Thursday, December 30, 2010
We are still eating leftovers.
I feel a little guitly.
Not guilty enough to resume large family dinners with 5 and 6 courses. But guilty still the same.
So I made breakfast this morning.
Pan roasted potatoes.
Leftover Holiday Ham.
and. . . .
Made with Oatmeal.
And Brown Sugar.
We even threw in some bananas because my mother is here and she has a real problem with bananas at breakfast time.
Banana Cream of Wheat.
Bananas in our Cereal.
Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas.
Bananas over our ice cream.
Bananas mashed in our milk.
That lady is really bananas. (A little shout out to my pun-tastic friend, Jules.)
She had thrown them into the pancakes before I could say Flapjack.
Healthy Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes about 20 nice size pancakes.
2 cups milk
2 tb lemon juice
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 cups oatmeal flour **
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TB brown sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed (optional)
** You can easily and inexpenisively make oatmeal flour in seconds. Place a two cups of oatmeal in your blender and blend until the grain is the consistency of flour. It will take about 30 seconds.
1. In a small bowl mix all wet ingredients (milk, lemon juice, and eggs).
2. In a large mixing bowl combine oatmeal, oatmeal flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Stir in wet ingredients.
3. Fold in bananas.
4. Spray a skillet with Cooking Spray and heat over medium/medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, pour the batter into skillet and cook until the batter begins to bubble and dry out around the edges. Flip. Continue to cook until light brown on both sides.
Monday, December 27, 2010
|The Cookie Manger Scene my Progeny Made for Santa.|
It was so pretty, he didn't dare eat one.
I'm not going to let this go quite yet.
In my mind the 12 days of Christmas start on December 25th. I mean, the Wise Men won't even make it to the manger scene for days, so I'm perfectly logical to be wishing you a Merry Christmas.
I'm not going to be handing out gifts or anything, so you can tell my kids to keep their sticky little hands to themselves.
But. . .. . .
We can still be merry.
And turn on Christmas lights.
And bargain shop at after Christmas specials.
And. . . .
Yes, even though our tummies are about to explode, we can still eat.
Which is what I'm about to go do right now.
Gotta clear out that Buttermilk Pie, stat.
So Merry Christmas from The Woo's, for atleast the next 10 or so days.
Falalalaa Lala La La.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The four year old is out to ruin Christmas for the whole lot of us.
Tuesday, 11:00 am, Dollar Tree
Me: Okay gang. Let's split up. Shelbi and Bella you guys shop and grab your presents. I'll take Soledad with me and we'll grab her presents. We'll meet up at the front of the store when we're done.
The oldest girls, are on their way. I'm left staring at the 4 year old, face to face.
Me: You know we are not shopping for you, right?
4 year old: Yes, presents for my sisters. That's it.
Me: Don't ask me to buy you anything. We are here to purchase for other people. Not you. Got it?
4 year old: Yes.
15 seconds later.
4 year old: Can I have this Minnie Mouse Doll? I really love it.
4 year old: Why?
Me: BECAUSE we are not shopping for you.
4 year old: Hmmmm. Well then, I think Shelbi wants this for Christmas. *holds up Minnie Mouse Doll*
Me: I was not born yesterday, I see your evil scheme, and I will stop it. Nobody can have the Minnie Mouse Doll. Pick something else.
Minutes pass with this entire scheme replaying like a bad nightmare. We're still in the toy section, when Shelbi and Bella show up.
Soledad: Hey Bella! Look what I'm getting you for Christmas! Do you really love this Pony Doll? It's pink and blue.
Bella: Soledad, you're not really supposed to tell me what you're getting me. It's supposed to be a surprise.
Soledad: Fine. I was just trying to make sure you really wanted it it. Humph.
I pull Soledad out of the Toy Section, as she yells to her sisters all sorts of Christmas secrets.
We finally check out at the cash register, and make it to the car.
All of my girls are settling into their seats as I toss the stroller in the trunk, when I hear some murmuring and a bit of muffled laughter.
Shelbi: Soledad. Soledad. What did you get me for Christmas?
