to run and hide, makes me laugh constantly. I love that about him. Miss Mak is starting to have the same affect on me.

Hubs walks around the house at night brushing his teeth as if he's announcing to the whole house that he's about to head to bed. He's doing it now. That's my queue. 


15 August 2010

Sweatshirt Redo


I found this pattern and... well... need I say more? 

Alright, to be fair I should probably say more... if you take a second to read Kelly's blog, Sewing In No Man's Land, you'll quickly realize how cool her story is. She's the wife of a diplomat who is stationed on a small island off of Australia {I think} and she could only bring a certain amount of stuff with her {meaning little-to-no fabric} so she counts on friends, family and blog stalkers to supply her with "fixins" so she can create and share her brilliant ideas. It also doesn't hurt that her kids are adorable and she shares lots of pictures of them. Check it out. 

Also... I love, LoVe, LOVE this idea from Craftiness Is Not Optional and accidentally made it a tad too girly for CJ so I'm passing it on to a dear friend and, once I have pictures of her in it, I'll be sure to share. {In the meantime, here it is being worn by my floor.}

13 August 2010

{California Grilled Pizza }

Holy Canoli! Ina did it again! {No surprise of course.}This is my absolute favorite recipe for at home pizza. The honey in the dough gives it a lightly sweetened flavor while the grill really enhances the flavors of the toppings. {So very yummy!} I cannot be more sincere then when I recommend that, if you have a grill, you make this a.s.a.p.!

 Actually, it was SO good that I forgot to take pictures tonight when we had family over to make them so I had to borrow someone else's. Thank you!

12 August 2010

{Canning Peaches}

if you can boil water, you can can. consider the following a quick guide to canning peaches. if you have questions, feel free to ask me. if you are brand new to canning and have lots of questions, i highly recommend the Ball Blue Book or Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to get you started. 
so, without further ado... my setup...

cold water source to cool peaches : hot water source to keep jars warm
{below} my stovetop... small pan to boil water for jar tops : pan of simple syrup {1 1/4 c sugar and 5 1/2 c water, boil then keep hot} : large pot for boiling jars {i use a hot water canner} : pot of boiling water to peel peaches

and here's how it's done...
fill your jars with hot water to warm up the class or, as i do, stick them into a sink full of hot water. let them sit until you're ready to pack them.

to peel: bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with enough water to cover the peaches and boil for 60 seconds. immediately drop into cold water and let sit for a couple of minutes. doing this loosens the skins and the peels practically fall off. cut in half by making a cut all the way around the pear and then wiggling the knife to work the halves apart or cut them into slices. remove the pit. {i was told that putting a peach pit into each jar helps keep the peaches from discoloring over time. i cannot confirm this to be true but i do it just the same so at this point, save your pits if you'd like.} 

{above} you'll notice that the top peach's pit broke into two. in my experience, this means the peach is very ripe. it will work just as well and taste just as good but it may be a little mushy and not cut as easily as the peach below it with the pit that stayed in tact on one side.

how beautiful are these?!
while you're cutting up all your peaches, boil water in a small pan and add your lids. mix your water and sugar together and boil to make your simple syrup. keep this hot and handy for the next step. 


fill the jars with peaches so they're tightly packed but don't push so hard that you start squishing the peaches. using a ladle, pour in the hot simple syrup into the jar to the large rim at the neck of the jar. use a clean knife to slide down the side of the jar and wiggle it to release the air from in between the peaches and top off the jar with syrup  and leave 1/2" gap known as "headspace". 

once jar is filled, use a warm towel to wipe the rim of your jar and put the lid in place. screw on a band but only to fingertip-tight, NOT tight tight. place cans into canner on wire rack to keep warm until all your jars are filled.

hot water baths hold 7 jars. once the rack is filled, lower it CAREFULLY down into the water and bring it up to a rolling boil. once this is achieved, boil pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25. then turn off the burner, remove the lid, and let cool for 5 minutes before removing.

let jars sit out on your counter overnight until they cool and then store until you're ready to eat.  
these are great over vanilla ice cream or with yogurt!

11 August 2010

Create with Me {August}

Keri at UCreate started doing a "Create with Me Project" for each month. Since I have a passion for projects but am sometimes lacking a purpose {other than all the babies my friends and I are producing at a rapid rate, that is}I figured I'd join in this month. 

