Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008!! Hello 2009!

I am rubbing my eye here, not picking my nose. Just so everyone is clear.

Thought I could sneak one more post in before the end of the year. We just took some family pictures and thought I'd share! Snag what you will! Crop as you like!
and AFTER...
Something to do with flashing lights I suppose.
My Girls and G-Babies!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Overnight Stuffed French Toast

In a mixing bowl combine the following ingredients.

Kaylee and I experimented with the proportions to adjust sweetness. After baking the two different mixtures in the french toast we decided that Kaylee's turned out the best.
8 oz Package of Cream Cheese, 1/4-cup brown sugar, 1/8-cup honey, 1-Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice Seasoning, and mix until smooth. Stir in 1 cup Cottage Cheese and stir until distributed evenly.
The easiest way I found to cut "pockets" was to do it as you sliced the french bread. In other words, every other cut you make is only 3/4 of the way through the bread. Actually my Uncle Robert watched me make this the time before and coached me on technique. I was making it too hard on myself!
Spread the cream cheese mixture into the bread pockets using a spatula. Not too much, not too little, just right...
You need the following ingredients in your egg batter for french toast whether you are stuffing it or not. Milk eggs and vanilla.... Cinnamon is optional. Husband misses the cinnamon everytime I forget it though.
Combine 1 cup milk and 4 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Whisk gleefully.
Arrange 6 slices of stuffed bread in your WELL GREASED baking dish. The toast will stick to the dish if you forget/omit this step. Cover with egg mixture.
Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.Don't use Berries in Light Syrup. It's too wet. Makes stuff soggy. Next time we are using Pie Filling instead.
No pictures of the finished french toast. I'm blaming it on morning in general.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008 (with pics)

We had Kaylee and Kenzie!! We had our celebration on Christmas Eve. The girls bought each other Christmas Jammies. (Hmm. I don't think I've ever written "jammies" before, maybe it's spelled "jammys"?) These pics are the girls in their jammies.

We decided celebrating the night before Christmas would be the most fun, since none of really qualify as morning people and we had places to go and people to see as early as we could manage. Here are pictures of their (mostly self-selected) Christmas gifts:

We watched Horton Hears a Who and Multiplicity on the two nights leading up to Christmas. That was fun. Kaylee picked Horton and Dennis got Multiplicity from his mom for Christmas.
We went over to Kenzie's other home so she (and Dennis, Kaylee, and I) could celebrate with them on Christmas Day. We opened more presents with them and then had a yummy brunch. (Brunch is my favorite mealtime of all.) We had a perfect time with all the girls and the family.
After Christmas Brunch we took off to Evanston for a prime rib dinner with my family. The weather was less than perfect traveling over to their house, but so worth having everyone together, even if just a few hours. Everyone but Jamie's family and Kenzie was there.
The ride home took 4 hours and we were all exhausted. My nieces Ariel and Cortney came home with us and we have spent the day playing board games and eating while Dennis went to work. It's been a very relaxing day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Can You Say Tequila Lime Diva

Kenzie made us Tequila Lime Cilantro Chicken, a family favorite.
Here is the Domestic Diva of the Evening...It was so so yummy, and pretty!!
After shoveling 10 inches of snow out of the driveway it was nice to come inside and just help Kaylee clean the kitchen and Kenzie make dinner. I have good daughters!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can You Say Snowday?!?

Geez! C'mon people, is this really necessary? Can't we just stay home where it's safe??

You can't see the snow falling in these pictures. It's coming down pretty hard!! Crazy. All I could think is "How important is it all these places we are going? I should just turn around and go home." Then just before I pull off the interstate it stops snowing, everything is clear, visibility is good and HWY 201 is almost sunshiny! It took just over 2 hours to get to work this morning, when normally I can do it in just under an hour.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fall Apart Perfect

I didn't get a picture before Dennis grabbed his helping, but as you can see it is doing the fall off the bone thing. Yeah!
I double checked the temp and it was at 170 after resting an hour in the oven, so I think we're in the clear as far as food borne illness goes.
I did notice that the pork vapors coming off of the roast mixed with the garlic smell. (My special super power is being able to taste / smell / feel the vapors that pork has.) I'm doing mental preparation right now to try this in spite of the vapors... maybe with a bit of bread... some Devil's Spit BBQ sauce... :)
I don't think I needed the extra water. Still plenty in the roasting pan. Next time I'll try the Garlic Cloves pushed into slits in the roast, rather than Ground Cloves sprinkled over the roast.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Garlic Apple Pork Roast Debuts at the Bennett House