Me in the background: I hope nobody is telling secrets they should not be telling!
Shelbi: Soli! Give me a hint. What did you get me?
Soledad: I can't tell YOU. *sits thinking*
"Self," Soledad my crazily bright sometimes naughty 4 year old says VERY LOUDLY to herself, "I bought Shelbi an iPhone Sticker. I bought Shelbi an iPhone Sticker. Self. Did you hear me? I bought Shelbi an iPhone Sticker."
That kid is going to be the death of me.
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Give that 4 year old some candy, some graham crackers and something to do, to get her mind off ruining Christmas.
Maybe I'm being harsh.
I'll admit it was nice when she allowed me to pick my very own dollar present.
But just in case she decides to spill any more secrets, I'll head her off at the pass.
Armed with icing, candy, and sugared cereal. She won't know what hit her.
We made these "gingerbread houses" out our local library. They were super easy, fun, and didn't involve royal icing. All the ingredients can be purchased right off the shelf.
Super Quick Gingerbread Houses
These "Gingerbread Houses" won't last a long as the traditional, but they are super fun and easy to make, and even more of a delight to eat. If the houses are left to sit overnight, they will harden.
What You Need:
Small empty clean single serving milk carton (Or any small box )
Plastic Knife/Spoon or Popsicle Stick
Prepared White Butter Cream Icing
Sheets of Graham Crackers
Sugared Cereal (Frosted Mini Wheats make a good roof. Lucky Charms has fun colorful marshmallows)
Sprinkles and Powdered Sugar
What To Do:
1. Place milk carton on plate. Mound icing on the side of the plate.
2. Using the plastic utensil spread icing on the sides of the carton. Place graham crackers on top in the shape of a house. Don't forget the roof!
3. Place icing strategically on the house and decorate with candy and cereal.
4. Once complete, sprinkle with Powdered Sugar (snow) and sprinkles.
Monday, December 20, 2010
4 reasons why I should not be trusted with peoples lives and memories:
2. In a frantic attempt to create more memories, Mr. Woo and I took the kids to the mall to take NEW pictures with Santa. Apparently, child #4 four doesn't really like Santa.
She couldn't even be coaxed to put up with his jolliness with a rainbow candy cane.
That's the thing that is sitting in her mouth, all red and blueish, that's about to fall onto Santa's bright white gloves.
3. SOMEBODY, manger jacked baby Jesus. It's 6 days till Christmas. Good behavior is on the line, and somebody kidnapped the Lord and Savior.
Luckily, we have a stand in.
He belongs to another Nativity Set, but his parents said they wouldn't mind if we borrowed him.
4. And just to put alcohol on an already stinging open wound, I wrote a cookbook review. For that review, I baked a batch of cookies. And. . . . ummmmmm. . . . . . .I didn't actually read the recipe. Well, I read it. Just not well.
Don't judge. I was in a hurry.
This is a real problem I have. Along with not listening to my husband when he's talking, keeping Christmas pictures safe, teaching children not to hijack baby Jesus. . . . . I also don't really follow recipes too well.
I don't know what to do with myself.
Oh well. I'm sure those pictures will turn up someday.
The baby shouldn't be too traumatized, we did buy her an ice cream after the whole ordeal.
The nativity now has some lovely brown flavor to liven things up.
And those cookies, after a little tinkering, came out IN-CRED-IBLE.
You won't find a more fabulous cookie anywhere.
Soft, and pillowey, like those frosted cookies you can buy at the grocery.
But 10 times more buttery, and 100 times more heavenly.
The richness from the lemonade makes them taste like Lemon Bars, but they're not gooey, or messy.
And the sweet tartness of the glaze, makes you lick your lips and beg for more.
So, you know what I say? When life hands you lemons. . . . . . . . . .
Make Lemonade Cookies.
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That was pretty good, wasn't it?
Did you like how I just wrapped that all up with a tidy red bow?
How I just made you think everything is going to be alright, even if you're a nut job like me.
That's the spirit of Christmas my friends. Just spreading the love.
Merry Christmas! Now go bake some cookies.
