Friday, December 25, 2009


Today's Recipes: Zesty Crockpot Chicken, Beef Tenderloin, Brussels Sprouts, Yorkshire Puddings

What a great day! Miss Lily Ruth is 6 months old, and (officially) tried her first food - avocados - at Christmas Eve Brunch. She adored them. She doesn't push it back out with her tongue, nor does she hate the spoon, but she doesn't always really swallow what's in her mouth, so it can kinda slime back out later when you thought you were done and cleaned up :-P

After brunch, we came home, and Lily Ruth's paternal grandparents arrived. Lily did her (now polished) scoot/Yoga routine for them. Then she spied all of the presents under the tree, and scooted her diapered bum over there in a hurry! Apparently, wrapping paper is DELICIOUS, and should be devoured voraciously.

Since my artist mother in law is here, I enlisted her to help me to get the stockings (at least) started. Lily's is adorable, and I plan to add more to it for next year... ours are 'fine' and 'um, unfinished' and will probably be started over next year.

I wanted to share the gastronomical delights in store for the Doyle family this holiday so that you can be inspired!

Christmas Eve:
Brunch - breakfast casserole, cranberry almond coffee cake and cinnamon rolls

Dinner - tried & trues Zesty Crockpot Chicken over rice

Dessert - Chocolate chocolate mint chip cookies, peanut butter cookies with cinnamon chips, and brownies w/ 2 different 'chip' choices... and Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream

Christmas Day:
Breakfast - Aunt Sallie's Coffee Cake, scrambled eggs and CM breakfast links

Lunch - make your own darn sandwich for I am ill...

Dinner - Beef Tenderloin, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and Yorkshire Puddings

Dessert - see Christmas Eve...

... since I didn't manage to post this BEFORE Christmas dinner - I would like to add that I am THRILLED with the way that everything turned out - especially the tenderloin, as I had never made one before!

Now I am busy collecting decorations and recipes to make beaucoup Gingerbread Men when the Davies get here!!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, YA'LL!!! God bless us, every one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


We hit some new milestones this weekend! All are good, but some wrench at my heart.

First, this wasn't really the weekend, but on Thursday, I let Lily gnaw on an apple slice. Due to her extreme enjoyment and cunning use of teeth, I had to sweep her mouth out every few seconds with my finger least she choke on the bits she broke off. She cried when I took it away! Next time, we'll use the mesh feeder.

Then, on Friday and Saturday, Lily Ruth had her first prolonged exposure to her maternal grandparents and great-grandparents. Oh sure, they've seen her before - lots of times - but she's been new and asleep or cranky or on her way to bed or just asleep. My parents watched her for the evening last Friday, but since they spent the entire time trying to get her back to sleep, it doesn't really count. This weekend, Lily and I went out of town with them, and she got to do AAAAAALL of her tricks for Nanny, Grandpa Doug and The Great Ones. And perform, she did! What a ham. On Friday night, she even stayed up an additional HOUR after we bedded down for the night showing Nanny how funny she is. Note was taken. Saturday she continued her performances with a post-breakfast matinee of Yoga poses, scooting, raspberries and grinning maniacally. It was a lot of fun to watch her recognize and interact with them.

Here they are... all bundled up SINCE THE HEAT WAS OUT WHEN WE GOT THERE!!!

... not to worry - we slept cozily in front of the fire... and hit another milestone - baby saline in Lily Ruth's almost completely clogged nostrils - at 1 am in a very cold bathroom. No fun :-( but she took it like a champ!

So I forgot to tell you that Lily does yoga now! Oh yeah - she TOTALLY has Downward Dog mastered... and Child's Pose... and any other ones that mimic things babies do... :-P

Saturday also saw the social launch of Lily Ruth. We went to a gathering in the afternoon where she was one of 3 baby girls. Lily Ruth is in LOVE with social interaction. She got to scoot around on the floor, glance coyly at new people, and stare open-mouthed at these 'other babies'... she was not convinced that she shouldn't be allowed to poke drool-y fingers into their mouths and/or eyes... We eventually tore her away and went home. Then, after a short nap to recoup, we ventured to an evening party. Lily Ruth, by now an old hand at this socializing thing, was like a duck in water. She smiled and babbled and did her scooting tricks. Oh BOY was that fun! We stayed way too late, but Daddy was having fun, and Lily loved trying to win over Max. He's 2 and is convinced that Lily's only goal in life is to steal his parent's affection from him. She tried her hardest, but Max wouldn't crack... and he wouldn't let her snuggle with him which she found to be very disappointing. In her experience, people can't say no to her :-P

here she is being the life of the party... that's Max's Dada holding her... further proof (to Max) of her evil plot...

and here is Max showing me how AWESOME he is!