Amy found this yummy recipe on the internet and highly recommends it, so we're giving it a try at our house. Right away I found that I'm not going to be able to do it exactly the same way. Even the smaller roasts don't fit into my slow cooker. So I'm cooking it in the oven. Well, tomorrow I'm cooking it in the oven. At least that is my plan, I sometimes have difficulty with getting things INTO the oven, lol.
This is one of the smaller frozen pork baron roasts we wrapped this weekend. They are all so big! It is all prepped and ready for cooking.
Amy said it was scrumdillyumptious and just fell off the bone. "The recipe calls for 12oz of Apple Jelly, minced garlic and 1/2 cup of water. I mixed this all together in a bowl and poured it on tip of the roast. I added some salt and pepper on the top. I also placed some whole cloves in the roast. I cooked it for 8+ hours in my crock pot."
I've added some extra water so I don't run into a problem if I'm gone too long. I used a 1/4 tsp of ground clove, since I don't have whole cloves. I put the roast with the apple mixture and pepper and garlic salt on top of the roast. I put it in the fridge still frozen. In the morning I will put it in the oven and have it start cooking a couple hours after I leave.
I am not exactly sure what temperature to cook this at so I'm thinking 225 for 8 plus hours??? I hope it works out. Any timely suggestions are appreciated!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Weekend

Besides the main activity of stocking the freezer with pork, I had a really great weekend.
Stuffed French Toast
I tried making Stuffed French Toast for the first time by following a recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Mom had all the ingredients there from Orange Marmalade to crystallized ginger. We just needed to buy some French Bread.
The recipe itself was good. The cream cheese filling wasn't really sweet enough. If it were sweeter I think that we all would have liked it a bit better. It had orange marmalade and toasted almonds in the filling and an orange sauce for the top. Mom helped me shop and put this together after working a crazy long day on Friday. (6am to 8 pm... ridiculous!!!)
It's a really great make ahead meal. I would definitely try a different flavor next time and make it sweeter in the middle. I am super stoked to finally figure out how this stuff is made.
Sourdough Pancakes
Dad used to make sourdough pancakes every morning for breakfast. He did this for about a year straight and when I say everyday, I am not exaggerating. They were so so good! I remember whining one morning..."Can't we have cold cereal just once in awhile???"
So I was feeling dad out to see if I should buy him some sourdough starter for Christmas and we got looking and it was really easy to make. SO easy. It's basically yeast water flour and honey or sugar. We started some and by Christmas the mix will be properly fermented and we should be able to mix some of the starter with the pancake mix and see if we can get em to taste as yummy as they were back in the day. I love my Daddy! He's so fun and you can really see that he loves all of us girls.
I'm very lucky to have such a great set of parents. I met my cousin's girlfriend and she is a super sweet young girl. Somehow we got on the subject of parents and she said that her mom is a horrible person. I was surprised so I asked her what she meant by that. She explained her mom was always drunk, did and didn't do many many things to show her daughter that she was not important to her at all. She really sounded like a horrible mother. I told her that my mom is a super nice mom and I would share my mom with her. My relationships with my mom and dad are so important and special to me I feel really horrible for those who don't have that with their parents. Too many are deserving of that really special bond and love and have to find it elsewhere in their lives.


Everyone is going to be so dissappointed, I didn't even think.
We purchased a couple of Roaster Pigs from Tooele Valley Meats and cut them up into roasts and pork chops and made sausage.... but (profuse apologies) I didn't get any pictures of the lovely things. You will just have to imagine / remember it for yourselves... Mmmmm???
We split up all the meat and we all ended up taking a half a pig home. The sausage turned out pretty dang good! I got eight 1 pound packages.
My Fam has all the cool equipment for cutting up and wrapping meat. They are super good at this stuff and it always goes fast. It was super nice spending time with everyone.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mulan II The Musical

Back in January our Kenzie was quite the star. This was the nonpaying gig. (She also played an extra in a movie around this same time (a few months before??) and made some real money.
She really enjoyed being in the play. Kenzie was excited that her friend got to play Mulan in a couple performances. This was Mulan.
Mulan was sad. Doesn't she look sad??
These are the ancestors and up front is Mushu.