Lemonade Cookies Recipe #2
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 12 oz can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 teaspoons milk
3 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is creamy, add eggs, one at a time and mix well.
3. In a seperate bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add lemonade, and stir to combine. Next add butter mixture, and beat until smooth.
4. Place cookie dough in refrigerator to harden, 10-15 minutes.
4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined or silpat lined cookie sheet (If you don't have either, use an ungreased cookie sheet).
5. Bake for 8 minutes, or until center is set.
6. Let cool.
7. While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix confectioners sugar and milk. Stir until smooth. Add corn syrup and lemon juice, and beat until smooth and glossy. If the icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
8. Once the cookies have cooled, drizzle the glaze on top. The glaze will completely harden in about 15-30 minutes. Eat!
Makes about 5 dozen
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I'm just going to put all my cards on the table.
Any book that has over 170 cookie recipes is not going to get a bad review from me.
Cookies, bars, and candy recipes from all over the world. Come on peeps, I'm in heaven.
Not to mention the fact that this book, this fabulous piece of literary genius, caused my otherwise unreading always bored child to pause, grab the book and sit next to her Mama on the bed and read it cover to cover, dreaming about the cookies and parties we could have together.
Could have together.
She'd have a party with me. And be my co-host. We could bake together. Side by side.
She'd whip up some Snickerdoodles, and when she turned her head I'd add more cinnamon.
She'd ask me how to whip the meringue, and I'd grab it from her and just do it myself.
She'd yell at me for being too bossy and never letting her add chocolate chips to everything.
We'd plan party decorations with her telling me the entire time that kids these days don't like the old fashioned stuff I'm into.
She'd choose games that were ridiculously silly, with prizes that were ridiculously indulgent.
And then, we'd wrap it all up with me saying, "HOLD ON. Listen to me! Stop acting like you know everything!"
And finally she'd scream, "Mommy you're so unfair. I don't want to cook anymore!"
But she would, right after I let her lick the batter bowl.
And life would be perfect.
With cookies, and parties, and traditions, and a guide to tell us how to do it step by step.
You can't put a price tag on that my friends.
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When I saw this recipe, my mouth watered at the mere thought.
Lemonade. Sour, sweet, and undeniably delicious.
Coupled with the sweet, crumbly decadence of a butter cookie.
And it only calls for 6 ingredients.
Somebody slap me.
Excerpted from The Cookie Party Cookbook by Robin L. Olson.
Copyright © 2010 by the author and reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Griffin
Linda Maxell, Porterville, California
This is an old family favorite.
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 6-oz can frozen lemonade concentrate
Heat oven to 400° F / 200° C
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Combine flour and baking soda, and add alternately with ½ cup undiluted lemonade. Mix well and drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.
After taking cookies out of the oven, brush the remaining lemonade over them and sprinkle with sugar.
Yield: 5 dozen
To learn more about Robin L. Olson, The Cookie Exchange Queen, you can go to her website at
Friday, December 17, 2010
I know a kid is who is the biggest smarty pants.
In the entire universe.
Yup. That's her.
She is also the biggest Know It All, I have ever met in the 35 years that I have roamed this planet.
And now she has proof.
She just won 2nd place in the school Science Fair.
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I keep telling my kids, "Your only smart because Mommy makes you smart."
I like to keep it real people.
Mommy is smart.
Mommy married Daddy because Daddy is smart.
When two smart people make babies, guess what, the babies are smart.
The smart babies turn into children who must then continue to eat all their vegetables or else they won't remain smart.
But sometimes the smart mommy's have to hide the vegetables in the smart children's food, because the smart children aren't quite as smart as the smart mommy.
Pumpkin Pudding Parfait
This recipe comes to us from my smart mommy friend Ashlee. Who apparently is just as deceitful as me.
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
24 oz. of prepared Vanilla pudding ( 6 pudding cups)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
6 sheets of Low-Fat Graham Crackers, crumbled
Crushed Nuts or Granola
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and pudding. Sprinkle cinnamon on top, and whisk to combine.