Sunday, we had to lower the crib mattress! That's the one that killed me. She's growing so fast! It seems like yesterday that we brought her home! She looked so tiny in the crib then, and she slept soooo still. Now she flops around like a landed fish, and when she pushed onto all fours, her eyes were above the rail! Daddy panicked and raced for the tool box. I clasped my hands and teared up like a leaky faucet. Lily Ruth grinned and launched herself at her Sophie giraffe.

Whew! Well, we had fun, but the weather and the lack of sleep are catching up with us :-( I feel crummy, and Lily is congested and has GREEN nose and eye boogers for the first time in her life. We are a sad pair. Luckily for us, we like to snuggle and nap, so we're just gonna take it easy and rest up for LILY RUTH'S FIRST CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Today's Recipes: Hoppin' John/BEP Melange, Turkey Burgers/Meatballs/Tacos,

Well, I promised a few recipes, then I fell of the face of the blog... This last week strangely busy, yet not... and the weekend was CRAZY busy, and FUN... except for the fact that I feel crummy... just sinusitis (I hope), but I still feel yucky and very sorry for myself... and I still have to finish (or at least start) decorating our stockings, and cleaning/clearing out the guest room before Christmas Eve.

Today I'm making my grocery shopping list for Christmas Eve through Boxing Day. This means that I got to sit down and make out a menu - which I LOVE to do. Maybe if Miss Lily Ruth stays asleep through the typing of this post, I'll add it at the end!

Let's see. I made a black-eyed pea dish that I thought was going to be absolutely inspired. In truth, it was good, but I may go back to the original recipe or tweak my variation again next time. Here's what happened - I had a package of fresh 'cream peas' from Central Market, but none of the other ingredients for Hoppin' John (my usual recipe here) and I needed to use the peas before they went bad. Here's what I DID have:

SO, here's Rachel's Sausage and Cream Peas Melange:
Olive oil
1 med. onion - finely chopped
1 carrot - finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves - minced
1 package fresh peas (black-eyed, cream or other - frozen or canned is fine) - rinsed & drained
1 package pork sausage (I like Sage)
1 tiny can of tomato paste
1/2 package of fresh okra (or more) - sliced
chicken broth
bay leaf
cooked rice

- sautee the onion, carrot and garlic in olive oil - put mixture into the crock pot
- cook the sausage in the same pan crumbling it as you cook - add it to the crock pot
- stir in the peas, tomato paste, okra & bay leaf
- mix in enough chicken broth to just cover the other ingredients. if it seems too dry later, add more!
- cook on 'high' for 3-4 hours or 'low' for 6 or more hours - check your moisture level - do you need more broth?
- discard the bay leaf & serve over rice

The next night, I made a variation of one of our favorite dinners. I usually mix these ingredients then form the mixture into patties for turkey burgers or into 1 inch balls for meatballs, but that night, I sauteed everything and served it all in tortillas... you could call them tacos, but that wouldn't really be fair to Mexican food... but it sure was good!!!

Rachel's Turkey Burgers / Meatballs / Tacos:
1 lb ground turkey
1 can corn
1 can sliced water chestnuts - finely chopped
1 pkg crimini mushrooms - coarsely chopped
Panela cheese - finely cubed (Panela is a Mexican cheese with a slightly salty taste that holds it's shape well when cooked - you can use whatever cheese you like :-P)
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach - defrosted and drained (squeeze out as much water as you can!)
Seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.)

for Turkey Burgers or Meatballs:
- mix all ingredients in a large bowl - start with 1/2 each of the corn, spinach and water chestnuts and add more if you'd like. I tend to add too much, then the mixture won't stick together... which is problematic...
- season to your preference. I change it up a lot, and one of our favorite options is Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning
- form mixture into either patties or 1" balls
- for burgers, you can grill or pan fry them
- meatballs can be pan fried or placed on a greased cookie sheet in a 350˚ oven for 20 to 25 minutes - check for doneness by breaking one open... obviously, any pink meat showing is a bad idea...
- we like to serve the meatballs over egg noodles with grated cheese and maybe some broccoli if we're feeling greens deprived.

