Monday, March 28, 2011

Grilled Roasted Vegetable and Dubliner Cheese sandwich

Just a quick food combo I did from previous posts.
I combined The Dubliner Cheese with leftover Roasted Vegetables sliced thin and grilled it like a grilled cheese.
Try it!

Something I'm afraid of

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of..

I run from them like a child.  
In fact, I have passed this fear on to my child and he runs from them in fear, too.  oops..
I *try* to remember that bees [and dogs] can smell fear.  It doesn't always work.
I also dislike their cousins, the wasps.
I was going to think of all the things I could fear for my kids, my future, my marriage.
But, nope.
I know God created them but...ugh.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Foodie Friday~Layered Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

I have done different variations of this each time depending on the veggies I had on hand.
Generally, there is always eggplant, mozzarella, parm, & sauce involved.  Funny enough, I don't actually have lasagna noodles in this dish.
  • Always soak your sliced eggplant for at least 5 minutes in salted water.  It is supposed to take away the bitterness.
  • I coat my eggplant in panko crumbs and fry in olive oil.  They are almost the "noodles" in this dish so I want them to have a little structure and depth of flavor.
  • One time, I had a large amount of spinach so I julienned the whole bunch and scattered that between each layer along with the cheese.  Baked wonderfully and even my "I hate cooked spinach" husband enjoyed it.
  • I have put a bag of frozen broccoli & cauliflower [cut smaller where needed] as a layer just to add more veggies and also trying to clear out the freezer.  Dishes like this are great for clearing out the entire fridge because together they all taste great.  Isn't everything better covered in tomato sauce & cheese?
  • I don't actually use any pasta in this dish but once I had frozen ravioli taking up space so I layered what I had of those.  No meat is mentioned either but you could easily add ground turkey or hamburger with the sauce.  Even meatballs, frozen or handmade would totally work in this dish.  Use what you have on hand!
  • When I made it this week, I had fresh zucchini & baby squash so I roasted them with onion & garlic while I fried up the eggplant just to add some flavor.  Remember, brown food taste good!
  • So after you compile what veggies are jumping in the dish and have your shredded parm and/or mozzarella ready to go, next you decide what tomato sauce you will use.  Jarred is fine with me, especially BOGO sauce!
  • This particular day, I had a plethora of grape tomatoes that were getting a bit wrinkly.  So I sliced them in half, along with onion & garlic and roasted them.  After they were just browning, I blended them in my food chopper with a bunch of basil and more olive oil and it made the best sauce.  This step is amazing but not required if you don't have the time.
  • Now you just layer like you would lasagna, alternating between each ingredient. Eggplant, veggies, sauce, cheese, eggplant, veggies, etc.
  • bake at 350 for maybe 20-30 until the cheese melts and it starts to get bubbly.  
  • Serve with a salad and lovely dessert [because after all those veggies, you can spare a little  decadence!]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

She's Crafty ~ A One Day Artisanal Boutique

Locals, I hope you will put this one on your calender!

Now I better get busy moving out of that house so I can craft here!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dubliner Cheese

Meant to get this up for St. Patrick's Day but there is always a good time to celebrate cheese!
From the KerryGold website:
 "Quite daringly different, Dubliner is a specialty cheese with a distinctive mature rounded flavour and a natural hint of sweetness"
I would say the texture defintely has the flakiness & saltiness of Parmesan, too.  In fact they suggest using it in place of parm.  But there is a butteriness to this cheese as well.  When you taste it, you just know the work that went into making it "just right".
It is not a cheese I could eat a lot at one time because it is so robust but a cheese I would reserve for small tastings.  I bet it would be great with a lovely pear or a bunch of grapes.  
Mom & I enjoyed it with some sublime olives and such we bought at an olive bar, crackers and few other cheeses.  We filled up on these appetizers and didn't make it to lunch.
This large block was purchased at Sam's and would be perfect to set out for a dinner party.
What is your favorite cheese? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Foodie Friday: Roasted Squash & Cauliflower

I grew up not liking squash.  Frankly, I think it was told to me that I didn't like it.  My sweet aunt had this amazing garden and squash was plentiful but no one in my house, at least, would help her eat it.  
Perhaps, if she had roasted it, I wouldn't have missed out on 30 years of squash. 
So even if you would consider yourself a hater, give this a try.  
It's super cheap in the store so it's worth a taste test!
I long to be baked not just steamed or in a casserole..

