Friday, April 30, 2010

From My Window

Spring has come to our corner of the world! From the front window of our van on a country drive. Have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Accidental Spinach Salad

Today my lunch was the result of an unprecedented event, leftover cheese grits. In an odd turn of fate, there were leftover cheese grits the other morning and after a few days in the fridge, I had a firm disc of grits, or polenta as it is fashionably called now, that I could slice and fry in a bit of olive oil in a hot skillet. The results were good enough to warrant making a batch of grits in the future just to fry. I layered it over some fresh spinach and topped that with some sauteed mushrooms and havarti cheese (my vice this week) and then enjoyed the whole divine concoction for my lunch. Not a recipe really but consider it encouragement. Look at what is lurking in your fridge and be creative in combining it into something original that could just become a new favorite. If you've got, use it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sesame Fudge

You are now going to learn about one of my all time favorite snacks. My mom made Sesame Fudge when I was little and now it is a hit with my chickadees. Not only is it tasty and quick but you can make it ahead of time and it's full of healthy stuff. I mean, how often can you say all of that about a snack? All of the ingredients are pantry items for me but if you do have to pick up a few things for this, it's worth it. I'm not too sure where it's name came from since it isn't like fudge at all. Fudge for me is my mom's chocolate fudge made only at Christmas time and full of pecans and sometimes dried cherries. Another recipe for another time! But none the less, the name brings to mind yummy goodness so maybe it does fit here. The original recipe calls for wheat germ and I usually use that. In a pinch I have substituted granola and even ground flax seeds, but wheat germ is easy to find and good for you so pick up a jar if you don't already have some. At our grocery store it's stocked on the cereal aisle, not sure why but check there. I buy the sesame seeds and wheat germ at our local natural food store and for basic items like this you can get them for a good price. After you make the fudge it will keep for a week or so in the fridge but I guarantee you that it won't last that long. It has been a life saver for me while I have been pregnant and/or nursing these past eight years. The protein from the sesame seeds and peanut butter is a great snack for when you are starving in the middle of the afternoon. Of course, if you don't do peanut butter any nut butter would work, I just haven't tried it. Give it a try soon, I know you'll love it!

Sesame Fudge
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup raisins

Blend the sesame seeds, peanut butter, honey and wheat germ together in a bowl until it is well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and raisins. If it doesn't want to come together you may have to use your hands. When it's well mixed, shape it into a log and wrap tightly in waxed paper. Wrap the whole thing in tin foil and chill. It will be harder after it chills. Slice to serve.
You may have to hide it from your kids after they taste it. You may even have to hide it from yourself!

Friday, April 23, 2010

From My Window

Spring sunlight through the fresh new growth on the holly shrub. From my front window.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oatmeal Breakfast Squares

Above you can see all that was left from our breakfast yesterday, one lonely little square that I defended long enough to snap a picture. They are ravenous, these kids of mine. I double every recipe and add lots of fruit and vegetables alongside everything but still their appetite is amazing. In my search for easy, nutritious, and yummy breakfast items I have made quite a few unusual things. This however, was a hit from the first round. I adapted the recipe to use unrefined sweetener and to be vegan. In the last two months we have switched to a mainly vegan diet for health reasons and it has been surprisingly easy and nice. Many pregnancy problems I have chronically experienced have disappeared and I have a lot more energy. So, when I can, I convert recipes to use no eggs or dairy. These oatmeal squares were super easy to adapt and they are delicious. A pan of them provided a great camping breakfast for us last week so keep that in mind if you are planning to do any camping this summer.
A word about substituting eggs, this recipe uses a "flax egg" which is one tablespoon of flax meal and 3 tablespoons of water. Mix it in the liquid ingredient just like you would mix in the egg. Of course, you can use an egg if you want. The best thing about vegan baking is that you can eat the dough/batter! Talk about liberating. A healthy fear of salmonella was instilled in me at a young age and I must say that I have been enjoying the vegan chocolate chip cookie dough I've been making and I haven't been quite as diligent in scraping out the cake batter bowl as I have been in the past. Pretty fun!