for Turky 'Tacos':
the ingredients are prepped differently, so listen up...
- coarsely chop the water chestnuts, slice the mushrooms, grate the cheese and use fresh spinach. I also add fresh minced garlic and a chopped onion. you are still going to start with half each of the corn and water chestnuts and add more if you'd like.
- sautee the onion and mushrooms - set aside
- using the same pan, begin to cook the turkey and the garlic with whatever other seasonings you prefer. when they are mostly done, mix the onion and mushrooms back into the pan. add the corn. place the fresh spinach over the top, and cover. The steam from the other ingredients will wilt the spinach. when the turkey is completely cooked, dinner is ready!
- serve on fresh tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese.
- you could warm up a can of black beans with a can of Hatch green chilis or make a batch of rice using chicken broth instead of water and adding a can of ro-tel tomatoes with chilis if you'd like... or you could be lazy and just eat the 'tacos'... guess which one I usually choose...

I will add a picture next time I make one of them, but until then...

here is Lily Ruth trying apple slices... she LOVED them, and I had to constantly sweep the pieces that she was chewing off with her new teeth out of her tiny mouth...

and here is my Yoga baby in her new favorite pose :-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

oooooooooh - Christmas Stockings!!!

I MADE CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS!!!!! And I am going to share the experience with you in the form of (ta-DA) My First Tutorial!

If you can't tell, I'm a little bit proud of myself. Allow me to explain. I own a sewing machine, I took Home Ec in middle school, and I like to make things - these are the only qualifications that I have as a crafter. Oh, I would also like to add that I have a fairly logical and visual brain... and ZERO patience.

I wanted to decorate a stocking for Lily Ruth's first Christmas... and my own stocking was the victim of a vicious raccoon attack a few years back (don't ask). Don has three surviving stockings from his childhood, so I wasn't planning on making him one, but then I thought about it, and decided to make us all matching stockings - you know, 'cause we're a family and all. My original plan was to purchase plain pre-made stockings and decorate them. Well apparently if you are a 'crafter', you start things way in advance... like October I guess... but if you are me, you wait until after Thanksgiving to even start looking, and by then (oddly enough) the Christmas decorations are all picked over, and you can either take something you don't want or (da-da-da-DUH) make it yourself. I wasn't in the mood to settle, so starting from scratch it was!

I believe that I have previously mentioned my lack of patience and the fact that this lack extends to patterns. So here's how it went:

I started with one yard of felt (for 3 stockings) folded in half so that it is two layers, and one of Don's existing stockings as a template. You could draw out your own template if needed, but that seems like a hassle to me...

Outline the template onto the double layer of felt - I used a disappearing fabric marker.

Then cut around the outline leaving 1/4" of fabric all the way around your line. Sew the two pieces together along the marker line - leaving the top open - and cut notches into the curves so that it will lay nicely when turned right side out (I TOLD you that I took Home Ec!) - but don't turn it yet!

Now, here's the only vaguely tricky part - the cuff. I made mine out of the same felt, but I'm betting that you could use faux fur (FUN!), but I'm also betting that it would be harder to work with... Cut a (double layer) piece that is the same width as the stocking opening plus 1/2" (1/4" allowance for either side) and 3 1/2" high. Run a seam down each side (leaving 1/4" on each side), then iron the seams of the cuff open and iron down a 1/4" hem around one end (it doesn't matter which end at this point). With felt, I didn't need to pin it which was a HUGE advantage for me. Next, stitch down the center of the tiny hem.

Iron open the top of the seams of the stocking (about 2" down). Cut a tiny strip of felt for the loop to hang the stocking (approx. 3" X 1/2" - just eyeball it :-P) and fold it in half. Pin the cuff to the stocking with the seams lined up and open - tuck the loop into the 'heel' side between the two seams with it's ends aligned with the top of the stocking. The loop will be hidden until the stocking is turned and the cuff is folded down. Stitch around the top of the cuff leaving a 1/4" allowance.

