Thursday, May 29, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} May 29



round button chicken



{Pretty}



. . . and delicious too! Fresh strawberry pie with a Biscoff cookie crust.





{Happy}


The soil is warm and the garden is ready to grow.






{Funny}


This little guy is hilarious.  He has the most expressive facial expressions and becomes so animated when he speaks.























{Real}


The soil is warm and the garden is ready to grow.  The work is just beginning.




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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry

This space has become the photography and recipe blog lately.  I hope no one minds ;)

This recipe is a dinner staple in our menu rotation.  It's easy, fairly healthy, and very tasty.



Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized pi

eces
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper


6 cloves garlic; minced
1 1/2 inch piece of ginger; grated
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp vegetable oil


1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 full head of Bok Choy, leaves separated from stems and rinsed
vegetable oil for sautéing


In a large bowl stir together cornstarch, flour, oil, and salt and pepper.  Toss chicken pieces in mixture to coat.  This step is called velveting and will yield moist bites of chicken breast that is also nicely carmelized on the outside.



{Velveted Chicken}


In a small bowl stir together garlic, ginger, and oils.  Set aside.
In another bowl stir together soy sauce, vinegar, chili flakes and cornstarch. Set aside.

Slice Bok Choy stems into bite sized slices. Roughly chop the leaves and set both aside.

In a wok or large skillet with deep sides heat a couple teaspoons of oil until it begins to shimmer.  Add about 1/3 of the chicken to the hot oil giving each piece enough space so that it will brown and not steam.  Cook until a caramelized crust forms and the chicken released easily from the pan (about 2-3 minutes). Turn each piece of chicken to brown on the other side another 2-3 minutes.  Remove to a platter.  Repeat process with remaining chicken pieces, adding oil as needed.

In the same skillet add 2 more teaspoons of oil and sautee garlic/ginger mixture for 30 seconds.  Carefully add Bok Choy stems and stir fry for several minutes, scraping bits from bottom of pan.  Sautee until stems just begin to soften and release their juices.  Add Bok Choy leaves and stir fry another 30 seconds.  Add soy sauce/vinegar mixture and sautéed chicken, stir to coat and heat through.  Serve immediately over steamed rice.



{Finished Stir Fry}



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Thursday, May 22, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} May 22





round button chicken









{Pretty}


This is a female Bullocks Oriole that flew into one of our windows and was stunned just long enough for me to snap a couple shots before she recovered and flew away.  We have some really interesting birds in our area and I'm hoping to start learning to identify them.







{Happy}


Learning to identify our local feathered friends will be helped greatly with the hanging of the bird feeder.






{Funny}




This old burnt out fence post reminds my boys of a monster with a gaping mouth.  On our walks they always have their eyes out for it.





{Real}



We also hung our hummingbird feeder, a thoughtful gift from the Godfamily.  We've had nearly a dozen visitors already, but in order to snap any photos,  I've had to stay pretty far away, so photos are not all that exciting just yet.  Maybe I'll set up my camera on my tripod and sit very, very still for a good length of time and finally get a good clear shot.






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Friday, May 16, 2014

Carrot Cake, Yes!

Carrot cake is my absolute favorite.  I haven't made it in years, though, because carrot cake without cream cheese frosting is just not worth having.  I recently was able to have a slice of my favorite cake after dinner in a local restaurant.  The cake, itself was absolutely delicious, but the frosting was a bit too sweet and just did not have that characteristic tang of cream cheese, so I ended up feeling a tad disappointed.  I was determined to treat myself on Mother's Day to carrot cake and so I knew I would need to find a substitute for cream cheese (it just isn't right to make a cake that half the family cannot have due to cow's milk allergies).  I think I succeeded.  I subbed semi-soft goat cheese and creamed goat cheese spread in the final recipe. For our friends who also struggle with dairy issues, here is my recipe for Goat Cheese Frosting.











Goat Cheese Frosting


8 oz semi soft goat cheese at room temperature
5 oz goat cheese spread
8 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
zest of one lemon
2 lb powdered sugar


Cream cheeses, butter, and zest in a large mixing bowl.  Carefully add powdered sugar a cup at a time and continue mixing until incorporated and to the spreading consistency you desire for frosting.

This makes more than enough frosting to frost two or three layered cake.






Here is the finished cake.  It was so yummy and had just the right amount of tang to sweetness.


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Thursday, May 15, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} May 15






round button chicken








{Pretty}


The blossoms are finally blooming here in the valley.  It smells so sweet outside right now.









{Happy}


This is from our second harvest of delicious asparagus.








{Funny}


I was trying to snap some photos of our little guy.  He really wanted me to take photos of the cookie he was eating, so I ended up with several photos just like this one.  The more I protested, the funnier he thought it was.







{Real}



I did finally get a couple "good" shots of his expressive little face.  I love how in most of my photos of him his face is ALWAYS dirty.






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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GAPS/Paleo Friendly BBQ Sauce

This recipe is for dear Godmother.


