a slightly less elegant version…

i found these yummy-looking shortbread bites on my cousin’s pinterest board

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i thought it would be a fun Christmas baking project with the kids (which, i might add, is not normally something high on my ocd list of Fun Things to Do with Small Children).

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instead of kneading the sprinkles in, i gave them each their own plate with dough, sprinkled it with the Christmas sprinkles they chose, and let them roll it around. like play-doh. but tastier.

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and the oven fixed the ugliness. so, while ours aren’t as pretty as the ones in the picture, they could have looked alot worse if the oven hadn’t softened and melted them a little.

*note, i made the first batch according to the instructions and a second batch from namaste’s perfect flour blend  because we are wanting to cut out as much sugar and wheat from our diet as is possible for us right now (i know, fantastic time of year to be implementing that change, well played, parents!). they came out tasting good (or as good as something without wheat flour can taste, right?), but they seemed to melt a little more than the wheat flour ones. so if you are wanting them to look like the ones in the recipe picture, you might need to do a little messing around with the measurements to get it firmer…or, i guess, not let little hands roll them and melt the butter.  i also added a few drops of peppermint oil to that batch, which i would highly recommend!

soup’s on!

i am just going to get right to the barley and chicken vegetable soup i made yesterday so i can get through this first blog. it’s so hard to know where to start, jumping in seems easiest.

disclaimer 1 :: i apologize up front if you are a “but i really just need specifics” kind of cook. you might want to just stop now. none of the soups i make ever taste the same from one time to the next because 1, i don’t have a specific recipe for it or 2, i had/have a recipe, but have it memorized enough that i don’t want to waste the time getting it out and then spend the time actually measuring things out for it. yes, i come up with some not-quite-as-good batches sometimes, but my husband was a bachelor until the ripe age of 35. he’d eat “bbq sauce on pine bark” if a pretty girl (me) made it for him. and, it builds character in the kids to eat things they don’t like (right?)

disclaimer 2 :: the base for the soup was actually a mistake, i was trying to make a version of this marinara sauce but either i didn’t let it simmer long enough or just had the tomato/water ratio WAY off, but it never thickened (one of those “probably should have followed the recipe better” times, but eh?), so i went ahead and put it in jars and figured it would be a good soup base. that said, i have no idea how to make a soup base for this, so i am just taking things from other recipes and putting in what i think would work or looks good to me. personally, i like my failed sauce because i can not stand chunks of stewed tomatoes and i had put the sauce in the blender. yak, my jaw is getting warm thinking of stewed tomatoes.

6 c chicken broth (or other kind of broth would likely work)

2 large fresh tomatoes

bag of frozen mixed veggies (i used bird’s eye peas, carrots, corn and green bean mix because i don’t like lima beans when they are hard, but by the time they are cooked properly, the rest is a mushy mess)

1 c cooked chicken, diced or shredded

1 t celery salt

1/2 t turmeric

1/2 t cumin

1/4 t cayenne pepper (optional, of course, but i tend to put a little bit in almost everything)

fresh cracked pepper to taste

(this is really just a ratio of the spices, i have no idea how much i used. i normally just pour spices into their lids and then sprinkle them into whatever i’m making as it cooks and as the mood takes me)

1 – 1 1/2 c  cooked barley – i don’t really know how much i put in, but i cooked one cup according to the package (rinsed; boiled it for 45-50 minutes) and then it ended up being WAY too much, i guess i didn’t get the “cooked barley will expand to FOUR TIMES it’s size” part of the instructions. but i did catch the “barley can be cooked and frozen to be used later” part, so half of what i made is in my freezer.

ok, put it all in a pot and let it simmer. add more water/broth as needed. and then a little more spices to compensate.

and i served it with a slice of lemon to squeeze over it. yum.

barley soup

and, a little bonus – i just heard on dr. oz last night (don’t ask. jimmy puts it on every night when he has the remote) (and for those of you who know him, i’m serious) that you should eat food super high in fiber to keep parasites from attaching themselves to your colon. and one day i might have recovered enough to blog about why that is important to our family.

washing our (food) sins away

i love my husband. but since a certain unfortunate chain buffet restaurant has (sadly) come to our side of town, he has been wanting to visit. (i won’t name it, but it could also be called The Yellow Place Where Livestock Is Kept.) and while i would never say anything to him like when hell freezes over, because i love him, i’m pretty sure he understood that  there was  no way i would ever go there or consent to take our children.

