Friday, February 26, 2010

French Onion Soup Recipe

OK. I know I said I was going to bed, but I found this recipe and wanted to drop it in here so I’ll have it ready to go when I need it.

I’ll be making this one soon…

1/4 cup sweet cream butter
8 cups sliced yellow onions (4 to 5 med. onions)
2 14-ounce cans beef broth (I used Swanson)
3/4 cup chicken broth (Swanson again)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
couple drops Tabasco pepper sauce
shaved asiago cheese
Onions and croutons and cheese...oh, my.
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add sliced onions and sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until onions turn brown.
2. Add remaining ingredients (but not the garnish) to the pan and stir to combine. Heat soup until it's boiling, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
3. Make croutons for the top of the soup by slicing foccacia bread (or any bread you may have) into 3/4-inch thick slices. Butter both sides of those slices, then cut the slices into bite-size cubes. Bake the bread in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until crispy. Shave some asiago cheese by simply dragging a potato peeler over the edge of a wedge of asiago.
4. Serve the soup superhot with a handful of croutons floating on top followed by a couple tablespoons of shaved asiago cheese.

Bread Maker!

Last night we went to Sears to spend up some gift cards the children got for Christmas.  They needed Easter clothes because they had Easter pictures at school. Jacob got a new knit polo in Spring colors to wear with light gray cords. Bella got a big puffy Easter dress. I let her pick between several and she naturally picked the poofiest, girliest one.
The children’s department is right next to house wares and that is where Will spotted this:

He knew I have been really hoping to have a bread machine and it was on super good sale ($69 down from $99). Boy was I excited! 
Tonight I loaded it up with all the ingredients to make a honey whole wheat loaf. I thought that I set it to delay by about 9 hours, I was aiming to have fresh tasty bread ready at 7 AM. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the delay start right and it started up right away instead. So now it looks like I will have fresh tasty bread at about..3 AM! Woops.
In not so happy news, there’s definitely something wrong with the Mazda, the navigation screen is flickering and the car died when we were idling and so there’s something wrong with the electrical. That doesn’t sound cheap, does it?
I work very close to Memorial Park where the Trail Riders are gathering. It was cool to see all the horses and covered wagons and people all decked out in cowboy gear. It was cool for like ten minutes and then it was mostly just icky sitting in traffic and hoping the car didn’t die again.
We usually eat out on Friday nights, tonight we went to Panera Bread. Will, Bella and I are seriously addicted to their French Onion soup. I think my next new crock pot adventure will be French Onion Soup. Well, it’s after 11 and everyone is in bed, I think I’ll head that way too. I guess I’ll set my alarm to wake up and take the bread out at 3 AM. ;)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In which I am Still Sick and Mopey, but well fed.

I am home sick again today. I am feeling very sorry for myself and having a big ole “pitiful Pearl” kind of day. My head and nose are all congested, I have a fever and a headache, my throat hurts and I even have pink eye in one eye.  I cannot get warm. I just took the kids to school, they had breakfast at home and then more breakfast at school. My kids love breakfast.  I hate to be sick because I can tell that I am short tempered with them and I don’t enjoy their antics as I would normally.  I give them extra hugs as I leave. I always feel guilty if I am at home and yet still send them to class.

Yesterday I did end up making chicken and dumplings.

First I roasted 3 split bone in chicken breasts on a bed of veggies (425 degrees, 40 minutes until internal temp is 160). The vegetables were just whatever I had;a few ribs of celery, a bulb of fennel, carrots, a few cloves of garlic, an onion. I rubbed the chicken breasts with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. (If you have ever wondered if herbs de Provence are worth buying rather than just plain poultry seasoning, the answer is yes.) This isn’t very pretty – that’s OK because it is all being made into other things.


I tented the pan with foil and let it rest to reabsorb the juices.

Then I shredded the meat off the bone of all three breasts. One breast’s worth (that sounds weird) I set aside.  The others I put into a ziplock to use for other stuff. And yes, I did eat up the super salty crispy lovely skin of just the one piece.  I’m only  human!

Then I took a little can of biscuits, and rolled each biscuit into a log shape then cut each one into 4 pieces, I seasoned them with salt and pepper.


Into a soup pot I added:

1 can cream of chicken soup,

1 can of water,

1 can of milk,

1 can of chicken broth

1 can peas and carrots

I stirred until mixed and then brought it up to a simmer. I dropped the dough into the soup, put on a lid and let it simmer until all the dumplings rose to the surface – about 20 minutes.



This was really awesome, and I really do think that chicken soup does help you feel better when you have a cold!


