Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roast Chicken

I can finally do it, all because of this recipe. I can successfully roast a chicken. Make it with or without the sauce and I even altered the recipe and stuffed the bird with all citrus and rosemary. I am so happy because it comes out moist and yummy for dinner and leftovers. Stock up on whole chickens when they are on sale for $.99-$69 a pound. Save the carcass and make stock a day or 2 after to store in the freezer ( I store mine in 2 cup quantities) or use right away in a soup recipe. What makes this recipe work is the cooking temperature and time along with the tying up of the legs. Go on give it a try, even if you have never roasted a bird successfully before, I bet you can do it now.

Engagement Roast Chicken
Ina Garten

* 1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 lemons
* 1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
* Good olive oil
* 2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.

Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

From My Reader--Mommy craft

Such a cute wreath made out of paper towels and household embellishments. I shall add it to my handicrafts list.

More detailed directions on how to make this cutie. Just note that food coloring is also a good way to dye the paper towels.

Learning with Easter eggs

Here are some great educational activities using leftover Easter eggs. I think these are great activities to do year-round with a fun way of serving them up, little ones can't resist the brightly colored eggs, so what a wonderful way to make learning hands on and fun.

From My Reader-

A fun idea for making simple mosaics with the children, they could make it a collaborative effort or individual.

What do you do with extra soda bottles? Make soda bottle flowers of course.

My children love bubbles, so I can't wait to try this simple recipe from things around the house.

A paper plate spring bird.

.CoolPix2 008

Have a sun filled weekend!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tot School--it has been awhile

We have been consistently doing Tot School activities about 2 or 3 times a week, despite my lack of posting. We have actually started doing a lot more pre-school activities that are letter and number focused. I would love to share those things to, but we are currently out of a camera so I will have to wait for now but here is a look at some of what K was busy with this winter term.

Stringing lids on string, skewers or pipe cleaners--great fine motor practice. Just collect different sized, types and colors of lids, poke or drill a hole in the middle and put them in a basket and watch the concentration begin.

Another use for baby links. More fine motor practice and concentration for both linking them up and pulling them apart. We keep ours in a little purse to make it more interesting and enticing.

Clothespins--this one is tough. K could do it but it caused mild frustration, we need to do this more often. I found clothespins at the $ store and cut a circle shape out of craft foam.

Cuisenaire Rods--I put out tongs for transferring from one container to another but K used the tongs to put "blueberries" on her "waffle."

Pouring--K had her own personal tea party and practiced pouring from both her teapot and creamer.

Connect Four--great fine motor skills and practicing turn taking, we could also use this for making patterns.

Cutting--cutting is always an enjoyable activity for K. the other day she made her own cutting activity by drawing multi-colored lines on a paper and then cutting them. We usually use scrapbooking scraps in interesting patterns or seasonal colors. A lot of times we save the cut pieces for K to later make a collage .

Old fashioned block building-- building as high as she could reach.

Pete's a Pizza has been a favorite story of K's. Here she is playing with the Melissa and Doug pizza set she got for her birthday.

More stringing with cheerios. I told K she had to string them first and them she could eat them, she obeyed. In the picture she is using a pipe cleaner to string them on and she also enjoys our cheerio activity book. It is a fun book with circle to place the cereal in for glasses, wheels ect.

I hope you have enjoyed a peek at what one of our Littles does during lesson time.

Lasanga Soup

I found a new money saving grocery blog called $5 dinners and gave one of the recipes a try. The family loved it: Ayden said "this is the best soup I have ever had" and Jay ate 3 helpings, yes, you read that right, 3 helpings. This soup was quick and easy on a night when I did not want to cook.

I used ground turkey and macaroni noodles with a little parmesan and the next time I make it I will add finely chopped carrots to get the veg. in the pot.

 Lasagna Soup   $5 Dinner Challenge

Lasagna Soup

1 onion finely diced $.80
1 teaspoon olive oil $.05
2 cloves garlic finely minced $.06
choice of meat (ground beef, Italian sausage, meatballs…) $2.00
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups jarred spaghetti sauce $.37
4 cups chicken (or vegetable or beef) stock $1.00
2 bay leaves $.03
8 oz pasta (Rotini, Fusilli, Campanelle,Corkscrew) $.50
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
shredded Mozzarella cheese $.50

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil to medium heat and saute onion until golden. Add garlic and warm through about 1 minute before adding your choice of meat. Brown the meat, remove any extra fat. Add oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, spaghetti sauce, chicken stock and bay leaves. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add pasta and increase heat to bring to a boil and cook for recommended time on pasta box for “al dente”. Discard bay leaves and adjust seasonings by adding salt & pepper. Stir in fresh parsley and serve with a sprinkling of shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Easter Traditions

Easter is long over but I thought I would share some of our traditions, both old and new. When I was growing up we always had Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast and brunch after church and without even realizing it,I have established those same Easter traditions for our children. I had been reading in blogland how many families have food traditions for every holiday and thought that was both interesting and yet so simple. So as I prepared for brunch the night before I became aware that getting home from church, cooking Cinnamon Rolls and the egg dish I wanted was not going to be accomplished in a timely fashion. I racked my brain and searched our fridge for what I could prepare to make our brunch special. I found carrots, so of course why not make soup. Carrot soup is a perfect Easter Tradition for us in the mountains because you never know if it will be mildly warm or bitterly cold, so why not. It was perfect. I put the carrots in the oven to roast on delay start before church and when we arrived home, they were ready to be made into soup while the rolls cooked. It was a lovely meal based on old traditions with a little new thrown in--thank you Lord for the inspiration.

