Tag Archives: family

Sugared Cranberries and a Request

Remember the good old days when I used to blog? That was fun.

The main reason I haven’t been blogging is because the time I used to spend writing is now the time I spend running. Or sleeping. I blog either at night after the kids are in bed, or early in the morning before they wake up. But since I’ve been running a lot more, I go to bed much earlier and wake up crazy early to run. I’m not saying that running has replaced blogging for good. I’m just trying to figure out how to do both.

But I completed my first half marathon in November! (Did you notice how I said “first,” implying there will be more? Heh.)

Me with my shiny new medal and my half marathon car magnet.

Me with my shiny new medal and my half marathon car magnet.

One of my favorite websites is anothermotherrunner.com. I’ve learned a lot from Sarah and Dimity and I especially love their article: What a Mother Runner Looks Like. They recently had a contest to come up with a six-word sentence that best describes your running. The author of their favorite sentence wins a treadmill. Well, it just so happens that I am one of the finalists!

So I am here to ask you a teensy, weensy favor to head on over to anothermotherrunner.com, scroll down to “Who Should Win the NordicTrack Treadmill” and (pretty please) cast your vote for me, Samantha. My sentence is: “I am stronger than I thought.”

It is not, although it could be: “I shamelessly ask for your vote.”

 And as a token of my appreciation, I will share with you one of my favorite Christmas recipes. I cannot claim it as my own, but I can tell you that everybody who tries this, loves it. We make these cranberries every year to give as teacher gifts, and they’re always a big hit.
from Cooking Light magazine, December 2003

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar*

Preparation

  1. Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.
  3. Note: The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.
 *I’ve never used superfine sugar. Instead, I measure regular granulated sugar into the blender and pulse a bunch of times until the sugar is more powdery (but not powdered sugar. ‘Cause I’m tricky that way).
Sugared Cranberries from Cooking Light

Sugared Cranberries from Cooking Light

Please, please vote for me to win the treadmill. Just imagine how awesome it would be if I didn’t have to wake up at 4:20 to go to the gym! I might even have more time for blogging!

Just keep in mind that voting ends on Thursday, December 20 at noon MST. I sincerely thank you!!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sun Pancakes

I don’t really like to trash talk on the internet. I try to to keep things fairly amicable around here. But today I’m going to trash talk. I’m going to trash talk someone that you all know and probably adore.

He’s the life of the party. Everyone loves him. He’s all bright and cheery, hanging around all cool-like, with his sunglasses and his giant smile. All he has to do is peek his little head out and people everywhere gravitate toward him. He’ll wrap you in a warm embrace or brighten your day with his cheery disposition.

Unless…

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Well, unless you’re this guy.

Or me.

I’m talking about the Sun. What I ever did to him, I’ll never know.  But he hates me.

The Heartbreak Kid

We just got back from a trip to the beach. The first day, I slathered myself in SPF 50, covered up head to toe, and sat on the beach for a mere 2 hours. I still managed to get a sunburn. Story of my life.

I get a sunburn if I even think about the sun too hard. In fact, I’m getting burnt right now.

Sure, everybody loves the sun. But what has it ever done for me?

Summer Rental

Oh, sure, energy and vitamin D and photosynthesis and all that. Whatever.

Whenever I talk about the weather with people, I always pretend I’m in the Sunshine Lover’s Club.

“Oh it’s supposed to rain tomorrow? Darn!”

“Yes, it is great that the sun is finally out!”

“Oh joy! You’re telling me that it’s going to be sunny for the rest of the week?!? Wowzers that makes me so GLAD!”

I sing Oh Mister Sun and You are My Sunshine to my kids, sometimes even with a ukulele. They know Here Comes the Sun and Let the Sunshine In. I can even muster up a hearty chuckle when those Jimmy Dean breakfast commercials come on tv.

But it’s all a lie. A big, fat, gray-skied, cloudy lie. Because warm weather and sunshine make me kind of grumpy. There, I said it.

2. Justin Bartha, The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover

But enough trash talk… how about some yummy Sun Pancakes?

This is the pancake recipe I use.

