Thursday, June 21, 2012

And then she graduated...

What a whirlwind of a month it has been!!!!  Thank you so much to all the family and friends that have shown so much love and support to Dee.  She graduated from both Seminary and High School this past month.  I really just can't believe it because I don't feel that old.  Her life is now changing very quickly and very drastically and it makes me super emotional to think about it, but she is SO ready and so excited.  Here are a few pictures from the past month that commemorate this special time of her life.  Special thanks to my good friends Annie and Jane who took her out to get some pictures on their amazing cameras and my mum for getting the good pic at her actual graduation.




 



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Miss Dee Turned 18...

Dee turned 18... My little baby.  I can hardly believe it!  In our church when you turn 18 you graduate from being in the Young Women's program, which is for 12-18 year olds, to being in the Relief Society program, which is for the "older" young women, (18 and above), like me. ;)  They asked me to do a spotlight on her the week she came in.  I was a little emotional, but I pulled it together to deliver this fun little poem I wrote about her.  Just thought I would share...

DeAnna Michelle,
born March 22nd
was supposed to arrive
on the 8th doctors reckon...
But though to come out
we did try to convince,
she was two weeks late
and she’s been late ever since.
Now way too fast
18 years have gone past
and Young Women’s is done,
to Relief Society she’s come!
So this is a poem
I’ve written for you,
to learn about Dee
so you’ll know her too.
This gal is pretty
easy to please.
Her favorite food?
Macaroni and cheese.
And if she wants
a chocolate treat,
an almond joy
would be hard to beat.
Cake’s a bit harder,
she’ll put up a fuss,
German chocolate with
coconut frostings a must.
Slurpees and sparkling
water to drink.
If you say “pick a color”
she’ll always choose pink!
If shopping happens
to be in her plans,
you can bet your life
you will find her at Fanzz...
If it’s NFL season
she’ll be down with the boyz,
buying t-shirts and jerseys
and Miles Austin toys.
On game day you’ll find her
in red from the U,
'cause this gal refuses
to EVER bleed blue!
And during the NBA
season she has
her blue green and white stuff
supporting the Jazz.
Pirates of the Caribbean
is her favorite movie.
She has two life size cutouts
of Orlando that are groovy.
She writes poems and lyrics,
she’s a musical leader,
though I’m a little ashamed
that she likes Justin Beiber.
Disney princess’s rock,
her favorite is Belle,
but she collects rubber ducks
and stuffed animals as well
She cooks up a storm,
her recipes quite zealous.
Her dad calls her sous chef
but that’s ‘cause he’s jealous
Well now you know almost
the same amount as me,
about the young lady
That most call “Miss Dee”
So open your arms,
give her hugs that are hearty,
and show her, though we’re older,
we still know how to party!

I love you my Dee.  I am so excited for you that you have entered this new stage of your life.  Enjoy every minute of it :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Slow Cooked Boneless BBQ Ribs...



There's not much that I like better than ribs.  I just don't care how messy I get eating them, they are absolutely scrumptious! I have always wanted to have a go at making them, but never thought they would turn out as good as hoped.  Well this week I got some boneless ribs on a good sale and I thought... what the heck?  I'm going to try slow cooking these in the oven.  So I researched lots of recipes and methods and read about different rubs and sauces and then threw together my own recipe.

Can I tell you?  I was so incredibly surprised at how good these turned out, and there is nothing I would change the next time... I have a habit of writing down and measuring every ingredient I use now so that I can replicate and share the recipe, and thank heavens I did... I would have never remembered everything otherwise.

Dry Rub:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp oregano
pinch of cayenne pepper

Basting sauce:
1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Famous Daves sweet & zesty)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 heaping Tbsp dry rub

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees

Combine all the ingredients for the dry rub in a bowl.  Rub down each boneless rib generously with the dry seasoning.  Really coat them on each side.  (Use a large spoon to remove the seasoning from the bowl so you don't contaminate the leftovers and store it for next time.)  Place about six of the ribs in a single layer, fat side up, in heavy duty foil and make a foil packet around them.  Make as many foil packets as you have ribs.  (We did two foil packets and we wish we had made more for leftovers.)  Double wrap the foil packets if you want.

