Wednesday, July 28, 2010

You Capture – Play

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Braden has been participating in his first sports class through the park district this summer.  This week’s sport was soccer…he loved it. 



Well, for the most part he loved it anyway.  We had a few pouty moments.


He got a kick out of doing this pose.  Didn’t ask him to do it… he just knew it was cute. IMG_2052 

And today he put together a mini-Nascar race while I baked muffins.IMG_2219-1IMG_2237-1

How did you play around this week?

Head on over to Beth’s blog, I Should Be Folding Laundry, for more amazing captures!


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Monday, July 26, 2010

A Down Home Visit – Fab Food & Cream Puff Recipe

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Last week, I made a short trip south to visit with my parents and a few friends.  A few days of fun and food with the people I love…in a place I still call home.

The bounties of my mom’s tomato garden.


Took several of these babies home with me.  Even though she’s only a few hours south of here, the growing season is slightly different and the tomatoes are running wild there.


My mom is a wonderful cook and aims to please anyone that comes to the table.

The night we arrived, she made enough food to feed the entire block.

Potato Salad!


Yes, my mom makes the prettiest deviled eggs for a regular ol’ dinner.


She was channeling Martha before Martha was Martha.


Oh and there were Cream Puffs too!  One of my faves.


Custard filled pastries covered in chocolate yumminess?  Heaven!


She uses a recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book for the shells, but the filling and chocolate topping are all mom.  I’ve made these myself several times and they are much simpler to make than you would imagine…and usually a HUGE hit!


Cream Puffs

Shells (Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup four
  • 4 eggs

In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball (see photo 1, above right). Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.  Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 400 oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. transfer cream puffs to a wire rack; cool.  Once completely cool, cut tops off each puff and fill each one with below custard.  Top with chocolate glaze (below) or sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.

Vanilla Filling

  • 2 packages Dream Whip mix (found in the Jello aisle)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 small boxes vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 3/4 milk

Using a hand mixer, beat Dream Whip and milk until stiff and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat vanilla pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes, until thickened.  Fold into Dream Whip.  Keep refrigerated until you are ready to fill cream puffs.  ( use a pastry bag to fill them…a little less mess!)

Chocolate Glaze

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • HOT water

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Add a pinch of salt and the cocoa.  Mix well.  Mix in powdered sugar.  Add HOT water by the tablespoon until mixture reaches a glazing consistency.   Add more sugar if too thin, add hot water if too thick.  Drizzle over each cream puff before serving.


Hope you enjoyed my culinary Tour de Mamaw!  Happy cooking!

Blessed with Grace


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You Capture – Black and White

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I just got home from…well, my other home.  No, I don’t live in two houses, but the area I grew up in will always be “home” to me.  More on that later...

This week’s You Capture assignment was Black and White and I had a great time playing around with subjects in my rural hometown area over the last few days.

This old barn, the lighting, the clouds… PERFECT! 


Buck the black lab(a.k.a. Buck-cephus), man’s best friend to one of my oldest pals and my “photography assistant” for the evening.  Thanks Brad!IMG_1776-2

I even found some great things to work with in my dad’s backyard.IMG_1957-2

Dad’s shed never looked so good.  B&W suits her well.  IMG_1962-2

And a photo road trip back home wouldn’t be complete without a self-portrait in the mirror of a pick-up truck.  Yee haw!


Looking forward to sharing more pics from my recent trip soon!

Head on over to Beth’s blog, I Should Be Folding Laundry, for more amazing captures!


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Upcoming CSN Review!

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The lovely people at CSN stores have recently asked me to do a review of one of the MANY products they offer from their 200+ stores. I mean, have you checked this place out yet?  Looking for some fun new dinnerware ? Check! Baby gear? Check! They even carry flooring!

In my never ending quest to lead a somewhat frugal life, I gave up my almost once a day Starbucks run and started brewing coffee at home. Although I love my current coffee pot, its just such a waste. Being the only coffee drinker in our house, I find myself making a half pot and only drinking a few cups each morning.


Besides that, I LOVE espresso drinks (non-fat vanilla latte please!).  I must learn how to mimic that yummy Starbucks taste at home.  Frugal AND DIY!


So, I'm ordering one of these beauties ASAP.  Then I'll be back to tell you the trials and tribs of my newbie barista career in the very near future!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Birthday…

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I love birthdays.  I think they should be WAY over celebrated and milked as much as possible.  They are ones own personal holiday.  Plus that whole 7-7-77 thing…I feel like God gave me this special birth date and I should woop it up royally. 

Here’s how mine went down this year.