Sun pancake

The suns vary, depending on the ingredients I have on hand. I like to do strawberries for the rays, or canned mandarin oranges. But the faces are always different. Sometimes I use blueberries or raisins for the eyes, and dried cranberries for the mouth. Chocolate chips make a frequent appearance. This was a lucky day for the Critics because they got whipped cream!

The Critics love these. Usually Don Corleone is the pancake maker in our house. But occasionally the kids ask specifically for sun pancakes. And I’m happy to oblige, even though… you know. They represent my archenemy.

I try to enjoy the sun, I really do. But I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I am, at heart, a rainy day kind of girl. Clouds and rain in the forecast make me smile. That’s just the way it is.

And I’ll spend the rest of my life searching for SPF 5000 sunscreen.

Slow Cooker Creamy Herb Chicken

Hello, Blog! I remember you!

I haven’t gone this long without blogging before. But, you see, I have a very good reason. A Big Announcement. The thing is… and if you know my husband, you know what a big deal this is…

We Got Cable.

For reals. Cable tv. In my house. I’m still reeling. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and go downstairs to turn on the tv, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I don’t really do that. But I am super excited.

I know for a fact that we aren’t the last people on Earth to get on board the Cable Train. But I know we’re pretty darn close to the caboose.

Anyway, there’s no time for blogging when there’s SO MUCH tv to watch!

So I’d like to share with you some things that you may already know, but that I’m just learning about cable tv:

  1. Frasier is on 87,000 times a day.
  2. MTV is nothing like it was when I was a kid. VH1 Totally 80’s is way better.
  3. iCarly is pretty annoying, but Good Luck Charlie is kind of cute (actually I kind of like it) (actually I don’t kind of like it, I do like it).
  4. The History Channel is not nearly as much fun as I thought it would be. Is there any actual history on that channel?
  5. Turner Classic Movies is as much fun as I thought it would be.
  6. Cupcakes are really popular. Especially red velvet ones.
  7. The Wonder Pets are just as annoying on cable as they are on DVD. Seriously, Ming-Ming. It’s called speech therapy. Go get some.
  8. I still love The Waltons.
  9. I don’t have nearly enough kids yet to get a reality tv show. I mean, four is nothing, when you could instead raise a small army. I’m looking at you, Duggars.
  10. Man vs. Food is gross. Just gross.
  11. There is absolutely nothing real about any of the Real Housewives. Seriously, Bravo. Where’s the sweatpants that have been worn one too many times before washing? The spit-up stained t-shirts? The Cheerios that are forming their own colony under the couch cushions? The mountain of laundry on every available square inch of space? Real Housewives? Real, my foot.

So those are just a few of the things I’ve learned. But with my new channel line-up I’m sure I will continue to learn new things each and every day! I haven’t even touched on infomercials yet!

When you spend so much time watching t.v., it’s good to have some quick, easy dinners that you can just throw into the crockpot in the morning, before Gilmore Girls comes on, that will be finished cooking by the time The Brady Bunch airs. This one is super duper fast and easy.

Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Herb Chicken

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 container Philadelphia Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Creme
  • crushed red pepper for serving

Directions:

  1. Spray slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Seriously, do it! You’ll thank me later!
  2. Place chicken breasts into slow cooker. Cover with spinach.
  3. Add cooking creme, and stir it up a bit. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from slow cooker. Shred,* return to cooker, and give it a good stir. Serve over pasta with a nice sprinkling of red pepper.

Click here for printable version.

*If you prefer, you can cube the chicken before cooking it, or even leave and serve it whole. I like the shredded chicken over pasta, but that’s my preference.

Slow Cooker Creamy Herb Chicken

Creamy Herb Chicken over pasta

Wow, really bad pictures. See what happens when you don’t blog in over a month?

I thought this meal was delicious! I thought it was, “You better learn to like it, kids, because Mommy’s gonna be making this a LOT!” good. Let’s see what The Critics thought:

Don Corleone: I love it!

Sarah Crewe: It’s really good, Mommy!

Batman: I don’t really like it. Then later: Actually I think I do like it.

