Thursday, March 27, 2014

#TBT: Daddy's Boys

How is it possible that both of my boys, who look so different from each other, can still look exactly like their daddy?  I love finding old photos of Brian at the boys' current ages and comparing them.  Am I the only one that sees so much of their dad in them?

Brian at 18 months/Eli at 18 months

Brian at 4 years old/Theo at 4 years old

Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

Occasionally, I will treat Brian to Irish Soda Bread when I make my easy modified shepherd's pie.  I still make this recipe that I posted years ago, but I have long ago dropped the bacon from it and recently changed from sour cream to a low-fat/no-fat yogurt just to drop a little more fat.  Sometimes I make it with beef or lamb, but I prefer to make it with turkey just to bring the nutritional value up even more.

I like to make this shepherd's pie meal every other week or so, but it has probably been a year since I've made any of the soda bread.  However, since it's St. Patty's Day I decided I would go ahead and make up a loaf for the holiday.

This bread doesn't necessarily have the most traditional presentation and shape, but I love how it turns out.  It's one of the only things I make that uses a bundt pan.  The one I have doubles as a springform pan as well.  I love pans that have multiple uses like this since I still have pretty limited kitchen storage.

 In a large bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 Tbsps caraway seeds, 2 tsps baking powder, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda.
In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs and 2 cups (16 oz) of sour cream.  

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fold in 3/4 cup raisins. 

Spoon into a greased 9-inch bundt/springform pan.

Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  

 Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing sides of pan.  Cut into 8 wedges; serve warm.

Friday, March 14, 2014

3.14 (Double Good Blueberry Pie)

Happy Pi Day!
On Valentine's Day I received some teacher ads in the mail that included a "pi" pencil (yes, I have ordered these before to give out to kids) and realized how awesome next year will be for the math world when it is 3.14.15... especially at 9:26 that day.  I may even have to come up with a new pie recipe in anticipation of that event. 

As is it, I am pretty firm in only making a few pies a year.  I learned within a few months of dating him that my husband has a very strong affinity for pie.  I still clearly remember a dozen years ago when we were sitting, chatting at a wrestling invitational, when someone walked by with a slice of pie.  Despite the fact that I was mid-sentence, he stood up, said "they have pie?!?" and literally ran to the cafeteria (without bothering to ask if I wanted any, or letting me finish my sentence).  I still tease him about it, and I know he would appreciate it if I made a lot more pies than I do a year, but I would like him to live a long time and he normally will eat about 80% of the pie in a two day time period.  Not the best thing for his diet (though I guess all the fruit is sorta healthy, right?).  My normal schedule is Strawberry Rhubarb (link), Double Blueberry Pie (normally for Father's Day), Pumpkin pie (the recipe on the can), and my Apple-Carmel pie (look for a link in July).  Now that Brian has two boys to share the pie with, I've decided it won't be so bad if I make some extras this year.

So without further ado, here is a pie recipe for PI Day 2014.  I've mentioned this pie before here and here.  It is a vintage recipe, coming from the 1965 edition of the "Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook".

Start with a 9-inch pre-baked pie crust.  I normally pick these up at the store, but decided to be a little more thrifty and just make my own this time since I've got the time and two helpers who would love to help with this part.

Combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1/2 tsp salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp shortening (a great job for a four year old) until you have a course cornmeal like mixture.  Let said four year old sprinkle 2 to 2 1/2 Tbsp cold water on mixture as you stir together with a fork.  Work together until moist, yet not sticky.  Shape dough into a ball, and roll out to a 10" circle.  Transfer to pan and trim edges.  Prick surfaces of pie, and refrigerate for half an hour.  Bake in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes or until it is browned sufficiently.   Cool.

Working together to put the pie weights in.  I was so happy to finally use these for the first time.  These were a splurge purchase.

Now, for the pie:

To a saucepan, add 3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
and 2 cups blueberries (I used frozen for this part).

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (another great job for a little helper), until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened and clear.

 Remove from heat, and stir in 1 Tbsp butter
and 1 Tbsp lemon juice.

When ready to assemble, place 2 cups fresh, raw blueberries in cooled, pre-baked pie shell.

Top with cooked berry mixture.
Chill or serve at room temperature.
He's finally learning he has to wait until the end to lick.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, depending on the season.

And reminisce about your favorite math class/facts/activities/teacher.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Elijah: 18 months

18 months!
 You have officially lived in Virginia for half of your life now, as your turn one and a half years old today!  We made it through the long winter since my last update, and you are so happy for spring.

 Here are my thoughts of you at 18 months old:

Big Boy:  You really want to be just like big brother.  You refuse to drink out of sippy cups anymore (except in the car, thankfully) and only want cups like brother.  Sometimes you'll watch Sesame Street with your brother now, and you giggle at the different Muppets.  You're mostly just excited to sit on the couch and cuddle with Theo.  When I say it's time to walk the dog you go sit on the stairs to have your shoes put on and try to clip the leash to her collar.  And you insist on holding the leash.  You like to get up on Theo's big bed and jabber through books during story time.

Copy Cat:  You also really want to be just like mama; putting on makeup, drying and straightening hair, cutting/ironing/crafting, reading books, typing on the computer, holding/feeding/loving on your baby doll and cooking.  And cleaning.  Always cleaning.  I think part of it is you always wanting to use all my "fun" toys like the iron, broom, vacuum, hair straightener, and big mixer.  As I write this you are pretending to make waffles with the waffle maker... I am watching closely to make sure you don't plug it in.

Things You Love:  Plugging things in.  Sliding down the slide.  Walking-you are the cutest thing when you get to escape the stroller and walk yourself.  Cooking-you demand on pulling up a chair and standing at the counter every time I cook now.  I think you'll learn to cook before your brother does.  Climbing everything.  Dada-you are so excited when he comes home, you will squeal and demand long hugs.  Animals-you love seeing the cats around the neighborhood, all dogs, and will find all the books and magazines with animals.  The Itsy Bitsy Spider song.  And you still love music, and will dance just about any time we put it on.  Swimming-we were surprised by this when we took you to an open swim a few weeks ago, but you definitely were a little water bug.

Things You Don't:  Sleeping-you still cry most nights when you go to sleep, you just don't want to be alone in your bed.  It about breaks our hearts.  And you still nap in your stroller, pretty much everyday.  You also don't like to talk, still!  You think we are so funny when we try to coax words out of you or make you point to your eyes or your nose or your hair.  I think you find talking useless because you can make your wants so obvious in other ways.  I can't wait to hear your little words come though, and if you're like your brother that will start happening any day now.

15.5 months
16 months
16.5 months
17 months
17.5 months

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Busy Bag: Picture Puzzles

This has been on my to-do list for a long time.  I have seen this multiple times on pinterest, with slightly different ideas for how to make them.  Mine may not be the most durable, but I decided to just buy some sticker paper to use in making these.


Materials:  sticker paper, pop-sickle sticks

Assembly:  I simply printed out a photo on the sticker paper, stuck it to the pop-sickle sticks, and used an Exacto knife to carefully cut the sticks apart.  That's it!  No mess involved.

Activity:  Kids can put together the sticks to form a favorite photo.