Turn the stocking right side out, turn down the cuff, iron everything flat, and HEY PRESTO, you've made your very own (rudimentary - nothing fancy...) stocking!

Now, I just have to decide how to decorate them! I am going to put our names on the cuff... somehow... and my mom found this picture for me (it's from

I'm going to try something like it in brighter colors for Lily Ruth's stocking. I am (however) stuck as to what I should do for Don & I... any ideas, Gentle Reader?

Oh, I almost forgot to add gratuitous photos of myself and my family... here are Don & I taking pictures of ourselves in the car last night after the one and only holiday party we're going to this season...

and here is my gorgeous daughter in her new favorite car seat pose...

oh, and here are Lily Ruth and I on our walk with my Mama today...

I guess that's all for tonight! I have 2 recipes for you, but they'll have to wait until tomorrow. Dulce Suenos!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


WELL, as a massage therapist, you would think that relaxation is something that I would excel at. You would be sorely mistaken. I can't relax. I don't know how. Even when I think I'm relaxed, there's at least one major part of me (muscles, organs, brain, etc.) that is not relaxed. Exhibit 'A' - my dining room table in it's current state...

That's right - MORE baby leg warmers. But in my defense, they're for other people... The fur-topped ones and the unfinished stack are for Maddie, and the finished stack are for my on-line friend Whitney... and the felt is for Lily Ruth's Christmas stocking... and the gold dragon iron-on, well, let's face it - even if I put it on a piece of Lily's clothing, that's really for me ;-)

As a parent, this is inability to let go is one of the major things that I would have liked to NOT pass on to my child. Sure, I hoped that she would get my brains, my compassion, my superior ass... but not this tense, over-wound craziness. Alas, she's already right there with me. She'll be glassy-eyed and ready for bed, but her toes are curled into half moons of anxiety. Case in point - yesterday. She was not in a napping state of mind, yet she was exhausted. I nursed her and laid her next to me for a final try at resting for the day. Here's how it went:

Flop onto back, head swivels wildly, attempts at eye contact with Mama are made, raspberries are blown. No luck getting attention? Flip onto belly, up onto all fours, rock back & forth a few times, lunge at Mama's face (connecting soundly with her elbow instead), cry pathetically, suck thumb for 3 seconds, slap at Mama's face, pause. Flop onto back, grab at Mama's hair, pull her face into yours and bite her nose REALLY HARD, retain hold on her hair even when rebuked, cry, suck thumb for 3 seconds. Grasp wildly for any free object, connect with leg warmer you pulled off 5 minutes ago, wave it about as though signaling for rescue after a shipwreck, hit Mama's face a few times, fling leg warmer off the bed. Flop onto belly, onto all fours, rock back & forth a few times, lunge onto Daddy's pillow, whine/cry as though your heart is breaking while sucking your thumb, stick a few fingers into Mama's nose/mouth, kick Mama in the belly, and wait for result... lather, rinse, repeat...

Seriously, this went on for a solid hour. I was torn between exhaustion, irritation and hysterical laughter. She actually has really good comic timing! When her hour's attempt at a nap was up, this is all I had to show for it...

In case you were wondering, yes, that is her other leg warmer and her washcloth at her side. Both served their turns as rescue signal flags.

Oh well. We're just taking it day by day, and some days are harder than others. Yesterday was hard (but good). Today was just good.

Oh, I promised you my wreath results! I'm not pleased with the pictures, but I lOVE the wreath. The tutorial is here. It may take a while to load - his blog is very popular... for good reason!

I LOVE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS!!!! Lily Ruth likes to flop around on my lap and play 'Nursing? Not Nursing.' while staring at the tree. Memories...

Good night, Precious Angel Baby, Mama loves you!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


That's right. I'm disappointed - in myself. This has been a hard weekend. Even though it had great moments - Don's sister and her daughter stayed Friday night and my family (plus Don's sister) came over for dinner last night. Those things were great, but for the most part, it was a tough time. Lily Ruth is yet again not napping well or sleeping for long stretches at night, so I am exhausted. And because of all the great family time that we had, I had ZERO alone time and maybe 20 minutes without the baby so I'm headed into the week in a deficit. Also, I am STILL fighting the crying it out, so I spend a LOT of time rocking the baby.

