Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I have oodles (and oodles) of pictures of the kiddos but here's just two. Ida Mae is our sweet little candy corn!
And here he is folks, the man in black, Johnny Cash. (Dad C took this shot)
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Italian Drip Beef Sandwiches

This recipe, via Baked Bree originally from Pioneer Woman, has been on my "to try" list for a long time. I had leftover chuck this week so I finally got around to making some for lunches. Wow - I'm just sad we didn't try it sooner!!! This is incredibly easy and, just ask Mike, ridiculously good!
(We've really struck gold on a lot of our new recipe attempts this week so there's more food posts to share.)

There's no exact measurements for any of this.  You just throw it in.

chuck roast (I only had 1lb left)
beef broth
italian seasoning
salt and pepper
hoagie rolls
pepperjack cheese

The original recipe is here.  She uses the oven but I just did all this in the slow cooker.  We made it the day before we planned to eat it.

So here's what we did:
Spray the pot with cooking spray.
Dump in the meat.
Season with salt, pepper, and italian seasonings.  Almost cover the roast with beef broth and a little water.
Put a bunch of pepperoncinis on top and dump in some of their juice.
Put it on low for 6-8hrs (depending on your crock) until it falls apart.
Cool and refrigerate.
Remove hardened fat on top.
Reheat meat and juice.  Pour juice into ramekins and meat on the hoagie rolls.
Top with pepperjack and some sliced pepperoncinis. (I topped my sandwich with sweet peppers just because I really like them but Mike did the pepperoncinis.)
Place under the broiler for a minute or two.
Dunk and enjoy!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ratatouille like the Movie

I finally pulled out the mandoline Mike bought me for my birthday (in March). And I completely, 100% take back all the bad thoughts I had about it! I had read a bunch of reviews and put this on my wish list but then when it arrived I thought it didn't have enough options and the plastic didn't seem very sturdy. It was sitting down in a basement closet, waiting to get returned to amazon when I finally decided it wasn't worth the hassle of calling them up to get a special gift return and pay shipping. And I'm soo glad I didn't send it back! All the great reviews were true. All that to say we finally tried out Ratatouille's ratatouille! This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and it is amazing. Easy. Pretty. And oh so delicious!

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille 
from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced - I just used a garlic press as I was rushing
1 cup tomato puree - I couldn't find any and substituted tomato sauce -worked great
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. I used a round pan and just kept filling up pans as long as I had veggies left!
Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.
Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil (I was really generous with the olive oil and yes, it's delicious) over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.
Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tricky, I know, but the hardest thing about this.)
Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes (mine took less as I used smaller pans and convection), until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain. This was fantastic with lots of goat cheese.  I used it as a side dish and the leftovers made amazing lunches just served in bowls!

And if you're curious, here's Thomas Keller's version (much more involved but I'm sure delicious).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Too Much

This boy makes me laugh.  He must say, "I help you!" every other minute!  And boy, he's a great helper! Granted, dishes can take almost an hour, and baking well.... time isn't an issue for him.  Ida's diapers might end up in the trash or halfway there.  But it's soooo worth the extra time.  (I do have to remind myself of that especially when my mom keeps telling me it'll be gone before I know it!)

Pumpkins and Donuts

Asa's cookies!
Yes - they carve the best pumpkins.  Always.

Seth and Naphtali's, Mine and Mike's (yes he picked the elk design), Paige and Brian's

It's not a Saturday without mini donuts!  The farmer's market's going to be ending soon - poor Asa!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Asa and Amara had a super fun day today!  Naphtali and I dropped them off for lunch with Grandpa (he got them happy meals) in the Logos lunch room.  Then we came back, picked up Grammy and headed out to the Cutting Garden to find our pumpkins!  I told Asa about the plan at breakfast and he got together his drawing to show Grandpa.  
Naphtali commented in the car that these kids are really growing up.  They sit back there and have conversations, real conversations about movies, and animals, and trucks, and food.  I love what good buds they are. (Here they are two years ago!)

Ida came too!

Ida's Eating Real Food

To be honest, this wasn't Ida's first time trying some food.  Her first food was some mashed pears from her friend, Lucy, when we all went out to eat with the Cohens (and kids) in Portland.  Ida was super fussy and pears worked magic.  The life of the second child I guess.  But, to show that we really do love her as much as Asa, here's her first time eating cereal! ;)

Asa and Ida have really started "playing" together.  He'll sit and push toys, dance, and sing to her and she LOVES it.  Things were quiet while I was doing laundry last night, but I came out to this.  So so sweet!  Melts my heart.  (granted, we're still working on gentle.)

I dug up some old shots of Asa's first food.  It looks like we started him out a little younger.  Ida's had such a sensitive stomach we haven't been too adventurous.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cancer Update on my Mom

 The Breast Cancer Site
October is breast cancer awareness month.  Apparently one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  But they've also made leaps and bounds with treatments. My mom has been clear for over a year now.  She's still on medication and frequent check ups but we're very thankful.  She heads in Wednesday for another mammogram so you can be praying that it comes back clear! Thanks!

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Ida

Here's more shots of Ida wearing her little outfit from the VanEverys.  Thanks!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ida 5 Months

We were in Portland when Ida hit the 5 month mark!
She's darling.  There's no other word for it!
She's chubbin' out, smiles constantly, and is basically a super easy baby.  She's anxious to get on the move - kicking constantly and rolling all over the place.  And I'm pretty sure a tooth is just waiting to pop through the surface.

We love you baby girl.

I took a bunch of pictures of her wearing a little crocheted set that some MI friends sent when she was born but picasa is acting up right now so this is all for now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Portland Epidemic

We're home! Mike started his new job in Portland last week and we went with him. My gracious (incredibly gracious!) aunt let us stay at her place. The first half of the week I caught up with friends and family, got some shopping done and Mike worked.  The second half of the week we all caught the flu virus.  My cousin, aunt, Asa, Mike, Ida, and I all got it!  (Apparently this virus is ravaging all the schools down there.)  We were all finally recovered enough to come home Sunday.  Despite that, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone!

Asa loved playing with Elliott.  (Although it wasn't Asa's shining moment for sharing or not tackling.)
We went over to their house and every day afterwards Asa prayed that, "Elliott would come over and play for hours."  And, "Please find Elliott's Buzz and Mater."  (These were missing that day.)
After reading in Asa's Cars book that Mater was Lighting McQueen's best friend he told me, "Elliott's my best friend."

Fun times for these second cousins.