Monday, February 25, 2008

A Child's Prayer

Ever since Franny's jungle birthday party, she's been mentioning various animals in her bedtime prayers. The first time she asked Heavenly Father to bless the lion, tiger, hippo, and rhinoceros, I had to hunch over to stifle my laughter. Since then, we've tried to redirect her a little to remember the actual people in her life that we think she might like to pray for. Here's how her prayer went tonight:

Franny: "Dear Heavenly Father, please bless the lion, the tiger-"
Me: "Please bless Grandpa..."
Franny: "And Annie, and Maggie, and Julia.... and Lisa, and Bart, and Homer, and Marge-"
Me, finally (it took the whole Simpson family before I could regain control and keep myself from laughing out loud): "and Daddy..."
Franny: "Bless Tiffany, and Robin, and Maggie, and Nora.... and Megan.... 'rice (which is how Franny closes the prayer in the Savior's name), Amen."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A new source for recipes

I found a new cooking blog through Erin that I am absolutely in love with!! I tried three recipes of hers last week and they were all fabulous.


Berry Risotto Oatmeal. Creamy and delicious!!













Buttermilk cookies. I love to work with buttermilk and her description grabbed me when she mentioned the subtle lemon flavor provided by the lemon zest. These were light as air! I thought this was a really cool recipe. It's kind of like a recipe for cake batter, because you add the buttermilk and the flour mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. (Just like any good cake recipe. :)







Macadamia Nut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa.



This was AMAZING!! It calls for an entire bottle of macadamia nuts. I just ground them up in my food processor. I went to grab my bread crumbs and they were the Italian style we buy for schnitzel, seasoned with thyme and parsley. I didn't think they would work for this particular recipe. I just took out six slices of regular rice bread, placed them on a cookie sheet and baked them at a really low temperature for about 10-15 minutes until they dried out. Then I pulverized them in the food processor. It worked really nicely. I served this with Rebecca's Sticky Rice with Mangoes. DELISH!

I love peanut butter


Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Mmmmm....

I really like the recipe for peanut butter ice cream in the Ben and Jerry's cookbook. It's easy, it's fast, and DELICIOUS!!! Bobby is a huge fan and so am I. He bought me a pack of six Reese's peanut butter hearts for Valentine's day- oh yeah baby, you know what I like- and suggested we try using it in an ice cream. I thought it was brilliant.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
(I've been using 1 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup half and half, and 1 1/2 cups whole milk to cut out some of the fat.)
1/3 cup peanut butter
4 Reese's Peanut Butter Holiday shapes* (trees, hearts, easter eggs, pumpkins), chopped into small pieces

Whisk the eggs and then add the sugar, whisking it in a little at a time. Whisk in cream and milk until blended well. Remove 1 cup of cream mixture and whisk with peanut butter until blended. Add peanut butter cream mixture back into the rest of the cream mixture and freeze in ice cream maker. About two minutes before the ice cream is done, add the chopped Reese's.

*You could most certainly use the standard Reese's cups in place of these holiday shapes but I would warn against simply because the holiday versions are fresh and soft and much more peanut buttery than the cups.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Vanilla Ice Cream with Snickers Fudge Sauce


French Vanilla Ice Cream

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk*
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream, milk, and vanilla and whisk to blend.

2. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

*I think I actually did one cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup half and half, and 1 1/2 cups whole milk instead of the 2 cups cream/1 cup milk like the recipe says.


And remember this little gem I found in Nigella's Feast cookbook from the library? It did not disappoint. It's a really cool recipe- just do what it says, even though at first you may wonder how is this going to ever start to look like a fudge sauce. Trust Nigella- she will never lead you astray.

Peanut Butter and Snickers Fudge Sauce for Ice Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 jar smooth peanut butter (approx 1/3 cup)
3 Tbs dark brown sugar
1 king-size Snickers bar (approx. 3 oz.) broken into pieces
1 Tbs dark corn syrup

Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently. When everything has melted, raise to a simmer, stirring and scraping the pan for about 3 minutes.