Oatmeal Breakfast Squares

1 flax egg, see above (or use 1 egg)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup rice milk (or whatever milk you use)
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup nuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and spread in a greased 8 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Cool for a few minutes and cut into squares. I double this recipe and bake it in a 9 x 13 inch pan. You can add diced apples or any dried fruit you like.
I hope your family enjoys this as much as we have!

Friday, April 16, 2010

From My Window

This weekend my window was in a tent.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Joe's Smacos!

This weekend we went camping at a great local state park with the kids. While camping with five small kids when you are seven months pregnant does have it's less than fun moments, overall we had a good time. Just trying to build some memories over here! Our new treat this time was Joe's Smacos (smore+tacos= smacos). He was introduced to them at his annual guys camping trip this fall and I must say, they are pretty great. For whatever reason, my chickadees don't seem to get the whole smores concept. They lick the chocolate and marshmallows off the crackers and then ask for more chocolate and marshmallows. The crackers are superfluous and my kids have been known to stick the licked bare crackers on their tummies. Delightful! Smores in tortillas however were a whole other experience and they loved them.

Besides a campfire, you will need tortillas, marshmallows and chocolate. I hope you like our healthy choice of whole wheat tortillas, it really balances out the marshmallows. You could use your pet kind of chocolate but my favorite for any recipe is Ghiradelli 60% Cocoa chocolate chips. I have the remains of this bag in my cabinet right now and I get a few during the day when no little ones are looking. It's not something I like to share and I'm not ashamed to say it. So lay the tortilla in a lightly buttered skillet and adorn with the marshmallows and chocolate. As soon as they start to melt, carefully move the smaco to a plate and fold in half like you would a quesadilla. Actually, they should be called smaquadillas but that just doesn't sound a fun as smacos. Be sure to let them cool a few minutes before eating because the filling can really burn you.

Now you are ready to make your own fun camping dessert if you should find yourself staying out in the wilderness some time soon with a fire, some tortillas, marshmallows and chocolate. Oh yeah, kids are helpful too. It's always entertaining to see how far they can spread something sticky!
One warning though, they can be addictive so watch out!

Friday, April 9, 2010

From My Window

I'm trying a new thing on Fridays, a variation of SouleMama's "this moment" feature. A photo with no story, except for today, that shows something I saw from my window this week. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Dresses and Little Girls

Here are my girls in their one-year Easter dresses. Oh my, they are darling if I do say so myself. And I do, quite often. I took this photograph as soon as we came home from church Sunday to document that I finally finished their Easter dresses, and it only took me one year!
You see, last year months before Easter, I began thinking about their dresses. Mentally I reviewed all the fabric in my stash and when I came to this piece I had a vision of their dresses. This fabric was purchased before they were even born from the $1 per yard rack at a local store. Originally it was going to be something for me but I was nagged by fears of looking like I was wearing a circus tent. So it languished in my fabric stash awaiting it's destiny. When the inspiration struck I immediately bought some soft cotton yarn and started on the little sweaters. Big Sister's sweater is the first one I designed myself! As soon as they were finished (which wasn't very soon) I started cutting out the dresses. The week of Easter they were still in pieces by my sewing machine waiting for an opportunity to be made into little frocks.
Three days before Easter, my sweet Mamaw passed away. She loved Easter so I've always envisioned her cooking a big Easter dinner for Jesus in heaven just after she arrived. So that Saturday, instead of dying eggs, we were driving eleven hours down south for her service. Driving eleven hours with five small children isn't my idea of a good time but we made it. It wasn't until the drive back that I begged my husband to let me out on the side of the road with the baby so I could walk home by myself. I was proud of my perseverance.
Anyway, we quickly got back into the swing of thing with spring and summer flying by and our days were spent enjoying swimming and our cute new baby. Finally, when the realization that Easter was upon us again, I dug out the unfinished dresses and put them together just in time. They still fit the girls and they were delighted with them. They twirled and skipped around, took the sweaters on and off and were generally so ladylike. This photograph is proof of that!