In case anyone wonders - the chicken bones, skin and veggies went back into a soup pot with 6 cups of water and simmered for 2 hours, then strained to make broth. The other two chicken breasts will be turned into enchiladas verdes and BBQ chicken to go on top of baked potatoes. It is a chicken-y kind of week for us (but honestly these huge breasts were $1 each!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Busy Busy Saturday

I get ideas sometimes, about things I would like to try and do.  My ideas usually involve the kitchen and usually involve a big mess.  My ideas tend to make my husband a little nervous. This is because he is the chief kitchen cleaner upper in our family.  This past weekend Will was away at a men’s church retreat. I decided it would be a great day to try two potentially very messy things for the first time – bread and laundry soap.

I asked my friend and fellow kitchen-ista Jessica to come over and guide me through my first bread making attempt (her husband was retreating too).

It was a very very busy day.

8 AM Blueberry Muffins


9 AM Ace Hardware


11 AM – Bread Making


12 PM Bread has risen the first time!


1 PM Time to play outside


Super cute Natalie!


I love this one, Joanna had not fallen, she was just down there.










2 PM Bread has risen twice more and is ready for baking (In hindsight I think it should have been left to rise a bit more.)


2:45 Bread!  Oh, it is so tasty and good. Thank you for teaching me and sharing the recipe Jessica! See the Pence blog, she brought over her cake stuff and made TWO cakes while I made the bread and we watched and fed four kids 5 and under! Are we super Moms or what???? ;)


3 PM Time to make laundry soap


I used the recipe from the Duggar Family website. I figured they probably know what they are talking about when it comes to doing laundry.

I added some lavender and sage to the soap. The Fels Naptha smells like lemon so the finished soap smells great. I made five gallons. What you do is then pour it into an empty laundry soap container to about halfway and then fill the other half with water, my point being this is going to last a really long time.  Cost, including the new bucket and lid was 11 dollars. I can make about ten more batches with the supplies I bought, I think this comes out to like .01 per load.  (I haven’t used it yet because I’m still waiting to use up the rest of a bottle we already have)

4 PM Baked chocolate chip cookies

5 PM NAP TIME! Bella, Jacob and I all took a major snooze until almost 7 PM. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

7:30 PM We woke up and went to Chili’s. The balloon lady was there. I dread the balloon lady because it means that what I had hoped would be a quick and quiet meal ends up being an hour of major balloon smack fest between Jacob’s blue giraffe and Bella’s pink poodle. The giraffe won I think, mostly because Bella somehow popped the face of her dog (but the rest of it stayed together).

9 PM Home again & bath time. I redraw a dog face onto Bella’s poodle. The giraffe came completely undone in the car and the ensuing upset was resolved when I told Jacob it was now a snake.

Bella now cries because hers is not a snake. A few more wacks and hers comes undone and is now also a snake, with an oddly placed dog face on one side.

10 PM Children are in bed (remember they napped until 7, so this isn’t as horrible as it sounds. Wait. Yes, actually it was horrible. Bella-after-9 PM is not for the faint-hearted)

10:15 PM I discover that we are utterly and completely out of dishwasher soap. And I have a lot, a lot, a lot of dirty dishes. 

10:40 PM I dry and put away the last dish. I hurt. I am unaccustomed to kneading bread or hefting about 5 gallon buckets of slime. I am a wimp.

11 PM I comfort myself with half a loaf of homemade bread, a spoon and a jar of Nutella. Remember the Titans is on television. The kitchen is clean and the whole house smells like cake, bread, cookies, lemon, lavender and sage. Probably the best smell combination ever.

1 AM The Titans win the championship and my long satisfying Saturday comes to an end.

Sunday 6:47 AM “Mommy, wake up, wake up, Daddy’s coming home today!”

(Notice that 6:47 AM minus 1 AM DOES NOT equal 8 hours!!!)

Church & rest & a short trip to HEB to buy meat (I am done buying meat at Krogers)  Discovery channel had specials about Egypt all day long. Will slept. Despite (or perhaps because of) staying up until 10 PM the night before, Bella and Jacob did.not.nap. I snoozed while the children built the Valley of the Kings with blocks on the living room floor. Actually this was quite impressive, Jacob had the two big pyramids and the littler third one off in the distance and everything, neat. When it got dark we told them it was bedtime, even though it was only 7:45. I had that gritty feeling to my eyes and a sort of desperate tiredness. I fell into a deep sleep on the couch and missed finding out whatever it was they found out from the DNA sample of King Tut’s femur.