First and funniest:


My oldest was really excited to share his gift to me.  I opened this homemade card.IMG_1668

Simple.  To the point.  Made by his little hands and I love it.

Then I open it to find this.IMG_1669

Wow!  A gift card…inserted by daddy I assume.

Then I look at my husband’s face and he’s like “Huh?  Where did that come from?”

Lanham went on to explain that he got me a gift card all by himself…

Translation/Explanation:  When I was returning a bra at the department store one day, Lanham and Braden were running around the unmentionables section and at some point during my 30 minute and VERY frustrating return, he swiped an empty gift card.  Ha!

I told him Thank You of course, because he thought he had REALLY pulled off the ultimate birthday gift for me.  Then we quickly explained that in the future he needs to ask an adult to help him with his “purchases”, that this was sort of stealing, blah blah blah.  All the while trying not to crush him. 

It was an empty card after all.  They need to put those darn things up a little higher, don’t ya’ think? Geesh!

Oh and by the way…the hubby did get me a real gift and not just an empty gift card!  A DQ blizzard cake added 5 lbs in all the wrong places and an hour massage is in my future…woo hoo!

Next up, my uber crafty mother-in-law surprised me with one of her latest creations.

IMG_1694 Isn’t she awesome??  It’s a handmade fabric bowl and I love it!!!


IMG_1695They’re made by wrapping fabric around clothesline and sewing it all together…trying to get her to write a guest post on this someday. (Hope you’re reading this Gramma Barb!)

Of course it wouldn’t be a birthday without margaritas with the ladies.


Love you guys.  My “Blond-terage” work out buddies and my just-over-the-fence-neighbor, Katie.  You know the one that’s mom to these gorgeous gals (here and here).  A night of high calorie adult beverages and loads of dishing.

And to end a great birthday week, my parents came to up to the “big city” to visit. 

What do small farm town people bestow on their daughter for her 33rd birhtday???


Yes…20+ pounds of the best ribeye steaks from a favorite place back home. 

Only the cool kids get steak for their birthday, right?  My parents rock!

We also took a long walk in the city.


Visited the “Bean” and gorged on some ‘za.


I wish my parents lived in my back yard…no offense neighbor Katie.  Hey wait!  Can they move in with you guys?

Anywho, great birthday week.  Full of surprises. 

Thanks for letting me keep my birthday candles lit for one more day. 

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Mojo Chicken

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As I mentioned before, I lived in Miami for a few years and really got a taste for Cuban food.  One of the typical Cuban marinades is called Mojo (pronounced Mo-ho).  It consists of citrus and loads of garlic.  Most recipes call for sour oranges, but I prefer regular old OJ to tone down the sourness a tad.

Mojo Marinade

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • juice from one lemon
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and then pour over meat.  Marinate for at least an hour.


I used this marinade on a little over a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts that I had cut into tenders.  After marinating in a plastic bag for an hour, I poured the entire back into a large deep skillet and cooked it all over medium high heat for about 20 minutes.  It was DELISH!  You can also use this marinade prior to grilling or over pork.  Serve either meats with my Cuban Style Black Beans and you have a pretty healthy and yummy meal!



Blessed with Grace


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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Belated 4th of July!

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Although my creative side has been on the back burner during these warmer months, I was still able to pull out a little something for the 4th.


Last year I made a flag cake, but a friend of mine was bringing some patriotic cupcakes this year. I had to come up with something different.

Flag Fruit Pizza


  • cooking spray
  • 1 package refrigerated sugar cookie dough


  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 oz (1/2 an 8 oz container) frozen whipped topping, thawed


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt

Spray a pizza sheet (I used a disposable one) with cooking spray. Spread cookie dough evenly over sheet. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until very lightly golden brown. Let cool for an hour or more.

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the crust.

Make glaze while crust is still cooling. In a saucepan, bring sugar, OJ, water, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt to a boil, stirring constantly for 2 min or until thickened. Let cool and brush over fruit. Store in the refrigerator. Best if made the same day as served.

This recipe was kind of a mix from a few site, but most from Kitchen Scrapbook. She suggested waiting to place the fruit on the pizza until the glaze was made and cooled. This prevents browning of the bananas.

Before the glaze:IMG_1406

I have to say that I’ve made a lot of desserts in my life and this one was truly a hit and gone before I even got a second piece. Love that!


Oh and I to share my friends cutie pie cupcakes too.


Thanks Katie! She’s the mom to my favorite muses, Mary Kate and Maddie.

Did I mention there were Jello shots involved in this soiree? Yes, we are children.

….but it sure is fun now and again.

Hope you all had a fabulous 4th!!

Blessed with Grace

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