Tagged

My friend Jessica tagged me a while ago with these questions.

1. Where did you meet your husband?
I was a cage dancer at a local club in Rexburg, ID. Here's a video taken that night.

video
Ha ha, just joking. I was showing off my sweet moves on the dance floor the night we met, though. It was at a Ricks College dance in 1997. His roommate was out on a date with my roommate and we were sort of aware of each other but had never met. My friends and I had filled up water balloons before the dance so we could chuck them at people walking out. We invited Bobby and his friends to join us. (It's possible that I'm mixing up two different occasions here. Bobby and I can't remember for sure. The water balloon launching may have occurred after a different dance, but it makes for a good story, so I'll just leave it.)



2. What was the first thing you said to your husband? I have no clue. Bobby reminds me of one of our first exchanges, though. It went something like this:

Bobby: "Where are you from?"
Me: "Huntington Beach."
Bobby: "Where's that?"
Me: "You don't know where Huntington Beach is?"
Bobby (with attitude): "No."

I have a hard time believing I could muster up that much sass having been totally mesmerized by his dashing good looks and witty personality, but that's his memory.


3. Where was your first date?
Hmmm.... We went to Preference together. It's a girl-ask-guy dance, but he asked me. I thought that was kind of sneaky, so I made sure to get the word out about who really asked who.

4. Where was your first kiss?
I had never seen Wayne's World before so we all got together and watched it one night after devouring an entire pan of brownies that we dug into with forks. I fell asleep, of course, with my head on Bobby's lap. I woke up a few hours later and everyone else was gone and Bobby was playing with my hair. When he noticed I had woken up, he leaned over and gave me a kiss. It was really short, but really sweet. Incidentally
I've still never seen Wayne's World.

5. Did you have a long/short engagement/courtship?
Our engagement was short, I guess. Four months. We had known each other for four years when we got married because he served a m
ission in between.

6. Where did you get engaged?
I have to tell this story right or it just sounds lame. I had sort of specific instructions for Bobby on how I wanted to be proposed to. I told him I wanted to it to be a surprise and special and romantic, but nothing too kitsch or trite. And not boring or lame. And not in front of a temple. Most importantly, however, I did not want to know when it was coming. Or so I thought.

So Bobby planned to propose to me when he visited me in California for Christmas. He had asked my father's permission to marry me and had this great idea of how to ask me, which I didn't find out about until much la
ter. We both love vintage metal lunchboxes. He had found a Hot Wheels one, in pristine condition, and built this little container within the lunchbox with flaps and stuff to hide little presents to give me for Christmas. One of the flaps opened a box that was the perfect size for a ring. He sort of hinted that he was planning on asking me while he was out there, and I asked him not to! I told him I was not ready.

So then we're back at BYU, it's February and a school holiday was coming up on February 19. He told me, "don't plan anything for the 19th. We're going to spend the whole day together." So I'd have to be stupid not to pick up on that hint. This time I was definitely ready. Bobby's mom lived in SLC at the time and we'd often go up and stay with her. We spent the night there on the 18th and after we woke up and got dressed and ready, Bobby said to me, "So do you have anything you want to do?" I was shocked to hear him say that and I totally over-reacted. Wasn't he supposed to have every minute of this glorious day planned from start to finish? So I did a very girlish thing and started to pout. Perhaps he wasn't going to propose after all. I couldn't hide my disappointment and the day was ruined. We ended up just heading back to Provo and arguing the whole way until finally, around the point of the mountain, I admitted how utterly disappointed I was since I was expecting a proposal. I felt like an idiot when he told me that was his plan- he just really wanted to kno
w if there was anything I wanted to do in SLC before we went back to Provo, where all the glorious proposal plans were scheduled to be carried out. Oops.