So here is pic of the standard Summer Squash that can be under $2 for 4 of these down here.
I cut off the 2 ends [and I used to give those to my dogs who either ate them or played with them..].
Then I cut the larger part into maybe 1/2 inch in width coins.  Maybe a little thinner.  The neck I cut long ways.  I then toss them with extra virgin olive oil, course salt & fresh cracked pepper.  I usually scatter some slices of onions and a few crushed cloves of garlic over them, too, for added yumminess.  A few turns of my herb grinder adds to the level of loveliness if you have something similar. 
I often just do the squash, but for today, I also added cauliflower.  
Wait.  Cauliflower?  
That is only to be consumed raw, steamed or slathered in a strange orange cheese-like sauce, right?
I want to try the oven, too!

Well, my good friends at Front Porch Produce mentioned they liked it roasted and since I believe they have impeccable taste buds, I thought I would give it a try!
This is before..and I wish I had taken an in-the-pan picture but I was so anxious to get them out, I had put it in a serving bowl before I realized.

I have seen the cauliflower look much darker [in fact, it was a recent episode of Martha Stewart and she added the cauliflower to a salad].  And I have let the squash go further to where they are almost crispy.
But the roasting the squash gives it that caramelized sweetness with the saltiness..just pure scrumptiousness! 
It was a lovely side with roasted pork loin but I think you could eat these veggies as a meal because they are so delectable.
John & I are now both reformed Squash Lovers.  Come one...Give it a try!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.

This is a fun silly succession of photos I actually took before I read what today's "assignment" was.. 
so here you go..
Enjoy the merriment we had just being goofy!

love him.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Foodie Friday- Chicken Mushroom Orzo Soup

I was inspired by the Chicken-and-Orzo soup in her March 2011 issue.  I guess it is not online yet but this is the closest to that recipe.

Here are my ingredients and directions.
  • 1 diced shallot
  • 3 cloves diced or shredded on microplane
  • kosher or course sea salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • a container of mcuhsrooms [I used a mix of white button and baby portabello.  You can use as much as you want and I love mushrooms!]
  • 1-2 celery stalks diced very fine
    Swirl olive oil a few times and lightly brown the shallots with the salt.  Then add in garlic, celery and mushrooms and brown.  
  • 3-4 chicken tenders diced into chunks [we are trying to stretch meat so if you want more meat, by all means, add it here.]
    Add chunked chicken into the mushroom mixture and brown.  Add more olive oil if needed.
  • 2 containers of chicken stock
    Add a bit of the stock to scrape up any yummy bits.  Then add in the stock and let that simmer and concentrate the flavors.
  • half box of Orzo pasta [more if you want more. You're the boss here!]
    Meanwhile in a large pot, bring salted water to boil and add the pasta.  Cook until 1 minute under the suggested cooking time so it can continue to cook in the soup at the end.
  • 1-2 cans of white cannelloni or great northern beans, RINSED
    Drain the pasta. I drain in the same colander I am draining the beans in to save dish washing.  Add both to the stock mixture.  
  • half a large lemon juice, squeezed directly into pot [minus the seeds!]
  • large bunch of rinsed parsley, bunched together to snip over bowls.
    Add the juice to the pot after everything has came together.  When you are ready to serve, snip parsley  over each bowl to add a bit of freshness.

 I actually made this the same night I made Quickie Coq au Vin.  I taste tested it that night and it was even more excellent the next day after the flavors had melted together.
Let me know if you make this and what you think!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are You Taking Videos Like You Should Be?

Today it has been 6 months since we lost Grandma.  It is hard to believe how fast time flies because it definitely doesn't seems like that much time has passed.  The mind definitely plays tricks on you when it comes to loss.