Curious George: I don’t really like it either. Later: I like it mixed with the pasta.

Elmo: I don’t like this dinner. Me: How do you know? Did you taste it? Elmo: No. But I looked at it, and it was spicy.

Oh well, it wasn’t a huge success. But it wasn’t a huge failure, either. I’m definitely making this one again!

Turkey Cookies

You should have seen my son’s face when I said I was going to make turkey cookies for his school’s Thanksgiving “feast.”

I had to assure him that the cookies were made to look like turkeys, not made out of turkeys.

Although, cookies made from turkey… hmmm…

Just kidding!

Turkey Cookies

Turkey Cookies (fromPillsbury.com)

  •  Your favorite sugar cookie recipe (I used this one)
  • candy corn
  • chocolate frosting
  • orange and black decorating frosting or gels

Directions:

  1. Prepare sugar cookies as directed. When cool, spread a little bit of frosting on each cookie in an arch at the top. Gently press candy corn on top of the frosting, as shown.
  2. Using the decorating gels, give your turkeys eyes, beaks, and feet.
  3. Let dry.

These cookies looked so cute when they were finished that my kids had a good 20-minute argument over why it is or isn’t unfair that only Curious George got to have one.

Ah, Thanksgiving…

In keeping with the turkey theme, I’d like to share a picture that my Sarah Crewe drew when she was five years old.

Turkey's Dinner

It’s a picture of a turkey at the stove, cooking dinner. And another turkey handing the chef a pair of um… well, human legs.

Don’t ask why or how a five-year-old thought of this. I don’t like to go there.

But I think it’s funny.

Gobble Gobble!

It’s All About Me

This is going to be a very self-indulgent post today. The first reason is because it’s My Birthday! Yippy-Skippy!

That’s right, I share my big day with Ralph Macchio, Markie Post, and Uncle Bob (of the Uncle Bob Special… I’ll explain in another post sometime).

The second reason is because my awesome new blogger friend Christy, over at The Daily Dish, has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award! I’m so honored  🙂 But with this award comes GREAT responsibility.

For one thing, I have to tell you seven facts about myself. I find this very difficult, actually, but here goes…

1. I play the oboe. I majored in music in college, and I was a music teacher before I had kids. But now I play the oboe in a small community orchestra that I just love.

2. I love Bugs Bunny. Those old cartoons (not the new Looney Toons that are on tv now) are genius. And I love how much my kids love them, too.

3. Remember Janice from The Muppet Show? When I was a kid I was afraid of her. I had a Janice doll, and I used to have bad dreams about her. One night I woke up from a bad dream and I took the doll and threw it out the window. The next morning, I was afraid I would get in trouble, so I quickly ran outside to get her.

Interesting sidebar, that’s the first time I discovered dew.

4. Speaking of bad dreams, I have two recurring nightmares. One is that I’m required, as an adult, to take a gym class. If you know me at all, you can see why this would be a nightmare. I never liked phys. ed.

The second dream is that I walk outside of my house, look up in the sky, and see an airplane falling out of the sky, not that far away. I really, really don’t like that dream.

5. I hate pancakes. I realize I might be the only person in the world that hates pancakes, but it’s true. I enjoy making them for my family, I just don’t like eating them.

6. I love the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It is the story of how she, her father, and her sister were imprisoned for hiding Jews in a secret room in their house in the Netherlands during World War II. It is an amazing story of faith and courage, and I read it about once a year, or whenever I start to feel “boo-hoo, my life is so hard” and I need a good kick in the pants.

THE HIDING PLACE

7. I love Velveeta cheese on saltines. Yeah, yeah, I know. Shut up.

Kraft Velveeta Cheese, 32 oz

So there you have it. Exciting, right?

(It’s my birthday, so you have to say yes)

But enough about me, how are you doing?

Just kidding, it’s not enough about me yet. It’s still my birthday.

But, the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award state that I must now pass on the award to five other deserving blogs. So here goes.

The Candid Parent So refreshingly honest and funny and well, candid. She has a daughter about the same age as my Elmo, so I can relate to her stories & I love her tweets.