The worst part of it is, I brought it all on myself. We were doing so great! Lily Ruth napped and slept and I spent her quiet time actually getting stuff done. Then Lily started teething again, I reached my limit on the CIO, and everything went down the tubes. Now there is a lot of this...

There are so many things I want to do each day! I want to make Christmas stockings. I want to play with my dog more. I want to figure out how to tweak my make-up routine so that I don't look like a zombie all of the time... you know, stuff. Instead, I dither around waiting for my beautiful baby to either fall asleep or wake up while frantically trying to eat something, pump for the milk bank, pee, shower, check my e-mails and spend maybe 5 minutes on the phone (knowing that my voice will probably wake her up) before she wakes. I know that this stage of her life will not last forever. In fact, she is growing and changing so fast that it startles me. I will be looking right at her and think 'I'm missing it! I must have blinked, because I missed something!'.

Wait - I'm off track. Disappointed - in me. So, not only do I feel pitiful about having no 'me time', but I was a horrible bitch to my husband all day. It started with his breathing. Seriously - I woke up to him breathing morning breath on me and Lily Ruth, and it went downhill from there. Every thing he said, didn't say, did or didn't do just irritated me beyond belief. And he had no idea. I just fumed and snipped and grumped through the day. Nice. Hey, what's the deal with post-pregnancy hormones? I need to look it up. Could I be having my usual cycle without Aunt Flo? Because that would explain A LOT. I am a lunatic, and I want something to blame it on.

So, yeah - I accomplished nothing productive, I acted like a bitch, and I get to start out my week resentful and overtired... well, I COULD strip off the resentful bit like an itchy sweater, that might make things a bit better... lets do that. I'll just remind myself of some good stuff...

Like this toothy grin

Oh - and Friday she was kissing me so hard that I thought she was giving me a cheek hickey! I was laughing hysterically & when I backed off enough to see her face, she was sooooo serious about the whole thing that it set me off again

There's this picture in which I have managed to look human

AND, the fact that it finally got cold here. A strange thing to include on this list, but it meant that I had an excuse to wear baby leg warmers on my arms!

WAIT, I FORGOT TO TELL YOU! I finished a Christmas wreath! It looks a-w-e-s-o-m-e. I'll put a picture of it and a link to the (super easy) tutorial in my next post. Now, I must sign off and try to convince Frank to MOVE HIS STINKY CAT ASS off my bed. He has AWFUL gas tonight, and he is currently stationed near MY HEAD. Unacceptable... of course, as anyone who has ever tried to move Frank knows, he is a jerk when opposed, so this could get ugly. Sleep tight.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

first and second

I have two topics today. ONE: I am a backslider. TWO: I love baby leg warmers.

First - I HATE CRYING IT OUT. We are using 'Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child' by Dr Marc Weissbluth to help Lily Ruth sleep better. It actually works. Truly. BUT, the most effective of his options is to let the child 'cry it out' until they fall asleep. While his point is very valid - if you allow the child to cry for 30 (or more!) minutes, and then they sleep, then they will have taken a nap that they would have missed had you not let them cry - but I am the one that has to listen to my daughter cry. Not Dr Weissbluth, not my husband, not you, just me. And I hate it. I would much rather hold her and love on her, but I don't because I understand that sleep is essential for her health and development... well, I don't USUALLY go in and get her, but I have been doing just that A LOT this week. I can't stand it any more! AND - as I previously mentioned, she now says 'Mama' when she cries, so it's even harder on me. So I feel like a failure, and her naps are all over the place, but I'm trying to attribute that to her teething (SHE GOT HER SECOND TOOTH!). I was doing so good! I just had to harden my heart every single time that she went down for a nap... but now, I am a broken shell of that woman, and I go in to rock an coo and soothe almost every time she cries. I am so very disappointed in myself... and this is one of the other reasons I hate CIO - she looks so very sad even though I took this 10 minutes or so after I caved and let her up...

all of this caving on my part will have repercussions. And because she's so young, it will be SOON and it will be loud. I'll have to re-harden my heart :-(

... but that picture segways nicely into topic #2 - BABY LEG WARMERS!