The thing I am grateful is for the pictures and videos I had taken of her.  Now I wish I had taken so much more.  I wish I had a day-in-the-life of her.  But I am grateful for the times I captured moments between her and Jesse.  I wish I had taken more of her and Abigale..I just thought there would be more time..  

My family did not have a video camera.  I so wish I had footage of my mom as a young person with her family, Grandma & her when they were much younger, mom and grandma interacting with me, me as a child with cousins & friends, etc..  For those of you lucky enough to have film from the past, cherish it.  Those moments in time you have are not replaceable.

Sadly, there is no remote to rewind life for another look.

Jesse & Gigi, his first week home.

Jesse & Gigi at her 85th birthday June 12, 2010

My question to you [and myself] is are you taking enough videos?  They needn't be very long but 30-120 seconds that forever capture that moment in time.  
Easy, no pressure for an oscar-worthy shoot, let it just happen as it does.

Some of the the simple things that would be treasured later that I can think of right now:
  • the kids coloring or crafting together
  • mom or grandma cooking a meal
  • a day at the park
  • the littles eating or playing together
  • playing outside with pets
  • singing their favorite little songs like ABC's or Bible songs..their little voices change so fast
  • how they pronounce this or will change 'next week', believe me, so capture it right then
  • them in their room playing with their toys
  • of course, birthday parties & Christmas..remember to not only get the typical unwrapping gifts and blowing out the candle but slowly turn around the room.. observe everyone else there, too.
  • what are some things you can think of to make this list more complete?
I am so glad to have the videos I do have..
..just to be able to hear her voice, her laugh, to see her smile more time.  

I implore you...Please take videos [and pictures, of course] of your loved ones, whatever their age.  
Get in the videos, too, for your kids and grandkids sake!
{The last picture of Gigi & Abigale}

You just never know when the last time ... is the last time.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.

This picture was a long time coming.

I have actually lived in "our old house" since I was in the 10th that would be '91, I think.  In 2003, my mom got a new house just a few minutes away but in the pre-process of moving, it was discovered she had major heart issues, she had a quad-bypass, and moving halted.  So we continued to "live" in both places [geesh, as I am doing now!].   Then when John and I were going to get married, she offered for us to take over the we did when we got married in September 2004.
Fast forward 5 years, we now have 2 kids, this stifled Stampin' business due to space, the neighborhood has gone downhill and become a random renters area..nowhere I would ever let my kids out to bike or mom & grandma set out to find a new place since they had the spare time to roam around.
They would drive through local areas, call realtors, make the appointment and then I would show up for the walk through.  Of course, they never drove more than 5 minutes from either of their homes...we did have a maximum distance we could move.  haha  Honestly, I relied on both them a lot, and they on us, so it was for a real reason.  ;)
In one of the first houses we really liked and bid on, we got connected to our realtor, Lana Burke.  We lost that house to a cash offer and would go on to create another 8 contracts that would fail as well.  I do have to say that she stuck with us and showed nothing but integrity.  In fact, we were going to bid on a house that frankly was going to strap us financially.  It was nice, new, & enticing, but she knew it was going to be difficult for us.  We had the contract drawn up & signed and I was going to drop it off to her to send in for the bid process.  She called that morning and told us another house had come on the market overnight and we should go see it...and it was $20,000 LESS.  Pure integrity.  I would recommend her to anyone.  Of course, we didn't end up getting that house either and the saga continued for a total of 14 months.
But on December 26th, WE FINALLY GOT OUR HOME!  What a Christmas gift from God!
I wish Grandma would have been able to see this house.  I viewed it after she went to Ohio for the summer.  But she was praying we would get it and all of our prayers were answered.
Funny enough, a friend lives across the street from this house and was telling me about it for around a year but it was not yet on the market.  It came up while we were in a short sale [that fell through] so went to look finally.  As we pulled up John said, you know we have been here, right?  Ironically, we actually knew the previous owners and had been in it for a party 4-5 years ago.  Very strange.  So thanks, Katie, it's great to have friendly neighbors!

