Fall Is Here

October 1st, 2013 1 comment

Not sure how the month of September is already gone.  I was sick for most of it and strep just hit our house.  Still cooking, but only because everyone in my house demands dinner.  I haven’t tried many new recipes lately.  Some favorites we’ve revisited now that it’s fall are Sloppy Joes, Potato Soup,  Chili, Haystacks and Goulash. Oh the weather in Nashville is fabulous!!  It’s in the 70′s most days so we try to spend as much time outside as possible.

We did make it to Luke and Sam’s family fun night at school.  They’ve been talking about it since their first day.  They’ve met so many people and are doing great in kindergarten.  They’ve both taken kids in their classes almost under the wing that don’t speak English well and it’s made me so proud of them.  I’m up at their school volunteering a lot.  I’m taking a break from it this week.

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Ian started soccer.  He isn’t as into as his big brothers are, but he seems to be enjoying it and is trying hard.  Brian’s coaching debut.

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Luke and Sam’s team mistakingly got put into an advanced legacy league.  Their poor team has been physically outmatched big time.   I’ve been so frustrated, but honestly the twins have cracked up about how bad they’ve gotten beat.  Good learning experience for all of us, especially me.  They still continue to just love soccer and do really well at it.

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Yay for October!!!

Categories: Boys Tags:

Ian’s 5th Birthday In Chattanooga

September 2nd, 2013 4 comments

We took Ian to Chattanooga for the weekend to celebrate his 5th birthday.  It’s only 2 hours from Nashville, but there was an overturned semi so it took us twice as long to get there.  Our trip started out tough and ended that way as well.

Ian loves trains so we rode up a very steep train to the top of Lookout Mountain.  At the top of this mountain is where the Battle At Lookout Mountain, part of the Civil War, was fought.  It’s also known as the Battle Above The Clouds.  Ian wasn’t that interested in learning about history and kept asking the recording to quit talking.

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They said you could see 6 states from the top and the Tennessee River, but it was so foggy we couldn’t see a thing.  This was about halfway up I think.

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I thought it was funny that Ian’s sidekicks had a seat to themselves on the train.

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The twins were pretty tough for most of the trip.  Ian was pretty great.  My how times have changed!

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We spent an entire day at Chattanooga’s huge aquarium.  They have one building for the ocean and another for the river. Definitely the highlight of the trip for him.  Ian loves anything and everything to do with sharks and fish.

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We spent about 30 minutes so he could try to touch this little guy.  He squealed when he finally touched the tip of his tail.

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I have to admit I was a little tempted to push Luke into this tank of stingrays.  He was terrible for the majority of the trip.  Not sure what’s going on with him lately.

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They had a butterfly exhibit and this huge butterfly found Ian right away.  He had a hard time getting it off, which was really funny.

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We ate Ian’s favorite, mexican food for dinner and the boys opened presents at the hotel.  Pretty low-key and about all we could handle.  Ian seemed to enjoy the trip despite Brian and I struggling with his brothers.

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We unfortunately had to cut our trip early.  Brian and I were just done!  Wish we would have seen more of Chattanooga and been able to do a few other things, but what we did see was really pretty.  Ian had a fun birthday weekend, which is what counts I suppose!

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Categories: Boys Tags:

Life Skills

August 20th, 2013 1 comment

The bus drops off the boys at 4:10.  For at least an hour I kept telling Ian that we had to leave soon to meet his brothers at their bus stop.  It was barely 4:00 and I heard the door bell rang.  I panicked and sprinted to the door.  There stood two little 6 year olds grinning ear to ear waving at me through the glass.  I opened the door and asked them how they made it home.  Right away Luke tells me “we have life skills now mom!”  It’s only a few doors down, so not a big deal I wasn’t outside I guess.

We talked about their day and they went on and on.  Their favorite part by far was the bus.  Luke also informed me that he got punched in the stomach.  I asked what happened and he tells me that he was just trying to show someone where their cubby was.  Good thing he is used to being punched!  Sam then tells me about his lunch box getting thrown in the cafeteria.  He wasn’t sure why.  Tough world out there I suppose!  Overall it was a great first day and I guess you have to roll with the punches sometimes.  They were excited to get back on that bus today!

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Categories: Boys Tags:

Off They Go

August 19th, 2013 2 comments

I have a lump in my throat and feel like my twins have left for college.  Little brother and I don’t know what to do with ourselves.  We took our time with our errands and still have 3 hours until they get home.  I actually have plenty to do, just hard to stop looking at old photos.

