Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 60th Party!

 This past Sunday we threw a Surprise Party for my Mother-in-law.  I was the 'official' decorator and the 'official' photographer.  Here are some of the photos from that day, starting with decorations! (aka all my hard work)

This was the photo taken to price that I  was, indeed, at the party!

Matt isn't this tall, he is standing on a stool!

The beautiful wrapping job!

The girls couldn't resist assisting with opening presents!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Yet another party..

I should sound thrilled.  Parties are FUN!! (I am saying this sarcastically only because of sheer exhaustion)
I think they are fun for the person the party is for... the person who gets to do all the organizing and decorating may be a little stressed out though.

My mother in-law turned 60 last week.  I was put in charge of decorations.  I love to decorate.  I love to turn the boring, ordinary and routine into something different.  I had a great time making decorations and I even  enjoyed putting them up in the hall.

The party I am now dreading is Seths.  You know that cute little blonde boy.  The one with a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin!?!?!  You know him, right?  Well, he is going to be 10!  Yes, 10 I said it.... 10!!!!!  I have to say, I am a little upset about it.  I hardly get to cuddle with him anymore.  I don't get to give him kisses, instead I am popping pimples.  *sigh* the good ol' days when I could lie in bed with him and read for an hour.  Now I have 2 other children, a husband and a house to look after, so I don't get to lie in bed with him - ever.

Oh, I am so good at getting off topic.  My point here...  I was sooo preoccupied making decorations for my mother in-law that I totally forgot to plan ANYTHING for Seth. On our way home last night Seth was giving me a list of names and we were talking about party ideas for NEXT WEEKEND.  I needed to jump on those invites immediately!

Do you ever have a moment where you say the stupidest thing, and you realize it once it is too late to do anything about it?

I called Seth's good friend right away to make sure he was free next Saturday. I was talking to his mom and she was explaining his hockey schedule and that Seth's friend would indeed, be free to celebrate with him.  She said "Mike (not the kid's real name) has hockey in East Gwillumbury til 2:30."

Caution: my stupidity comes in here...

I reply "Hey!!  I used to live in Belleville! We used to go to public skating stuff there! Oh it was great!"

uhhhh - East Gwillubury is not ANYWHERE near Belleville... I mean, they are both in Ontario, and Ontario isn't THAT big.  (I didn't think that excuse would fly.)

She was gracious and just said, "Well there you go!" and really, she was thinking "What does that have to do with East Gwillumbury?"

I hung up the phone with her, turned to Eric and said, "I. Am. An. Idiot!"

I wonder what she thinks now.  Most likely she has completely forgotten, or figured she didn't understand the reference and doesn't care. Here I am dwelling on my stupid response which never made any sense to begin with, and I have no clue why I said it.

After getting over the fact that Seth's friend's mother now thinks I have lost my marbles, I sat down to make 2 more invites.  Seth decided he would like to try having a sleep-over, so I figure 3 guests is plenty!

This is what I came up with for an invite.... not as cool as Miriam's, but I didn't have much time.  I wanted my bed.

I am still freaking out about him turning 10.  I may be in tears on Thursday morning.  Only 7 more years and he will be leaving for college.  More than half of his life living with his mother is over....  *sadness*

On a happy note: Check by on Wordless Wednesday for photos of my M.I.L.'s birthday decor and party!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The people we've always wanted to be...

On a typical day, I go to bed feeling like I have made some big mistakes throughout the day. I yelled at Miriam for this, got impatient with Seth for that and spoke harshly to Eric for no good reason etc...

When I wake up and think of how I would like my day to pan out, it usually involves fun playtime with my kids, being open and considerate of their opinions and concerns and being non-judgemental about their feelings.  It all gets blown out of the water once I pour Miriam a bowl of cereal and she starts screaming, "I wanted it in a BIG bowl.  There needs to be more cereal!  Now I need more milk!  NO! I wanted chocolate milk!!  I don't want Seth to look at me!  Lucy touched me!"  and on and on for the rest of the day...

Well - for the first time in a long, long time, I made it through the day feeling good about the way I acted ALL day!    Wednesday was one of several gorgeous days we had this week.  We spent much of the day between the driveway, where we were painting and drawing with chalk, the backyard, where we played with the sandbox, and the school playground, where we played with other kids.

On the way home from the playground 2 brothers were playing on the sidewalk, one on a bike and one on a scooter.  The little guy on the scooter tried to go around us, following his brother's example and went on the grass, promptly flew off the scooter and scraped his face across someone's driveway.  My girls were so well behaved, we walked the boy home and got him to his mommy and continued on our way.

