Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday baking

Today I started making some Christmas goodies with the kids. We are planning on taking some of our treats over to a local nursing home IF we can stay healthy! With that in mind, I opted to make some treats that would be easy on dentures (no peanut brittle!).

Peanut Butter Cups

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
4-5 squares chocolate bark

Combine peanut butter and powdered sugar. If the mixture is still a bit sticky, add a bit more powdered sugar, which we will be doing with the next batch. Roll into small balls.
You can either keep in balls and use a toothpick to dip the whole ball in the melted chocolate (follow directions on package) or put each ball in a SMALL paper baking cup (the kind you use for cupcakes, only small sized), press it down and pour some chocolate on top. That is the method we used. Next time, we won't press them down as much so the chocolate covers more of the peanut butter. We will also make smaller sized balls (although these seemed small to me) because Darin and I prefer a higher chocolate to peanut butter ratio. Put in the fridge to harden.
If you have extra chocolate, grab some pretzels, dip them in chocolate and put them on wax paper.

Microwave Fudge

2/3 cup (1 stick plus 3 Tbsp) butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3 cups sugar
7 ounce marshmallow fluff
bag of semi sweet or peanut butter chips
1 tsp vanilla

Microwave butter for about 1 minute in a large bowl
Add evaporated milk and sugar. Mix well. Microwave for 3 minutes. Mix well to get all the sugar off the sides and bottom of bowl. Microwave 2 minutes. Mix. Microwave 3 minutes. Mix. Microwave 2 minutes. (The bowl and contents are going to be HOT!!!)

Add marshmallow fluff. Stir until completely incorporated. Add chips (chocolate or peanut butter) and vanilla. Stir and Stir and Stir.

Pour into a 9x13 pan (I put foil in mine so I can lift it out and cut even squares. We shall see if this is a help or a hindrance). Leave out on counter. After it has hardened, keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Can be frozen, but make sure if it well covered with wax paper, plastic, aluminum foil and in an airtight container.

If your fudge down not set, use as an ice cream topping. My mom had this happen one year and peanut butter fudge on ice cream is GOOD!

I am hoping to make chocolate fudge, more peanut butter cups (my first batch only made 9, of which one is left), chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip cookies as well. Some we will eat, some will be for the Laurels and the rest for the neighbors.

Chicken or Turkey Enchiladas

Another one of Michelle's recipes. Very easy and yummy. I made 1/2 a batch, but will write down the whole recipe.

1 jar salsa
1 cup sour cream
12 taco sized or 8 burrito sized tortillas
1/2 Rotisserie chicken (or left over turkey or other chicken)
Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a 9x13 dish. Mix salsa and sour cream. Michelle does this in a pie plate and dips one side of the tortilla in the mix, I put it in a bowl and used a spoon to slop it on. Put some chicken or turkey in the tortilla. Roll it and put it seem side down in your baking dish. Once all tortillas are in pan, pour the remaining salsa mixture on it and top with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Let it stand 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken.

We all really liked this. I would like to try it with rotisserie chicken (or some leftover salsa chicken) because the turkey tasted like turkey : ) At first Tyson was trying to pick out pieces of the salsa (chunks of onion and other goodies) and Jori said "why do you keep making stuff like this that I don't like?", but then Tyson stopped picking stuff out and cleaned his whole plate. It was still a small battle with Jori, but that has become the norm. Darin really liked it, but had a texture issue with the salsa chunks as well. Maybe next time I could throw the salsa and sour cream in the blender?? Any other thoughts? It wasn't chunky salsa, just original style.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kid Stuff

Yesterday the kids wanted me to play "Order in the Court" with them. While we were playing, Tyson kept saying "YOU are the croak" and "Croak, croak". This was one of those times where I almost didn't want to correct him because being called a "croak" is a lot funnier than being called a "crook".

When we were playing Candy Land, he kept saying "Hey, broke" to Jori. I had no clue what he meant, but then I said "Do you mean 'hey bro'?", which of course was exactly what he meant. I tried figuring out where he heard that phrase, but he didn't want to tell.

Last night Jori came out of bed to tell me "There are people at the rolling ball place", which I thought was funny because when we go for ice cream she calls it the bowling alley. After I tucked her back in she said "When are we going to have a baby?" I was actually glad she asked because (no I am not about to announce a pregnancy) lately she has been totally against ever having a baby HUMAN and would prefer if I could pop out some kittens or a baby sloth puppet named Reona, just like the one on the Big World cartoon. So asking for a baby is a positive step in my mind.

