Friday, March 30, 2012

The Winter That Never Was

Goodbye winter.  It feels like the winter that never really was and that makes me a bit sad.  Although I am more of a spring/summer girl, I love snowboarding and my family didn't have a chance to go as much as we normally do this year.  However I am ready to move on and welcome spring with open arms.  Luckily I live close to the lovely Lake Champlain and I snapped this picture on and of winter bike ride while on the bike path.  I am looking forward to digging in the dirt, bare feet, children playing endlessly outside and of course the food!  Food bursting from my own garden and that of our many local farmers.  The next Queen City Craft Bazaar is right around the corner too on Saturday May 12th.  It's also the opening day of the Burlington Farmers Market so be sure to come out of your winter cave, head downtown and enjoy the local offerings you can find at both events!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mac & Cheese

We had today off because of Martin Luther King Day so it feels like Sunday although it is really Monday.  The boys have been begging me all weekend to make Mac & Cheese so I decided today was the day.  I often hesitate on making this dish because it is so good and oh so bad, but sometimes you just need a meal where you say "F" it and have seconds.  This is the kind of dish you do that with.  My sister made this years ago when we were visiting and I made sure I copied down the recipe before I left.  I have been making it ever since.  I sadly don't know the original source and I have changed it a bit so what you have here is a my slightly modified version of an absolutely additive recipe.  It isn't healthy at all, but it's really frickin' good.  It's great served with a big salad.


5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk or soymilk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound of macaroni of your choice
3 cups (or 1 12 oz block) Xsharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350

Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan
Add flour, whisk 3 min
Add milk - whisking - bring to boil
Add mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
Simmer 2 min until thick - remove from heat
Cook pasta
Stir pasta, sauce, cheese + 1 cup of parmesan cheese
Put in large baking dish
Add bread crumbs + rest of parmesan cheese

Bake 25-30 minutes at 350.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mystery Meal

Tonight we created a new weekly dinner idea.  Mystery Meal.

It was the kind of night where I had to piece together what I had in the house to make dinner.  I kind of like the challenge.  I often start with cooking up a few things not really knowing what I'm making at the beginning, but finishing up with something surprising.  Tonight I tried hard to keep the kids out of the kitchen.  Sometimes it's just easier to not show them what I'm making.  I began by cutting up and roasting two sweet potatoes that I had left.  Then after digging through the fridge I found some tempeh and a bit of romaine lettuce.  The idea of fajitas popped into my mind so I went with it.  While the sweet potatoes were roasting I cut up a small red onion, three cloves of garlic (I love garlic) and sautéed those up in a pan with some olive oil.  Then I added the thinly sliced pieces of tempeh and added about 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder and about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.  Once the sweet potatoes were finished I threw some flour tortillas in the oven to warm up and then filled them with the tempeh mixture, sweet potatoes, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese and some salsa.

I put them on a plate with some green beans on the side and served them up.  My kids kept asking what they were and I wouldn't say.  "Eat" I said.  "Just eat".  As they started eating they began asking questions about what was inside and we ended up making a game out of it.  The enjoyed guessing the ingredients and I promised I would tell them when they finished.  While eating we decided to call it the mystery meal and they said we should move it to Mondays so we could rename it Mystery Meal Monday.  They finished the food and were excited to hear about how many guesses they got right for everything inside their tortillas.

It was a fun way to get them to try foods they might have turned their noses at if they had known before and it was a great way for me to clean out the fridge and try something creative and new.  So tonight my Tempeh Sweet Potato Fajitas were born.  If I had avocados and peppers they would have made a great addition.  Next time.

Create your own mystery meal some night and see what you get for a reaction.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Lovely dresser

I'm not in the market for a new dresser but I couldn't help post a pic of this one I just found at Anjou & the little pear here  in Burlington VT.  If I was looking for a new one this would be the winner.  Have you checked out this shop yet by the way?  No?  Oh goodness you need to.  Sometimes I'm afraid they think I'm going to move in.  Sometimes I want to.

Check out their website for more info on this amazing store
Like them on Facebook to get all the latest photos on new products they add.  Believe me it's addictive.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Small city of lights

I feel lucky to live where I live.  This time of year the downtown just shines.  Standing at the bottom of Church Street the other night looking up at the lights I was reminded of just how beautiful this tiny city is.  Despite the crowded streets, lack of parking and increase of panhandling - I love it here.  A quick stop after dinner one night - I glance up towards the top of the block - was all it took.  Burlington rocks.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy holidays and Happy New Year!  The past week I was blessed with the opportunity to take some vacation time and be home between Christmas and New Years with my family.  My husband did the same.  We haven't done this in years and it was so nice.  Our lives are usually spent running around between work, picking up kids, school obligations, homework and dinner that taking a little break from the rat race was just what we needed.

E brought home this lovely snowflake that he made in school and it was the perfect decoration for our kitchen.  It added a nice festive vibe to the room especially since we haven't had much snow yet.

Despite the lack of snow we managed to keep busy.  We made cookies, went ice skating, played games and stayed in our pajamas late every day.  The boys were just thrilled to be able to build all day long.  They live in a world of Lego right now and I am loving every minute of it.

New Year was spent downtown attending First Night and seeing the much beloved Circus Smirkus and many other wonderful events, followed up by dinner on Church Street and watching the parade.

2011 was a good year, but a challenging one and I am ready to move ahead.  I'm not one for making resolutions, but I do believe in change and I look forward to making some changes in my life in this upcoming year.  

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Handmade Holidays

The holidays make me think of being home and celebrating the day to day blessings I have with my family.  Like many families we are quite busy and I often feel like I'm not honoring the moments I have with them as much as I should.  I miss being home with them more so I have been trying harder to create special memories with them when I am home.  The holiday season brings up this desire even more.  So this year when it came time to think about giving something special to the wonderful teachers in our lives I decided it was time to get my hands dirty again and get crafting.  

 We decided to make peppermint bark this year.  This is a very simple project and there are lots of great recipes online for it.  We chose one that combined both dark and white chocolate.  I bought all the ingredients on my lunch break the other day along with some jelly jars to package the pieces up in.

 It all starts with good chocolate.  Personally I buy Ghiradelli for my cooking and the bags of chips happened to be on sale and so it was a better bargain than buying the bars.  I just placed a bowl of chips over a pot of boiling water (1 Bag) until the chips melted.  Once melted I added a teaspoon of peppermint extract and poured half of it into a small brownie pan lined with tin foil and the other half in a second pan also lined with tin foil.  Plop that in the fridge or freezer for about 20 minutes and wait.  Once hardened you can take it out, and after melting the white chocolate you can then pour the white over the dark, sprinkle on crushed candy canes and place back in freezer.

Once the chocolate is hard you can take it out, peel off the tin foil and chop it up or break it into pieces.

I chose to put our bark into jelly jars and tied some ribbon around them.  
It's easy, fun, tastes great and makes a wonderful handmade gift.

I hope the teachers enjoy it.