Here's how it got so bad:
- I saw a pair at Target, and that prompted me to go to the web site (you should go too - it's here)
- I ordered 3 pair
- I was given a link from a Baby Center 'friend' to a blog tutorial on how to make them (not only is a link to said blog here, but that particular craft jump-started my current burst of creativity, a girl crush on the author, and my desire to blog on my own)
- I bought 5 pairs of knee socks at Target and went for it
- I ordered 3 more pair on sale off the website (they have been on back order for 3 weeks, but supposedly shipped Friday!)
- Don bought 3 pairs of socks while on a shopping excursion for dura-flame logs (???)
- I went NUTS at Target Monday and bought SEVEN MORE pairs of socks
... for those who hate math, that's TWENTY ONE pairs of baby leg warmers. Lily Ruth doesn't even have 21 onesies or outfits! So, for those who love a visual, she's wearing the first 3 pair in her Facebook photos. The next 5 are on my first blog post. The other three that I ordered are still 'in the mail'. Here are the rest...

Don's 3:

The pair she has on today (plus my toes :-P):

The other 6 pair:

The grey pair closer up - yes, that's a lavender ruffle!:

My favorite model in my favorite pair!!!

she's all set for her holiday music video shoot! Also, I tried that pair on my arms tonight - I may wear them myself...

To sum up -1) I'm a loving mother who feels bad about herself today and 2) I LOVE BABY LEG WARMERS!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Day, by Rachel

Today's Recipe: Brussels Sprouts with White Beans

This is how yesterday went...
3:30 - woke up in a panic because I thought Don was late getting up
4:40 - Don actually gets up and (noisily) gets ready
5:00 - I ask in a grunty, sleepy voice for Don to bring the baby to me and demand that he change her first
5:15 - Bing starts yowling in the living room, and I ignore him
6:00 - more cat yowling - still ignoring
7:50 - Lily Ruth starts waking up, but is mostly asleep, so I keep my eyes closed
8:20 - we're both awake and I realize that I have a TON of things to do before my bi-weekly housekeeper gets here
8:40 - I have managed to get Lily Ruth nursed and am dressing her (still in my pjs - better than the time I was still in my bra) when Janie arrives
8:45 - I am a whirling dervish of activity as I tidy the hideous mess left from the weekend so that Janie can clean when I realize that IT SMELLS LIKE POOP IN MY HOUSE - and when I say smells like poop, I mean REALLY smells, This is when I discover that there is CAT POOOOOOOOOO on the sofa - and when I say cat poo on the sofa, I mean lots of it... a big puddle (that's right, PUDDLE)... next to the pee...
9:30 - I put Lily down for her nap (again - Janie got her up the first time - 'she was crying, Mama') and head for the pet supply store. Their options are sorely limited, but I grab a 'NEW' oxy-clean product and race home
9:50 - I nurse Lily and put her down AGAIN ('She was crying, Mama' - I think Janie just wants to hold Lily) then douse the entire sofa in harsh, stinky chemicals. Note: IT STILL SMELLS LIKE POOP, but now it smells like poop and chemicals and is soaking wet.

May I add that it was kind of downhill from there? Well it kind of was. I mean, nothing overtly bad happened, but it is so very hard to recover from early morning furniture poop. Add in the fact that Bing felt so bad that he refused treats (and you know that Bing NEVER refuses treats), and you are left with no one to blame. I mean, he tried to tell me that he felt bad, and I chose sleep.

*sigh* At least the Christmas tree is up and decorated! And it is lovely. Now I just have to wash the tree 'skirt', find a tree topper and place the other decorations around the house... easy-peasy...

And Lily Ruth and I had a good time at Central Market. And I finished 3 more pairs of baby leg warmers during Lily's afternoon nap. And I made a yummy dinner that included my favorite winter vegetable dish - in fact, I shall share it with you now!

Brussels Sprouts with Beans:
1 bag (1 Lb?) fresh Brussels Sprouts
4-6 slices of bacon
1 can white beans (I like Progresso's Cannellini)
Parmesean cheese

cook the bacon in a good sized skillet. while the bacon cooks, cut the ends off the sprouts, remove any yucky outer leaves and halve each sprout. when the bacon is done, remove it from the pan, turn the burner to medium and add the sprouts to the drippings - if you think that there is too much grease, drain some! I put the sprouts in cut-side-down first to brown them, but if you aren't as OCD as me, then just throw 'em in. turn the sprouts after about 5 minutes (or when they are nicely browned on that side) and add a bit of broth (I've used all kinds, it doesn't matter) to cover the bottom of the pan - you are going to let them simmer/steam, but you don't want them boiled, and you can always add more, but it's hard to take it out if you add too much. while the sprouts cook, drain and rinse the beans, and chop the bacon into bits. when the sprouts start to turn bright green, add the beans and bacon, mix and cook until heated through. top with Parmesean cheese, and serve immediately. this would make 4 reasonable side dish portions, but around here, it serves 2 pig-people and leaves enough for me to have lunch.