Right now the kids are playing with Jori's dollhouse. Two minutes ago Jori was threatening to throw a doll sized recliner at Tyson because he took the toddler bed. They must have worked out their differences because they seem to be getting along for now! I love seeing them play together and when Jori says "I love you brother" or Tyson says "Hey sissy, you can come sit by me" I can't help but smile and think we must be doing SOMETHING right!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Happy day after Thanksgiving everyone! Yesterday was another simple Thanksgiving celebration for the Fey family. I went to my FIRST Thanksgiving service at our church. I've been in the nursery the last 3 years that we've gone to EGM, so I was thankful for the opportunity to worship and give thanks with my family. Unlike last year we didn't have any turkey (or turkey products) for our Thanksgiving dinner.

After lunch we headed to the movies with our friends the Mosher's. We saw Planet 51, which I thought was pretty funny. Tyson and Jori have only been to a movie theater one other time, to see the Tale of Despereaux. I took them by myself, and it was NOT a great experience. Jori wanted to leave before the previews were even done! I am glad Darin was along this time and while the kids really behaved well, listening to them say (loudly) "Is the movie almost done?" over and over again has led Darin and I to the decision that we will avoid taking our kids to the theater for at least a few more years : ) They both liked the movie, they are just not big on sitting in one place for such a long time.

We had a quiet night last night and today has been pretty relaxed as well. The kids are SO glad that Darin is home. I love listening to them laugh and wrestle together. We had pizza tonight. Tyson had a free personal pan pizza through Book It, and he was thrilled to have his own "little pizza just for me".

We hope that you all are having a blessed Thanksgiving weekend where ever you are! We have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner-Pear Oven Pancake

I have decided to try and make breakfast for dinner at least once a week. I am hoping this will save time and money each week. Last night I tried a new recipe that came out of the Carnation recipe booklet that recently came in the mail. Darin and I liked it, Tyson had 3-4 helpings and Jori, well, in typical Jori fashion she decided she didn't like it before even trying it and ended up eating maybe 5 bites before I decided to put a stop to her attitude filled mealtime.

Pear Oven Pancake

2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar (needed for top)
1/4 tsp salt
1 can Carnation Evaporated Milk
3 large eggs
1 ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450*
Pour melted butter into 9 inch deep-dish pie plate or cake pan. Swirl to coat bottom and sides
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk evaporated milk and eggs in another bowl until blended. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Arrange pear slices on top of batter in a pinwheel design, pushing slightly down. Combine remaining 2 Tbsp sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

Our pear pancake needed some extra baking time. It was probably in there at least 30 minutes if not a little more. The texture was kind of like a cooked pudding. This would NOT make good leftovers (in my opinion) so we forced down the last slice. If Jori had been a better eater, this would not have been a problem. I would make this again, but maybe on an every other month rotation.

What breakfast items do YOU make for dinner?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Broiled Tilapia and Pulled Pork Tacos

Not together, of course, but these are two separate recipes. Both recipes are courtesy of my college friend Michelle, who also gave me the chicken and salsa recipe, so if you liked that, try these!

Michelle found the tilapia recipe on Ordering Disorder, which is also where I found the bbq chicken recipe that was SO good. Click here to go right to the tilapia recipe, with pictures, or just read on for the same recipe, minus the pics.

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice*
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt*
  • 2 pounds tilapia fillets

    This is a quick recipe. Fish does not take long to cook at all, so if you are making a side dish you might want that to be almost done before you put your fish into the broiler.

    Step One:

    Turn your oven on to the BROIL setting. Make sure that you adjust the racks inside your oven. You want the fish to be a few inches away from the broiling burner.

    Step Two:

    Line the bottom of your broiling pan with tinfoil. Trust me, it is so much easier to clean up this way. You will thank me for this little extra step later. You are welcome in advance.

    Step Three:

    Arrange the fillets in a single layer on your broiling pan.

    Step Four:

    Mix together all of the other ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

    If you have anything you need to attend to, go do it now. You will not be leaving your fish again until it is served. Don’t worry this only takes a few minutes. Seriously, I hardly had anytime to take any photos.

    Step Five:

    Place fish in the oven. Broil for 2-3 minutes. I usually aim for 2 minutes because by the time I find my potholder and get it out of oven, an additional minute has passed.

    Step Six:

    Flip the fillets over and return them to the broiler for another 2-3 minutes.

