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It’s a Zoo in here!

At 3 AM I woke up to a hysterical 4 month old and 2-year-old.  I went to bed at 12:30 AM (I know, I know – sleep when the baby sleeps!) and was totally NOT amused.  Knowing that my hubby had only gotten an hour of sleep (he has a crucial deadline at work) and that he had to get up at 5:30 AM – I grabbed up both kids and started the routine.  Diaper changes, a drink for the 2-year-old, nursing the baby…Nick Jr. on the television and internet for me.  At 4 AM the 3 of us went back to bed.  At 5:30 AM my alarm went off and I got hubby up and made coffee and a nice omelet for him to start his day off right.  Now, this is the point where I’m supposed to say I went back to bed after seeing him off at 6:30 AM but it isn’t so.  I nursed the baby again at 7 AM and spent some fun time with him and then put him down for a nap.  Then I became a zookeeper of another kind.

My passion is for cooking.  Not baking!  I hate to bake – I hate to make cookies (love to eat them) – hate to bake cakes….but I digress.  Recently I came across this wonderful blog:  http://richfoodleantimes.wordpress.com/ – I truly love to read Sofya’s blog and have made some of her recipes as well as plan to make some more of her recipes.  Her blog led me to another blog and I fell in love with this blog too…especially the photography and especially that of Farida’s Zebra Cake!!!  Thus began my zoo keeping day, uh, part 2 in the zoo.

My “new” hand mixer is junk.  The metal beaters flake silvery bits of toxic waste and I complained to the company and they sent me new beaters and they also flake silvery bits of toxic waste and I complained again and they answered me with…Cut the cord off the appliance where it enters.  Next cut the plug off of the cord.  Next mail the plug portion to us and throw away the mixer, cord and beaters.  Also send us more money and we’ll replace the product for you in 10 – 12 weeks.  All I can say is – I don’t want another product with your name on it – I would however like to have my money back so I can put it towards a Kitchen Aid hand mixer – but I don’t forsee that happening.  Oh, I’m off on a rant – sorry.  I grabbed my handy Pampered Chef whisk and took to making the Zebra cake by Farida, found here:  http://www.azcookbook.com/zebra-cake/

Now I’m not going to show you pictures step by step because Farida’s pictures are far better.  I am in the process of charging the camera battery to take pictures of my finished project.  The house smells YUMMY!!  Braven is awake and wanted to eat the cake as soon as it came out of the oven.  He checks on it every few minutes and announces that it is now cool and waiting to be eaten.  It’s not.  Can I just say that I really enjoyed making this cake?  I even mixed it all up by hand – and that’s totally not my thing.  Basically you make a cake batter from scratch…separate it in equal portions and mix dark cocoa powder (not the stuff from Pennsylvania – I highly recommend Penzey’s Spice High Fat Natural Cocoa powder – and NOT dutch process as it’s too bitter) into one portion and leave the other vanilla.  You alternate batters in the pan, 3 tablespoons vanilla and then 3 tablespoons of cocoa batter in the center.  You work quickly and as you add batter it spreads out and you have a ring of vanilla, cocoa, vanilla, cocoa etc.  Then you bake it and when you cut it there are stripes – reminding you of a zebra.

I don’t think Braven (or I, for that matter) can/will wait for the camera battery to charge so I can photograph the finished product.  And it’s not that pretty as it has a big crack in it (supposedly from over mixing – which I can’t believe I did when mixing by hand?) but it did come out of the pan really nicely.  I really would like to photograph Braven eating the cake.  I guess he can have more than one piece.  The money shot is going to be whether or not the stripes are there when I do cut in to it – and I just know they are!  Despite the big crack in the cake it resembles Farida’s photos.

Devour!

Well, update…Braven decided to devour the cake while I was blogging.  I have photographed and will post the pics up now.

