Thursday, August 29, 2013

black eyed pea summer salad

Oh, it's almost summer's end. 
We really had a great summer so this is very bittersweet.
Usually, I'm praying to get out of the heat and into my favorite season.
But, it's been a mild summer with just enough heat to head to the pool everyday...and not pass out.
So, all of the sudden, it's the end and I'm squeezing in as many summer recipes as I can before I head into apple pies and pumpkin pancakes and soups.  
Oh, the soups that will be had.
But, for now, on these last days of summer, let's enjoy and have a summer salad!

By the way, this is perfect next to a hamburger or grilled chicken or just as a light supper!

Black Eyed Pea Summer Salad
Serves 6, as a side. 
Adapted from the Food Network. 
3/4 cup whole wheat orzo
2 cups frozen black eyed peas
3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped dill pickles
1/2-1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
3/4 pound deli ham (preferably low sodium), chopped, or hamsteak, chopped

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the black eyed peas and cook about 15 minutes. Add orzo and cook until both are tender, about 10 more minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, scallions, pickles, jalapeno.  Add ham and black eyed pea/orzo mixture and toss. Divide among bowls and enjoy!

Monday, August 26, 2013


some days, we have tragedies.
some are valid, some are overkill.
here are a few lately.

the little bear was crying because he didn't like his feet on the concrete.
(also, does that ridiculously long grass count as a tragedy? daddy has since cut it.)

that i can't figure out a way to frame this gorgeous milk paint creation.
although several of you have suggested ways to preserve it and i'm trying it out soon!

i believe this was mv crying over the fact that he wasn't allowed to eat more than two whole pieces of fried chicken at our picnic.

one of my favorite pieces in my house.  it holds a lot of sentimental value and i was crushed when it was...crushed.  
my own fault, however.  i will now make sure that the clock hanging above it is secure when we slam our front door.

and, last but not least, this is an ongoing pile of tragedies.
broken toys, decor, and books that daddy needs to fix.
a permanent fixture on our bar because of our rowdy boys.

Friday, August 23, 2013

milk paint

another craft of the day for this summer!
and this was, by far, my favorite yet.
somebody please, please, tell me how to make this permanent so i can frame it.
for real.

let's get started!
pour some milk (whole is definitely the best!) into a dish.  we used a pie pan.

add drops of food color.

dip a toothpick into dishsoap (just a coating on the tip) and dip into the colors!
watch the magic!!

so stinking beautiful!
looks like an agate.
and i want to frame it.
i'm welcome to all suggestions.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

apple and brie (or cheddar!) quesadillas with maple mustard sauce

doesn't that just sound amazing?
(the answer is yes, ahem.)

these would be perfect for a brunch with a souffle.
or as a dinner for one, when your honey is away.
or as an appetizer for a cocktail party.
even as a dessert!

any time of day, they cook up fast and easy and are a crowd pleaser.
my toddler loved them.
and when i say love, i mean, love.
like ate one and a half by himself.

Apple and Brie Quesadillas with Maple Mustard Sauce
Makes 3 quesadillas.
Somewhere online(?)
Small pat of butter
1 apple, color....your choice, sliced veeeeery thinly
1/2 small wheel of good quality Brie (or good white cheddar, if your husband doesn't like Brie)
3 largish flour tortillas
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Crumbled bacon, optional, to taste (but I recommend it!)

Heat the butter in a grill pan (or use your grill and omit the butter) until sizzling.

Grill apple slices till golden brown grill marks appear.
(I would grill them darker than the pictures show but I was hungry.)

Lay out the grilled apples on half the tortilla and add cheese, to taste, on top.  White cheddar for your husband.  Brie for me.

Fold and grill!

Meanwhile, make the sauce.
Combine the mustard and syrup in a small bowl and whisk until combined.