    Step Seven:

    Remove from oven. Cover the fish with the Parmesan cheese mixture you have already prepared.

    Step Eight:

    Return the fish to the oven and broil for an additional 2 minutes, or until the coating has become slightly brown. You don’t want to overcook the fish. It should flake easily with your fork Tyson

  • I made 4 (frozen) fillets (that I thawed, of course), and the Parmesan cheese that comes in a can, not actual Parmesan cheese. Next time I think I would try it with real cheese. It was really good. I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't still coughing up a lung! Darin said he would eat it again and he isn't a huge fish fan. Tyson ate what we put on his plate with few complaints. He did say it was too spicy. Maybe he meant too tangy from the lemon because there isn't anything spicy about this recipe. Jori was her typical self and whined and moaned, but finally ate about 5 bites before we let her stop. I WILL be making this again.

    The pulled pork tacos recipe is one that Michelle put in our "Rooks Cooks" cookbook. (My college friends and I lived in Rooks VanDellen our freshman and sophomore years and I am so blessed that most of them still live in the area!)

    You will need:
    1 pork loin or tenderloin cubed in 1.5 inch pieces (you choose the size of the loin!)
    1 medium white or yellow onion
    1 TBSP cumin
    2 tsp coriander
    2 tsp oregano
    1 tsp garlic salt
    1 tsp hot sauce (or more if you like spicier things)
    2 TBSP soy sauce
    2-3 bottles of beer (wheat or dark beer is best, but you can use any)
    Flour tortillas
    Cilantro
    Shredded cheese
    Limes

    Brown pork over medium-high heat in large dutch over (The first time I made this, I didn't cut the tenderloin up and I didn't brown it, but it still turned out great). Once all sides are browned, add onion and continue sauteing until onions start to look translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add spices and liquids, cumin through beer, use enough beer to cover the meat. (I have already browned, sauteed and added everything BUT the beer and shoved the whole pan in the fridge. I thought I may as well get it started while my kids were occupied!)
    Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and cover to cook for 2-3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so-if beer seems to be getting low, add more.
    About 45 minutes before you want to eat, shred pork-you should be able to do this with a spatula because the pork SHOULD BE falling apart by now. Leave cover off and simmer until it is time to eat-the sauce will cook down.
    Serve on warm tortillas topped with cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime (Darin likes just cheese, I like how it tastes with all the "extras") and black beans if you like.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Spelling fun

    One of the things that Tyson's teacher told us to work on with him was practicing his letters. She said to make sure that it was FUN and not to make it stressful for him. Here is a picture of Tyson having fun:
    I was so proud of him! I asked him to write his name, and when he said it was "too hard" I told him to just do his best. He even had the "s" going the right way, which is something that has been a constant struggle for him.

    Of course, Jori had to get in on the play dough action too. Here she is with her "basagna":Yum Yum!

    Breakfast with Belle

    The local Christian High School is putting on the musical "Beauty and the Beast" this weekend. In preparation for that, they had a "Breakfast with Belle" this past Saturday. Originally, Jori and I were supposed to go with Rachel and Jenna, but after Auntie Rachel came down with the dreaded Swine Flu, Uncle Jon came along instead. What a guy!

    It was a really fun morning. The cast sang the song "Be our Guest" and then they came around to the tables and brought us our breakfast. They also gave all the kids in attendance a little autograph book. Jori really had no clue what that was all about, but just let people sign her little book. I was glad Jenna was there to take Jori around to meet Belle and the Beast.



    Here are some pics of the girls having a wonderful morning!

    Matching Princess shirts

    They were so excited to meet Belle!
    Meeting the Beast

    Lumiere-the candlestick

    Mrs. Potts

    My little Princess posing

    It was fun spending time doing something special with Jori. Tyson and Darin have lots of "guy things" that they get to do together, like filling the vending machines, watching the Vikings, and going to the off-road derby in the summer, so it was about time for Jori and me to have our turn!

