August 30, 2010

Busy Mondays!

Mondays are always busy aren't they?

There's recipes to be typed, enough to last anyone a good long week, but I'm so swamped with stuff to do at the house. My Husband just built another bookcase for all the endless books we seem to have.We're still moving things around and the books keep getting disorganized by little hands. The kids are constantly messing them all up, I don't know why I keep trying to organize them when I know they will just get out of order within an hour. Besides the books everywhere, the garden is blooming and keeping me busy as well as the kitchen busy. The kids started school two weeks ago but we're still getting used to running back and forth. No recipes today, but thought I'd share a few pictures with you! I'll have some fresh garden recipes all this week so don't forget to check back in!


He's cutting the holes for the bookcase

 
Edges to be made

Tools need a break too!


The color is rich in person, I can't seem to get the light to come out in the pic. It's so smooth and it's the 4th one, yes 4th! We have alot of books!:)

A Praying Mantis we found

Another one was in the chives!


Some of my sunflowers, this ones all bushy, I love it!

Just about to open:) The very next morning it was wide open!

I love the red ones!


The heirloom tomatoes! I love the different tastes, I'm saving seeds again for next years garden. If you get a chance to plant some heirlooms, I highly recommend it!


A days picking last week

Yellow Squash, oh so yum! That's a surprise cucumber that grew out of no where behind it :)


The garden is a mix of green and red right now, everything is getting bigger as well as ready to pick!
I'd be here all day with more pictures so I'll stop here :)

Last but not least the Giveaway Winner!!

    Congrats to the Rock 'N Learn Phonics Giveaway Winner!! "Melhanks" with comment 52 (picked by random.org) You won Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 of the awesome music learning DVD's.
    Thanks so much for entering and if you still want your hands on the Rock 'N Learn DVD's check out the website to pick out some wonderful DVD's for your children.

*Winner has 48hrs to reply before another winner is picked**


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August 27, 2010

An overload of fruit!

My husbands friend gives us about seven or eight bags of pink grape fruit and lemons during the summer. It fills our dinning room table enough that I give up trying to find space for them all. Even after he brings half to work, we're still left with so much I don't know what to do with them. A normal person would make them into juice, but that skipped my mind all together. I sliced the grapefruit and dropped them into tea, sliced the lemons for baking with fish and chicken,salads and squeezed all the juice I could out for other odds and ends. We ate a lot of the pink grapefruit on the hot days, just squeezed until the juice came pouring out as if it was the very last liquid we'd ever get. Let me tell you when the temperature hit 107 that pink grapefruit did seem like the very last juice on earth! We still have bowls of it, and I want to see if I can make something out of them.

 As for the lemons, we were down to the last few the other day. Finally, no more lemons crowding my tables. We baked one lemon with Salmon that someone caught on a fishing trip.

Not an hour later it hit me, I didn't make a single batch of Lemon squares out of all those darn lemons. As I said, a normal person would have made juice from all those things. *sigh* There was just enough lemons though to make 2 batches of the Family recipe for Lemon Squares. You don't have to have fresh lemons but it sure adds an extra zing!
Lemon Squares

1 c. flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tps. salt
1/2 c butter
2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 c. lemon juice

Combine 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt. Cut in butter. Combine until crumbly. Gather together and press into bottom of 9x9 pan. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes until lightly brown. Beat eggs, 3/4c. sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Pour over baked crust and rebake until set, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into 16 squares and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
 Enjoy!

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August 24, 2010

A Pickle of a Day!

First Pickles of the year. YAY as well as Whew!

 Seriously I love my life, and love all it's chaos, the twists and turns it takes makes us all laugh, as well as frustrated at times. Canning Pickles this weekend should have gone smoothly, yet our little house of adventures every few minutes made it an entire days process before I had to redo the whole ENTIRE thing over again on Sunday. If you could see my face, I'm not smiling at the moment.