2. Divide crumbled graham crackers evenly, by placing at the bottom of 6 shallow glasses.
3. Place about 3/4 cup of pumpkin mixture into the glass.
4. Sprinkle with 1 TB of nuts or granola.
5. Top with whipped cream. Serve.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I feel like Charlie Brown.
You know, all conflicted and unsure inside. Wanting everyone to be happy with my decisions and my ideas, but totally determined to tell the truth. Darned if you do. Darned if you don't.
Charlie Brown is a bit of a knuckle head. I love him anyway. And you've got to admit, he was totally right about that little Christmas tree. It was the best one. It cleaned up really well.
I'm a bit of a knuckle head too. All excited about SWAGG, a new app for your IPhone or Android. But I've been feeling like a crazy head trying to use it.
What it's supposed to be: A way to deal with the overabundance of gift cards, loyalty and memberships cards that clutter up your wallet. You load your gift cards onto to your phone, making them digital. Voila! You get to throw away all the clutter. Great idea. But uhhhh. . . . . .there were some problems.
And therein starts this Christmas Tale. The story of the girl who received a SWAGG gift to American Eagle for $20 but had a whole lot of trouble using it.
Me, all excited goes to the mall. Shops. Ponders. Decides. Goes to the cash register.
I start to get a little nervous, because I'm thinking, they're going to think I'm weird. Digital gift card on my phone. Cool. Me handing them my phone telling them to do what it says. Weird. Me holding my camera in my hand trying to take pictures. Weird. Crying baby, who I think just made a poopy, weird and smelly.
There was lots of bumbling, and lots of mumbling. A call to the assistant manager. Then a call to the manager.
"Use it as a gift card," one person barks.
"No, no, no, type it in as a credit card, " another person corrects.
Round and round in circles we went, until the smell of my babies diaper brought us all to a grinding halt. In the end, they couldn't get the card to work. I'm not sure why. But, for my time and trouble they gave me a discount that would have equalled the $20, and off I went on my merry, stinkin' way.
When I got home, I was determined to make the SWAGG App work.
So, I sit down at my computer and go to American Eagle's Website. I shop. I load things into my cart. I click checkout. I enter my information, as a CREDIT CARD (as the instructions on the App indicate) and the website accepts it.
But. . . my total was $21 and some change. And I only have $20 on my gift card. And there was no way to enter another credit card to take care of the difference. I get a receipt in my email saying the order has been processed, but I'm a little nervous.
2 hours pass. The phone rings. It's American Eagle Customer Service. Big Shock.
"Ma'am, there has been a problem with your order. It didn't go through. Is there another credit card you'd like to use?"
"No, there isn't." I say depressed. And I go on to explain my story.
This is the conclusion that the Online American Eagle Customer Service Lady and I came to. The order would have gone through had it been less than $20. But since it was over, it was denied. Had it been processed like a gift card (which as of now you can't do) they could have combined my gift card and my credit card. But no dice. So now if I want to use the card, I have to buy something that totals $20 or less including shipping and taxes.
Good look finding something that comes to exactly $20. Which means, there will be money left on the card, and you my friend, lose money.
End Result: Great idea, with a lot of potential. But the kinks need to be worked out. I tried making an online purchase again for a total of $16.15 and it seems to have worked so far.
How does this relate to Charlie Brown?
SWAGG is the little Christmas Tree. It needs some love, and some attention, but it's a great idea. Hopefully, they'll regroup and work the kinks out to make it shine to its full potential.
Want the App? Go here http://bit.ly/swaggislive
Every download in the month of December = $1 donation from SWAGG to Stand Up 2 Cancer
For more information go to http://www.swagg.com/#/home
Monday, December 13, 2010
It's early. Very early. The sun hasn't even come out. I can hear a few birds chirping, but I think they are just yelling at me to go back to sleep. I'm up, because I'm an "early bird". It's when I get the majority of my chores done. I roam around the house cleaning up, writing, and getting ready for the day ahead.
Though I've been up for slightly over an hour, I'm still in a haze. I groggily walk around the house, completely grumpy. I can see the light turn on through the crack under my bedroom door. I hear the bed creek, the shower turns on, and then I hear. . . .a loud singing yodel type sound. . . completely off key.