Our journey to get this house is a little longer than most probably.  Perhaps if we had got the first one we looked at, we wouldn't have appreciated it as much. 
Some things are worth the wait.

~The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him! Lam. 3:22-24

Just 4 more to go in the 30 Day Photo Challenge..Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.
Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.
Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.
Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss

Monday, March 07, 2011

Day 25 - A picture of your favorite day~ Abigale's Birth Story.

Jan. 20th, 2010

The story and value of this day actually starts with this photo taken on November 8, 2007.
I am behind those closed doors, knocked out because my epidural wouldn't take up my chest fast enough for the ER C-section to deliver Jesse.
I know no birth plan ever works out like you had planned but this was the complete opposite.  
John was not in there.  My doula/BFF Lindsey was not in there.  They were going to be allowed when it was a normal C-section but when I had to be completely sedated, no one I loved was allowed in the room, except for Jesus.  Thankfully, Lindsey had made me read Birthing From Within earlier and there had been enough scenarios of C-sections that I was prepared for what was about to happen.  So as they strapped down my arms, I began to pray.  That was the only thing that helped me cope with the turn of events.  But, as Lindsey kept saying, "it was the next best thing".
So Jesse was born at 2:40 pm and they did let John & Lindsey in to see him shortly after birth.  I didn't wake up for another 2 hours alone in a cold room so I am sad to say we missed that first family picture, that picture of the first time I got to look into his beautiful blue eyes.
I ended up with numerous complications with my C-section, including infections and nicked nerves that made me scream uncontrollably and walking hunched over for about 3-4 weeks afterwards.   
So...when I was pregnant with Abigale, my constant declaration was that I would VBAC her.  [Vaginal Birth After C-section]
I wanted to be fully present for this birth!  
So after having to present my case uncountable times to every midwife and doctor I saw, I was going to be able to deliver her the way I had hoped!  
Then they wanted to induce me. I knew that was an anti-VBAC move and I kept saying this to them.  
So we prayed. 
And they brought me in for an induction on January 15th. 

I was at a "0", meaning my body wasn't ready and Abigale was not planning on coming out.  However, the "aggressive" midwife [eventually all 6 of them would get nicknames], decided to strip my membranes.  *Note: with Jesse, I was at a "2" and my doctor at that time said it was not favorable to strip that soon.  "0" is even less favorable.  I'm just saying...NOT cool.
She stripped the next day, too, and tried to break my water when I was barely a 2.  Thanks be to GOD because I had my eyes clinched tight in pain when I "heard" OPEN YOUR EYES! There was Aggressor with the instrument, ready to break my water without a warning.  I climbed up the bed away from her.  I would have probably had another C-section if she had her way.
So after a "maybe" from the Aggressor, a YES from the Cheerleader the next afternoon and then a welcome "Either we break your water and you get a C-sec probably or we send you home and try again next week" from the Voice of Reason, I was sent home from this failed induction.  Hurray! 
The following Monday, the 19th, we came in again for another try.
And again, I didn't progress in their timely manner.  And again, the baby's heartbeat would be a little stressed.  So again, I was strapped to the bed, which is another anti-VBAC move. 
So we prayed.
The next day was our last chance since we had both been on pitocin and everything else they give you for 4 days at this point...not good.
The 6th midwife I saw through all of this said that if I didn't progress favorably by the next time she checked me, I was going to the operating room.
And we prayed again.  We asked for prayer from our friends. We prayed specifically. We posted on FaceBook for prayer.  Then we waited in anticipation to see how God would answer our prayers.. 
And the midwife was delayed..delayed by hours.. then she came in and I was READY!  We praised and cried and praised God again!  We called my mom & grandma to come back to the hospital!  We also called Brandi, our friend from church who had been my nurse through both of these hospital stays and she made it back up, too.
The epidural they required was a thankful respite from the pain of the pitocin induced labor pains.  The relief was just enough to allow me to feel the pressure and pain so I was in control knowing when contractions were coming and when it was time to push.  That couldn't have been done better.
So John was on one side and Brandi on the other, while midwife and nurse encouraged me. The mirror was up because I wanted to absorb every moment of this event.  Mom & Grandma sat on the couch to the side of me, experiencing something like this for the first time from that angle.
 At the end, if she was okay, they were going to allow me to pull her out myself.  At the end, I was a bit delirious and looked up at that mirror, seeing her head and thinking "There is no way I can reach that high up and do everything else, too".  Next time, someone remind me where exactly they are coming out of..geesh. 
So at 8:09 pm, Abigale made her grand entrance heard loudly on her due date of January 20th.
And we cried and praised and sat there in awe of what we just experienced.  
For me, this birth redeemed the "loss" I had felt with Jesse's birth.  
I fully participated in this birth.  
God granted my desires with an amazing delivery.
"Gigi" with Abigale.  