 What happened was, I used quart sized jars, and foolishly thinking they fit into the wire rack that I've used for the last 3 years put the very first filled jar into the boiling hot water only to find out they don't fit into the rack. Not only that the pan was not going to be big enough for the water to cover the jars well enough. *sigh*
   This is no where near the end of it. I grabbed "Bes" my new pressure canner, lifted her big heavy steel butt off the floor and filled it with hot water, hit the heat on high and waited. Waited. Waited some more. It took no joke, 3 hours to get "Bes" to a boiling point. So far my cucumbers will need to be perfect due to all the time it's sucked out of my day. Remember I've got four kids, I don't have 3 hours to spare, let along 5 minutes.
     After all the jars were filled and rings were set on I set them into the water and realized the water had dropped a few degrees, but not just a few. Someone turned the stove off. Once again, there's no smile on my face. Perhaps this is what I get for thinking I could get it all done without a hassle. Monday's kick my butt when I think things will go ok, now the weekends have picked a war with me and my cucumbers!

It took all in all 10 hours to start, fill, heat water, and realize I needed to stop and start all over again. I had too, other wise the jars would not be processed correctly. If you yo-yo the heat too much water evaporates from the jars. It won't be bad, but those are the jars that would most likely "if" they even did go bad first. As long as the jar is sealed for the proper time you are OK, water does come out, but the more that does the higher risk you have for spoilage along the line. These pickles had to sit for 8 weeks, I didn't like all my hard work getting tossed so the simple thing to do was just start over the next day.

 *sigh* And re-boil the water all over again.
These have better be the best pickles I've ever tasted!
 They sure do look pretty though, so it was indeed worth the two days worth of messing with them.




This recipe came from Blue Ribbons Recipes

The problem with this at first was there's no measurements, I found alot of recipes for canning that really didn't have measurements so I had to look up a bunch before making this.

This is Jennie Collin's Great Dill Pickles

2 quarts water
1quart white vinegar
2/3 pickling salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 bay leaves
Garlic cloves, peeled and washed
Sliced onions
Dill seeds
Dried dill weed
Fresh dill washed

So in my Ball book of canning there's a recipe that comes super close to this, as well as many others gave good tips to how much of each should go into each jar. I'll add the amount into the Directions, but the Yield will vary depending on how much cucumbers you have to work with.

First thing first, wash the cucumbers and slice, or cut into spears. My husband found this awesome tool that let me cut my cucumbers into the hamburger style slices :)

 Put the cucumber in ice cold water and fill it with ice for 2-8hrs (no longer than 8)

Prepare the jars, I used quart sized jars that were being sterilized in the dishwasher, a great thing to have. Remember having your counters lined with towels is a very good idea, hot jars and cold surfaces don't mix, plus whatever you spill will be soaked up.

 1. Combine water, vinegar, pickling salt, sugar, and bay leaves in large pot over medium high heat. Heat until boiling. You want the mixture to be boiling as you are covering the cucumbers in the jars, be very careful.
2. Pack cumber into hot sterilized jars. Add  2 halved garlic cloves.1-2 tbsp dill seeds,1-2 tbsp dill weed and 1 fresh fresh dill head to each jar. I forgot to add onions all together, so add what you like into your jars.  Use tongs to remove bay leaves from boiling brine. Pour brine over cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch head space, add 2 more garlic halves. ( all together each jar will have 4 garlic halves)
Remove air bubbles, secure flat lids and rings. Process in a boiling-water canner bath for 15 minutes, or adjust time to your altitude. Yield will vary.


Pretty Pickles why were you such a hassle?
Enjoy!
Don't forget the Rock 'N Learn Phonics Giveaway Ends August 29th! Enter Here
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August 20, 2010

Rock 'N Learn Phonics Giveaway!!


Take four kids, one musical learning DVD, and put them together. What do you get? One hopping good time. Not only that, but a good learning time as well. Rock 'N Learn Phonics engaged my kids through two complete volumes. 


  I have two reading age kids, 8 yr's. and 5 yr's. old. While one was already reading what was on the screen I watched my 5 yr. old daughter starting to race to say the words first. She hasn't gotten to the full reading stage yet, she's in between, so this was really fun to watch. My other two kids got just as much out of the Rock 'N Learn Phonics DVD's as the older ones did. My 1 yr. old started to make the sounds that were being said on the DVD. It repeats the letter sound and even the first two sounds of a simple word, she would then repeat them as the songs were going on. My 3 yr. old did this, as well. Each time a picture flashed up she'd point and clap that she got it right. The music is catchy as well as easy to remember. Now my daughter recites the vowel song as if it were the best song ever made!