Place the foil packets directly on the oven rack and let them cook at 250 for 4-5 hours.  I put a foil lined pan on the rack beneath to catch the drippings that were coming thru the foil so I didn't have a mess to clean up after.

Remove them from the oven and place the foil packets on a baking pan.  Jack the heat up to 450 degrees.  Mix the ingredients for the basting sauce together.  Peel back the foil and baste the ribs with the sauce generously.  Place them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then flip them over, (carefully, these babies will be falling apart), and then baste the other side and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  Alternatively you can stick them under the broiler to crust them faster or throw them on the grill... just be careful.  They WILL fall apart. :)

Note, this method will also work with bone-in ribs.  My good friend tried it this week and it worked beautifully :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Southwestern Salad...


Don't you just love spring/summer time?  The fruits and vegetables are absolutely delicious!  I have one favorite salad that I have been making for as long as I can remember and love to throw together at this time of the year.  I don't know what to call it... I have seen similar salads called "cowboy caviar", "mango salsa" or "black bean and corn salad", so I just called it Southwestern Salad.  Anyway, whatever you may call it, here is my take on that delicious recipe.  (I usually use black beans in this because they are my fav, but I didn't have any on hand, so I used white beans this time.)  I cant even tell you how yummy this is.  I put beans in it so I can eat it alone and don't sit and eat a whole bag of chips with it, but I have to tell you it is really good with chips too.  Go and make it right now! :)

Ingredients:

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 a medium red onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
2 small avocados or 1 large, chopped
1 mango, chopped
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 can beans (white or black), rinsed and drained
Juice of one lime (can add zest too if you like)
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar or splenda
salt & pepper to taste
*you can also add a very finely chopped jalapeno pepper to this salad to give it a little heat.  Add as little or as much as you want for your taste.  (Remember, the seeds add the most heat, so leave those out if you don't want it too hot.)

Just toss everything together gently in a big bowl and dish yourself some up! Or just sit and eat it straight from the big bowl... whichever you fancy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wisconsin Cauliflower Cheese Soup


I am in love with Cafe Zupas Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup.  I wanted so very badly to find a copy cat recipe so I could make it at home and a friend at work sent me this one.  It has a velvety smooth texture and a wonderful rich flavor that my taste buds just adore.  You would NEVER guess that there is cauliflower in it!  Just tell your family it is cheese soup and they will be slurping it up like nobody's business.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 can (13-15 ounces) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 head (about 2 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup pepper jack cheese

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and salt.  Slowly whisk in the milk, chicken broth, and water.  Add the cauliflower and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 10-15 minutes. In small batches, blend the soup in a blender until smooth.  (Make sure to remember to remove the center part of the lid to stop the blender from exploding.)  Return soup to the saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot.  Remove from heat and add mustard and 1 1/2 cups cheese.  Stir until until melted and smooth. Garnish soup with remaining cheese.

The pepper jack gave the soup a little extra zip that my family loved.  If you don't want that kick, substitute another cup of the sharp, or a cup of colby jack.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken...


This is one of our new favorite things to eat for dinner!  We have had it once a week for the past month and are totally addicted.  I don't know if you have ever eaten from Sarku in the mall, but this tastes a LOT like that. 

There were lots of recipes for Teriyaki chicken on the web, so I played around with measurements and ingredients and methods until I came up with what I think is just the PERFECT combination of deliciousness.  I prefer using boneless chicken thighs for this recipe because they are not as dry as chicken breasts, they seem to retain more moisture and flavor and they sear so much better.

Ingredients:

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper  (I prefer fresh ground)
10-12 boneless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp cornstarch

Mix all of the ingredients except for the chicken and cornstarch in a 6 qt non-stick stock pot.  Add in the chicken thighs, (make sure they are thawed if you use frozen), and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  (At this point I usually put some rice in the steamer.)  Turn the burner on to high and bring the marinade and chicken to a boil, then reduce heat to med-high. Once the chicken has cooked most of the way through, start pulling out a thigh at a time with a fork and slice it in to bite size chunks, returning it to the pot to continue cooking while slicing the other thighs. 