Kenzie in the army.
Kenzie in the beautiful costume her mom made her.
I searched our pictures from that night for the one referred to as "the boy" but he must not have been in the play this particular night. We only took pictures at one of the two performances we attended, but at the time he was not really the center of our girl's world...
Hmmm, the good old days ;) Why can't they stay little??

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Getting Easier!!

Dennis has been starting to help out around the house again. He's been so tired after working all day or all week that he hasn't been up to doing much of anything around the house for quite awhile now.
Last weekend though, he decided to step it up. On Sunday, he made ME breakfast!! It was so super yummy! See?
Crunchy and Melty and just for me!
He's been putting food away after we eat, helping to push laundry through, folding, taking out the trash, changing the oil,...
I am so so so glad he's healing and getting around better these days. It makes such a difference when I have his help to stay on top of the housework! Seems like we were about a month into him really being able to help me again when he broke his leg in July, just two years after breaking it the first time! It BETTER stick this time! Lol. Time to CELEBRATE!!!! Yeah, Dennis! Yeah!!! You Da MAN!!!

A Night Out

We had my Company Christmas Party last night. I couldn't decide whether I really wanted to go, but I used the occasion as an excuse to get my hair done. I hadn't done anything with my hair since I went to a Jazz game last season (6 months ago?). I think that qualifies me as "low maintenance". (Although I have had my moments.) It turned out good and I didn't end up making any changes to the basic style.
Dennis used the occasion as an excuse to get some dress up clothes. He went to JCPenney's and picked up a NICE jacket for $35!!! He also got a pair of dress shoes and a new shirt. He has to go to award dinners for work pretty often so this stuff will be nice for him to be able to have around.
Here's me in the car, I'm heading off to pick up my man who is at work, again. Have I mentioned he is a workaholic?

I can't hold the phone further away, so you get a closeup. I wore a turtle neck, a sweater, and black dress pants. Last time I went to the party I was cold! No bare arms or legs this year!

And about 45 minutes later it was dark and I picked up this handsome man. A couple of pics cuz it's hard to see in the dark:

We had a nice time, and I even won this cute penguin. It was the centerpiece at our table: He's made out of hat boxes. I have officially, today, started decorating for Christmas. This is it so far. Impressive, huh?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sandie Kittie

See how Sandie helps me when I'm on the computer? This pic was taken when I was doing up my freezer and pantry inventory.
Right now she's curled up in the same spot hanging out and waiting to go to bed. She's laying on my left forearm and sleeping. She'll stay here with me all night. She's such a good kitty. I'm going to go to bed so she can get some rest. ;)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bread Recipes and Mixers

The Problem:
I have a bread recipe that I really like but I've been having troubles making it in my Artisan Kitchen Aid Mixer. It calls for 10.5 cups of flour and the last few times I have made the recipe I have to really work to make sure the flour gets incorporated. It's a lot of flour and I've broken a plastic mixing spoon trying to get it all in while scraping the bottom trying to do it manually.
I have been considering whether a bigger Kitchen Aid would solve the problem or if I need to go to a different recipe. The style of the mixers changes as you allow for more flour and I wasn't sure that I would like it. So my sister offered up her Professional Heavy Duty model for me to use side by side with mine.

The white mixer is the Artisan. The grey/silver mixer is the HD. First of all the dough hooks are completely different. The Artisan has springloaded mixing tools with a bread hook, while the ProHD has a spiral hook. Interestingly the bowls are both 5 quart bowls. The shape is a bit different as the HD bowl is less tapered at the bottom. The tools for the HD are much bigger as well.

A problem I have with the large 10.5 cup recipe in my artisan is that the dough climbs the hook and gets in the spring... a pain to clean up. The HD has no spring. The wattage is 375 in the Artisan and 425 in the HD, but power isn't a problem. It's more of a flour in the bottom of the bowl issue.
So I chose a 7 cup bread recipe a friend shared with me to make in the Artisan. I'm all too familiar with what the 10 1/2 cup recipe will do in mine so I didn't feel I needed to do exactly the same recipe in both. I made the larger bread recipe in the HD.