   I was so excited to try out Rock 'N Learn Phonics, as my kids adore any kind of music, but they don't always listen when they are being taught a lesson. Take one problem area and combine it into something someone loves, you have yourself a better way to teach. Trust me, it works!
   All my kids were involved. My oldest son memorizes words, so he skips sounding things out. Whether he knows it or not, this DVD just made him stop and focus on each syllable of the word to pronounce it. He is also a great visual learner. He does well learning , but with something for him to look at as well as hear at the same time makes it so much easier, I think.  Reading from a plain piece of paper just doesn't cut it with some kids. As bright as they may be, a visual perspective clicks quicker and challenges them in a different way.  The funny thing was, he sat near his sisters, telling them to listen to him as he sounded out each word and guided them along. How's that for learning?
   Both Volumes 1 and 2 of Rock 'N Learn Phonics are very visual and interactive. Bright colors, constant movement and big words,  letters or numbers for the children to easily see. There's also delayed answers and “on-screen mouth” that let all my kids try to answer and then see if they were correct. The repeating process was a bonus as the kids already knew what was coming, so they got that much more excited to say it before the on screen voice said it. There's nothing better than to watch your children jump and clap with enthusiasm to learn, and beg to learn more! Rock 'N Learn Phonics offers other subjects on their website. You may also search by age, from 2 up to 10 and up!
    I'm thrilled to be able to offer ONE of my lucky readers the chance to win this great DVD set of Rock 'N Learn Phonics! *Contest is open to U.S. and Canada
 This Contest is CLOSED

Giveaway Rules-


Winner will win a copy of  Rock 'N Learn Phonics DVD's Volume 1 and Volume 2! (2 DVD's)
**This Contest will be open until August 29th at 10PM PST


Mandatory entry: Visit Rock 'N Learn, then leave a comment telling me another of their products you find interesting. Please leave your email in your comment(s) if it is not available via your blog profile.


Bonus entries: You may do any or all of the following for additional entries. Please leave a separate comment for each.


* Join the Rock 'N Learn email list. + 2 entries (Please leave two separate comments.)


* "Like" Rock 'N Learn on Facebook. +2 entries


* Follow My Side of Life via Google Friend Connect + 2 entries. Please leave two separate comments.  Current followers also qualify.)


* "Like" My Side of Life on Facebook. + 1 entry (Current followers also qualify.)


* Follow @Motherbugs on Twitter. +1 entry (Please leave your username in your comment. Current followers also qualify.)


* Tweet/retweet this giveaway.- I am entered to win Rock 'N Learn Phonics at http://mburbage.blogspot.com/ @Motherbugs #giveaway  (You may do this once per day for +1 entry each. Please leave a link to your tweet/retweet in your comment.)


**This Contest will be open until August 29th at 10PM PST**

Rock 'N Learn graciously supplied me with a complimentary dvd set in order for me to provide an honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation, and I was not required to write a positive review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

   

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August 19, 2010

Always giving

My garden is always giving me more than what is expected of it. I've put in the time to raise it's seeds to seedlings, to little tiny plants, and giving them more room, bigger pots and more dirt. In return of just making sure there's no weeds, no parasites and plenty of water they have given me this year more than imagined. I think this year out of all of them, has been most generous considering the rocky start it got. Though the tomatoes are not yet ripe I've lost count of them waiting to turn red. Chives, never ending, carrots are up and perfect as can be. Cucumbers galore, and monster zucchini's, as well as squash. We pick strawberries every day, there's peas, and salad greens to use whenever we need, there's so much more and the best thing is my kids are just as excited to see things grow as I am. Wish I could give my garden back what it's given me, so this is as close as I can get to that!

   The best way to give back what was given, is to share.



Recipe for Thyme Grilled Vegetables.
 These were so good, I'm telling you so simple, so tasteful! I served this with Rosemary Chicken that I cooked in the slow cooker, you can find that here (just follow the chicken part) Perfect ending to a long day.


Ingredients
16 small red potatoes (about 2 pounds), halved
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 each large green, sweet red and yellow pepper, julienned
1 jar (15 ounces) pearl onions, drained (I used a small onion sliced and diced instead .It's so easy to use all fresh here)
1lb Asparagus, either whole or cut into 1-inch pieces, depending on how you like them. If you don't like asparagus, try something else green, broccoli or beans.

Directions
In an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. disposable foil pan, combine the potatoes, broth, oil, thyme and salt. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 25 minutes.
Stir in peppers and onions. Grill 25-30 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Yield: 9 servings.