Monday: The tiredness from Sunday reveals itself as a full on cold. I have taken the kids to school and plan to spend some quality time on the couch with the remote. I may shuffle into the kitchen this afternoon though because chicken and dumplings is sounding really good right about now. And HEB had chicken breasts on sale for $1 pound.

Friday, February 19, 2010


My sweet Jacob, he says the funniest things.

Last night when I was tucking him in he said to me "I miss you when I'm at school Mommy, but it's OK because I'm very busy learning and playing." I told him about when he was a little baby and I took him to school for the first time how I cried all day because I missed him so much. Then he says "Well Mommy, if we ever start over and I get born again, then when you take me to school on the first day, remember that I like school and don't cry, OK?"

The other night "Let's watch 100 damnations!" (101 Dalmations)

Last week I spilt cough medicine on my pants and had to change at the last minute. I wasn't entirely happy with my rushed choice and Jacob said "Don't worry Mommy, your skirt looks great - your boss will love it!"

"Goodness is in the Bible, it's God's idea. It's a good idea. Termites are God's idea too, but they aren't quite as good of an idea." (We have a CD of children's songs about the fruits of the spirit...which is how this whole topic came up.)

"My Daddy was going way way too fast in the car and the police got him and now he has to go to jail at Panera Bread" - This is what he told Bella's teacher. (Will had to go to defensive driving last Monday night, the class was at Panera)

"When I grow up I'm going to be a Daddy and marry Bella. I hope she is all the way potty trained by then".

Monday, February 15, 2010


Swope bread was a success.  I was worried, my in laws were here for dinner which isn’t the ideal time for trying new recipes.  But in this case, it turned out well.  Jacob, Theresa and I all enjoyed it hot from the oven with butter.  It was even better the next morning as toast.  I am wanting to find an “oh my goodness this is the best bread EVER” bread recipe, this isn’t it, but for the 5 minutes of hands on time it took to make, it was a perfect Saturday quick bread.



Cloth Training pants arrived. They are so cute and adorable and they work so well – I couldn’t be happier. They are just so soft and so well made, I love them and so does Bella!  No more Pull-Ups!

02.201000000083 02.201000000084 

I just defrosted the first set of ground meat from the batches I cooked up and froze last weekend. The entire pound was hot and ready to eat in 3 minutes.  This means that I will have spaghetti on the table soon! :)

Last update – we just finished online registration for Jacob to be in FFPS soccer this Spring.  He seems excited and we are looking forward to watching him play.

I feel like it has been forever since I’ve been to church, last weekend Jacob had pink eye, this past Sunday he came down with a fever so I stayed home with him.  Bobby & Theresa (Will’s parents) came for the weekend, we had a nice time, the guys fixed the sprinkler system and we played with the kids. Very relaxing nice three day weekend!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's In the Oven

Something I haven't tried before - Swope bread.

Oh I hope it turns out!

I also have a chicken and mushroom casserole ready to bake for dinner tonight. This one I have made many times before. I add shredded carrots and put it over whole grain brown rice instead of noodles.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Last Weekend

On Saturday Jacob came down with pink eye. I took him up to Kelsey Seybold (love them!) to get him a prescription.  Luckily we caught it really early and so far none of the rest of us have gotten it. Although you know when your child has pink eye then right away your own eye starts to feel weird and twitchy.

In other news, I spent some time in the kitchen this weekend and here is what was accomplished:

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For the meats, I just cooked them with sea salt and dehydrated onions, so the taste is neutral enough to be added to just about anything. I got this idea from because she wisely points out that cooked ground meat defrosts in a fraction of the time as raw frozen meat.  It was very satisfying to get all that done.

I have adopted a new strategy at dinner time. I make one meal and put it all out in serving dishes on the table and we all eat it. The kids manage to find some pieces of most meals that they will eat.  Sure, sometimes it results in odd pairings for instance tonight Jacob had apple sauce, tortilla chips, rice and milk for dinner; the other night Bella wouldn’t eat garlic chicken pasta but she did eat bread and salad. Wait – I know you are thinking, how is this new? isn’t this how normal people eat dinner. Yes I know but I am one of those Moms that somehow wound up as a short order cook every night – I would make one meal for Will and I and then another one, maybe even two, for the kids. Well, I just finally got tired of it, it wasn’t helping the children try new things, and by the time I sat down to eat everyone else was done! 

I was worried that the children would revolt or starve, but so far it’s working.  I am sure there will be some meals that are too spicy or fancy for them, and so I’ll make them something else but I want it to be the exception rather than the rule.