Heat a frying pan sprayed generously with cooking spray over a high burner.  When the chicken is cooked all the way, using a slotted spoon, remove two or three spoonfuls of chicken from the boiling marinade and sear it in the hot frying pan.  Once the batch is browned to your liking, (we like it dark and almost crispy on the outside), remove it from the frying pan and place in a serving dish, covering it with foil.  Repeat with the remaining chicken in the marinade till all the chicken is in the serving dish.

Mix 3 heaped Tbsp of cornstarch with a little water to make a paste and whisk it in to the boiling marinade till it thickens in to a sauce. (You can add more cornstarch if you want it thicker, less if you want it thinner.) 

Plate some fried or steamed rice, place a spoonful or two of chicken over it and spoon as much or as little of the sauce over the top as you like.  You will not be disappointed, you will just wish you had made more! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pinteresting...

I have found a few really cool tips on Pinterest that I have put to use in my home and thought I should share.  First, is my new shower cleaner.  Put 1 cup of white vinegar in the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.  Put the vinegar in a large spray bottle, and add an equal amount of dawn liquid dish detergent.  Shake till blended (over the sink), then go and spray your shower all over.  Leave for 30 minutes, then go back and use a mop or a cloth to wipe it down and rinse.  I CANNOT believe how clean my shower came out after using this.  It looked brand new.  I even used it on the glass doors and fixtures.  It sparkled.  I would not have believed it if I hadn't tried it.  GO DO IT NOW!

The next tip was one of my favorite.  I do pulled pork/chicken all the time, but it always takes me 20 minutes to shred it up with two forks.  Enter the kitchen aid with paddle attachment.  I cooked the pork in the crock pot all day, then when it was tender enough to pull, I threw it in the kitchen aid, (with no liquid), and turned it on.  In less than 30 seconds, I had this. 



Third, I saw a tip about adding 3-4 drops of saline solution to mascara when it starts to dry out.  I added the drops and stirred it in with the wand and it doubled my mascara life!  I hate spending money on make up, so I was happy to have mine last SOOOOOOOO much longer.

Finally, this is a tip we have been using for years, but I wanted to tell you IT WORKS!!!!  When we lived in our apartment back east Mike Sr was an apartment engineer, and they used this all the time when tenants moved out so they didn't have to replace the carpet.  Fill an empty spray bottle with 1 part ammonia to 1 part hot water.  Spray this all over your stain and lay a cheap, clean WHITE towel or face cloth over the top of it.  Use your hot iron to iron over the white towel.  Within a few seconds you will be amazed to see the stain lift right out of the carpet.  Keep using a clean piece of the towel till the stain is completely gone.  We have used this on kool-aid and other tough stains and it has worked brilliantly.

Have you learned anything new from Pinterest?  Share! :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Biscuit Heaven...


 
To call these amazing would be an understatement.  These are by far the best biscuits we have ever had... and that is no exaggeration.  My camera phone pic taken in bad light does not even do them justice... so do NOT put off making these for your fam.  Do it as soon as you possibly can!  They will absolutely love you for it. These biscuits are super easy and seriously no fail so it may come as somewhat of a surprise to you how light, fluffy and melt in your mouth they are with so little effort.  I came across this recipe on pinterest, (my new addiction that keeps me from blogging), but it's apparently a pretty well known recipe all over the web.  They are known as both 7-up biscuits and Popeye's biscuits. and they are as easy to make as rice krispie treats! 

Ingredients:

2 cups Bisquick Mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup 7-up
1/2 cup melted butter, divided

Pre-heat the oven to 450. Mix the bisquick mix, sour cream and 7-up together gently until it is well combined. Pour half of the melted butter in the bottom of a 9x9 glass baking dish and swish it around. Drop the batter in heaping big spoonfuls in to the baking dish, (3 rows of 3, equally spaced apart.) Bake for 12-15 mins. (I always do the full 15.) As soon as they come out, brush them with the remaining melted butter. Don't be shy... get them well soaked. Now serve them to the fam and prepare for unprecedented adoration! :)