All that came from all these little guys. Pretty amazing isn't it?

This is the beginning of the garden back in March of this year.

One of my favorite pictures of this year. My Mammoth Sugar snap peas and the first pick of strawberries from earlier in the season. My Garden has given me perfection if not in taste, but beautiful colors this year!

Enjoy the day, share a little something you were given :-)
 Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the Rock 'N Learn Phonics Review & Giveaway!!


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August 17, 2010

Should be called the Trouble Burger!

Pizza Burgers. Just think about that a moment, pizza taste, burger style. Sounds good right? My kids thought it did, so did I. Up until I made it. One problem after another. The first time I made this, I stuck to the recipe, it was too dry. Second time I made this, added zucchini into it to give it moisture as well as something healthy. It was too moist!
   Third times a charm right? In most cases, it usually always works the third time around. You've already messed up twice, know what you're dealing with and yet, this time around it just fell apart on the grill. Trouble burger alert!
    I was determined to not give up, not stop till I made a pizza burger that we could eat and give the thumbs up too! The Burger would not defeat me!
I fell back onto a trusted recipe that I could turn into everything I wanted. Meatloaf, patties, meatballs. Well now it was used for a Pizza Burger!  The thing was though, the burger still had trouble ahead. You'd think such a simple thing would be done with already, but it wasn't. I made pizza dough, for the burger to sit on, you know tie the whole pizza thing in there. My kids didn't want it on a flat piece of crust, they wanted a bun. Once I got theirs all on buns and gave it to them you know what they did?! They ate the meat, and left the bun! Not ten minutes after they finished too they had asked to eat the flat pizza crust. This Pizza Burger has created burger chaos, I'm telling you!  Crazy, just craziness.


Pizza Burger

I will give you the original Pizza Burger Recipe from TOH. We may not have liked it, but that doesn't mean someone else won't.
Ingredients
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound ground beef
4 slices provolone cheese
4 English muffins, split and toasted
1/2 cup pizza sauce
Directions
In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into four patties.
Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160° and juices run clear. Top burgers with cheese; cover and grill 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Serve on muffins with pizza sauce.

Now , I think the first time I made this, I put too much cheese into it, the kids are always around so I didn't measure it at all (ha, yeah I know my mistake) Either way, it seemed too dry to me.

The recipe I ended up using was one I've posted before, here.
Burgers-

Ingredients

llb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup tomato sauce or pizza sauce what ever you like, you can use prepared prego, ragu, whatever you have on hand really, it adds more flavor. Plus more for topping.
( I used basil and onion tomato sauce that someone made me last year,!)
1 medium sized diced sauteed onions (or non if you don't want them)
2tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Pepper to you taste.
1/3 cup bread crumbs
sliced mozzarella cheese or even swiss to top it off with

To start use half the 1/2 cup of sauce, mix it in with the beef and everything else. See how moist it is, if you think it's enough don't add more sauce. If it's already too moist just add more bread crumbs till you have it the way you want. Form them into patties.
  You can broil them, line with foil and spray a broiler pan and place them 6in under broiler for about 5-6mins on each side or under they run clear, basting with the extra sauce. Top it with cheese and take it out when the cheese starts melting. (you can cook them in a preheated oven 375 for about 25-30 minutes or until juices run clear. top with cheese the last minute till it melts)
 You can cook them on the foil topped grill, or even in the skillet till the juices run clear, putting the cheese on the last few minutes. Top it off with extra sauce on a Bun, or English muffin and if you want to be daring, make the pizza crust.
 I thought it was good that way, different, crispy too. The kids just wanted the plain crust to eat and dip into the sauce.


Pizza Crust

2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
 1 envelope  RapidRise Yeast*
3/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup very warm water (120o to 130oF)
 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
Cornmeal

Directions
Combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Stir very warm water and olive oil into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.
   I spread the dough out onto a large flat pan.(mine was 17in, but you can use 14, just don't let it sit to long) Let it sit for about 25 minutes or until it had risen just a little. Brush the top with beaten egg white and bake for about 10-15 minutes till the top is  lightly golden. Check it after ten minutes. Let it cool and cut into squares. If anything else I found a new little snack for the kids, plain pizza crust with sauce. Who knew!

