Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oops I did it again...


I have a weakness for shortbread. Every time we go to Panera, Bobby and I have to order a shortbread cookie. So when I linked to this new cooking blog from Sara's Kitchen, I knew I was in trouble. They are so amazing. It reminds me a little of my mother's butter cakes. Bobby loved them, too. I'll definitely be making these again, but only when there are lots of opportunities to share them with others. I keep making myself sick by eating too many.

English Lemon Shortbread Strips from Cooking in the Country
(I actually cut this recipe in half. That was a good choice on my part.)

For the dough

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
1 pound (4 sticks or 32 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

For the glaze

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest

To prepare the dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, add sugar and zest - use your fingers to massage the zest into the sugar until very fragrant and combine. Add butter and beat mixture together until smooth. Add juice and mix until combined and creamy, making sure to scrape down the sides as needed. Add flour mixture and beat just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Scoop mixture into a 10" x 15" baking pan coated with nonstick spray. Place into the oven and bake until the top is lightly golden, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare the glaze

In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, butter and lemon juice until smooth. Spread glaze over the cooled shortbread and sprinkle with lemon zest, if desired. Set aside and let stand at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Metal Lunchboxes

Bobby's been collecting metal lunchboxes since I first met him at Rick's college. We paid regular visits to the "Princess D.I" to see if they had any in their bidding case. Just before he left on his mission, I went to visit him in Kansas and we sat together and wrapped lunchboxes in newspaper and arranged them in plastic containers so they could be protected and stored in his father's barn. Our first year in Kirksville, Bobby read in the paper that there was an estate auction for a couple with a large collection of vintage metal lunchboxes. Franny and I dropped him off in Novingier, a nearby town, and left him there all day. He called me to come pick him up when it was over and walked to the car with his bookbag and empty hands. I felt bad that he had wasted a whole day and asked, "Oh no, you didn't get any?" He dropped his bookbag in the car and said, "Uh, no... I'll be right back." He then proceeded to fill any surplus space in our small Saturn with boxes and boxes of metal lunchboxes. I'm pretty sure he doubled our collection that day. I love his collection and we've always tried to think of the perfect way to put them up on display. But since this is our fifth home in seven years of marriage, we don't seem to every stay put long enough to invest the time or money in that endeavor. When we saw this house for the first time together, Bobby designated this hallway leading to the basement as the perfect spot for our lunchbox collection. It makes us so happy to see them up and out of their storage boxes so we can enjoy them!

Bobby's brother Wes helped him get the hardware for attaching the lunchboxes. I would tell you what these were called but I don't have a clue. I bought these magnets online. When they first arrived, I thought, "what a freaking rip-off!" They were so tiny, but those suckers are strong!

Sorting the lunchboxes and trying to decide which ones should get the prime locations.

Ahhh... what a beautiful sight. See that ledge to the bottom left of the lunchboxes? I walked along to the end of that at 10:00 AM before church. My daughters saw me there and asked, "Mom, how did you get there?" They still ask me that. It's one of the dumbest things I've ever done as a Mom. I just know Sophie, who is a little trouble-maker and a great climber, is going to try this and I just hope I'm around to stop her.

These are the "money" lunchboxes.

Thank you Wes for your help with this!!!

this kind of agility?

When Ashley called saying she might be able to come hang out for the weekend since J. was going to be out of town, I was practically hyper-ventilating with excitement. Bobby was in the room and in jest told me to play it cool. So as a joke I decided to dial it way down after my first super-spaz reaction, "I mean, that's cool I guess. I'm not sure if I'll even be here, but whatever."

I'm so glad they came. Here's some fun pics from the weekend.


Reading books to the girls.

Duh, blah blah blah, something something, Macarena! There's a lot of princess-lovers in this house.

One man's trash is another man's treasure. We played in photoshop while Ash was here. I taught her what I know and she taught me what she knows. She slept in here where the computer was and played with textures on a few pictures she took. Look what I found in my computer trash? I love how they're holding hands.

My favorite part of the weekend was getting time to spend this one. We had lots of great talks, played a LOT of sequence, watched Arrested Development, and planned our vacation with our husbands and Melody and Paul. We even got to drop our kids off at a free babysitting night and hang out with Jayne for a night.