A few weeks later, my roommates and I were watching a wedding video at our landlord's house. (He had just recently gotten married.) It w
as a lovely video, but as I sat there I thought about Bobby and I getting married in the temple and felt so happy and so peaceful and so sure that's what I wanted. I had to see him. He was already asleep when I got to his apartment, but I barged into his bedroom anyway and told him I was ready. (I'm not sure if he knew that I wasn't ready before, but he handled it all very graciously and seemed happy with my announcement.) He mentioned that he had the ring (which was news to me), and asked would I like to see it? I said yes. He pulled the ring out and asked me if I wanted him to propose then or if I would be disappointed that it wasn't a surprise. I insisted that he do it right then and there, in his brown pajamas in his bedroom of his basement apartment in Provo, UT. Now you understand why it takes so long to tell this story. What seems like a very boring and mundane proposal was actually very romantic and kind of funny because that night I realized that I'm a little more of a control freak that I ever knew before.

7. Where did you get married?
San Diego temple. We had a luncheon immediately following in La Jolla at this lovely restaurant called the Marine room that was on the beach and looked out on the shore. Our reception was in Corona the night after. We stayed in a Marriott on Coronado Island on our wedding night and in all of my careful planning, I forgot to get directions to the hotel from the restaurant! Two newlyweds driving off to their honeymoon without the slightest idea of where they were going. We had to laugh.



I tag Julia, Ashley, Erin, Melody, Jill, and Betsy.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hungarian Goulash



I spent a week in Budapest in 1999 when I was on my study abroad trip. Dr. Peer took us for delicious Hungarian goulash and I've been looking for a decent and authentic recipe ever since. I thought this one looked promising. I was really happy with the outcome, but unfortunately I can't even remember what it tasted like when I had it. 1999 was a long time ago!

The pictures look like crap. I tried to improve them, but I think I ended up making them look worse! I love the idea of dumplings in a hearty stew. They are delicious. I think it's really important to have decent paprika. I used a small food processor to grind the caraway seeds, but they never got very fine. I found the recipe from simply recipes, and she insists that once you drop the dumplings into the stew and cover the pot with the lid, you don't even think about lifting that lid for 15 minutes or it's all over!

HUNGARIAN GOULASH
Goulash
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon spicy Hungarian paprika
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes (remove excess fat)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dumplings

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

1 In a large covered sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and sugar until caramelized. Add the garlic and caraway seed. Cook another minute.

2 Add the sweet and spicy paprika, marjoram, thyme and bay leaf. Sauté another minute, until fragrant.

3 Add the tomato paste. Deglaze with the vinegar and the stock and add the pieces of beef, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook until very tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

4 To prepare the dumplings, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with the milk and melted butter, mixing lightly. After the stew has cooked until tender in step 3, drop the dumpling batter by (heaping) teaspoonfuls into the simmering stew. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Once you have covered the pan, do not uncover while the dumplings are cooking! In order for them to be light and fluffy, they must steam. If you uncover the pan, the steam will escape and the dumplings will boil instead. After 15 minutes, test the dumplings with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the dumplings are done.

Serves 4 to 6

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle!

Franny turned four last week and we really wanted to celebrate her this year. This was the first year we felt that she could handle all the excitement of a birthday party and she worked really hard to get here, so we felt that she deserved a great big birthday bash! We decided on a jungle theme because of her love for the Jungle Book and the cute catch phrase she invented: "Stay in the Jungle."

Now, I don't consider myself a very fun or creative Mom. I'm being sincere- I'm sort of a deadbeat that way. But that's the beauty of the internet- you can totally fake it! All these wonderful ideas right at your fingertips! I also enlisted the help of my friend Melody- I told her I wanted to hang jungle vines from the ceiling but I had no idea how I was going to do it. She told me exactly how to do it. (Buy rope, spray-paint it green, and tie construction paper leaves to it.) I told her that I was going to paint a lion face onto a box and make it a lion toss. She told me to cut strips of fleece for the lion's mane. She sent me directions on how to make a fondant cake with lots of helpful tips to make the process go smoothly. She was a total lifesaver. Thanks Melody!

I also made tissue paper pompoms for the kitchen in yellow and orange, and then I made smaller versions with the leftover tissue paper for tropical flowers on the vines. Making the cake was a lot more fun than I was expecting. I think from now on my kid's birthday cakes will always be covered in fondant. I decided to keep it nice and simple and just cover a two-layer 9-inch round cake.