It's Warwick. He sings in the shower. Every morning. All the time. Always off note. Never on key. One octave higher than Mariah Carey.
I roll my eyes. On some days this trait is completely endearing. Today, it is not. It is loud. And there are sleeping babies to be worried about. I hear the voice in my head telling me to "Shut Up, and stop being so grumpy. Singing is life, and love, and happiness." So I listen, and move on.
I walk my tired hiney upstairs, mumbling under my breath. Little ones are already awake getting ready for school. I walk into the game room to fold laundry, and I hear the 4 year "beat boxing" in the bathroom with a mouth full of toothpaste foam. She's loud. Really loud. And off key. And annoying. I want to say something, but I don't because I think maybe beat boxing is a cousin to singing which is life, and love, and happiness. So I bite my lip, and move on.
I walk into the 6 year old's room, only to find her dancing AND singing in her underwear. While, NOT getting dressed. I yell at her to get dressed, and stop playing around, but she just ignores me because I'm grumpy. She is too loud. Off key, and completely annoying. But I move on noting a strange trend.
I begin to make my way back down the stairs to the kitchen, when I hear this loud screeching noise. "Is the tea pot exploding?" I wonder. "Do we even have a tea pot?" So I peep through the stair banisters on my way down to the kitchen, and realize it's just my oldest singing to her Ipod. She's really loud. And off key. And really annoying. I shouldn't tell her to stop. But it hurts my ears. But, I don't because I remember, singing is life, and love and happiness. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Shockingly, with all this racket going on, I hear crying in the distance. The Woo Choir has woken up the baby. Great.
Again my tired hiney takes to the stairs to go retrieve my sleepy, groggy, baby. I open the door to her room, and I'm totally stunned when I realize she is not crying she is humming. Loud and clear. Singing a tune akin to her sister downstairs, the other one in her room, the rapper in the bathroom, and that nut who started it all in the shower.
I live in a house of singing banshees.
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What is the definition of corny anyway?
adj cornier, corniest Slang
1. trite or banal
2. sentimental or mawkish
3. abounding in corn
Yup. That's the Woo Clan. Trite, banal, sentimental or mawkish - take your pick. Funny they didn't have their picture noted as exhibit A.
I too, can serve up my portion of corn. That would be #3, abounding in corn.
Corn Chowder that is.
Corn Chowder that is so good, that I brought my baby TO THE GROCERY STORE, in her pajamas without combing her hair, just so I could get the ingredients.
That's dedication. Not to my child. To the food. No worries. The baby understands.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 TB oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence (or you could use thyme if you don't have Herbes de Provence lying around)
1/4 cup flour
8 cups chicken stock ( or the equivalent in water and chicken bouillon)
1 pound white potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup half and half
1 cup whole milk
6 ears of fresh corn (or 3 cups frozen corn kernels)
Salt and Pepper
Crumbled bacon or ham
1. In a large pot, heat butter and oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until tender and translucent about five minutes. Add garlic and Herbes de Provence. Cook for one minute longer. Add flour, and stir continually while cooking for 2 minutes longer.
2. Using a whisk to stir, pour in chicken stock, continuing to whisk to incorporate fully.
3. Add the potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in half and half, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered until potatoes are tender about 20 minutes.
3. Add corn, and cook until soft about 15 minutes longer. During the last five minutes of cooking add the milk, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cheese and bacon. Serve warm.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Did you hear that sound?
That loud crashing, shattering sound?
That was the sound of my fairytale ending. The sound of my heart being broken into a million jillion little pieces.
I'm not surprised though. Some say all good things must come to an end. The dark of night will always return. And the romantic husband never dies, he just fades away.
You know, HE (Mr. Woo) reads every single one of my blog posts.
Oh, please. Don't get all excited.
If he had a blog, I'd read his posts too. Mostly. Well some. Okay, occasionally when they weren't too nerdy. Anyway, yesterday he read my blog post.
