Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Healthy Dinner and a Recipe

So after all of the holiday partying and goodies it is time to stop eating out and fix dinner at home. Last night we had a STELLAR dinner! It started out with a new recipe from one of my favorite books.
I have tried close to 15 recipes in this book and have not only liked them but loved and devoured them...and loved devouring them. ;)

We made Chicken Pene Pasta Toss.
I didn't have pene so we used another pasta we had on hand. It also called for whole wheat pasta (which by the way I love) but we only had spaghetti whole wheat noodles left.
The sauce is light and delicious it is made from the juice of grape tomatoes that have burst, onion, garlic and some parmesan cheese. It has a great pepper flavor with some fresh arugula added tossed in at the end. I had it for lunch today and it was just as tasty reheated.

One trick is that instead of adding the arugula into the entire batch and tossing it together we reserved it and just put it in the portion that we were going to eat so when you reheat it you don't have slimy, soggy lettuce which is not good eats.

For dessert I made this:
My brother had the fixings for yogurt parfaits on Christmas morning and I have been craving them ever since. How can you beat layers of homemade granola, berries, and low fat vanilla yogurt.

The recipe for my Mom's famous granola

1/2 C. oil
1/2 C. honey
1/2 C. water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
6 C. oats (I use regular oats, not steal cut or quick but you can use what you like.)
1 C. coconut
1 C. wheat germ
1 C. almonds (I use a variety of nuts depending on what I have on hand. This batch also had pecans.)

Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl (if you want to add a little extra sweetness you can add some brown sugar. When I add brown sugar I put the "wet" ingredients in a sauce pan and heat it up to melt the sugar.) Then add dry ingredients. Stir altogether to coat the dry ingredients with the "wet" ingredients. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350. Add dried fruit after baking.

Make sure to check the granola 15 minutes in and stir if needed. I always double my recipe and it fits perfectly in one of those cereal tupperware you get at the store. When you double the recipe you will need to use two baking sheets. I bake both sheets at the same time and switch positions 15 minutes through. I then put both the pans into the big bowl that I mixed it in and stir and then put on the sheets again and bake for an addition 10-15 minutes. I have also baked the granola in the large metal bowl that I have. It takes a lot longer but it does have a little bit of a different texture.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Christmas the Mayan Calendar Ended

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays not just because I get a week off of work but because it is a time when friends and family get together and a time to show love for others. This year we got a late start in decorating because we put hardwood floors right after Thanksgiving. I love putting the Christmas tree up Thanksgiving weekend but I had to wait. Thank goodness I had Michael Buble's Christmas and the Forgotten Carols to help tide me over.

We had lots of fun at our ward Christmas party where my dad got to play Santa, my mom's Santa party, and the various ward and friend parties we had. My dad was such a trooper and he dresses up as Santa two times in one day. It just so happened that my parents party and our ward party were on the same day.

This year was extra special because I got to spend some much needed quality time with my favorite guy. Mike had the entire week and two days off with me!! He only had to work the Friday after Christmas and then the rest of the time he was mine! I hope next year is a repeat of this years fun!

This is Christmas morning. Mike is pretty skeptical and Kali was jealous that she didn't have anything to unwrap so she rolled around on the ground to try to get in on the fun. I love the piece of wrapping paper that is stuck on her sweater.

After opening presents we went to Merlin's for breakfast and then we went to see Les Miserables. I know there are a lot of mixed reviews out there but I LOVED it!! I cried the entire time and was deeply touched by the performances of the actors. I felt like all of the actors did a exceptional job portraying the real emotion that would have taken place in that situation. When some of they sang it wasn't perfect like in the musical but they were able to sing with emotion to the point they were even crying themselves. After the movie we went to my parent's house for the annual bake-off. This year the rules were changed a bit and the adults made appetizers and the kids made dessert. I didn't get many pictures of the dessert but even my littlest nieces and nephews did a great job. There was not one thing that wasn't delicious.

Miles made three kinds of wings with a delicious cilantro blue cheese dipping sauce. I am not a huge hot wing fan but these were to die for!

 Matt made crab cakes and took home the win.

Shannon made potato skins. These were delish especially with Mile's dipping sauce.

 Merlin made Thai coconut soup which tasted just like the soup at Mae Kong my favorite Thai restaurant. High marks for him.

 Mike and I coped out this year and made the tried and true party favorite...little smokies.

For dessert Sydney took home the win with her fabulous creme brûlée. Tanner made a first called Martabak which is a chocolate and cheese pancake from Indonesia. He searched the web for weird but delicious desserts and this was number one on the list. It sounds gross but is quite good. Porter and Fisher made pumpkin gooeys which was like a pumpkin pake (pie and cake). I am not a huge pumpkin fan but it was SOO GOOD And Jenacee mad these beautiful mint Oreo cupcakes. Did I mention that my family is full of talented cooks? There was not one dessert or appetizer that I didn't love.

After dinner and dessert we opened presents and the kids got to go fishing for cash. These are some of the handfuls of coins that were pulled out. Jen got the gold dollar in her handful so she got the $15 shirt and pants cash prize.

These are just a few extra pictures of the festive day. I hope all of you had an amazing Christmas!

Lots to be Thankful For

I know Thanksgiving was a long time ago but school was super crazy during the holiday season... mainly because I had one thing on my mind....getting an entire week off work! 

This is the part of the fam who could be at Thanksgiving this year. I missed Teresa and Mike because I was using my fixed lens on my camera.

Family gatherings are all about the food in my family. It is so nice to be apart of a family where everyone is exceptional cooks.  These are some of the things that were on the menu.

This is a special tradition in our family, one that has been in place since I was born. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas we have homemade eggnog. Now before you start saying the usual "ewww" and "gross!" this eggnog tastes just like vanilla milk. It has vanilla instant pudding in it to give it a little thickness. How can you go wrong with vanilla milk with fresh whipped cream to top it off...okay, maybe it is an acquired taste but my husband who never would have touched eggnog to save his life before we were married likes it.

 What would Thanksgiving be without the pie. I made the apple and coconut cream and my mom made the pumpkin. It was my first time making coconut cream pie but it was a success and will forever be on my Thanksgiving pie list.

A new tradition that my mom started a couple of years ago is to write on a tablecloth what you are thankful for. This is the tablecloth that lines the table when we eat so we can be reminded of how many things we have, and have had in the past, that there are to be grateful for. Each year we add to the list. Tradition is that you trace your hand and make it into a turkey. I think this is more fun for the little ones so that they can see how much they have grown in a year. Since the only way my hands are growing is getting thicker I decided to break hand-turkey trandition and make one of my own. Here are a couple pics.