By the way - Bing felt better by mid-afternoon, and even wanted treats...

BUT, my couch still REEKS of poop and chemicals. We had to drag the futon into the back room to watch t.v. on. Sad, yet we did it... and I would do it again. In fact, I may have to.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Well, I thought that I wanted to have a blog, but it's not turning out the way that I had envisioned. Looking at my posts, I tend to tell you banal, incomplete stories of my day and I keep forgetting to post the (few) funny or interesting things that happen. Here are a few that I remembered recently.

While attempting to bake, clean, finish laundry and pack all at the same time for our Houston trip, I ended up on the floor playing with Lily Ruth. We were making noises and laughing and I scooped her up to play 'airplane'. Well, factors like t-shirt neckline, bra cup cut, length of baby's legs, angle of baby hold, etc. all combined to create a Perfect Storm. Lily kicked me in the boob, and I was hit in the eye with my own milk. I was confused then stunned... then I couldn't stop laughing. I guess it's only fair - Lily gets hit in the eye all time with milk...

During the lead-up to Thanksgiving dinner, we were sitting in the living room discussing movies with Don's parents. His mother announces 'I want to see Dirty Old Men'. The room goes silent. Several beats later, my darling husband says 'Mom, do you mean Old Dogs?' The answer is yes, yet I can't help but wonder how Freudian that slip was...

Since we forgot to take the pack'n'play with us to Houston, Lily had to sleep on the bed with us and without us. For her nap on Friday, Don went to (as he put it) 'make her a pillow fort' to keep her from rolling off the bed or banging her noggin against the bed frame. I muttered something about her Fortress of Solitude. My keen-eared husband heard me, and replied 'more like Fortress of Soli-toot'. He's right - she's been RIDICULOUSLY gassy :-P

Lily Ruth now says 'mama'! Of course, she only says it when she's crying, so I know it's not meant for me, but she has figured out that saying 'ah-muhm', 'ma-ma-ma-ma' or 'ma-ha-ha-mom' while sobbing will bring me running. Clever girl!

Oh, this is a picture of Lily and her Daddy. They are playing 'One... two... THREE - Waaaaaay up in the AIR'! It's Lily's favorite game. Or at least it was until she saw the Christmas tree! Check out how looooooong her legs are!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Thankful!

Today's Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is a first. The first year in a VERY long time that neither Don or I is working in a service industry job, so we're both free for the holidays... but this means that we had to really give some thought to the opinions of both of our sets of parents as to where we would spend each one. This is also Lily Ruth's first set of holidays out of the belly, so there was that to consider as well... add in my extreme people-pleasing needs, and we hauled ourselves to Houston to have a Doyle Thanksgiving. Don's mom had the menu all planned, but she asked me bring dessert, so Pumpkin Cheesecake it was! The recipe is from, and can be found here.

This is me waiting for 4 boxes of cream cheese to get to room temperature so that it will not burn out the motor of the hand mixer...

This is Lily Ruth's version of helping Mama bake...

and this is Keely's version of helping Mama bake (dog feet alllllll over the futon...

At one point in the process, I put Lily down for her nap and attempted to cook in peace. I even took the handy-dandy small blender outside to crunch up the cookies and pecans for the crust so as to no disturb her highness' slumber. No dice - she was on to me and refused to nap through the process. I even strapped her into the Baby K'Tan and wore her while I blended all of the ingredients. I had to put her down to pour them into the pan and put it in the oven. Nobody wants to see a picture of her face during that time :-P

Well, I baked & cooled the cheesecake before we left, then put it in a cooler with icepacks and transported it to Houston. It survived transport beautifully, and the topping that I applied Thursday morning only improved it! Seriously - that cheesecake was (is) GOOOOOOOOD. So delicious and ridiculously easy. I will definitely make it again.