Tales of Cheerios and Sleepless Nights This post on food cravings is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read in my life.

Show My Face Another person I follow on twitter who just cracks me up every day!

C. Beth Blog Read her blog because she’s honest and sweet and she encourages me in my running training.

Coffee and Chocolate, What More Do You Need? We’ve had conversations on twitter about why The Man With The Yellow Hat trusts a monkey and about who was truly the right man for Lorelei Gilmore. And that is why you should read her blog. Although, really, the title should have been enough to get you there.

So there you have it. Thank you so much, Christy, for the award!

Happy Birthday, Ralph, Markie, and Uncle Bob!

Jack-O-Lantern Smoothies

Am I the only one who enjoys watching holiday TV specials on the night they’re aired, instead of on DVD whenever you want? There’s something about watching a Charlie Brown special on TV and knowing that everybody you know is watching it at the exact same time as you.  Which, due to DVD players, TIVO, DVRs, Netflix, online viewing, etc, etc, etc… probably isn’t even true. I don’t care, I still like to watch them on the night they’re on. Which means I’ll have to leave the PTO meeting a wee bit early this week, so I can watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my kids (and every other person I know who will also be watching it at the exact same time as me).

Just kidding, PTO, I actually have something really important that I have to do that night at 8:00 EST, that’s why I have to leave early.

Drawing by Curious George, age 5

Jack-O-Lantern Smoothies

makes 4 small child-size smoothies

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • small, clear plastic cups

Directions:

  1. Using a small utensil or toothpick, create a Jack-O-Lantern face on the inside of each cup with the melted chocolate.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a blender together and blend until smooth. Pour into prepared cups.

Jack-o-Lantern smoothies

We had some guest critics over the morning I made these. Everyone loved them, kids and adults alike. They were especially impressed that the faces were made with chocolate, and not drawn on the cups with marker, as they originally thought.

I got the idea for these from someone else’s blog about healthy Halloween treats. I like to give credit where credit is due, but for the life of me, I can’t remember which blog it was, and googling it has not helped. So if it was your blog, or you know whose it was, please let me know!

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Face Pancakes

To My Neighbor Mrs. Kravitz:*

I’m so sorry I picked your children up late for school today. But you see,  I had a very good reason. I mean, other than my usual “running late” excuse.

It all started when I decided to make pancakes for breakfast. Because, you know, of all the free time we usually have on school mornings. But I didn’t want to make just any pancakes. No sir. They had to be pumpkin pancakes. I used this recipe.

After I ladled out the first batch onto the griddle, I had the brilliant idea of making faces on the pancakes by pressing chocolate chips onto the top of each pancake while the underside was cooking. Then I flipped each pancake and realized I should have made stems.

So I took a small, 1/2 cup portion of remaining pancake batter and put it in a small bowl and added a few drops of green food coloring.

Okay, so now the first batch was no longer any good. I threw it to the dogs gave it to the kids to munch on while they eagerly awaited the second, more impressive batch.

Second batch: I ladled out four circles onto the griddle. Then I spooned a little bit of green batter at the top of each circle, making sure the green bit touched the big orange circle.  I signed homework, packed lunches, and unloaded the dishwasher with one hand while I pressed chocolate chip faces into the pumpkins with the other. All the while yelling things like, “Go get dressed! Find your shoes! Brush your hair!”

I flipped the pancakes, finished cooking them. Oh, they looked so cute. ‘Maybe I should put this on my blog,’ I thought, as I ran to get my camera, find the best light, take some pictures, realize I don’t like the plate, find a different plate, take some more pictures, yell some more at the kids, then finally feed them.

Oh, it’s time to go? “HURRRRRRY UUUUUP!!!! WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!!!!”

And then we came to your house. And we didn’t miss the bus. And that’s good. And I learned a very important lesson.

Never make pumpkin pancakes without stems. I mean, really.

Sincerely,

Your Most Awesomest Neighbor*

*Not our real names

Pumpkin Face Pancakes

Ewww, get out of here, scary black Halloween cat.