Plans will change…and they do

So – I put effort in to making dinner last night – and it smelled awesome!  Then we ended up going out to eat instead.  Regardless – I’ve found a lot of leftover roast beef ideas that sound delicious.  We’re going to make a BBQ Roast Beef Pizza with some of the meat, and BBQ Beef Sandwiches and Roast Beef Salad (like chicken salad) and possibly Roast Beef Burritos.  Yum!  I think all of these sound better than eating a pot roast meal.

Nothing profound to discuss today.  My niece is coming to visit and we’ll be hanging out for a couple of days.  I’m going to post the recipe for the BBQ Beef Pizza – but it’s a no brainer – just more like suggestions.

  • Pizza crust – make your own, use a Boboli, get dough from the store – just get what you need
  • BBQ Sauce – choose your favorite brand, make your own, whatever floats your boat
  • Roast beef – leftovers – chopped, or cut into small chunks
  • Toppings – onion, green pepper, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, tomatoes, jalapenos, banana peppers – again – float your own boat
  • Cheese – Cheddar, Co-Jack, Mozzarella, Smoked Gouda, Smoked any kind of cheese – it’s your boat, float it

Bake in a 350 degree oven until crust is baked and toppings are hot – cheese is melted….

Mmmm!  I want some…right now!

Time flies…

I can’t believe that the whole month of February and half of March has passed us by.  We had a couple of trips to Pittsburgh due to Frank’s grandfather’s failing health and funeral.  The world lost a wonderful man, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, friend and hero.

The sun has started to shine again in Ohio.  The snow has melted (yay!) and signs of spring are popping up in the form of tulips and daffodils, but the tiny crocus plant will bloom first at my house.  I love spring, I love spring flowers. 

Gabriel is getting big.  He’s doing really well and I love him more and more every day.  Braven is so tall and handsome and so smart.  Both of my sons are truly the very best of me and my husband.

Spring cleaning is on my mind today…as well as wanting to bake bread.  I have a roast in the crockpot and cabbage waiting to debut on this St. Patrick’s Day 2010.   Tomorrow, my niece is coming to visit for a few days – she is finishing up finals for her Winter Quarter.  Thinking a trip to the zoo may be in our immediate future.

Last weekend we picked up a used Step 2 Country Kitchen for the boys.  Braven loves it!  He made at least 75 pots of coffee and would announce, “Fresh coffee, Mama!!” – “Fresh, hot coffee, Daddy”.  I’m a total coffee addict so I’ll take it real or imaginary :) And it was good coffee.

I think I’m a reasonably good cook – I try to be a good cook.  I’m not prone to burning food and I have been studying recipes and various genres of food since I was 7 1/2 years old and joined 4-H.  My “foodie” mentality is to the point where I made cheeseburgers for dinner the other night and felt as if I let down my family because it wasn’t a “spectacular” meal.  It was good…cheeseburgers served with oven roasted vegetables (broccoli, onion, Brussels sprouts, whole cloves of garlic and carrots) and that was it – the meal.  Last week I made Quiche twice.  First was a Mexican Quiche and next was an Italian Chicken Roasted Red Pepper Quiche.  If people only knew how simple it is to make a Quiche, especially if someone else makes the crust!  :) 

I totally planned to start working out – got a good day in with the Wii and was looking forward to making it a habit.  Then I caught a cold that has been hanging on and on…and then….I tripped over a toy fire truck and broke my toe. 

Well – here is today’s menu.  Maybe I should start taking pictures.  I took 4 lbs of beef roast and coated it with a spice mixture consisting of  1 – 1 oz packet of Hidden Valley Ranch powdered dressing mix, 1 small packet of Italian seasoning and 1 packet of Lipton Beefy Onion.  I then put it in the crockpot with an onion sliced in rings and a cup of water (in hindsight I wish I had used a cup of red wine).  I’m hoping to make a couple of Sun Dried Tomato Foccacia bread loaves – but you and I both know what they say about good intentions.  For a side dish I’m making oven roasted potatoes, cabbage, onion & garlic dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  I’m also thinking about making a Green Chilie Corn Pudding – but again – the good intentions rule applies.