Sunday afternoon we were meant to go visit our friends that have a new baby, but with Jacob’s pink eye I didn’t think he should go. So, while Will and Bella went to visit (and drop off some of the food I made), Jacob and I went to the zoo.

If you can handle how cool and breezy it was (we bundled up) then I totally recommend going to the zoo on a not so nice day. The weather combined with the Superbowl meant we had the place to ourselves. There was no line for anything! We rode the carousel twice and both times we were the only ones on it!  After their visit, Will and Bella joined us – the kids just ran and ran and played and played.


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I’ll have to dig up my other zoo photos in this spot for a comparison.

01.201000000112 This is one happy kid!01.201000000114 Fun with his new camera01.201000000119 My favorite shot

01.20100000013801.201000000135 01.201000000143 Bella in the eagle’s nest

01.201000000149After the zoo closed we all went to eat dinner. The kids were happy and exhausted and went to bed. Then Will and I opened a bottle of wine and watch Night at the Museum.  (Will got Netflix from me for his birthday)

All in all it was a most wonderful weekend even though we did sit out from watching the Super Bowl. I think the football guys did ok without us. Go Saints.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cloth Training Pants Update

Our cloth training pants order has been sewn and shipped. As of Friday, they were in Anchorage, AK.  On Saturday, William took Bella with him to get my car inspected.  A little while later I got a phone call that Will and Bella were on their way back home because she had an accident all over herself, all over Will and even managed to create a puddle at the front door of the car inspection place. Uh-oh. Boy do we need those pants!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What I’m Excited About

Poor Bella, she has been so sick for so long and we just never could get to the underlying cause – eventually, finally, we found out that she has a urinary tract infection which explains EVERYTHING. Night waking, regression in potty training, mysteriously high fevers, low immune system (she has had pneumonia, diarrhea, two viruses, two cases of strep and a yeast infection all since November), grouchiness, clinginess, lack of appetite.  Praise the Lord that I have a job that allows me to work from home or I honestly don’t know what I would have done over these last few months.

It was so scary and frustrating because week after week she would get sick.  It just makes me so upset to think how long she probably had this (Mystery fevers started in late November – shortly after she had diarrhea –which is probably how she ended up with e-coli in her urinary tract!) and we didn’t know!

I’m trying to be understanding of why three different doctors never would take a urine sample (I asked!) until finally the last time Will went I told him to tell the doctor we wanted a full blood work up and a urine sample. Period. 

I know doctors do their best, and I know that they probably get scrutinized for over ordering lab work and it costs families money so maybe they hesitate. And each time we took her in she was always sick with something (because a UTI will lower your immune system) so it was hard to get anyone to see the bigger picture.

I’m just grateful it is being treated now and I have learned that I will need to speak up next time and that if your daughter has a fever and no other symptoms – order a urine sample! (Don’t ask, don’t suggest, don’t say “Do you think, maybe?” Say - “I want you to run a test for UTI.”  No one, no matter how good, how loving, how educated will ever know my child like I do!

So, where’s the happy exciting part? Well, I am in the process of working with a vendor on Etsy called QTBUNNS to have some cloth training pants made for Anabel.  I believe that plastic Pull Ups at night and naptime are contributing to some of the problems she has had lately. The choices are all so pretty and it’s been fun to pick out the fabrics and everything. I can’t wait for them to arrive!

Monday, February 1, 2010

In Which I Make Yogurt for the First Time

Last Friday I used my new yogurt maker for the first time.  What I discovered is that yogurt making is very simple, it takes a very long time but it is not “hands on" time.

Here is what I put into my yogurt:

Whole Organic Milk, honey, vanilla & a good brand yogurt. 



First, I scalded the milk by bringing it up to 185 degrees, but not allowing it to boil. (That thing sticking up is a candy thermometer).



Then I cooled it quickly back down to 110 degrees by placing the saucepan into an ice bath in the sink.


Next I added the honey, the vanilla and my starter yogurt. Then I poured the milk into the containers and put the containers into the machine. I set it for 10 hours.


At the 8 hour mark… I think something’s happening in there!


After 10 hours the machine turned itself off and I put the yogurt into the refrigerator overnight.


The next morning – YOGURT. Rich, creamy, dreamy, tart wonderful yogurt.  With no food coloring or additives or high fructose corn syrup. It took 4 3/4 cups of milk, which is less than half a gallon – so it cost me about $2.50 for 36 ounces.

If you like Fage or Greek Gods, this yogurt is that good. A thick layer of cream across the top – the texture is perfect – it was so worth the wait.  Sorry, I didn’t put it in a pretty dish with fruit to take the picture, I was too busy eating it! 


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