Oh wait, maybe my favorite part of the weekend was mugging on this one:


Her cheeks are so delicious. Will someone give me a baby please? It would be great if I didn't have to be pregnant.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Superman . . . BANANA!

I'm curious how many of you will understand that reference.

I am recognizing a pattern that repeats itself every year. I imagine, or at least hope, that some of you can relate. In January I find myself five or ten or even fifteen pounds over my ideal weight, with a few extra inches around my waste and super flabby "Phyllis" arms. (Also curious if any of you will catch that reference. Hint: it's from a movie.) I start to think about how in a few short months I'm going to want to accompany my children to the pool in a bathing suit and think maybe I should start exercising. I start working out, remember that I actually like it and that it makes me feel good, until summer comes. I often hear myself saying, "it's so much fun to be a Mom when it's nice outside." We just go, go, go... to the pool, to the park, or outside in front riding bikes. The kids are happy to be outside in the sun, and so is Mom. It feels good to feel the sun and be active. Not only that, but the kids get to be with their friends and so do I. Then Autumn comes around and it starts to get chilly. Fast. And then I turn into a hermit who craves chocolate, would rather stay in and watch movies and all the new TV shows than go out and be social, and only leaves the house when she has to. I do a lot of sewing and cooking and realize over Christmas break that it's been five days since I've left the house and I don't even mind. Freeze that picture. And there (or here) I am, flabby and ten pounds overweight.

So I started exercising again this week and I am so sore and stiff, but it feels great. I really hope I can keep it up because this year I have an even bigger motivation than just going to the pool. We're going on a Caribbean cruise after graduation!! I am so looking forward to having a real vacation.

I have kind of a weird approach to dieting and weight loss. I can't do "I can't believe it's not butter" spray. Let me tell you something: I can definitely believe that it's not butter. That stuff is disgusting. I still like to eat what I want, just less of it. I'll still let myself have dessert, if I've eaten a meager lunch. And I'd rather skip snacks than use fat-free mayonnaise, cream cheese, or sour cream. Yuck. Although I do believe in 1/3 less fat cream cheese and half and half. I love anything with a creamy sauce. Mmmm....

So after a rigorous (for me) arm and shoulder workout yesterday and an enjoyable walk in some unseasonably warm weather (which by the way was probably more exercise I got than all of last season), I rewarded myself with this dinner. It was so good. And I love the way Franny says, "Enchi-LADA." And it certainly was a reward.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos (I used just about 3/4 of only one jalapeno. I don't think my kids could have handled all that heat and I was happy with the outcome. I didn't strip the jalapeno of it's seeds, though.)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock, storebought
  • Chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded (this would taste great, I'm sure, but I didn't have one, so I seasoned three boneless chicken breasts, boiled them, and shredded them.)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Guacamole, optional


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the salsa:

On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.


Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Mix the half and half into the remainder of the salsa, pour on top of the rolled enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish with cilantro and tomato.

Serve hot with sour cream and fresh guacamole, if desired.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

Delicious! Served these with parmesan toasts- also from Ina's new cookbook.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Serves 6 to 8

From "Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics," by Ina Garten

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)
1/4 cup good olive oil
-- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (I used frozen spinach actually, thawed and drained)
1/2 cup dry white wine + extra for serving
6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces creme fraiche (I used sour cream, since I can't creme fraiche in my area)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
-- Crispy Shallots, optional (see recipe)
Instructions: Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40-45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4-5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over two burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.

In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they're all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, cream fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan cheese and Crispy Shallots, if using.

Crispy Shallots (I didn't make these because I forgot to buy shallots at the store, but I bet they would have tasted wonderful!)
Makes about 1/2 cup

1 1/2 cups olive oil or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
Instructions: Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220° on a candy thermometer.

Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bobby's Most Embarrassing Moment (that he doesn't even remember)

Last Thanksgiving while we were all hanging out at Wes and Jen's, Bobby's sister told this story about Bobby that must qualify as his most embarrassing moment. She had us all rolling as she was telling the story- she's great at telling stories- and ever since then I've wanted to ask her to write it down for me so I could post it on my blog. This story is so hilarious!! Oh and by the way, he doesn't even remember this ever happening.