My blog post where I opened up my heart and layed it all on the table. The one where I practically built him a monument on my Tricuspid Valve. Where I said he is so handsome, so charming, and so fantastic. I mean I really spilled my guts. I was vulnerable. Willing to deal with whatever rejection that might come my way. But I never expected this.
Maybe, I thought, he'll say, "Geez (he doesn't use that word, but you get the picture) Nicole, that is really embarassing. You, gushing (another word he doesn't use) all over me like that. It's prideless (he uses that word a lot).
Or maybe, I thought, he'll say, "Oh yeah, you think I'm charming and handsome and lovely. I'll show you what's lovely." And then. . . . . I'll let your imagination take you the rest of the way with that one.
But that's not what he said. He called me on the phone to tell me "paragraph #5 is confusing. And it's not the Casper Shuffle, it's the Cupid Shuffle. And I really think the middle paragraphs didn't flow very well."
I can take a little constructive criticism.
So I wait for the "But. . . . .those were really nice things you said about me. Thanks. I mean it. I feel exactly the same way about you. You. Wonderful you! Who is the best mother, friend, and the most gorgeous woman ALIVE. I LOVE YOU WOMAN OF MINE!"
But, guess what. I'm still waiting.
He did not whisper one word that even resembled those I've mentioned. He just said, "I just wanted to tell you what you did wrong (I'm paraphrasing)." And then he hung up the phone.
If he weren't my husband, and if he didn't come home being all "considerate, sweet, selfless, and helpful," I'd call him a jerk.
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My poor confused heart needs a pick me up after just going through the grinder.
And I would give it a good dose of Gingerbread Granola, chocked full of whole grain oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, apricots, raisins, flaxseeds, cinnamon and ginger . . . . . .,but my tapeworm children have eaten it all up.
Oh, I'm just being grumpy. I'm glad they love it so much.
Something soooooo good for them, that I don't even have to shovel down their throats. They do it themselves, gladly.
Something so good, that there friends like it too.
And so do their friends parents.
And maybe even their spouses, if there not too busy being rude (Mr. Woo!).
And its really easy to make.
And it looks really pretty in a package.
And you can give it away as presents to neighbors and friends.
And it will make your neighbors and friends be all impressed because its healthy and yummy.
And its high in fiber, yet low in sodium.
And to top it all off, it can help lower the risk of disease and contribute to your overall well being.
I'm just saying.
I don't know many gifts that can do that.
So Happy Holidays to All! May your hearts be merry, your bodies strong, and your love ever faithful!
This recipe is brought to you from the good folks at Texas Oncology who are always looking for ways to help us lead healthier, happier lives while lowering the risk of disease.
Gotta love those folks.
For more information about Gingerbread Granola and other great holiday recipes (Holiday Crunch Time, Jingle Jam, and Holly Jolly Biscotti) visit http://www.TexasOncology.com/GingerbreadGranola
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup raw slivered almonds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons flax seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 300˚F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds,
flax seeds, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the agave nectar, brown sugar, and
molasses. Pour over dry mixture and stir until incorporated thoroughly.
Evenly spread the granola mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until dry, stirring
occasionally, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly before adding apricots and raisins. Once cooled completely, store in an airtight jar or sealed bag.
Try it in many different ways:
• Combine it with milk for a healthy start to the morning.
• Sprinkle it over yogurt with fresh fruit.
• Put it on top of ice cream for a sweet treat.
• Serve it as a nutritious afternoon snack.
• For seasonal color, add dried cherries, which are rich in Vitamin C.
• Sweeten it up with bits of dark chocolate for antioxidant power.
• Add chopped pecans or walnuts for a nutty dose of protein.
• Mix in sesame seeds for a calcium boost.
Monday, December 6, 2010
I think I'm "feenin" for my husband.
I don't know any other way to say this other than he is so completely charming.
He is handsome to the T.
With stunning dimples.
And oh, don't get me started on is winning personality.
It's enough to make me swoon.
I don't tell him this enough. Generally, it's a one way street with him telling me how much I rock his world. And we both seem to be okay with that. But, we recently went to a Christmas Party, and I couldn't stop staring at that fella all night long.