Our Thanksgiving was lovely. Lily's paternal grandparents were able to interact with an alert, bright, funny and active infant - unlike their previous visits with her when she was (in turn) a newborn, a nearly newborn, and a chronically overtired 3-month-old who had been removed from her comfort zone. They were enchanted! As they should be :-)

I hate to brag (no, really I do), but Lily Ruth is now one step closer to sitting! Previously, she has been a 'pre-sitter' - sitting when held upright, but leaning into whatever supported her. Thanksgiving day, she sat up and back on her own! Check her out...

We are beyond proud. She amazes me daily! BTW, if you're in the neighborhood, stop by and watch her scoot! She gets up onto her hands and knees, rocks back and forth, then launches herself forward onto her belly. This is repeated until she reaches her goal. I can't get enough. I'm pretty sure that the Christmas tree will be all of the incentive that she needs to turn it into a real crawl. I'm excited and terrified at the same time...

This year, I am thankful for my daughter, my husband, my family and the life that I am able to lead. I am truly blessed, and I am actively working to prove that gratitude daily.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mmmmmm, Crock Pot

Today's Recipes: Pizza, Beef & Barley Stew

First of all, I have felt like there was a lot of dirt in my bed this week, but had no idea why. That's right, dirt. For no discernible reason. As I came out of Lily's room tonight, I found out why...

In case you can't tell from the crappy cell phone photo, that's Keely's dog butt right by Don's pillow, and her dirty doggie feet right by MY pillow! Yum.

Second, I decided to bite the bullet and take a look at my sewing machine. The one that I had left at my Grandmother's house assuming that it was broken and/or needed help that I could not give it. I brought it home, read the whole dang manual - o.k. fine, I skimmed it. Then I ran a few practice seams down a rag to check for evenness. It was perfect and fine. I'm a total dork. I finished all 5 pairs of leg warmers in less than 30 minutes. It rocked. AND, my adorable daughter is an excellent model for my favorite pair...

Plus, check out how great her hair is getting. I can't wait until it's long enough to be truly wild!!!

Third - the cooking stuff! I forgot to tell you about last night's dinner. I made a fantastic pizza. It went a little something like this...

Rachel's New Favorite Pizza:
Boboli pizza crust
Newman's Own Alfredo Sauce
Italian Sausage - cooked (I sliced mine, but you could crumble it)
Chicken breast - cooked & cubed (little olive oil, little Italian spice)
- I had cooked both of those for previous pizzas, and had frozen the extra - it rocked to have them pre-made!
Frozen Chopped Spinach (defrosted & drained)
Fresh Garlic - minced
- I mix the spinach and the garlic together so that the garlic gets evenly distributed
Italian Cheese Blend (pre-shredded)
Freshly grated Parmesean cheese

Now, if you need detailed instructions on how to assemble a pizza, you need to get your recipes elsewhere. The cooking directions should be on the package of the crust...

Today, I made Beef & Barley Stew in the crock pot based on a recipe from Cooking Light. As you may have discerned, I have no patience. This includes following recipes. I tend to read the ingredient list, read the directions then not really look at it again. Tonight's stew went like this...

1 1/4 lb Lean beef stew meat - cubed into tiny pieces
1 med yellow onion - chopped
3 med carrots - peeled & chopped
1 red bell pepper - seeded & chopped
1 pkg sliced mushrooms - chopped a bit smaller
4 lg garlic cloves - minced
2/3 c pearled barley
2 1/2 c mushroom broth
4 1/2 c beef broth
crushed red pepper flakes
ancho chili powder
1 can diced tomatoes - undrained
1 bag fresh spinach - slightly chopped

sautee onion & carrot slightly in a bit of olive oil. add red pepper, mushrooms & garlic - sautee until mostly done. move veggies to crock pot. add beef to the skillet - season w/ salt & pepper. cook until just brown on all sides. add beef to crock pot. add barley, broth (mushroom broth not needed - I just had some open. you could use all beef broth) & tomatoes. As for the spices, season to your own taste. I love spice, so I used a lot - maybe 1 tsp ancho & 2 tsp pepper flakes. cook on 'high' for 1 hour then turn to 'low' for 5 or more hours. 5-10 minutes before serving, stir in the spinach.


Maybe tomorrow we can talk about the holidays... maybe not. I have to make a pumpkin cheesecake, pack for our trip, then drive to Houston.