Here's a picture I found in one of Bobby's albums of him and his sister. The pics at the bottom of this post are some that Molly posted on our family blog today. There are a lot of cute stories about these two from their early years. They made quite a pair.

So, thanks to Molly for taking the time to write out the following. I'm so glad you told me this story!

maybe it's because we have a hint of crazy, but bobby and i have always thought it was funny to scare people. and since we were the last ones left at home, our target was often mom. it was a common occurrence to run for the nearest hiding spot when we heard the garage door open, or keys jingling in the front door. because we knew we had her. and we knew she would scream and then gasp, with eyes closed, as she clutched her chest. and we would be laughing as we ran away, or snuck in for an apologetic hug. and always she would call our names with a touch of disgust mixed in with her laughter. and we were teenagers, mind you. old hats. so we'd been perfecting our craft for years. and then bobby started to change it up. something about the teen boy makes them want to expose their buttocks every possible chance. and bobby was a patient mooner. he would stand with bum out for as long as it took. it was worth it to him. so, as bobby and i were watching tv we heard mom at the front door. without conversation, we both ran for our hiding spots. i wedged myself between the big screen and speakers while bobby darted for the front closet. i heard mom come in and then open the closet door, so i poked my head around the corner to see her reaction. but what i saw was bobby in the closet with his bare butt sticking out. mom gasped, "robert lee!" he got the reaction he was looking for, so he was laughing as he turned around, fixing his pants and saw mom with her visiting teaching companion! i held my breath so i wouldn't be caught cracking up and ran for my room. but as bobby was fixing his belt he said something like, "hey, sister ______, how's it going?" he's always been cool like that. happy birthday. i love you, wierdo.

Happy Birthday Bobby!

Today is Bobby's birthday. For four months out of the year I am married to a younger man. Molly (Bobby's sister) and I always laugh about this one time when she asked me, "Katherine, how much older are you than Bobby? Six months?" I shook my head vigorously and said, "No, no, no.... four month" as if there was any remarkable difference in those two months.

What are birthdays for if not embarrassing the people you love with old pictures? :)

Bobby's mom sent him a package for his birthday filled with all of his class pictures and baby portraits. I've had so much fun looking through them. I love our dark-haired beauties, but I would love if we could have at least one little blonde boy that looks just like Bobby. He was (and still is) so adorable.

I love that big cheesy grin he has. And those shifty eyes remind me a little of Sophie. And check out those short shorts!

I can still remember what it was like when we first fell in love. I felt so lucky that he wanted to be with me. He was the first man I fell in love with and I fell hard. Those of you who knew me then can probably attest to that. I talked about him often, maybe a little too often. We wrote while he was serving his mission and I missed him very much. Our relationship is different now. You won't hear me gushing about how "I can't believe that Bobby wants to be with me!" It's fun to get carried away like that when you're dating, but I can't imagine that being a very healthy marriage, with one person always feeling inferior. I like to think we both have something to offer each other. But I can still flip back to that mindset. And it's fun to think of Bobby that way. One of my favorite memories I like to think back on is from when we were both attending Rick's college. It wasn't a huge campus. I often ran into my friends between classes, but it drove me crazy that Bobby and I never ran into each other during the day. I was constantly on the lookout for him, but our paths never seemed to conveniently cross. I had a job working as a secretary for the Communications department. One day the head secretary asked me to post fliers all over campus advertising some event. I was in one of the buildings on campus, with a stack of fliers and a staple gun, when the bell rang and the hall flooded with students. I looked up and saw Bobby walking towards me, with that same delicious grin and with his head kind of tilted downward and looking up at me in a flirtatious way. He was wearing his dark green cargo pants, his woolly grey sweater, and a blue work jacket with someone else's name on it that he picked up at a thrift store. (That's easy to remember because he wore that almost every day.) His hair was bleached and he had a red M&M's backpack on, a lipsmacker around his neck, and 2 or 3 safety pins placed randomly on his clothing. It was the best thing I'd seen all day. And I think it was right then as I noticed the way he looked at me that I thought, "hey, this guy might actually like me too." I remember feeling like I was going to float up off the ground at that moment.