Jay's rolls have long been a tradition in his family as well. The recipe has been handed down from his Great Grandma and we look forward to them on every holiday.

Our Menu: Carrot Soup, Cinnamon rolls, strawberries, deli plate w/ meats, cheeses & pickles ( E & A have been on a pickle kick) hand-dyed Easter eggs and a spinach salad w/ gorgonzola, roasted almonds and cranberries in a garlic vinegarette.

The Easter Eggs were also a new tradition for us. We had dyed the hard-boiled eggs on Friday with blueberries, cranberries, turmeric and spinach. No better way to get your eggs for brunch without having to tie up the oven. I also decided that this spinach salad will be an every holiday tradition, the flavor combination is an absolute favorite of mine, so why not?

After brunch it was nap-time and games. We joined another family for dinner and an egg hunt in the evening all while being cozy and warm with the snow falling outside. It was a lovely celebration even thought it felt like we should be saying Merry Christmas not Happy Resurrection Day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Our Trip To Southern California

We have made it through another winter and excitedly long for the warmer, sunnier days of spring. We are looking forward to seeing the trees bloom, the happy tulips, the smiling daffodils and the fuzzy goslings at our pond but while we wait, here is a look at our trip to Southern California.

Jay has been working on a few engineering jobs in Newport Beach so we tagged along. We got a chance to visit with my brother and parents, my wonderful friend Vanessa and her family and Jay's dad and Sharon. When Grandma heard we were going to be in Southern California she said "go to Disneyland" so go we did (thank-you). And would you believe it, at Disneyland both our digital camera and video camera broke--amazing. So we have very few pictures of the trip and what we have was taken with Jay's camera phone, so they are not the best quality, never the less enjoy our travels.

K loves Minnie Mouse and happily wears her ears. The sad part of this story is that on our trip she lost her one and only Minnie Mouse in one of the Hotels.

K with Minnie.

The infamous tea cups--A, E & K

K trying to spin the tea cup.

The Wonderful World of Disney!

I love getting a picture with all of my jewels.

Sisters expectantly waiting for their exciting day at Disney.

My Fellas--they are a handsome bunch.

We also went to the Palm Springs Air Museum and had a wonderful visit. If you get a chance to go, it is well worth the time. I think the bi-planes and B-52s are my favorites. The museum also had replicas/models of old warships and fighter planes from around the world. Again, these pictures are from Jay's phone so the quality is poor but I still wanted to share our smiling faces.

My jewels and me in front of a favorite Bi-plane.

Ayden and Emry


Succulent Braised Pork

Yummy, goodness. The house smelled so wonderful when this was cooking and we were not disappointed. The pork just fell apart and the carrots were perfectly cooked. I love this recipe because, although initially time consuming, it uses such normal ingredients that we typically have on hand. I am thinking about trying this sometime with a chuck roast, as I have never successfully cooked a pot roast and think it would be a great meal as well. Try it and let me know what you think.

Succulent Braised Pork

Melissa  d'Arabian

Recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian

Show: Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian Episode: Beyond Pork and Beans


  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Friday, April 9, 2010

From My Reader

Here's what interested me this week--a few nature, craft and educational ideas. Happy reading.

Nature observations through collecting and drawing. I can think of a few children who will enjoy this all summer.


Phonics eggs--fun matching for word families and sight words.

Nature Words--I always forget to do this very simple activity when we go outside--so much fun and creativity.

Make a Spring Stick. I can't wait to see the children running around with these creations, they love sticks.


A very cute mantel garland and so easy. I made a Christmas tree garland like this once but never thought of decorating a mantel with it. A rag garland could also decorate a shelf or cabinet top.

Dot Painters meet Ed Emberly--I love this idea. I have an Ed Emberly book that I always forget to use and we always enjoy a good dot painting session--perfect, combine them both for a fun creative project.

Fun high frequency word cards with the beautiful and captivating illustrations of Jan Brett.

A wonderful post about the perils of being speedy and hasty in our use of time and choices, wonderful food for thought.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ayden's 6th Birthday

I am a bit late getting these pictures up but it is always fun to go back and reminisce, even if the pictures are only a few months old. His Birthday was February 23rd.

Dad's crepes to start off A's Day.

He likes to eat them with either syrup or Agave nectar.

It was a Transformer birthday, he received several to add to his collection.

We went to Jump Man Jump for a little family fun.

Emry Anne

My lovely gang.

Birthday boy on his way up the big slide.

B had so much fun crawling, sliding and jumping in all of the inflatables.

B climbing a ladder to a slide.

K on her way up to the top of the big slide.

I surprised "A" with a racetrack cake. I found the idea at FamilyFun. "A" had also requested that his cake be mint flavored, yes mint, I know strange but it was actually very tasty with cream cheese frosting.

Hard to believe that the Boo-Ba is 6 and missing teeth. He has had several milestones this year, such as--learning to ride a bike, completely on his own, no help at all--amazing and recently asked me to teach him to read. He can actually read 3 letter words well and has started on 4-5 letter words with help, it is time to pull out the beginning readers and hop to it.