Now I'm hungry again!
Enjoy, as always make it yours, recipes are only a base! Let me know if you try it out, hopefully you'll have less drama as I did with this :)


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August 14, 2010

Vegetables Galore!

Even if you don't have a garden, you should notice there's tons, I mean tons of vegetables flooding the grocery stores. There's nothing like being able to pick your own, or come home with a basket full of fresh, bright vegetables! If you don't get to pick your own, head to the farmers market, or find locally grown ones. They are your best bet to get real fresh vegetables that haven't been handled too much. Squash or zucchini loose firmness fast, so don't pick up more than you can use. Check to make sure they aren't already soft, you want firm, bright colors, with no discoloration or marks on them. If you can't use them within a day or two put them in the fridge after washing and drying them completely. For even quicker use, cut them, or slice them and put them into containers so your prep time is cut in half. Same with the peppers. I cut up bell peppers each week and freeze them, when I need some for a recipe I just take out the frozen mixture of 1 of each, red, green, yellow and orange bell pepper.
  
    This dish uses a good handful of bright colorful vegetables, and it's filling. You can top it with cheese, leave it without and serve it with just about anything. The original recipe called for potatoes, but I left that out and it's perfect. Isn't it bright? I love that!

Summer Vegetable Casserole

Original is here, my version is below

Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup of mixed bell peppers ( cut up 1 bell pepper of each, red, green, yellow and orange. Mix together about a cup and set the rest in the fridge or freeze it for later use)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 pound plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 small zucchini (1/2 pound), sliced on the diagonal 1/4 inch thick
1 medium summer squash
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1.Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch baking dish (I used a 9x13 as I used the summer squash, worked just as good!) with olive oil. Layer the summer squash first into the pan; season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, garlic and thyme. Arrange two-thirds of the bell pepper mixture over the squash.Top with the tomatoes and the zucchini; drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with the remaining bell pepper mixture and sprinkle with the cheese if using.
2.Cover the casserole with foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 425°. Uncover the casserole and bake for about 15 minutes longer,or until the vegetables are tender. Serve warm. (Depending on how thick or thin you slice things, or even how tender you like your vegetables adjust the time. Check it halfway and go from there. Don't cook too long as it'll just go mushy)

This is the same dish topped with cheese.
Enjoy a good vegetable dish!





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August 11, 2010

When in doubt, Broil it!

My kids are fans of sandwiches, well really who isn't? After awhile though, they can be boring, and you are repeating the same ones over and over. My simple solution, Broil it !

This is an open faced Roast Beef Pepper sandwich.


Another super easy thing the kids can put together themselves, you can either broil it or pop it into the microwave till the cheese melts. Either way is fine, I like it broiled on toasted rolls or buns.

Rolls, or Buns
Thinly sliced Roast beef
Mayonnaise or mustard, or sandwich spread of choice
Julienned sliced peppers
Cheese mixture, like four cheese or just shredded mozzarella
Pepper to taste

Have the kids toast their bun or roll and pick out what they would want ontop, instead of a knife to use with the spread give them a spoon, making it easier for them. Have them lay the roast beef ontop, doesn't matter how it goes on, plop it on it doesn't matter.

 Top it off with peppers and the cheese. If they don't like peppers, go for something like bacon bites, or chives, tomatoes. Broil for about 1-3 minutes  or until cheese is melted and slightly golden. Or if you want it faster microwave it for 30secs at a time till the cheese is melted.
   After a long day, sometimes sandwiches are all anyone is up for. Getting the kids into making it, makes them excited to eat it, and if you are lucky they may even clean up as well!(ok that's a stretch but it's a nice thought!)
More often than not my kids are more willing to try things when they get to prepare it with me!So get the kids into the kitchen with you more often! Enjoy another simple sandwich!

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August 9, 2010

Kids choice Again!

Summer brings BBQ, quick meals and salads of all kinds out of the kitchen. It get's super hot here in CA so during the summer months we are doing everything we can to never turn the stove on. Unless, that is, bread needs to be made,Or cinnamon buns,or a roast. Alright, OK, so I'm not that good at keeping the stove off! Which is probably why the top oven to the double oven isn't working. It needs to be replaced. :-(
It's not on everyday though,really do try to only use it in the morning for breads, and use the slow cooker whenever I can. Stove top is even better, which brings me to the Kid's Choice summer meal.