Another reason I like to flip back to that old mindset is because the things that I wanted most at that time, the things that I used to daydream about- a happy marriage with Bobby, a happy family with Bobby, a home- I have those things now. And I think about how happy that skinny lovesick nineteen year old girl would be, and glad she knew what she wanted so young, but still had 2-3 years to finish her schooling and tour Europe, build some lasting friendships, spend time with family, and just learn more about herself before starting that happy marriage.

Here's some pictures of some of my favorite moments with Bobby under the category of our dating years (only because I don't have time to broaden that timeframe and because that seems to be the focus of this post.)

Throwing pumpkins from the top of the stadium at Rick's College with Janelle. A really fun night.

This was the day before he left on his mission. It was a sad day but that was the day I decided he was the one I wanted to marry.

Rollerskating. We loved to rollerskate.

At the airport. First time our eyes locked after his mission. (Minutes later he informed me that my eye color had changed since he left. I hadn't even noticed.)

I'm so grateful to have him as my husband. I love him dearly and completely admire and respect him. I couldn't ask for a better father for my children or a more supportive husband for myself. I love you Bobby. Happy 30th birthday!

Tonight for dinner we're having some of Bobby's favorites:

Macaroni Grill Bread
Yellow cake mix with Chocolate Pudding Cool Whip Frosting (He's so funny. I'd make him anything he wants and he wants cool whip frosting. thanks Betsy for that recipe. it is now Bobby's favorite unfortunately.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas at our house

It was awesome having a professional photographer taking our Christmas morning pictures this year! Thanks Jen.
Nicole decorating cookies.
Colton's Santa cookie.
Yummy. Sour cream cookies just like my Grandma Warner used to make.
Bobby and Franny hard at work.
Santa came to our house and here is the proof. The kids were so excited about the note and especially the half-eaten cookie.
My bro-in-law Wes posing by the stockings. He's so funny.
What a beautiful sight.
Yikes. But here we are on Christmas morning in our new Christmas pajamas. Thanks Jen for doing the best with what we gave you in this family shot. :) Bobby looks good at least. Poor Franny was sick on Christmas.
I love this picture. It was taken right after Bobby opened the gift I was the most excited to give him- a digital scrapbook I made especially for him of all the big things that happened last year. Sophie stops to give him a hug.
Sophie loves this dog. If her current owners didn't love her so much, I'd ask if we could adopt her.


That's a cute face.

Jen took pictures of all the kids opening their big presents. Franny's was a Kid-tough digital camera.
This wasn't Colton's big present, but obviously he was really excited about it.
Nicole and her "purple 'puter." My girls loved this. Nicole was so sweet to share with them.

Sophie got a grocery cart.
Hunter and his PSP!

Me and my gorgeous sister-in-law Jen in our matching track suits. So comfortable. Perfect attire for playing the Wii all day long.
Sophie giving her new best friend a kiss.

Mental Note: less TV next weekend

I found this tutorial last week and subsequently became obsessed with making these:

First I made one for Sophie, then for Jack's birthday present, and then Franny wanted one, too. A pink one. I worked on Franny's all afternoon on Saturday before we all went out to eat dinner. I worked on it a little on Sunday, too.

This momma is fighting a major addiction to her sewing machine lately and judging by the amount of time our television is tuned into ESPN, I gather that football season is in full swing. These two factors added together equal not anywhere close to the most attentive or exemplary parenting. As we sat together last night for dinner (we had this and it was scrumptious- I didn't get around to taking pictures), Franny asked me, "Mom, what happened to Pocahontas' necklace?" "I don't know," I replied. "Kokoum took it. He not very nice to Pocahontas," she said. The conversation takes a different path and then all of the sudden we hear Franny say in an urgent voice, "the warriors are coming!" I said, "okay, Franny, I think it's time to re-enter the land of the living."

I did make a mental note then to limit the TV watching next weekend, but still, I had to finish her quilt. The football game was over. Bobby and I were in our room watching the Golden Globes while I put the finishing touches on Franny's doll pillow when she walked in the room. When Bobby asked Franny where her sister was, she answered, "Sophie's asleep." Bobby and I ran upstairs and here's how we found her:

Fell asleep sitting upright while watching Disney sing-along songs on YouTube. Awesome. Sorry, kids. I'll try harder next week.

However, the kids do seem to love their new doll quilts!
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