Adding ingredient in the beginning is easy in both. Tilt the head on the artisan and add to the HD before you put the bowl on the mixer.

Trish's recipe calls for only half of the flour to begin with... my recipe calls for the full 10 1/2 cups of flour. (Hmmm. I wonder if I could switch up the order of ingredients on my 3 loaf recipe...)
Just as a comparison I wanted to compare the level with ALL the flour in each.

The HD is designed to be able to handle 20% more flour than the Artisan. See how the artisan bread hook has a disk at the top to keep the dough away from the hook. Well it doesn't do the job with my big bread recipe. Let's see if it does better with the smaller sized recipe... Here is the flour level in the HD. Not much difference when you look at how far from the top of the bowl the flour is, but when you consider there is no disk on the spiral hook, we have no worries of being over capacity. OK so I removed half of the flour from the Artisan so I could make the bread. Adding more flour halfway through was pretty easy. I never really use the ingredient chute that came with this. Why? Because it’s one more thing to move out of the way when you need to stir the bottom of the bowl. I have already stirred this mixture by the time I was adding the other half of the flour. Another interesting thing I noted was it is a lot different stirring 3 ½ cups of bread dough than it is 10 ½ cups.

It did creep up on the disk a bit, but not bad. It slipped back off on it’s own. Also, look how clean the edges of the bowl are getting. It really is licking the sides clean.

The other dough did fine. I did have to stir that heavy dough, and it’s very sticky. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. It did ball up just a little bit better than this. Nothing like the other one did though.

I am starting to see that the smaller recipe is just easier by design at this point. You can see there is hardly any flour around the Artisan / 7 cup recipe mixer and it’s pretty floury around the HD.

The Winner? Easy Homemade Bread (7 cup) beats out One Hour Bread (10 ½ cup) for ease of recipe. The bread texture and density is the same and both slice easily … I just assume make the recipe that behaves itself better, and make the easy stuff twice! Check with Trish if you want the recipe. You can link to her at My Daily SAHM Life.

… and the Mixer Winner??? More tests are necessary… but so far I’m thinking it is just preference. They both have features that make them cool. Here's my bread!

The big plunge...

Starting Weight 193.8
Week 1 194.2 - +.4
W- 2 190.2 - -4.0
W- 3 186.4 - -3.8
W- 4 186.2 - -0.2
W- 5 184.0 - -2.2
W- 6 184.5 - +0.5
W- 7 185.0 - -0.5
W- 8 183.2 - -1.8
W- 9 180.0 - -3.2
W- 10 183.2 - +3.2
W- 11 179.0 - -4.2
W- 12 177.1 - -1.9
W- 13 175.1 - -2.0
W- 14 171.6 - -3.5
W- 15 169.9 - -1.7
W- 16 168.4 - -1.5
W- 17 165.4 - -3.0
W- 18 161.9 - -3.5
W- 19 165.4 - +3.0
W- 20 163.0 - -2.4
W- 21 165.8 - +2.8
W- 22 162.0 - -3.8
W- 23 159.8 - +0.4
W- 24 158.0 - -2.7
W-k 25 156.4 - -1.6
W- 26 154.3 - -2.1
W- 27 153.9 - -0.4
W- 28 152.0 - -1.9
August 30, 2009
W- 29 149.9 - -2.1
W- 30 147.7 - -2.2
W- 31 147.1 - -0.6
W- 32 149.5 - +2.4
W- 33 151.3 - +1.8
W- 34 150.2 - -1.1
W- 35 150.8 - +0.6
W- 36 150.3 - -0.5
W- 37 149.1 - -1.2
W- 38 149.8 - +0.7
W- 39 150.1 +0.3
W- 40 156.3 +6.2
W- 41 153.3 -3.0
W- 42 152.6 -0.7
W- 43 152.6 -0.0
W- 44 150.7 -1.9
W- 45 152.4 +1.7
W- 46 153.0 +0.6
W- 47 152.3 +0.7
W- 48 150.1 -2.2

W- 49 147.5 -2.6
W- 50 146.3 -1.2
W- 53 151.0 +2.0
W- 54 149.3 -1.7
W- 55 144.9 -4.4
W- 56 144.1 -0.8
W- 57 140.0 lbs. Goal!!!!