Slice up the golden quesadillas and serve with crumbled bacon and drizzle with mustard syrup dipping sauce!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

grateful for our goings on

so much to be grateful for this week.
just normal, summer-time, goings on but this way, if i write it down, it helps me to take just a second and thank the Lord for it.
instead of just taking all these tiny, precious moments for granted.

chubby hands picking container tomatoes and popping them into his perfect mouth.
the way veggies should be eaten.

endless prepping for a new year of homeschooling.
but, i'm almost done!
and it'll be worth it, to have the whole year done, when (if! God willing!) we get pregnant again!

date night!  so, so thankful to have a system worked out with our dear friends to switch date nights and babysitting!

beeeeeautiful artwork up for display.

finally getting my (small but gorgeous!) collection of flow blue plates hung.

a baby that is so mobile now!  he's walking everywhere!
....and leaving his trail wherever he goes.
i found one of his sensory bottles in the windowsill, with the sun shining through, this morning when i went to open the window and let the beautiful, 60 degree weather inside.

and whole wheat, sugar-less, oatmeal, fig muffins.
(isn't food always included?!)
they turned out delicious and by home-making everything that goes into my boys' mouths, i know exactly what they are eating, where i got it, and how healthy (or unhealthy...hey, we have lots of cookies around here too!) it is.

now, it's off to sweep the muffin crumbs off my floors while the babies sleep!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

butterfly puddle

a beautiful craft that may or may not have worked. 
that should have been the title of this post. 

mostly just attracted bees and flies. although I thought I saw something flutter so we'll count that. as I ran for my camera, it fluttered away. 

but, it was beautiful and fun so I guess it's a win win, yes?

empty dish. anything will work...pie pan, birdbath, muffin tin, etc + sand + water + flowers + very brown banana. 

fill with mounds of sands and enough water to make "muddy"...little wells of water and some areas of soggy sand. 

add flowers to attract the butterflies. we used old ones that were wilted from our dining room table bouquet. 

add slices of old banana (or other near-fermented fruit). 

and set in a quiet spot for the butterflies to enjoy! 
beautiful, cheap, and fun!
even if we didn't get a butterfly, Michael had a great time learning what butterflies eat and how they like to sip water from sand and how they love flowers. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

poppy seed chicken salad

We have this tiny cafe in my hometown called Central Perks.
It's right on the square, which is the heart of my little town.
It's in a large building, with antiques and local crafts surrounding the cafe area so you can browse around while you are waiting for your order.
Quaint and cute.
And they serve the best chicken salad ever.

This is not it.

It's really delicious!
I've tried many a chicken salad, hoping to land upon one that suits my tastes.
It took years, but this finally is what I consider perfect, for me.

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad
Adapted from Food Network
Serves 4.
3 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
Kosher salt
1 large orange
½ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream or low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small red or Granny Smith apple, chopped
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted (or almonds or walnuts...)
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup dried apricots, chopped (optional)

Cover the chicken with cold water in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Remove strips of zest from half of the orange with a vegetable peeler and add the zest to the water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 18 minutes. Remove the chicken and let cool.
*You can also use leftover shredded chicken!*
Grate the remaining orange zest and juice the orange into a large bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, celery, apple, nuts, chives, poppy seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the apricots, if desired.
Shred the chicken, discarding the bones and skin, and toss with the dressing. 
Serve over lettuce, as a salad, or stuffed into pitas, as a sandwich.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

edible art!

time for some edible art!
i am trying to come up with new and interesting crafts for our boys.
and what's better than paint that tastes delicious?
nothing, according to mv.

pudding paint!
(use white chocolate instant pudding for a "blank" canvas.  it's whiter than vanilla.  i used vanilla, and as you can see, it started off a bit yellow.)

add food coloring.  
you can do this in advance but mv really liked mixing it himself.

mix mix mix!

and enjoy!

make sure to lick your fingers!

onto Cool Whip paint!
now, personally, i'd make your own whipping cream so you can really control the amount of sugar that is added.  
you don't want your kiddos on a sugar high for the remainder of the day.

add to a muffin tin and mix in food coloring of your choice.

and enjoy!

i'd recommend this sans-clothes.  it does stain a bit.

so much fun!
hope you try it soon and enjoy!
let me know if you know of any other edible art!
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