The plan was for me to pick them up this afternoon, but last minute they decided to stick the knife in and ride the bus home.

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I really am so excited about this year for them.  It also makes it much easier for me because they are so excited.  Already arguing about who has the better teacher.  Not at all what I expected.   It has to eventually sink in that this is a 5 day a week thing and they’ll surely start to miss Ian and I terribly.

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The boys jumped on the bus and ran straight to the back.  I’ve only told them a dozen times to sit up front and to introduce themselves to Mr. Larry.  He was so sweet and gave Ian a sucker.  He also let me come inside to take a picture, but my stupid camera locked up and I promised them this was the last picture day. Off they go!

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 They were a little surprised to see me 10 minutes later at their school.  We are allowed to walk them in for 3 days and that’s it.  Their school is huge, but they knew exactly where to go.

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Oh my sweet baby Luke!  So thankful for this easygoing, kind, forgetful, competitive, self-assured Kindergarten boy!

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What would I do without my Sambird!  How I love this hard-working, organized, responsible, high-strung & sensitive Kindergarten boy!

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I’m also very thankful for Ian and his billion questions this morning and every morning for that matter.

Now it’s time to bake some after school cookies.

Categories: Boys Tags:

Mexican Manicotti

August 16th, 2013 Comments off

I have high hopes that with my twins in kindergarten, particularly Samuel, he will get along much better with his little brother. It didn’t happen yesterday but he wasn’t gone for very long.  Those two are like oil and vinegar and just don’t mix.  Sadly, they never have.  Luke is usually our peace maker between the two, but he definitely gets into his own trouble and pushes my buttons.  Right now he is doing that really well.

Samuel loves Italian food and Ian’s favorite is Mexican.  This dinner combines both perfectly.  This manicotti isn’t hard to make at all.  The most time consuming part is stuffing the pasta shells, especially when two of your children are screaming at each other upstairs.  Wish my boys would figure out a way to use their differences and work together.  I tried explaining that to them, by using this meal as an example.  All three gave me blank stares as they scarfed down dinner.

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Mexican Manicotti

Meal type Main Dish
From book Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2012

Ingredients

  • 12 manicotti pasta shells
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar
  • 2 (4 oz) cans diced green chilies
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain. Cook beef until thoroughly cooked and stir in tomato paste, taco seasonings and water. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Mix cream cheese, egg, sour cream and 1/ 1/2 cups of cheese, green chilies and 2 tablespoons of cilantro. Spoon about 4 tablespoons of cheese mixture into each pasta shell. Spoon about half of beef mixture into baking dish. Top with filled shells and remaining beef. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and top with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer and sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

Categories: Main Courses, Recipes Tags:

First Day of Elementary

August 15th, 2013 3 comments

We made it through our first morning of elementary school, all without tears.  Brian thought Luke was sniffling a bit when we left, but I think he just has a runny nose.  I kept telling myself that anyway.  Today seems more like practice because I pick them up at 12:30 and they didn’t ride the bus.  Monday might be a different story for all of us.  The twins really want to ride the bus and I think it’ll be great for them.  I’ve heard wonderful things about their bus driver and I know he makes the kindergarten kiddos sit up front.  They have a few friends in the neighborhood and I’m pretty sure they won’t be bossing Larry around!  We have a Boo Hoo breakfast on Monday morning and I’m sure I’ll do just that.  We were all smiles this morning though!

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Categories: Boys Tags:

Goodbye Summer

August 14th, 2013 8 comments

Today is Luke and Sam’s last day of summer so we spent yesterday at the pool.  Today we are busy getting ready for their first day of kindergarten, which starts bright and early tomorrow morning.  Brian and I went to meet their teachers last night.  We visited their classrooms, across the hall from each other, and sat in their little chairs at their little tables while we filled out paperwork and listened to their teachers give lots of information about the upcoming year.  I was excited, yet choked up for the 3rd time this week.  I am so thankful for our summer.  It was exactly what I had hoped it would be.  I know I need to keep it together tomorrow, but it’s going to be really hard.  These two are completely inseparable, which is why we decided to go ahead and do different classes for them.  I am thrilled with each of their teachers and I know it’s going to be a great first year of school.  Just going to take some getting used to.  I think having my sidekick Ian at home for 3 more weeks will help.