The project was found at Diary of a Quilter
... and here is what I came up with thanks to some of the 
MANY scraps I had on hand...

The due date for the project is August 30th so if you wanna join you still have plenty of time! 
Look at this! My name on UCreate's site. I feel so cool! 

10 August 2010

{Homemade Chocolate Wafer Cookies}

I cannot tell you how excited I was to find this recipe! I LOVE ... {he hem, the cookies that begin with "o"}. I used to be able to find them on sale, 2 for $5 {now I can't find them for less than $3!}. So, needless-to-say, I jumped at the chance to make these. The result... not too shabby. Maybe not the exact replica of those amazing cream-filled, chocolate wafer cookies that I crave at very regular intervals but they definitely do the job!

Mix one package of fudge cake mix; 3 T shortening, melted; 1/2 flour; 1 egg; 3 T water {added  1T at a time, mix in between} until dough forms and chill, covered, in a bowl for 2 hours.

Set oven to 350. Roll cold dough super thin and cut out 1 1/2" wafers and bake for 10 mins. Let cool completely.

While cooling, mix 3 3/4 powdered sugar; 1/2 T granulated sugar; 1/2 4 vanilla extract; 1/2 shortening; 2 T hot water with an electric mixer until grainy and make 1/2" balls with your hands and squish between two wafers. 

 CJ certainly seemed to agree!

09 August 2010

Check This Out

 Serving Pink Lemonade is one of the most kid-friendly, felt-loving blogs I've seen.
If you're a mommy who's running low on ideas, this is worth a peak!

I particularly love her Felt Toolbox

07 August 2010

Fall Is Coming!!!

It's coming! Fall is coming soon! I can feel it and I am SO excited!

Growing up and living in New England just seems to intensify my infatuation with this time of year. {The opening credits of "Gilmore Girls" makes me giddy!} The colors of the season are gorgeous, warm and soothing. The food is served hot and hearty. The nostalgic sport of football starts as friends and family throw on their favorite team's sweatshirt and gather for the games.  The cool brisk breezes encourage you to put on a sweater and head outside to wrap yourself in the colors of the season.  Regional and state fairs! Foliage dies back in brilliant oranges, greens and purples!...
 Okay, it may be unhealthy to love a time frame so much but, so help me, I'm smitten!

06 August 2010


There is a constant issue with running out kid's washclothes in our home. Thankfully, I stumbled upon this tutorial from Craftiness is Not Optional, skipped a shopping trip, and used what I had on hand. I LOVE when that happens!

04 August 2010

Our Very First "Date-Night In"

For any of you who haven't tried this...
it is a must

BabyWise talks about how putting your marriage first is the best thing you can do for your family and, though Hubs and I totally agree with that, we tend to keep it simple by having a cup of coffee at the table sans kiddos or having a conversation without allowing interruptions for an allotted amount of time. Well, tonight we did it up! We decided early Saturday afternoon to have a date night and, since no one was free to watch the tikes, we had a "night in". I did some quick planning {thanks to my favorite cook, Ina Garten}, ran to the store for all the ingredients needed, and started a cooking frenzy from 3p to 8p. Sweet Hubs kept the kids busy and got them bathed and into bed, then Hubs showered while I made the finishing touches on the meal, slipped into a dress, lit some candles, came up with some "Date Night Guidelines" to keep it special {NO talking about kids. No technology. Kind words only, no teasing or sarcasm. Compliment the Chef. Enjoy.}, and put on some piano music {okay, so there may have been a little Bryan Adams mixed in too}. 

It. Was. Wonderful

I highly recommend trying this at least once and, if you can swing it, keeping it up once a month. It's cheaper to stay in. You can hone your culinary skills. You have an excuse to cook "fancy" food your kid may not be able to enjoy. You get to reconnect with the love of your life. Why not?!

In case you were wondering... this night was made possibly by Ina Garten's recipes from her Barefoot in Paris cookbook. Scallops Provencal, green beans with roasted red onion and peppers, garlic mashed potatoes, and Meringues Chantilly. All recipes were simple and DeLicIoUs!!!


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