When I got home Lucy was asleep in the stroller so I grabbed us all a freezee and sat outside in the sun.  A couple minutes later 2 fine looking young men from World Vision approached us.  They were dressed nicely, spoke politely and ended up convincing me to sponsor a child close to Seth's age.  I let them sit down, got them a tasty freezee and sat and chatted with them for a while when all of a sudden my neighbours kids came running through the backyard.  (there was a small hole which the kids were climbing through to sneak into our backyard but it kept snagging them and there was rusty nails hanging out so we opened up a bigger hole and now the foreseeable future involves 2 extra little awesome guys and their equally awesome mom hanging out in the backyard, which I think is awesome)  So they had some freezee's too and Seth got to show them the caterpillar he found while walking home from school.

I'm not saying all this to toot my own horn, I am saying this because there are days when I think I will NEVER be the patient, loving and understanding person I am always trying to be.  I always think I need to be a good example to my children, and go to bed feeling like there was something I did that I need to apologize for.  But if this was possible one day this week, maybe it will be possible 2 days next month... and 3 days the following month... and maybe no days the next month because summer break the coming and that means more kids will be here, but who knows!?!?!

I guess the point is, I hope my kids remember days like Wednesday when they have grown up and are raising their own kids.  I hope they forget the days I snapped a little to early or didn't answer their calls immediately.  I'm sure that won't be the way it works out, but hopefully we will all be able to look back on these crazy child rearing years and laugh about the insanity and chaos that seems to completely consumes me on a daily basis.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Roasted New Potatoes

I know you have all been waiting in anticipation for what I (and the rest of my family) thought was THE most delicious of the 5 new recipes we tried this weekend.

Roasted New Potatoes
Spring 2011 What's cooking magazine

2 lbs new potatoes, halved length wise (I didn't know there was a length wise on round potatoes, but I quartered some of the bigger ones)
6 slices of bacon, chopped
3 Tbsp. Italian Dressing

Preheat oven to 400.
Spread the above ingredients on a baking sheet and cook for approx 45 min. flipping as needed.

While this is cooking mix up this delicious DELICIOUS sauce to serve on top of them.

1/3 cup Miracle Whip
1 Tbsp. lemon Juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
2 tsp fresh Parsley  (I didn't want to buy parsley just for putting on top of these, so I didn't, but you can do whatever you choose)

I wish I had read this earlier, but it says if you want the sauce to be a bit thinner to just add a Tbsp of milk... mine was thick, but I didn't care, it was sooo soo yummy!!

What looks brown is purple potato, I chose multi coloured ones...

I know I don't have to say this again, but these were soo stinkin' yummy.  They remind me of something Boston Pizza used to serve called Southwest Potato Skins... Eric and I used to go to Boston Pizza late at night and order those, so these were perfection on a potato.  I love potatoes.

Just looking at this photo is making my mouth water!  I am definitely going to be making this one again and again!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Rocky Road Bars

I am a desert person.  Thankfully I also love baking (and I think I am pretty good at it).  When I was leafing through these magazines this recipe, (mostly the photo) jumped out at me and made me start craving toasty marshmallows and chocolate.

This recipe is easy and a TON of fun to let the kids assist.

Rocky Road Bars
from festive 2011, 'What's cooking?' mag

1 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup coconut
1 1/2 cup pecans
1 pkg chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup marshamllows
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 squares semi-sweet bakers chocolate

* Side note: I would use 2 cups of crumbs and 3/4 cup butter next time to line the dish better.
**Other side note: I let the kids take from the bags of coconut, pecans, chocolate chips, and marshmallows (and did not use the whole pack of chips) and probably did not use the full amount of any of those ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350

Line a 13x9 inch pan with tin foil or parchment paper.

Mix crumbs and butter and press into the bottom of the pan.  Top with layers of coconut, pecans, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.  Drizzle with sweetened condensed milk.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. (til marshmallows are browned)

Melt chocolate squares (I just melted chips) and drizzle over top of desert and let it set.

When you pull it out of the oven, it will still be wobbly.  It's OK!  It will settle and firm up.

TIP:  If you do not like coconut or pecans (and if you don't like chocolate and marshmallows you're crazy!!) substitute them for anything like raisins, almonds, peanuts... anything!

Tomorrow I will be back with the tastiest dish from the weekend.  Roasted New Potatoes.  Don't be unimpressed, I really love new potatoes, but the sauce you serve with these ones is to DIE for!  (I'm just kidding... please don't die)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

The reason this 'New Recipe' weekend started was because Eric wanted to try his hand at homemade pizza.
Now that we have, I think we will be doing it more often!