The only thing the parents needs to do, is cook the beef, the rest is up to the kids. Try to line everything up so they can make their own, sort of like a buffet, my kids love being able to put only what they want in the salad taco. (cause you know if You put it on, they hate it. It's something entirely different when they put it on)


It's as easy as it sounds, Salad Tacos

1lb of ground beef, or turkey cooked and drained, season with your choice of seasonings-taco seasonings, chili powder, or even a packet of Lipton's, Onion soup/dip mix. It doesn't really matter, we use whatever is on hand.
**You can use left overs easily, roast, chicken, turkey, even fish. Vary your toppings with the choice of meat and you are set to go!**
Lettuce -We used Romaine because it's long and easier to use for tacos.

As for toppings, I normally set out about a cup of each
-Black beans
-Kidney beans
-corn relish (corn with diced red peppers as well as onions)
-Onions
-Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
-A blend/mix cheese of different types. They have some for taco's, the kids like the Italian four cheese blend
-Julienned Peppers
-diced Tomatoes
-Salsa

Line it all up, and have your kids lay the meat right down the middle of the Lettuce

Then have them top it off with whatever toppings they want. It'll be a messy taco dinner, as taco's always are, but go for it. Kids are messy, that's a fact you need to live with. Make it known for this meal it's OK to be messy. My 3 year old got upset when hers fell apart, I picked up my own and some of the fillings fell out, started to pick it up and eat it with my fingers. OH the horror!!! Yes, my fingers, seriously, when you make a meal just for kids, let them be kids. They need it, be ok with a mess on the plate. My daughter beamed a huge smile after that, and ate two lettuce tacos all by herself. They're eating, that's what counts, throw down your Clean shield and be ok with a little mess  for a night :-) Be a kid again!
Enjoy!





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August 8, 2010

The Winner!!!

And the Winner is-
Becky Jane - her winning entry:
"One of my favorite family memories is Christmas Eve with all the family gathered around our 11' dining table enjoying a kingly feast and happy conversation!"

Congratulations Becky Jane!!! You won the $40 CSN gift certificate to use at any of the 200+ stores online :) I will be contacting you shortly with the details of your prize!

winner must reply within 48 hours or another winner is picked
*Winner was picked by random.org*

Thank you everyone for entering my very first giveaway! Be on the look out for  Cynthia Roberts Book Tour Giveaway Next month!
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August 5, 2010

Fresh Zucchini makes my day

You're not supposed to let Zucchini or Squash get so big


Oops? In this case I fail.
The reason why is, the bigger they get, the more seeds they have (I do mean a lot) as well as they aren't as moist, and in some cases don't have much taste. I've been more than lucky though, cutting all of them up, they've been very good, minus the extra seeds.It's ideal to pick your zucchini when they reach 6-8inches long.Mine have a habit of growing large, super fast, not that I'm complaining. :)
We finally got our yellow summer squash in!

In the back there is cucumbers, that popped up out of nowhere. My garden has a lot of surprises for me this year, including Cherry Tomatoes that I noticed in with the big beef tomato plant. We are out there first thing in the morning , the kids love to check the water, look at anything new growing. My little farmers!

Which brings me to another kid choice recipe. My kids wanted Eggplant Parmesan! I had Zucchini to use though, so it became Eggplant Zucchini Parmesan :)
I found this on my itouch from allrecipes, my changes are within the recipe


Ingredients
3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced (I found 3 too much, so used only 2)
2 eggs, beaten (used egg substitute)
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided (I really took it easy on the sauce and it still came out wonderful! didn't need six cups worth.)
1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (fresh basil)
** I used one medium sized Zucchini sliced length wise, or juse 2 small ones, I sliced them a tad big, but I didn't mind one bit, just don't slice either Eggplant or Zucchini too thick or it will be hard to cut. The picture above shows how big I cut the Zucchini, that's about how thick I did the Eggplant as well, next time I'll do it a tad thinner**
Directions
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Before I cut up the eggplant I sliced the zucchini and sprinkled them with a little salt, set to drain.
3.Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.

3.In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Before I poured the sauce down again I layered the zucchini (blot them dry if you've sprinkled with salt!) down and repeated with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
This was very good, top it off with some wine and you have a wonderful dinner! It's even better if you have home grown items, and fresh herbs! Enjoy!

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