Grilled Sandwich Night

FullSizeRenderTuesday nights are usually filled with exhaustion after the weekend activities, getting through Monday which usually involves several extra-curricular activities for the kids and well…Monday. As you may recall I plan most of my meals in advance and do the majority of the prep work ahead of time to make weeknight dinners less of a chore and more fun for all. Tuesday night is usually our designated leftover night. In my house this translates into “I’m going to clean out the refrigerator tomorrow, if you want it eat it!” There is rarely enough of any particular meal for everyone to eat the same thing so everyone gets to pick what they want to eat and it’s there’s. Needless to say, Tuesday dinner is always interesting. With two teenagers and a six year old in the house the discussions over who is going to eat what are always interesting. It’s kind of amusing to watch your kids argue over leftovers!

Tonight much to my surprise…I had no leftovers. So I decided to keep with the tradition and let everyone pick what they wanted, only tonight they had a choice regarding what kind of grilled sandwich they wanted. The overwhelming top choice was grilled peanut butter and jelly. If you haven’t had the opportunity to taste this delicious take on a childhood staple I highly encourage you to try one soon. I won’t provide a recipe as I am sure you are all aware of how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I will encourage you to use real butter, it is so much better than the fake stuff.

“I Wanted Costume Gloves”

Face With Tears Of Joy Emoji" Stickers by emojiprints | Redbubble

 So apparently my super power is not mind reading! Last night around 10:00pm my thirteen year old daughter sends a text…”can you grab me a red tutu and white gloves tomorrow?” Since Halloween is today, I really didn’t think this was such an odd request. I wasn’t thrilled that she waited until the last minute, but let’s be honest she is thirteen and most importantly she is her mother’s child! My poor mother had to scramble every year at the last minute because I never wanted to dress up until the big day and then couldn’t make a decision…must be why I was a gypsy every year which really translates into wearing her old clothes from the 70’s layered with jewelry and my curly hair in it’s natural state.

So after a T-ball game with the little guy this morning, we head out to collect the items Kenzie requested. No problem, right? Wrong! First of all, I don’t think they make tutu’s for teenagers, second of all it’s Halloween and there is nothing left! I call a friend who is much better at this holiday than I am, she says…”oh just grab some tulle and get out your sewing machine, it will take you 10 minutes” Ummm…I don’t have a sewing machine, and don’t even know how to sew on a button!

I move onto the gloves. I can handle gloves, right? I grab two pair of white gloves. I’m so proud of myself for this because they are actually white not off-white (I learned the hard way last year that there is a difference when I grabbed an off-white scarf). I deliver the gloves to Kenzie-she’s still at her training for her big bike race, send her a text letting her know I got the gloves but no luck on the tulle.

Several hours later I receive a text from my little princess (who apparently is dressing up at Minnie Mouse tonight). I’ll let you read the conversation between us, this is the story of my life!

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Thoughts From An Old Soul….

What ever happened to enjoying an activity, event, conversation, or meal and then having that enjoyment become a memory imbedded in your brain for as long as it was supposed to? Lately I have seen an epidemic (strong word, I know) of people of all ages forgetting to savor the moments of their life, because they are to concerned with taking a selfie, posting a pic to social media, capturing a video, etc. I find this kind of sad to be honest.
Tuesday night as I watched the World Series with my family, I noticed that most of the attendees were only viewing the game through the lens of their smart phone Think of all of the sights, smells, sounds, etc. that they are missing from a once in a lifetime experience! One of my fondest memories as an adult was when I had the rare opportunity to watch a game at Fenway. As a Boston Red Sox fan from Arizona, you can only imagine the excitement of that night. If I close my eyes I can remember that night with all of my senses. I can hear the sounds of the crowd, the sounds of the ball hitting the bat, the sounds of a player catching the ball, the players talking and laughing or yelling and fighting. I can smell beer, hot dogs, freshly cut grass, dirt, etc. I can visualize the crowd, the players, and the stadium. I can feel the old seats, the energy of the crowd, etc.  I digress.  My point is that although this took place well over 10 years ago and I didn’t have a camera with me, I was still able to embrace the experience and create a memory of a lifetime.

I’m not sure I have a real point here, sorry maybe just venting. But I am going to challenge the few readers I have to savor the moments in life, after all they are so much more than what is captured through the lens of a smartphone!

Please fee free to share with me a memory in your personal memory bank that was so profound, enjoyable, or just plain real that a picture or video wasn’t necessary to make it memorable.

A Pinch of Crazy!

I honestly try to handle everything life throws my way with more love than crazy, lately life is crazy! I have been working about 60 hours a week, traveling for work several times a month, trying to be the best parent I can be with school, extra curricular activities, two teenagers, a kindergartner, four dogs, a desert tortoise, and last but not least a great husband.