 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed.  They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3

Through the last days of this journey, I held fast to the praise song, I Have to Believe by Rita Springer. 
 I have to believe, he sees my darkness
I have to believe, he knows my pain
I have to lift up, my hands to Worship
Worship his name
I have to declare, that he is my refuge
I have to deny, that i am alone
I have to lift up, my eyes to the mountains, thats where my help, it comes from
oh yeahhh
He said that he's forever faithful
He said that he's forever true
He said that he can move mountains
If he can move mountains
He can move my mountain, he can move your mountain too
I have to stand tall, when the wind blows me over
I have to stand strong, when i'm weak and afraid
I have to grab hold, a hold of the garments, the garments of praise..
~  ~  ~

Thanks for reading this very long entry..  
What was your favorite day?  
What's your birth story?

Setting Up the Pins

Perfect song for any family, if you ask me!
We saw Sara Groves last night at our church and once again, I just love her.
There is just something about her voice, her delivery, the lyrics she writes so transparently beautiful, and those brushes on the of my favorite sounds.
Just a divinely lovely night spent with my wonderful hubby and great friends.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Foodie Friday- Potato Bean Soup

Everyone has their own version of a potato soup.  
I was in the mood to make one today.  
I recalled some of the things my mom has done when making this soup and took off from there.

  • 4 large russet potatoes  [that's what I had excess of, use what you have!], roughly peeled & diced into 1 1/2  inch chunks or thereabouts.  Use more potatoes for more soup.
  • half a carton of chicken stock [save rest for later]
  • enough water to cover the diced potatoes
  • course salt
I put the potatoes, stock, water and about 1 teaspoons of coarse salt in a large soup pot.  Cook until tender, around 20-30 minutes.
  • 1 medium sweet onion diced finely
  • coarse salt
  • 2 T of butter
  • bacon grease if you have it [Optional.  Hint: When I bake my bacon,  I save the grease in a closed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks to add flavor to recipes like this.]
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced [more if you like]
  • center  & tops of celery stalk..all the leafy parts that don't work on a veggie tray, finely minced
At the same time, in a separate skillet, melt the butter and bacon grease to cook the onions until translucent on medium low.   Add in the celery leaves & garlic and continue cooking together on low until the potatoes are done.
  • rest of the chicken stock container
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream [or you could totally use plain greek yogurt which I also love but did not have on hand]
  • 1/2 cup of milk or cream [I used 1% milk, the higher the fat content the richer the flavor]
  • S & P 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Herb blend [I have a grinder I use.  Only use if you have it, totally optional]
  • teeny pinch of red pepper flakes [more if you want more heat]
  • 2 cans of white beans, rinsed well and drained [navy, cannelloni, great northern, etc]
  • 1 cup of diced steamed broccoli [because I like to add veggies whenever possible AND I had it leftover from a previous meal.]
After the potatoes are completely cooked, you can mash them if needed.  I cooked mine so far it was mostly pureed naturally just by stirring.  That is the texture I was looking for, cook less if you want it more chunky/brothy. 
On medium low, add in the rest of the broth, sour cream, milk, seasonings to taste, & softly stir in the broccoli and beans.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes for flavors to come together and warm back up.  
Check the seasoning right before you serve.
It tasted great before the beans were added so you could easily have it without them.  However, we are always trying to add more fiber in our diet so I added in 2 cans.  1 would have been fine, too, if that is what you had..use what you have!
I snipped fresh parsley over the bowl when I served it.  