I got the idea for the cave online as well. I called a local furniture store and they told me where they store their large furniture boxes, so I drove my car behind the store and swiped four very large cardboard boxes. Although this operation was carried out in broad daylight, in front of a store employee, and with the blessing of the receptionist I spoke with on the phone, it felt very covert and sneaky. I liked it. Bobby made the cave and I think he did a great job. I hung crepe paper inside and taped up a big picture of a hippo I drew inside. Then we drew a picture of each of the kids on butcher paper and taped it on the side. I told them they were ancient heiroglyphs from an ancient jungle party. I'm a nerd.



Franny loved the party. I was so happy. She loved having her friends over, and she LOVED all the attention. It was really fun to watch. I am happy it ended up being such a positive thing for her. That was just what I wanted. I sincerely wish I could have invited everyone in her life, all her friends, classmates, therapists, teachers... everyone! We are so grateful for all the wonderful people in her life who love her and have helped her to come so far.

Our present for Franny was a new big girl bike. I had to go to the church to take care of some Relief Society stuff, so we decided to give her the bike there, so she would have somewhere to try it out. She already knew how to ride her big wheel, so it wasn't very long before she had her big girl bike figured out. It was pretty cute.

video

The weather got colder so I fashioned my hat back into my pants.


All it took was a little shaving cream to cure our cabin fever near the end of a very long couple of weeks indoors nursing two sick kids back to health. On this particular day I was trying to get some house-cleaning and laundry done when Sophie came up demanding her clothes be taken off and a bath be drawn. It was then that I remembered a can of shaving cream in my bathroom cupboard. I put Sophie in the tub and started squirting shaving cream all over her. (I got this idea from Jayne.) She HATED it. She wanted out immediately. Franny was covered head to toe in shaving cream in less than thirty seconds. It was a crack-up.


Sophie did finally warm up to the idea after a while... from outside the bathtub. Check out the shaving cream bra I fashioned for her.



Mommy gets to have her fun, too.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Most Embarrassing Moment #13 - The Final Threshold

I know this whole embarrassing moment saga has been kind of drawn out, but that's only because it has all been hinging on my AV geek metamorphosis. It's time to rap this baby up. I'm not really sure exactly why I decided to share all my most embarrassing moments in the first place, but it's been kind of liberating. We've been recording home movies since 2003, but it's been of no real use to us stored on those tiny little DV tapes. But now we've figured out how to load them onto our computer, which is really exciting!

I'd like to first set the stage by confessing something that very few people probably really know. I totally fantasize about being the lead singer in a band. I want to be like Jenny Lewis or Joni Mitchell and just belt out beautiful lyrics that move the people! But I have a crappy voice. It's pretty bad. Except when I sing "William, it was really nothing" by the Smiths. I think I sound pretty good when I sing that. What does that mean? It probably means I have a man voice. At any rate, check out exhibit A (video below) to see just how unlikely it is that I will be the next Jenny Lewis.

Anyway, this embarrassing moment happened on Memorial Day 2003. We both had the day off and slept in (I can't even remember what that feels like), and I headed downstairs to play with our new Mac. I had just downloaded one of my closet favorites, "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Croft, and ... well, you'll see...
video
The whole reason Bobby pulled out the video camera was because he wanted to record me doing this dorky politician commercial I had done for him earlier. He just got lucky and caught this moment. Yeah, lucky... ;)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

AV geek

video
We've been working with Sophie and her animal sounds. She's getting pretty good!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream


2 cups sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups milk
2 cups whipping cream
4 teaspoons grated fresh lemon or orange zest (optional)

Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Slowly beat the hot milk into the cream cheese mixture. Place back over medium heat and stir until it thickens slightly. Refrigerate until cold. Add in the whipping cream and the zest if desired. Freeze as directed.

For the raspberry swirl: Mix 3 cups frozen raspberries (thawed and drained) with powdered sugar (1 cup?) and mash together. Fold into ice cream while it's still soft before putting it in the freezer.

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