As we navigate through this journey we have created, I realize that no matter how crazy it seems, I am blessed to have so many amazing people and opportunities in my life. I’ve accepted that although I may not always have the time and/or energy to create elaborate home cooked meals, in the end we are a family and I’m proud that we do our best . I can only hope that when these young minds that call me “mom” are older and have families of their own, they can appreciate the value of eating together, sharing our crazy, and laughing at life.

In an effort to improve on family time and encourage everyone to take the time to breathe, relax, and enjoy our blessings; I have decided that we will make Sunday brunch a priority. I’m excited to share the recipes and stories of my family as this new tradition unfolds.

Thank you for remaining interested in my humble little blog, supportive of my adventures, and interested in my recipes. I look forward to sharing more with you! Please feel free to share your recipes with me as well, I’m always looking for something new to create in the kitchen 🙂

What’s Better on a Chilly Day than Chili?

ChiliOkay, so I can’t exactly say it was chilly in Tucson today. In fact I think it was a crisp 81* today 🙂 However, nothing says fall like pumpkin carving and a nice bowl of chili afterwards. The big kids love my chili, and the little guy will learn to appreciate this hearty meal in a bowl. The best part about this meal is it’s easy and there is usually a ton leftover.  Sometimes I freeze it for another night and other times we use over baked potatoes or make chili dogs.
Here’s my recipe:
2 lbs of ground beef ( I use 80/20)
3 cans chili beans-do not drain (I use S&W Chili beans)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can white beans (drained and rinsed)
1 small can diced green chile’s
1 large can whole tomatoes (break up tomatoes into mixture, include extra sauce from can into mixture)
salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, chili powder to taste

Brown ground beef, drain and place in slow cooker
Add beans, seasonings, and chile’s
Cook in slow cooker for 4-6 hours
Serve with shredded cheese and cornbread

Snack Food…For Adults Only!

PancettaWho doesn’t love junk food once in awhile? Kevin and I have a few nights each week without any kiddos at home, they are with their other parents on those nights.Sometimes we eat cereal for dinner, leftovers, etc. But every once in awhile I decide to get creative and try something new for just the two of us. I recently decided to experiment with some of our favorite ingredients to create an appetizer aka snack food for the two of us to enjoy while watching a movie on the couch.

Here’s what I came up with:
Ingredients:
1 fresh baguette
Roma tomatoes, sliced
Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Pancetta, pan fried
Fresh basil
Fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
Butter (melted)
Fresh Garlic
Directions:
Slice the baguette into even slices (the size of each slice is up to you).
Mix melted butter and fresh garlic together.
Brush bread slices with garlic butter.
Place under broiler until the bread just starts to brown.
Remove bread from oven and assemble with a slice of fresh tomato, a slice of fresh mozzarella, a piece of pancetta, and top with shredded parmesan.
Put back under the broiler until the cheese is melted and starts to turn a golden brown.
Remove from oven, top with fresh basil and enjoy!

Let Them Eat Cake….Or Is It Pie?

It’s always been important to me that I bake my family the dessert of their choice for their birthday. There is just something about a homemade birthday cake that makes them feel special. As the weeks (or in some cases months) approach, the kids starting the decision process of what they want this year for their birthday. It’s fun to watch them throughout the decision process, because well it’s a huge decision!

Kevin’s birthday was a few weeks ago, rather than pick a birthday cake, he chose apple pie! It’s almost sacrilegious in my book to eat pie over birthday cake, but what the heck it was his birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I love apple pie, heck I love just about any pie, but it is called “birthday cake” for a reason…just sayin 😉 He didn’t want just any apple pie, but a Dutch apple pie.

So I made an apple pie for Kevin’s birthday. You’ll notice from the picture above that it was a hit and there was not any left to take a picture of. The picture above is literally the crumbs, and to be totally honest a certain someone licked the pie plate clean shortly after the photo was taken.

Here’s the recipe
Ingredients:
1 store bought pie crust (I used Pillsbury)
Filling:
6 cups of peeled, cored, and sliced cooking apples (I like to use a combination of granny smith and golden delicious)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Topping:
3/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of butter (softened to room temperature)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375*.
Fit pie crust into pie plate.
In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients for the filling together.
Fill crust with filling mixture.
In a medium bowl mix all of the ingredients for the topping together with a fork until the topping resembles course crumbles.
Pour topping over pie filling.
Bake for 45-50 minutes

Apple pie is super easy. Haydn and I prefer ours warm with a little milk poured over the top, eaten in a bowl with a spoon. Kevin and Mykenzie like theirs without the milk and they eat it on a plate with a fork. Nick…it’s pie he will eat it anyway he can 🙂

Back to School

School is back in session!

Honestly our kids have been back in school for awhile, but this seemed like an appropriate theme Labor Day weekend, as it is my understanding many kiddos across the country start back after this holiday weekend.

This year we have a high school senior, 8th grader, and a kindergartner!  I cannot believe how busy everyone is. Since it’s been awhile, I thought I would update everyone on what’s been going on in my world.