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    BBQ chicken and sweet potato fries

    So tonight I tried a couple new recipes. I had quite a bit of leftover chicken from our dinner last night that I wanted to use up, so I looked around for a recipe that it would work in. What I ended up making was a BBQ chicken sandwich. I got the recipe off of blog called Ordering Disorder (well, kind of a blog, just Google Ordering Disorder, Chris Johnson, and it will come up). This is what you need:

    2 cups of cooked chicken (I just used what we had left)
    1/2 cup bbq sauce (I misread this as 1/2 a bottle, and it was still delish)
    1/2 cup grated carrot (I very finely grated one medium sized carrot. I do not know if this serves an actual purpose or is just to sneak a veggie in, but it was good).
    Loaf of french bread or other "hard" bread (I had a 4 pack of rolls. Hamburger buns would be too soft-you want something that isn't going to get all soggy)
    Monterey Jack cheese (I am guessing you could use another kind of cheese, but I did not. I used shredded cheese, not slices)

    Heat the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan.
    Cut your bread in half and spoon some chicken on one side. Top with cheese. Broil both sides of the bread (with and without chicken and cheese) DO NOT OVER BROIL, Eat.

    We all thought these sandwiches were GREAT and I will definitely be making them again.

    I also tried out a new recipe from Torie, a friend from church. I think sweet potatoes are great, so I was excited to try this:
    Ingredients:

    Sweet Potato Fries:
    2 large sweet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into 4-inch long and
    1/4 to 1/2-inch thick fries
    2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    Avocado Dip:
    1 avocado, see Cook's Note*
    1/3 cup mayonnaise
    1/3 cup cream cheese
    1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped.
    2 scallions, white and light green part only, chopped
    1 lime, juiced
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Directions:

    Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum
    foil and set aside.

    Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil until
    the sweet potatoes are coated. Add the paprika, chili powder,
    coriander, salt, and pepper; toss to distribute evenly.

    Arrange the coated fries in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake
    for 20 minutes on the lower rack until the sweet potatoes soften.
    Transfer the pan to the upper rack of the oven and bake 10 minutes
    longer, until fries are crispy. Serve with Avocado Dip.

    Place the avocado, mayonnaise, cream cheese, jalapeno, scallions, and
    lime juice into a blender or small food processor. Blend for 1 minute
    or until you have a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper, to
    taste. Serve as a dip for the Sweet Potato Oven Fries.
    I really liked the sweet potatoes and the dip. I would love to have them again. However, my family was not as excited as I was. Tyson tried the dip and then wanted us to scrape it off his plate. He did not like the sweet potatoes either. Jori threw her fry back on the dish. I did make them both eat one, but they were not happy. Darin does not like sweet potatoes, but he said if they had been crunchier he might have been more into them, so maybe if I cut them smaller???

    So if you like sweet potatoes and avocado, you should try this out. The fries would be good by themselves too without any dip, but they would need some salt. I told Darin we WILL be having sweet potatoes again in some form, because I do think that kids (and adults) can learn to enjoy different foods.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Crockpot Chicken and Salsa

    Here is another super easy and tasty meal. BOTH kids ate two tortillas full! My friend from college, Michelle, gave me this recipe. She just told me about a tilapia recipe I might be trying soon. I will wait for her review though before I try it out on my fam.

    Open jar of salsa, spoon 1/4-1/2 cup in bottom of crock pot - add 4-6 frozen chicken breasts. Pour on rest of salsa. Set crockpot on low if cooking all day, or high if cooking in 3-4 hours. 30 minutes before you eat, shred chicken with fork and return to crock pot. Serve in tortillas, with chips or over rice and topped with cheese.

    Optional additions: 1 can of corn, 1 can of black beans. Sometimes I make rice and stir it into the crock pot after I shred the chicken.

    I bought salsa with corn and black beans in it and it was good. I think I used 5 breasts, the one full jar and another 1/4 jar that was just hanging out in the fridge. It was really THAT easy!

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Flip Flops in November!

    So, I thought it was only possible in South Africa, but today I wore FLIP FLOPS in Michigan in November! We have had two close to perfect days. I say close, because we have an overabundance of lady bugs around our house. We spent so much time outside today. The kids and I walked down the path, saw some people flying a huge kite (or as Jori kept calling it a big flag), played in the rocks down by the water and quacked at a family of ducks.

    After we came home from our walk, Darin came out to play. The kids were having fun making chalk creations. Here's what Tyson made:A big old 5 and a 2! Good job buddy. Jori needed a little help finishing her mega game of hopscotch and Daddy was happy to help out:
    Finally, for your viewing pleasure, the kids and daddy play hopscotch:


    video.

    Yes, that is me snorting as I laugh, but admit it, you probably snorted too as you watched!

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    Chicken, stuffing and swiss

    I asked for recipes and some of you have answered. I am hoping more people (assuming that there are more people that read my blog) will add a recipe to the comment section of the last post. I'll try them out and let you know what our family thinks.