GAPS/Paleo BBQ Sauce

2 TBSP oil (olive or coconut)
4 cloves garlic minced
4 15 oz cans organic tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups organic raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raw organic honey
2 TBSP organic mustard
zest and juice of one orange
2 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp liquid smoke


In a sauce pan heat oil and garlic gently over medium heat.  When garlic begins to simmer add remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle boil.  Immediately reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour.

When the God Family was here we served this bbq sauce with the gorgeous smoked brisket below.  Delicious!


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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stories from First Holy Communion Part 3


Do you see the lovely lady in the photo above?  She is Wingnut Jr.'s Godmother.  She is one of the most loving and giving mothers/godmothers/friends anyone could have, and our family has been so blessed by her, Godfather, and their lovely family.  She and Godfather and their family flew more than 2000 miles to witness Wingnut Jr. receive his First Holy Communion.  During the consecration, her little three year old guy, Mr. R., needed to go to the restroom.  Did she think to send one of her older children with little Mr. R.? No, she did not.  She flew all that way just to be in the restroom when her Godson received his First Holy Communion.  Thankfully, we all decided to attend Mass the next morning and Godmother was able witness Wingnut Jr. receive his second Holy Communion.  

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Stories from First Holy Communion Part 2



Wingnut Jr. made a new buddy in CCD.  He is also homeschooled and they have become best friends.   His mother runs the Meal Ministry and the Women's prayer group at our parish and we have also become good friends.  It just made sense to have our two boys celebrate this special sacrament together and so after Mass our families had a combined party.  Over 50 people attended and we all had a grand time. 




Best buddies just after Mass. I'm hoping these two remain life long buds.  It was a great day for both of them.







Wingnut Jr. with our parish priest.  We just love Father Erik.  He's especially good with kids.





First Communion banners.  Wingnut's is the very dark blue banner with a cross and loaves and fishes.






Best buds celebrating with cake.



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Friday, May 9, 2014

365 Project-May 9

Grape Hyacinth by Maurisa · 365 Project








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365 Project-May 8

Tulips by Maurisa · 365 Project






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Stories from First Holy Communion Part 1

Wingnut Jr.'s God Family flew all the way from Maryland to be with him for his First Holy Communion.  Yes, they are that awesome.  It was an absolute blast having them here and showing them the wonders of Utah.  I have new respect for our mutual friend, Sam, who has 13 children.  Feeding a dozen kids is quite an adventure.  We went through 13 dozen eggs in just 6 days!  Not to mention the pounds and pounds of beef, chicken, and pork!  God Mother and I would spend nearly 1/2 the day in the kitchen feeding folks.  But the memories we created were priceless!

Wingnut and I really wanted our little guy to be well prepared to receive Jesus for the first time and so we took him to confession on Saturday afternoon.  Unfortunately, our priest had an emergency and was unavailable to hear confessions.  Poor Wingnut Jr. was beside himself.  He was absolutely convinced he was going to miss his First Holy Communion because he didn't make it to confession.  It took both Wingnut and I and both his God Parents to convince him that he was indeed in a state of Grace and that there was no way his 7 year old little soul could have sins so serious to make him unworthy of receiving Communion and that God did indeed understand he had made a good faith effort to go to confession prior to his big day.  I've never had a kiddo love confession as much as this kiddo does.  I hope he is always this willing!

I am forever grateful that First Holy Communion in our parish is in the mid afternoon.  Having a later mass made it much easier to prep for the party, get everyone showered and dressed, and snap photos at home before the event.  Which was lucky, because after the event I didn't even think about getting a couple nice group photos.






























































































































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Thursday, May 8, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} The God Family Came to Utah


Wingnut Jr.'s God Family came all the way from Maryland to celebrate his First Holy Communion with him.  Our families have grown up together and we have missed them terribly since our move to Utah two years ago.  Their visit was an absolute treat of epic proportions.  I'll be posting more photos and stories from their visit over the next several days.  But for today, here are just a few for {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}.




round button chicken







{Pretty}





It is hard to believe this pretty little flower is actually an invasive weed.  It's even harder to believe this flower is called Star of Bethlehem and is considered an invasive weed.  I say, invade away, pretty little weed!



{Happy}


Here are the children of The God Families (missing just my two oldest).  We took The God Family to Antelope Island for an afternoon.  It was glorious!






God Mamas







{Funny}


These two are just 6 months apart.  They made fast friends and had an absolute blast together.






Wingnut Jr. as Captain America in the hoodie his God Family gave him for Christmas.  Hi-ho Silver, away!






My girls could not resist the old farm house costumes.  I couldn't resist processing the photo with a vintage edit.




{Real}



Three year olds are not much fun to travel with is one reality (just look at his unhappy face).  Another reality is when teenagers confiscate your phone, you will find multiple selfies on your phone camera.  Skoshi A and N had a marvelous time together.  I hope they remain life long friends!








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