Haydn is a senior this year.  I cannot believe he will graduate from high school in less than a year.  It seems like just yesterday he was starting kindergarten and now I am preparing for him to leave the nest.  He has decided to join the United States Marine Corps, his “ship date” to boot camp is scheduled for June 20, 2016.  I’m so proud of his choice to serve our country, but I will admit as a mom the reality of that choice is overwhelming and humbling.  I lay awake many nights thinking of his childhood, thinking of the young man he has become and worried sick.  I know the military will be a good choice for him, it’s what he has wanted to do since he was a young child, but the thought of boot camp scares the holy hell out of me.  I cannot let my mind go to the worries that his choice presents, those will come in time.  In preparation for his post high school commitment, he has joined the cross country team, is working a part time job, and doing his best in school despite a serious case of senioritis.

Mykenzie started 8th grade in July.  She is taking dance lessons three nights a week, training for a 44 mile bike race (this will be her third year riding in El Tour de Tucson- she serves as a mentor this year for the other youth riders), she is taking high school Geometry this year (last year it was high school Algebra).  She’s transforming from an adorable little girl to a beautiful young woman.  She’s been to three concerts in the last month…I’m starting to worry 😉 She’s a great big sister, pet owner, daughter and friend.  I’m very proud of her and look forward to watching her as she grows and matures in preparation for high school next year.

Nick started kindergarten this year!  He loves school, is making new friends and loves eating cafeteria food!  Eating as he calls them “hot lunches” is a huge step for this little guy, and I am so proud!  He is learning so much and I think he will be reading chapter books before we know it.  He’s also playing T-ball again in a developmental season and enjoys all outdoor activities.

Life has been super busy with me still working about 60 hours a week.  I’m looking forward to this holiday weekend to catch up on some much needed rest.  I’m also hoping to get some meals planned, prepped and ready to go for the next week 🙂

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the great Dad’s out there!

DAD

I’m so lucky to have a wonderful dad. I have such fond childhood memories of my time with him. In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to share just a few 🙂

My Dad loves music, always has and always will. When I hear great music I always think of him. Whether we were riding in the car, sitting on the couch, watching MTv (yes they used to actually to play music), or exploring a record shop for the latest hits my Dad was involved. I still remember the excitement in our house when he bought a cd player and brought home our first cd… Bon Jovi! My Dad helped me create great sound with my stereo in my bedroom by hanging speakers on the wall and working for hours until the sound was perfect. I was so cool…thanks Dad 🙂

My Dad and I share similar interests in many things, we can sit near the computer exploring his latest project of genealogy, and time just seems to stop. We can talk politics, parenting, work related stress, and sports. I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with him, but every time is truly a treasured memory.

My Dad taught me to laugh, although usually a pretty serious gentleman…get him to watch “Airplane” and he turns into a giggle box, his laugh is contagious.

My Dad has also been a rock of quiet comfort and peace in times of struggle. When Kevin (another great dad) was facing death because of an emergency medical condition, my Dad demonstrated strength and comfort and told me with his eyes that no matter what he would take care of me. I am 40 years old, and still cherish the first gift he ever gave me… “Buff” my teddy bear 🙂

My Dad never missed a Valentine’s Day…always made sure that my mom, sister and I felt loved and special. As our family’s have grown, he still makes sure to honor that tradition. He also made holiday’s extra special whether it was teaching us how to sneak mom’s holiday cookies and candy without her noticing, or stressing over making sure the wrapping paper was thrown away immediately after gifts were open as to not accidentally thrown something away later when cleaning up 🙂

I love you Dad,
Happy Father’s Day!

**He’s also a wonderful grandfather or as the kids say…G-pa, the pic above is him at my niece’s kindergarten promotion ceremony and I believe he is carrying my Mom’s purse :)**

Summer Vacation-Breakfast!

I’m so super excited 🙂

We are planning for our first ever family vacation! After over three years of marriage, and many bridges to cross we are excited to take everyone on an adventure. Next week we will be joined by our nephew from New Jersey and heading to Northern Arizona for a relaxing get away. We will be staying in a cabin, visiting the Grand Canyon, Sedona, fishing at several lakes and hopefully getting some much needed rest and relaxation. Oh and by the way, it won’t be 110* in Flagstaff 🙂

The cabin we have rented has a full kitchen, which means we can save our money and eat there rather than take the whole crew out to eat for every meal. I’m working hard this weekend to plan and prep as many of our meals as possible so that I can enjoy myself too!

I love breakfast…especially on vacation 🙂 I will be preparing some most delicious breakfast feasts as a special treat from the normal weekday breakfast.

Here’s what I have planned so far for our breakfast meals:
Day 1- Breakfast Burritos with homemade salsa
Day 2- Baked Oatmeal with Omelet bites
Day 3- French Toast Casserole, Scrambled eggs, and Bacon