Tuesday, January 25, 2011

365 Project - Days 24, 25

Day 24:
Jordan is REALLY into the movie "How to Train Your Dragon". She loves pretending to be dragons and vikings, and even convinces daddy to play. Here is Jordan being a viking, daddy is her dragon, and Ben is a rival dragon, whom they are hunting!

Day 25:
Dave bought Jordan her own viking accessories. This is her "mean viking face" (with a baby dragon on her lap)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

365 Project - Day 23

My husband and children, Museum of Science and Industry's U505. The only German submarine in the United States.

We did the tour which included sound and light effects. Pretty cool!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

For Christmas I received a deep dish pizza kit. It came with the pan, a nifty UNO style spatula, and a little recipe book. I figured since I'm living so close to Chicago, I should learn how to make the famous Chicago style pizzas. This is the first one I've tried, I'm sure you can alter my recipe to whatever preferences you have. (Please excuse the blurry photos... they were taken quickly with my phone. We were in a hurry to eat!!)

Dough Recipe:
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup olive oil (recipe said soybean oil but I didn't have any, so I used EVOL)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBSP salt
1 TBSP olive oil

Dissolve yeast with water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the 1/4 cup oil and mix. Add flour and salt and mix at medium speed, until dough is smooth. Turn dough out of the bowl and kneed by hand for a few more minutes. Oil another bowl with the 1 TBSP olive oil and turn dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for two hours on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight (just take it out one hour before use). You can freeze the dough for later use and put in refrigerator for 24 hours before you plan to use it.

Sausage Pizza Recipe:
1 dough recipe
16 oz Mozzarella, sliced
16 oz Italian sausage, ground (we bought the links and took it out of the casing)
12 oz chunky pizza sauce (we just used Ragu pizza sauce since again, that's all we could find)
2 TBSP Parmesan (and or/Romano) cheese, grated
1/2 tsp oregano

Place dough ball in the center of the pan, and, using your hands, work the dough along the pan and up the sides. Lay about 2/3 of the cheese on top of the dough, overlapping slices to cover all the dough. Place sausage over the cheese, working it into a thin disk to cover all the cheese. Spread sauce evenly over the sausage. Place remaining mozzarella, parmesan, and oregano over the sauce. Bake on the middle rack at 475F for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and sausage is cooked. (minimal internal temp of 165 with a kitchen thermometer will help guage the sausage.)

365 Project - Day 22

Chocolaty rainbow pancakes. Yum!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tasty Thursday - Southwestern Skillet Macaroni

This has become my new favorite last minute meal. I always have these ingredients in the house, it is relatively quick and easy to make. AND it tastes GREAT! I have adapted the recipe from a Weight Watchers cook book recipe, adding more vegetables and changing the ingredients a bit. This is too spicy for my kids, so I cook extra macaroni and set it aside for them. You can always add more veggies to bulk it up!

1 1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
.75-1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey (whichever I have)
1/2 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 can corn
1 (14 1/2 oz) can petite diced tomatoes with green chilis (I use hot), with their juices
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup shredded low fat cheese, cheddar or Mexican blend (I use whatever we have in the fridge)

Cook the macaroni according to the package, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet brown the meat until no longer pink over medium-high heat, about 8 minutes. Stir in the onion, green pepper, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir occasionally and cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and corn, bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, and stir occasionally until flavors are blended. Add macaroni and cheese, stir to combine.

365 Project - Days 16, 17, 18, 19

Day 16:
Psycho kitty!

Day 17:
Pretending to be a space flight controller (ie, pressing every button!!) at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Day 18:
watching is better than nothing at all.

Day 19:
Sweet siblings

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Strawberry Icing

I discovered this wonderful combination yesterday and am glad (angry) that I did! So surprisingly wonderful. I love peanut butter in baked goods, so I like to make these cupcakes. The icing was a last minute decision, and I'm glad I tried it.

I got the cupcake recipe from here. The recipe said the batter yields 12, but I got 15.

I also got the icing recipe online but changed it a bit and this is what I came up with:

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1-2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped strawberries

First I cut up the strawberries and put them in my mini food processor to get them more finely chopped. Then I melted the butter, and combined with vanilla and salt. I added 1 cup of powdered sugar and the chopped strawberries. I kept adding more powdered sugar until I got the desired consistency.

The icing recipe yielded A LOT (definitely more than for just 15 cupcakes). I saved it and plan on either making more cupcakes later this week, or drizzling some on cookies!

365 Project - Day 15

Day 15:

Breaking up some winter blues with indoor hopscotch!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

365 Project - Days 12, 14

Day 12:

"Helping" mommy exercise!

Day 14:

View while driving at 9am. The sun REALLY wants to visit us!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Finally, A New Project!

I got the idea for a paper/crayon holder for Jordan from a blog I recently discovered, Just Because I am Me. Since we do so much driving and traveling, I thought it would be nice for her (and eventually Ben) to have something special to take with them. Plus my mom is forever buying the kids small notepads and we need more things to do with them.