He didn't do anything different just his basic, wonderful, best person in the world stuff. Blah, blah, blah, blah. I've come to ignore it, in light of the fact that I have 4 children attached to my leg.
But on the night of his work Christmas Party, I had no children. What I did have, was a Cape Cod in one hand and an Apple Martini in the other, and one heck of a Dapper Dan standing in front of me.
He walked around the room mingling, holding on to me tightly as he introduced me to his co-workers. He smiled at me, asked me if I was hungry or if he could get me another drink. He tossed his head back, laughing and giggling at the silly comments I made. His grin was wide and dazzling as he wittily talked to his friends about this or that.
And when the music came on, he danced right beside me because I don't really do line dancing (I prefer free-style). No dance floor him, and no apologies, he just whirled around dancing to the Cupid Shuffle and Step in the Name of Love. I think he even "dropped it like it was hot." He was so cute. His buddies chuckled at the sight of him. But he didn't care; he just kept on being himself.
That night, we met a few people that he has known since childhood, and I think they were as smitten with him as I am. He's always been this charming. Since Day One of his life. Since Day One of our marriage.
I'm going to keep my eyes open to this everyday. I'm not going let the craziness of my world blur my vision of him. I'm going to seek out his loveliness every minute of every day for the rest of my life.
How did I ever get so lucky to have him in my life? Uhhhhh.
Now . . . . . . please excuse me. . . . . .I'm going to go gag.
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You know where I'm going with this. Yes sir, he is smokin'.
Not your typical kind of smokin' though. You could miss it if your weren't looking in the right place.
It's not just out there, waving wildly for all too see. It's more subdued. More in the background.
Kinda like the smokiness of this soup.
Just the gentle hint of a deeper flavor in the backdrop. Reminiscent of a light earthiness.
Coupled with the creamy richness of the lentils, this soup will quickly become a favorite.
The first time I had it I was in Spain studying for a semester. And though I'd never had it before, it brought me back to home with its comforting warmth and heartiness. When you eat it, you can't help but feel loved.
Smoky Lentil Soup
2 TB oil
1/2 pound smoked sausage, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cups carrots, diced
2 bay leaves
1 TB Herbs de Provence
10 cups chicken stock
16 oz. bag of dried lentils
1 pound boneless smoked pork chops, cut into bite size 1/2 - 3/4 inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1.) In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots and cook until soft and translucent about 8 minutes.
2.) Add bay leaves, Herbes de Provence, 8 cups of chicken stock, and lentils. Bring to boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to simmer, and cook partially covered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.
3.) Remove lid, and add pork chops and remaining 2 cups of water. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender and the soup has thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Childhood is great, but sometimes it can really suck.
Like when you have a nightmare, you wake up hot, sweaty, and scared out of your mind. And there aren't many options.
You can either
A.) Stay in your bed, and hope nothing comes to eat you.
B.) Get out of your bed to go and tell your parents, and hope nothing eats you on the way.
Which let's face it. Neither is a bowl of gumballs. In scenario A, staying in bed will definitely get you eaten or at least eat up your sleepy time, cause ain't nobody going to sleep after a monster just chased you down the street. And Scenario B, while it may be the most promising with possibilities of sleeping in Mom and Dad's bed or at least a reassuring hug, one must be able to navigate the hazardous and perilous domain of a dark, creeky house. That my friends, is not for the weak of heart.
But when you're an adult, and you share your bed with someone else, well at least you know you won't be eaten alive, all by yourself.
Last night before I went to bed I had a piece of Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake. It was so good that it conjured up Britney Spears and monsters. But luckily I had my trusty Nightmare Catcher at my side.
I wake up, and give my nightmare catcher a real good shake.
Me: Warwick. Warwick. WARWICK!!!!!! Wake up. I had a nightmare.
Warwick: Huh. Huh. What?
Me: WAKE UP! I. had. a. nightmare.
Warwick: Uhhhh. Okay.
And in the mist of his dreary world he throws his 500 pound arm in my direction in the form of a bear hug.
Me: No. Not yet. It was really bad. I need the remote to the TV.
