Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Storytime Fun

Jared and I have read two books together recently. I LOVE that special time of reading out loud to him. Even though he's plenty big enough to read on his own, I enjoy sharing the adventures and spending the quiet moments with him.

I love Jared's sense of humor and that he dislikes cliff-hangers. It usually takes some convincing to begin a particular book, but once a few chapters in he is hooked and is often begging for longer reading sessions.

Caitlin is my bookworm. She has loved books from the beginning. She used to stack them so high in her doll buggy that they toppled over. She'd push them from room to room. Her prized possessions. She'd also line them up in rows, filling the family room floor with books. When it was reading time (an all day, off and on again event), I would tell her to pick a book and she'd pick ten.

Jared, is fussy. He judges books by their covers and nothing ever sounds worthy of his time. Usually I insist on a particular book, and he doesn't get excited about it until we are several pages in. SIGH.

Wednesday I took him to the library and he selected non-fiction books about animals. He taught me everything I'd want to know about penguins, LOL! I browsed the children's section of the library... looking at the picture books and remembering the fun I had reading those to the kids. I miss reading them their favorite stories. Caitlin's favorite was Dr. Seuss' ABC's. In fact she wore out her first copy and I had to buy another one because her book would fall apart when you opened it. I would read that book in a fun sing-song voice. She learned he letters before age 2 and she could read at age 3- 1/2. Jared, liked Brown Bear, Brown Bear (What do you see?). I had my favorites too. I'll have to make a separate post about them, there are too many.

Although Jared is plenty big enough and capable of reading on his own, I'm so glad I can still share this special time with him. Last night I was looking at his long big feet and thinking how much longer can it last? I'm totally going to take advantage of this summer and read lots more with him.

Our latest reads include:

Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice is a fun filled adventure with action, humor, and mystery. It has cliff-hanging moments and characters that are realistically imperfect, but lovable. We are planning to start book 2 of this series tonight. (I believe that there are nine books in the series).

Room One by Andrew Clements

Room One is an entertaining read about a boy who loves playing detective. It is a great story that supports the importance of the character traits of honesty, trustworthy, compassion, kindness and responsibility. Good stuff.

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quick & easy pizza crust

I've been looking for a pizza crust that I can mix together and use right away without waiting for the dough to rise.

I found this recipe on it's called Valentino's Pizza Crust. It was quick, easy, and yummy.

Quick & Easy Pizza Crust

1 c. warm water (110 degrees F)
1 Tbsp. white sugar
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Stir water, sugar, and yeast together until dissolved. Add the olive oil and the salt. Stir in the flour until well blended. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Pat dough into pan or on to a pizza stone using fingers dipped in olive oil. If desired sprinkle basil, thyme, or other seasonings on crust. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vegetable Curry

Here is a tasty vegetarian dish. I thought it had just the perfect amount of spice (heat), but adjust to your own liking. I usually order mild-medium when I eat out, and often just mild.

Vegetable Curry (Serve over rice)

4 medium carrots, sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
8 oz. fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces (**Next time I will replace these with cauliflower)
1 c. coarsely chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 14 oz. can vegetable broth or chicken broth (I make mine using bullion cubes)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
Hot cooked rice

Stove Top Method: (What I did) - Combine carrots, potatoes, garbanzo beans, green beans, onion and garlic into a medium to large saucepan. Add the curry powder, coriander, crushed red pepper, salt and cinnamon, mix well. Stir in broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add diced tomatoes and tapioca. Return to a simmer, stirring often as it thickens. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Slow-cooker Method: In a 3 1/2-5 quart slow cooker, combine carrots, potatoes, garbanzo beans, green beans, onion, garlic, tapioca, curry powder, coriander, crushed red pepper, salt, and cinnamon. Pour broth over all of it. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7-9 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours. Stir in undrained tomatoes. Cover; let stand for 5 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Red, White and Blue -PART I

I spent some time this week putting up my 4th of July decorations! I had a few crafts to finish, so I had to get a bit crafty this season to get out the RED, WHITE and BLUE ... I cut a small flag off its' stick and framed it. I love this blue and white mug I've been using upstairs for pencils. It goes well with the flag and "fireworks".

To dress up simple red candles, I cut lengths of red and white striped ribbon, securing them to the candles using small brass brads. Then I painted some small wooden stars blue and used hot glue to attach. I love the simplicity.

This is an older decoration... a board painted white with vinyl lettering. I thought it was a bit plain though, so I painted the edges red.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Peach-Pecan Muffins

YUMMY! Another new recipe!

These muffins aren't too sweet. They are a perfect breakfast muffin, but I made them for snacking. I suppose if you wanted a sweeter muffin you could add some extra sugar to the thawed and diced peaches. Either way... they are great as is too!

Peach-Pecan Muffins

Pecan Streusel:
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 + 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup frozen sliced peaches, thawed and diced
12 paper baking cups
vegetable cooking spray (I use foil baking cups and don't need to use the spray)

1. Prepare Streusel: stir together pecans and next 4 ingredients until crumbly.

2. Prepare Muffins: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in the center of mixture. Stir together the butter, milk, and egg; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Gently stir in peaches.

3. Place paper baking cups in a 12-cup muffin pan, and coat with cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full. Sprinkle with pecan streusel.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (check after 15) or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan, and serve warm or at room temperature.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Grilled Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

I tried a new recipe tonight. It was a winner! I didn't just like it... it was SO VERY GOOD!! I wish I knew what magazine I clipped it from. Like most recipes I use, I made some minor adjustments. If you try it out let me know what you think!

Grilled Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 10-inch flour tortillas (* I used 8)
1 large sweet potato (*I used a yam)
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces) (* or more)
1 1/2 cups tightly packed fresh baby spinach
1 cup salsa
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
guacamole (optional)
sour cream (optional)

1. Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1/2-inch pieces. Cover with water and boil until fork-tender.

2. In a large skillet, saute' onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Stir in black beans, corn, lime juice, oregano, and cumin; heat through. Add spinach and 2 Tbsp. water. Saute' another 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Butter one side of a tortilla and place on a grill or a grill pan. Sprinkle with cheese, place approximately 1/2 cup of the sweet potato mixture onto one half of the tortilla. When cheese begins to melt fold over the tortilla. Grill until the tortilla is a nice golden brown and crispy.

4. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.