I need more practice, but for a first try, with NO pattern, I think it turned out really well. Thankfully my daughter thinks just about everything I make is awesome =)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tasty Thursday - Roasted Chicken

I had always been afraid to cook an entire roasting chicken. I figured it was too difficult to monitor whether it was undercooked/overcooked. I thought it was hard to keep it from drying out or not having enough flavor.

Boy was I WRONG! I found a recipe online and tweaked it a little bit to my own liking. And I prefer to cook my chicken this way, instead of buying chicken breasts, because we are saving money and getting MORE chicken for what we are spending.

I use whatever size chicken is available at my store. The smallest I've cooked is 3lb, the largest was the one pictured above, 7.5lb!

6 TBSP butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 TBSP paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Place chicken in an ungreased baking pan or roasting pan. Preheat oven to 325.

Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until butter melts completely. Remove from heat and pour over the chicken. Bake for 1.5 hours (smaller chicken, my 7.5lber took about 2 hours), or until chicken reaches a temperature of about 165. Baste occasionally.

This recipe is SO simple and so yummy. I make about one chicken every 1l-2 weeks. Here is a picture of how much chicken I pulled off the bones AFTER we had already eaten dinner. I cannot wait to make chicken enchiladas with it tonight!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

365 Project - Days 10, 11

Day 10:

We re-arranged Jordan's room a bit so that her doll house can be put to use daily. Ben hogged it for hours the first day. He did well playing with the people, but as you can see, other creatures entered the house!

Day 11:

Jordan loves to watch daddy play video games!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

365 Project - Days 8,9

Day 8:
Trying out my new cooling rack.

Day 9:
Jordan's new (to her) desk. This was my sister's when she was in high school, then mine in college.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

365 Project - Days 6, 7

Day 6:

It's a race!

Day 7:

I was trying to get a photo of Jordan's Duplo block house, but apparently someone else was torturing a kitty, who then jumped over my head while I snapped the photo!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

365 Project - Day 5

For anyone who knows our cats, this picture is a BIG DEAL.

When we got Ginny, the tinier of the three (on your right), it was out of impulse. She was abandoned, left alone in the summer to fend for herself. Our friends were feeding her out of their garage, but were not able to adopt her. So after much pleading to my husband, he agreed on a trial period. Fastforward to 4 months later, and the trial period seems to still be going on. Ginny is definitely a third wheel in our happy feline family. Before her arrival, my kitties rarely fought, they rarely hissed, they were pretty laid back. But Ginny definitely rocked the boat. Her young, feisty self has proved that Roy and Alice still have life in them!

Unfortunately, kitty fights are only so cute. Ginny seems to be having a major territorial issue and is taking it out on us. She has been spraying random stuff for awhile now, and you never know when she will do it. The breaking point was when she was an inch away from peeing on my UGG boots, she peed right next to my tooth brush ON THE SINK, and on a resuable bag full of library books/cds/dvds. I lost it. I am NOT one to so willingly get rid of a pet, but I just wasn't sure we could handle much more of Ginny's peeing. I called shelters, they were all full. So, with some advice from friends, we purchased a pheremone-laced purple collar from the pet store.

I am happy to announce we have been spray free for all of 2011... ok, yeah, that is only 5 days, but still, I'll take 5 days!

So I was very pleased when I caught this photo of all the kitties curled up so sweetly on the bed. I don't expect them to be friends, but I hope they can learn to live (mostly) peacefully together.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

365 Project - The Beginning, Days 1-4

I have noticed a few people out there in blogland and Facebook doing 365 photo projects. I never really thought I would participate, but a Facebook friend posted yesterday asking if anyone would like to participate with her. I thought about it for awhile and thought why the heck not! I'm certainly NO photographer. But at the same time, I realize that I probably miss a lot by not using my camera on a more regular basis. I'm very bad about the camera. It comes with us on most outings, but I don't remember to take it out of my bag. Or I take it out, snap one photo, then forget about it the rest of the outing.

So, this year, 2011, I'm not making resolutions. But I am going to take a photo of my family, kids, pets, house, nature, whatever I feel like taking, EVERY day. Some could be posed, neat, clean... but some can be me in my pjs, first thing in the morning, unclean, my messy house, whatever I feel the need to caputure that day. I want to remember not just our special days and outings, but our every day life. I want to capture the beatiful and ugly. And you, my blogland readers, will be able to see my journey this year, one picture at a time!

Day 1:
This is one of our bookshelves in the living room. We still own a lot of vhs tapes (won't get rid of those until I have all the movies on dvd). We tend to use the shelves as a place to put random stuff. Though I don't see my Nook or Starbucks as random ;)

Day 2:
At my son's birthday party. He was so excited about his cake, and apparently beating daddy up.

Day 3:
Me tickling Jordan. Now that she is a big girl, she doesn't appreciate tickling as much as Ben does. She was actually pretty mad at me!! I don't like this picture of me. I am gross from working out TWICE... plus you can see how pudgy my face has gotten from weight gain. (working on that... promise!!)

Day 4:
My sweet girl... we have a nasty habit of watching tv/eating lunch when daddy isn't home for lunch. I just get sooo lazy sometimes, well, combination of tired and lazy. I love this dress, found it at the thrift store! Jordan loves dresses with pockets.