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Categories: Boys Tags:

Easy & Simple Cheesecake Dessert

August 10th, 2013 Comments off

Holy Cow we’ve seen a lot of rain in the past week.  It kept us from going to the store, which also helped me stay on budget for the week. :)  Not fun walking out in the pouring rain with groceries and slow moving kiddos.  I really wanted a dessert one night this week and had to make do with what we had at home.  This is the easiest little dessert and it’s also so good.  I love anything with cream cheese and I can easily eat way too much of it.  It’s a good thing for me that this makes exactly 5 servings.

All you do is whip on high speed, 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup of sugar.  Stir in about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest into the cream cheese mixture.  Put a tablespoon or so of graham cracker crumbs in a small dish. Top with cream cheese, then repeat graham cracker and cream cheese layer one more time.  Top with a little fresh fruit.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  That’s it, couldn’t be any easier.

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Categories: Desserts, Recipes Tags:

Quick & Easy Ground Beef & Bean Casserole

August 1st, 2013 Comments off

 We officially have 2 week until the twins start kindergarten.  Where in the world did our summer go and why I am so sad to see it end?  I’ve been trying to put together a folder and a link of my quickest meals so that when school starts and we get much busier in the late afternoons, I’ll have a handy place where I can access my easiest dinners.  This one, is super simple and it can be made up to 24 hours in advance.  I plan on doing meals like that quite a bit.  The boys and I loved this ground beef and bean casserole.   I think it had too many beans for Brian, but I plan on making it again.  Because I am so thoughtful, I’ll just do beans on half of it.  Makes great leftovers as well, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Ground Beef & Bean Casserole

Meal type Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 10 oz. sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 15 oz. can enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar, Pepper Jack)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion together over medium heat until the beef is browned. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, beans, and chiles; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour and garlic powder. Place half of the tortillas in the bottom of the prepared dish, tearing them apart as needed to cover the bottom. Top with half of the meat mixture, spoon half of the sour cream mixture on top of the meat, and drizzle 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on top of that. Repeat the layers one more time. At this point, you can cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours before baking. To bake: Remove plastic wrap, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 minutes or so more, until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Top with additional sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes, salsa.

Categories: Main Courses, Recipes Tags:

Ian’s Birthday Cake, Round 1

July 30th, 2013 3 comments

My youngest son has been talking about his 5th birthday for months.  He thinks of a new toy every single day that he wants.  He hasn’t worn his favorite neon gym shorts in weeks, naturally he is saving them for the big day.  I’ve also been told that he has even planned out his brothers attire.  His birthday is still a month away, but I’m to the point of begging him to reconsider a party.  We’ve offered a trip to Chattanooga – they have an awesome Aquarium we’ve heard and that’s one of his favorite things.  He can skip chores for an entire year, he can have a friend or two over (and by his friends I mean Luke and Sam’s friends) the week before to swim.  Anything, but a party PLEASE!!  Brian’s dad joked about him negotiating for a Disney cruise instead.  Not that far off because his only compromise has been to stay on a trip for 50 days and Mason (Luke and Sam’s best bud) comes along.  He immediately changed his mind and decided a party was the only way to celebrate his 5th birthday.  Last year he did insist we go to Connecticut, but settled for a camp out in the yard.  Surely he will come around.

I made this cake yesterday for no reason except that it was Monday.  Ian of course asked if I was practicing for his birthday.  He also convinced his brothers to throw him a practice round party upstairs.  I spent the rest of the afternoon blowing up balloons while they got all the guests (stuffed animals) where they needed to be.   His birthday will probably be a huge let down but this cake is definitely not.  Yellow cake with chocolate icing has always been one of my favorites and this recipe is absolutely the best.  Oh you must try it, especially if you have a big birthday celebration coming up.

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Yellow Cake with Chocolate Fudge Icing

Serves 12-16
Meal type Dessert
From book Baking for Friends

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks softened salted butter (1/2 pound)
  • 3 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (fudge icing)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (fudge icing)
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature (fudge icing)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (fudge icing)
  • 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar (fudge icing)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk (fudge icing)
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup (fudge icing)
  • pinch of salt (fudge icing)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and position rack in center. Line two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. For the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Stir together the milk and vanilla. Beat the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs and egg yolks, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With mixer on low speed, in thirds beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Beat until smooth. Divide the batter between pans and smooth the tops. Bake 30-35 minutes. Let cool on wire rack. Run a knife around the insides of the pans to release the cake and invert onto the racks. Let cool completely before icing the cake.
For the icing, put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at medium power, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Takes 2-3 minutes. Let cool a bit. Beat the cream cheese and butter with mixer on high speed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, beat in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the milk, corn syrup, and salt. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add the chocolate and mix well.

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