Another day :)

Woke up this morning to Braven paging Momma/Daddy…he runs the two words together – we are one flesh after all :)  MommaDaddy HELP! When I went in he had sneezed and had a handful of snot hanging.  A good morning to you too! :)  Then he had a surprise waiting for me in his diaper.  I can look at it two ways – YAY! we got it taken care of early in the day OR OY! let me go back to bed and start over.  Being a “grown up” and all, I realize there really aren’t “Do-Over’s” in real life.  I might add that Baby Gabe (I probably should drop the “baby” part off soon or the kid will be 12 and be made fun of by his peers) got me up at 6 AM for a feeding and I had just gotten back to bed and fell asleep when Braven started paging me.  Are you bored with all this melodrama? Me too!  On to something else.

Today I have to prepare to pack for a trip to Pittsburgh. Taking two kids is going to be fun.  Need to make a list and check it twice – nothing like being in a hotel at 2 AM and realizing that you need something right now!  We are going to visit Frank’s grandparents.  There are some health related issues going on and we want to make sure they meet Baby Gabe (it sounds right to say baby in this sentence) and get some photos.  I don’t want to pack, I don’t want to travel with a sick 2 1/2 year old…what I really DO want to do is play with my new toy.  Intrigued by what my new toy might be?  Read on.

Last night we picked up a Mercato Atlas Pasta Maker.  I got a good deal – brand new – Craigslist.  So, I would love to have the time to make a batch of fresh pasta.  I’d like to have the time to take a hot shower, wash my hair, shave my legs and get dressed in clean clothes for once too!  Maybe I can do it ALL after my Starbucks (brewed at home because they don’t have Starbucks Home Delivery…YET!) kicks in – it’s full strength Espresso coffee.  Imagine if I could do all the laundry, clean the house, TAKE A SHOWER, nurse the baby, entertain the toddler, pack for Pittsburgh and make fresh pasta for dinner (and a salad and dessert) before hubby gets home.  The only time in my life I’ve been able to accomplish all of that was when I was pregnant this last time.  I felt like Wonder Woman!!  Now I feel like a bad version of Roseanne.

So, let me share a recipe with you for the salad dressing I would make IF I were able to be Wonder Woman today – there’s always next week.

Rockin’ Ranch Dressing

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise OR 1 cup GREEK YOGURT (healthier & high in protein)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder – just a pinch – to taste – IF you are bold but you can omit if you’d like to.

In a small food processor pulse the garlic cloves.  Add green onions and pulse.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add buttermilk and mayo (or Greek yogurt) salt & pepper.  Process until all ingredients are throughly mixed.

You can use right away but it is better if you refrigerate and allow the flavors to marry.

I usually serve this with lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, crumbled bacon, co-jack cheese and hard boiled egg salad…don’t forget the croutons!  This recipe is inspired by Claire Robinson of Food Network – 5 Ingredient Fix.

This is it…

Life has many chapters and words and volumes…issues :)  My life is not cut and dry – it’s lived in.  It’s so cliché to say that it’s like an onion, many layers to it…but it’s true.  So, I love my little family – Frank, my husband of almost 10 years and our two sons, Braven and Gabriel.  The boys are the best surprises of my life as I was told for 22 years that I wouldn’t bear a child and now I have two children.  I was 39 years and 10 months old when I had Braven.  We found out I was pregnant on Thanksgiving Day the prior year.  I was 42 years and 2 months old when I had Gabriel.  Braven is now 30 months old and Gabriel is 10 weeks old.  We are truly blessed by the beauty of our children and the happiness and joy they’ve brought to our lives.  I love to cook – not bake…just cook.  I have a knack for looking at several different recipes for the same meal and mix it all up and add my own flair based on what sounds like it would go good with the other ingredients and then make it.  If it’s bad it’s ok because I can’t duplicate it and if it’s good I still can’t duplicate it so what’s the point?  Sometimes I can remember and sometimes I can’t.  But it’s all good because I’ll probably make up some new concoction tomorrow that will make you forget the one yesterday.  :)

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