this was before i was pregnant.

when you are pregnant; have a four-year old, almost three-year old, and one-year old; have nothing planned for dinner; are finishing up your stay-at-home-and-clean day with all three kids cooped up inside because of storms; and your husband comes home early and offers to take you to eat “somewhere else” (i.e., i won’t have to clean the kitchen, set and clear the table, sweep under the table, wash dishes, to say nothing of the the energy it would have taken just to figure out what to fix…) things change a bit. well, alot, actually.

so this yellow-place-where-livestock-is-kept has a chocolate fountain and cotton candy machine, blue being the color last night. so you can imagine what our children looked like at the end of the meal. (and in spite of excellent training otherwise, they absolutely loved all their food and for the first time for the past year, we didn’t have to remind mercy to eat.)  anyway, to make a long story short…they greatly needed to run off some of the sugar and needed a bath to wash off the sugar, so jimmy got out with them halfway down the drive and made them run to the house in the rain. which turned into an entire-family-even-the-baby-got-involved water fight. it was pretty fabulous.

today

this is how today started out

then from baking to laundry (feeling so productive!)

and things were going so well, kids playing nicely together, running around in the beautiful sunshine; bread was rising; dinner was already on the stove – told you i was feeling productive!  i thought i’d make them a tasty little al fresco lunch of not-the-norm-but-yummy treats and even threw in caprisuns. then called them to eat and i walked out to this

so, they did this

and went for naps without their tasty little lunches. don’t worry, they got them when they got up.

and then the day ended with these

not a bad ending. plus, we had hot bread with honey and butter for snacktime. and clean laundry…eventually

things i love because it’s winter

:: hot, fresh bread, dripping with butter and honey

:: crock pot meals cooking all day

:: impromptu hot chocolate breaks

:: my favorite blanket and book(s) (currently the pioneer woman cooks and brennan manning’s memoirs)

:: sweaters and socks and scarves

:: afternoon coffee while coloring with the kids

:: living in florida…because tomorrow, it’ll be spring

ok, so i really like all these things pretty much all the time, but winter gives me a pass on all the butter and sugar. kinda.

a little indulgence here, please

the name is adult, dark chocolate dreams, but the taste is all kid. and the strawberries do make me feel a little less guilty about giving them chocolate for lunch, thanks for asking. i think this will be the next one we try.

and a bit of indulgence was waiting for me, tied and double-bagged on our gate as i left for joann’s today, courtesy of our library delivery system. can’t wait to get into the lost art of real cooking: rediscovering the pleasures of traditional food one recipe at a time. and while possibly one of the longest titles for a cookbook ever, i am quite looking forward to it.

not the norm…and i’m not sure why

on the handful of saturdays a year that jimmy has to work or has a whole day of “man things” planned and i have the kids to myself all day, i decide that as it is a saturday, it has to look different from any usual day of the week. today was such a day, and here is what we did

~  had a lazy morning with pancakes and the baby shoveling in fistfuls amid happy gurgles

~ went to a friend’s and took pictures of their family for their christmas cards (yes, she is on the ball and sadly, i am not)

~ stopped by a yard sale at the montessori school housed in a bomb shelter-looking building at the end of pickett. more from curiosity at what it looks like close-up than any great need. but i did find a vintage star wars t for jameson and a hello kitty one for mercy – score

~ let the kids have tootsie pops (from the never-ending halloween supply) on the porch while i was making lunch, as opposed to making them wait until after

~ and that lunch i was busy preparing…well, didn’t know what to make to make it “different” as i was out of cheese for cheese and crackers, there were no hot dogs for pigs in blankets. so i settled on pop corn, carrots, and apples while i read to them from one of our new-to-us books from the yard sale. they were happy

~ since, they have all obliged me, patience included, by taking an extra-long nap on this beautiful, sunny, breezy day. so i also was given a nap, the time to finish reading under the tuscan sun: at home in italy (beautiful, with a weak ending – but how else do you end a book about a dream life when it isn’t over?) and now a chance to blog

~ finished out the evening with ravioli, broccoli, home-made garlic bread, nestle toll house minis and a shock top pumpkin wheat for me and our local jazz station (which i just realized we can actually get in the house!) while it was all cooking and baking