Perfect Parmesan Pizza Dough
this recipe is from the Spring 2011 'What's Cooking?' mag

Ingredients  (This makes 4 - 12in pizzas)

5 cups flour 
1 cup parmesan Cheese
1tsp quick-rise yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup olive oil
(Eric wanted to ass some Italiano Seasoning, so we did, but I'm not sure it was noticeable)

Mix 4 cups flour, cheese, yeast and salt (and seasoning) in a large bowl.  Add water and oil and stir until it forms a soft (and sticky) dough.  Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 min.  (Our kneading lasted a bit longer because everyone in the house, with the exception of the baby, wanted to do some kneading)

Cut the dough into 4 pieces and spray with cooking oil.  If using right away, cover with plastic wrap and let rise.  If freezing, shove it in a plastic bag and toss it in the freezer. (This recipe says you can freeze it for up to 3 months, thaw it in the fridge when you want to use it)
We used half, and froze half.

Now you need to let it rise for 15 minutes.

Come back, shape it onto a pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil and leave for an other 10 min. (this would be the perfect opportunity to cut up veggies and grate cheese)

Preheat over to 450

Spoon the sauce on top and load it with whatever you want.

Cook on the bottom rack of the oven for 17-18 minutes.  Out comes delicious satisfaction!!

Did I mention that I LOVE, love, LOVE pizza??

I especially love my pizza with lots of toppings and we feared that the crust would not be strong enough to hold all of our toppings, but it stood up to our topping abuse and was definitely strong enough for our 'Hawaiian' pizza which was stacked sooo super high with tomato, ham, pineapple and onions.

I will let you know how the next one turns out after a thaw.... I am always skeptical about freezing dough, I have no validation for this fear, but I will let you know how it goes anyways.

Tomorrow be back for a recipe for Rocky Road Bars.
**  If I did this in order of what Eric liked best, he would have put the desert before the asparagus, but I am definitely a desert person, and on this blog - only my opinion counts!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Grilled Prosciutto & Asparagus Bundles

Don't be dismayed.  I shared the spinach bake recipe yesterday and I know I said I was sharing in order of least-most liked recipes... but everything else we made was simply AMAZING!

This was the easiest of all of our chosen recipes.

Grilled Prosciutto & Asparagus Bundles
this recipe comes from a Foodland Ontario 2011 calendar

1 bunch of thin asparagus
1 pkg of Prosciutto

I am a stickler for clean veggies, so be sure to wash your veg before you cook!

Toss Asparagus in a little Olive oil and salt & pepper.

Bundle the asparagus in 3's and wrap in one slice of prosciutto.

This recipe called for a grill, so Eric pulled out our little tiny George Forman grill.

Grill and Serve!

In my unprofessional opinion... These were delicious!

A bonus here is that it takes about 5 minutes to make them and they look kinda fancy.  

My conclusion; A fantastic veggies option when you have company for dinner!  (Mind you, we ate them with our hands, so they could also be a great snack at a luncheon or potluck!)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Food Galore!!! Spinach Bake

We stayed home this weekend.  This is something we don't do very often.  We usually have places to go, people to see or people over to our house.  This weekend we were home with nothing planned....

Eric suggested on Thursday that we try our hand at home-made pizza on the weekend.  I was so excited to try this since I love love love LOVE pizza.  Then on Friday I opened one of my scary cupboards, the one that holds a bunch of loose recipes and 'What's cooking' magazines and I thought "We really need to try some of these recipes we have been holding onto!"

Thus, our first ever, weekend of FOOD.   Since we already had pizza on the menu, we all chose an other recipe from the many options.  Miriam wanted pizza.... she found a pizza recipe in a magazine and her mind was set, so she didn't really make a choice.  

This week I will share one recipe everyday from our random feast.  Starting from the least favourite to the most amazing!

Saucy Spinach Bake
from the festive 2011 Kraft 'What's cooking?' mag

3/4 cup Herb & Garlic cream cheese
1/2 cup Milk
2 pkg  fresh spinach (227g each)
1 cup grated cheese (we did half mozzarella & half cheddar)
25 ritz crackers

Preheat Oven 425

In a large pot cook milk and cream cheese over medium heat until smooth. (do not boil)

Add spinach in batches being sure to cover all of it with sauce; cook for 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted.  Stir in half of the cheese.

Pour into an 8x8 baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and crushed crackers.

Bake for 10 minutes and let stand 5 min before serving.

If I was ever going to make this again I would only use 1/2 cup of cream cheese, and a little less milk.

To start, you will NEVER guess who chose this recipe...  Seth!  Every time we  have spinach in a salad or cooked in anything else he picks it out.  He is not, generally, a picky eater, but I assumed he did not like spinach.  There isn't many kids out there who will knowingly devour spinach.

I assumed correctly.  Although tasty and flavourful, this dish was nothing special.  I watched as Seth took a bite and shuddered.  He doesn't like spinach.

If you like spinach, it's worth a try, but we won't be trying this recipe ever again. (once was enough)   **** Revision:  Seth enjoyed this much more when we warmed it for lunch the following day and had 2 helpings.... maybe we will have to try to make it again!

Return tomorrow for the Grilled Prosciutto & Asparagus bundles.