He's asleep. And he's confused. Under normal awake circumstances, I could've told him that I can't possibly get out of the bed to get the remote myself, because well I'm still not sure that the monster is not under the bed eating Brittany Spears. So that he must get the remote for me so that I don't lose my feet.
He stretches his long arm to the nightstand and knocks everything to the floor because he can't find the remote. Damn.
Warwick: Mmm. It must be in the bed.
We both started patted the bed down wildly (me a little more wild than him) trying to find that darn thing.
Uh oh. No luck. I could try to get him to get up and turn on the lights, but that would take too much time. I must make a run for it. I jump out of bed, run to the light switch, turn it on, spot the remote, yell to him to grab it, flip the switch back off, and make one large leap back onto the bed, because now the monster has been alerted and if I get too close to the edge again, surely he'll eat me for dessert.
Once I'm safe, I say thanks, and grab the remote as I'm nuzzling back under the covers. I back right into the curve of his chest, and signal that I'd like his 500 pound arm now. I turn on the TV, and go back to sleep, with no fear of monsters.
Because everybody knows, monsters can't eat you if you have a Nightmare Catcher AND the TV on.
This is my favorite part of marriage.
This may be Warwick's worst.
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Don't feel too sorry for him. My mother does. But really you shouldn't.
On a good day, when there are no nightmares, I have some really positive qualities that aren't quite so juvenile and selfish.
Like, I can cook. And when I love somebody a whole lot, I generally cook a whole lot.
Things that I might not generally cook, if I were all by my lonesome.
Like a certain Nightmare Catchers favorite soup.
With comforting aromas of cumin and coriander.
The tenderness of chicken, moist and succulent.
The crunch of freshly made tortilla chips.
The creaminess of the sour cream.
Yes, I love that man. For him I would climb the highest mountain. Luckily, he only requires this soup.
Quick Tortilla Soup
4 TB oil (split in half)
1 medium onion, minced and chopped finely
1 garlic clove, minced or chopped finely
1 bell pepper, minced or chopped finely
1 jalapeno or other favorite spicy pepper, diced (remove seeds and veins if you don't want it too spicy)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 TB tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
2 1/2 -3 cups cooked chicken ( we used leftover Thanksgiving Turkey)
1 lime, juiced
8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch thin strips
Fresh Cilantro, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1 avocado, chopped (optional)
Grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1.) In a large pot, heat 2 TB over medium high heat. Add tortilla strips and cook until golden and crispy about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt while hot. Set aside.
2.) In the same large pot, heat another 2 TB oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, salt, cumin, and coriander, and cook until vegetables are soft and translucent. About 5 minutes.
3.) Add tomato paste and cook one minute longer.
4.) Add stock and bring to boil. Once it reaches boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and juice from the lime and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
5.) Ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh tomatoes, avocado, grated cheese, tortilla strips, and sour cream and cilantro. Yum!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
You know what else I love about Christmas?
The white lights that twinkle like snow in the night.
The colored lights remind me of all my favorite things like houses made of gingerbread and candy, funny little fairytales, and witches being thrown into ovens.
But what I really like, is that they make me so happy. That they make my heart smile. Huge, wide grins.
Because they pull me to this moment. Where there is only light and love.
They remind me that the simplest things are the best things. They remind me of the sparkle in my children's eyes. And the way their eyes light up on Christmas Day. And how the whole world seems to be quiet, if only for a short time. To rejoice and be happy and to give love.
Those little lights remind me of trays of sweet fruit on Christmas morning devoured behind a thick slice of crumbly coffee cake. And stubbing my toe on a toy that is right in the middle of the hallway, and not even caring.
And that is why, I deal with one of my least favorite things about Christmas.
Putting UP the lights.
And dealing with Mr. Woo yelling that I'm not holding the ladder tight enough, and that he might die. Or that he's tired, and he wants to take a break. Or that it might rain, or it might not, and these are all key factors as to whether or not he will or won't get on a ladder, climb two stories and risk his life.
His beautiful, wonderful, very appreciated life. Yes, my sweet. It is precious. But you must risk it if we are to have one up on our neighbors.