    Tonight we had a fantastic meal thanks to Tami, my dear friend from California!! It was great. Tyson had 4 helpings, Darin wanted to know why we had never had it before (um, because since I've known you you've been anti stuffing), I thought it was super easy and super good. Jori was not a fan, but she doesn't like a lot of things that I make, so ignore her opinion!

    Here's the recipe!

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    8 slices of swiss cheese (the Kraft brand swiss cheese is NOT good/flavorful in this recipe though)
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 box of chicken stove top stuffing
    1/3 cup melted butter

    Lay chicken breasts in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover chicken entirely with the swiss cheese (usually takes about 2 of the slices to cover each chicken breast). Spread cream of chicken soup over the cheese (do NOT add milk to the soup). Sprinkle dry stuffing over the soup and then drizzle melted butter over the stuffing. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Then uncover and cook for about 10 more minutes to get the stuffing a little crispy. Enjoy!

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Help us out of our food rut!

    Even if you have never commented here before, I hope this time you will. I feel like I have been making the same 5 or 6 meals for our family for the past 4 months. Needless to say, we are all getting a little tired of eating the same things over and over. A couple months ago I asked people on Facebook for some simple and inexpensive meal ideas and ended up with a lot of suggestions for tuna casserole and omelets. Now, those aren't bad things to eat, but this time I want to know what your favorite meal is and I want the recipe!

    Don't be shy now. Please leave a comment and help our family get out of this rut we're in!

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Parent Teacher Conference

    Tonight we had Tyson's parent teacher conference. I had been looking forward to this since the sign ups came home a few weeks ago. Who doesn't want to know how their kids are doing in school? I am thankful to report that Tyson is doing GREAT in kindergarten. His teacher, Mrs. Weiss, said he is a joy to have in class. He is right on target for where he should be this year. Mrs. Weiss did say that it wouldn't hurt to work on writing letters with him, but only if it is done in a fun way. So if anyone has good suggestions for making writing fun, I'd love to hear them!

    Something that Darin and I both thought was funny was that Mrs. Weiss said Tyson is often one of the last ones finished with his work. The way she said it made it sound like he was being really careful and cautious, which was shocking to both of us. Then it came out that he likes to talk to the other kids at his table a bit too much. Now THAT made sense to us!

    Darin and I are so thankful for the teacher Tyson has this year. She just has such a kind heart and seems to genuinely enjoy having him in her class. We both prayed so much about where he would go to school and whose class he would be in, and we feel confident that God has His hand on Tyson. We can't wait to see what the rest of this year holds for him.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Double Coupons come to West Michigan!!

    Today I experienced the JOY that my mom, sister and other people living in states with Safeway and Albertson's get to enjoy on a weekly basis-DOUBLE COUPONS! Family Fare is doubling coupons for three days this week. Sunday (done), Monday (almost done) and Tuesday (get out there people). I had some good coupons and there were some good sales. This is what I came home with:

    2 Scott 12 packs, 4 Honey Nut Cheerios (bonus alert-I will be getting 2 free movie tickets with special codes in the boxes), 12 yoplaits, Jennie-o Turkey Bacon, Smithfield Bacon, 2 scrubbing bubbles toilet gels, 1 bounce dryer bar (love them!), 1 Juicy Juice Brain Development (it was on sale back by the meat), 2 different kinds of pepperoni and 2 non coupon items-bread and sponges. The grand total was $37.13, which was a savings of $22.59!

    I hope Family Fare does Double Coupons again sometime!

    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    Treasure Hunt

    Grandma Willie, I finally made a treasure hunt for your two favorite Michiganders. Here is photographic and video evidence!

    They started out at the van, then moved into our waterlogged backyard for clues 2,3 & 4. Then it was back up front for the rest of the action. Sadly, today's hunt was not without some tears and fighting. After all, Jori DID get to pick up the 2 clues on the big pieces of paper. How unfair! And Tyson did get to every clue slightly ahead of his gimpy-limpy little sis. Oh the injustice of it all!
    Tyson finding a clue under the van tire.

    Reading the clue
    Not IN the shed, BEHIND the shed (I will work on my drawings next time!)
    Sticking together
    Finding the clue under the picnic tableAlmost finished!



    Yes, my husband thinks my hair is getting gray. (listen to the video)
    video


    The end of a crying spell
    video
    The Grand Finale

    video

    Opening up the prize. Thanks Pop and Gram

    video