Thursday, March 03, 2011

When you think the housework never ends...

I saw post on Facebook from a friend who asked other moms if they felt overwhelmed at the daily chores we do that never you can never get ahead.  
It is so true!
But here was my response and I thought I would share.  Also, by posting it here, I can remind myself when I start to get down!

When you are feeling like what you do doesn't matters a hill of  beans or frustrated that the process of it all never ends.. 
Perhaps it will help if you find a verse that you could think or sing when you do those chores. My computer is in my kitchen so I pick and make a playlist of my favorite songs on Grooveshark to listen to while I work. It's free and I have a few favorite playlists depending on my mood.  Don't be surprised if you come over one day and hear me belting out 1960's Sunday School Songs.  Sometimes it is good to get back to your roots and smile.  It makes your littles laugh at their goofy mommy, too..
Maybe frame an encouraging thought, prayer, or verse you could focus on when you do these activities. Jones Design Company has some awesome ready to frame art prints with scripture on it.  Or create it yourself in Word, Publisher, Pages or a digital scrapping program.
A MOPS mentor mom once said to make your laundry room the cheeriest room you could and write a verse on the wall to focus on. She also mentioned to pray for each person in your family as you folded their laundry, cleaned their dish or made them lunch. 
I visualize how making supper gives nutrition to my kids & husband, clean dishes keep us healthy, doing laundry makes them proud of how they look [and smell], etc...
I feel like God has called us [me] into this stage of life and what I do..drudgery, monotonous or not..I will choose to do for His Glory. 
Ultimately, in serving my husband and kids, I am serving God.

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men."  Amplified Bible
1 Corinthians 10:31b ."Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  NASB

Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change.

I feel like I have answered this question already in this challenge...
See Day 22 and Day 4
Again, I think the things we go through, bad or good, make us the person God wants us to be.  And we are all a work in progress.
But, so I answered every question...
Perhaps, part of me would answer, my waistline like so many other women.  

But the truth is, though I wouldn't mind being a bit smaller and healthier in that department, I actually like me for me. 
 I have these curves partly because of my genetics, partly because of my upbringing, partly because I love to cook and eat the lovely foods God has provided for us, and partly because I gave birth 2 these lovelies.  
[Jesse by C-section on 11/08, 2007, with doula/BFF Lindsey's hand because they had to knock me out so I missed the first couple of hours of his life. :(  ]

[Me with Abigale that I VBAC'd - (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) on January 20, 2010!  My heart's desire...God is so good!]

I earned these curves in more ways than one.

And who wants to look like this really? 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

$50 in coupons for Publix!

Who doesn't love more coupons for brands you would normally buy anyway at a store you frequent!?
Thanks to Jennifer at Family Musings for spreading the word!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Giveaway at Magnolia Designs

Hey everyone go check out Magnolia Designs! She is doing a "like" contest for most referrals. Go like her page and get your friends to like her page and them to tell her who sent them! [Or you can just say my name: AmyDearie haha]

The most referrals winner gets a super cute crochet beanie with 3 flowers! 

The game is over March 1 at noon!

I got my box!

It has arrived!

I was chosen to be a host for the PHILLY Dinnertime Dilemma House Party!  I am so excited because I have tried out for many parties.
I got my box of supplies for the party today!
Can't wait to decide what I am going to do to create the party favor bag for those that attend!

So excited about this skillet from Green Pan!  This is the gift to the hostess for having the party.
A metal handle means I can sear on top and put directly into the oven to finish!  Yes!

Now I am on the hunt for a Buy One Get One Sale so I can make more dishes to sample at the party.  They give you 4 coupons but I also sent out many invites and invited the whole family.

Look for more updates as the party nears!  Wahoo!
For more information on House Party visit to register.