Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Whatcha Making Wednesday: Bruschetta

My sweet hubby volunteered to make me dinner during Valentine's week - I appreciated having a night off from dinner prep but I also enjoyed his thoughtfulness as I enter my third trimester.  His menu included steak, corn on the cob and bruschetta.  He made it from memory based on what he helped make at the fire station previously, and since I'm already bragging, I'll have to admit that it was pretty darn good!  I love, love, loved the bruschetta he made (with Brandy's help) and snacked on it for two days after dinner that night.  If you're looking for a quick and easy appetizer or  even want to serve it as a side dish like we did, bruschetta is the way to go!

Hubby didn't follow a formal recipe - but I wanted to share this with you anyway because it was so delicious and I love that he made it for me!  Here's an approximate recipe based on my observations:

1. Toast french bread - either use a griddle or do this in the oven.  Brush bread with butter first.  To save on time, buy the french bread already cut up like hubby did!

2. Dice tomatoes and fresh, minced garlic.  Crumble feta cheese over mixture.  Add a dash of white vinegar, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Top toasted bread with tomato mixture.

If you're looking for some type of specific quantities, this Taste of Home recipe is fairly similar (with the exception of the vinegar).  And this Black Peppercorn recipe is also similar but uses lemon juice instead of vinegar for a splash of acidity.

What is your "go to" appetizer that you like to make at home?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Animal welfare: the right thing to do

I applied, and thankfully was accepted, for the National Beef Speakers Bureau.  The program is an exceptional fit for my passions and interests considering I am a fourth generation Arizona beef producer.  I am excited to have the opportunity to share why and how beef should be a part of an individuals day.  I am also thankful for my supportive husband who is currently holding down the fort with our 14-year old, 9-month old and flock of ewes who just started our early lambing season.  My man is quite the catch.  And I love him all the more for supporting me like this!

I am at a 3-day training for this year long commitment and I wanted to share a Temple Grandin quote with you that was shared with our group during a meeting with a group of individuals who oversee quality assurance, animal welfare and food safety for JBS - one of the world's largest protein suppliers. For those of you who may not know, Temple Grandin revolutionized animal handling methods to make them more humane and low stress.  She said, "I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right.  We've got to give those animals a decent life, and we've got to give them a painless death.  We owe the animals respect."

If you think using animals for food is unethical, well, I don't know what to say to you because we are on opposite sides of the fence because I don't believe that consuming animal proteins is an ethical issue.  However, I come from the camp that thinks using animals for food brings purpose to their life and abundant blessing to ours as humans.  I appreciate the good things that harvesting animals brings to my life like a nutritious protein source and many useful by-products.  In saying that though, I believe that treating animals with respect as we harvest them is the right thing to do and Temple Grandin said it very well.

I look forward to learning more during our training and will hopefully take some time to share the information with you.  I would love to hear from you if you  have questions about modern beef production.  What are your thoughts on how beef is produced today and what concerns do you have?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Motherhood is Messy

It's true.  Motherhood is messy.  In more ways than one.

Case #1: After returning from a play date at my sister's house, I hurriedly entered our home and sat HB down on his play mat so I could use the bathroom.  He was fussy from being in the carseat for an hour drive during his normal dinner time so I started getting some toys out to distract him.  I sat down and immediately felt something "pop" on my back side and immediately I knew what it was.  A ketchup packet.  A ketchup packet you ask?  Yes.  (This story also falls into the category of "I should have known better.") I had given my son a ketchup packet leftover from one of my fast food visits the prior week - he loved it.  It was squishy and I could refrigerate it and he loved that too.  (I know, I know, this is what teething rings are made for!)  However, I took the packet away from him during our drive home and put it in my back pocket for safe keeping...that, and common sense finally got the better of me and I was going to throw it away.  My mommy brain overtook me though from that moment on and I forgot to remove the said ketchup packet from my pocket.  I forgot about it until feeling that pop in my pocket and the subsequent gooeyness oozing into my backside.

Case #2: I sat down at the dining room table, aka my desk during the day time hours, to write a quick thank you note.  My son was happily occupying himself in our kitchen which is literally about 10 feet away from where I was at.  When I left the kitchen he was pretending to be a drummer on some of my finest tupperware.  Just as I was finishing the note, the overwhelming quiet struck me so I peeked around the corner and this is what I saw.

HB helped himself to the lowest drawer in our kitchen and quickly learned how to pull one trash bag at a time off of the roll.  I of course took a picture AND a video before distracting him.  Just as I walked up to him he began pulling the foil out to unroll it too!

Case #3: HB and I were running a few errands and the time came for a diaper switch.  I laid HB down on my front seat, removed his current soggy diaper and just as I was about to place a new diaper under his cute little tush, it happened.  My son, the surprise attack peeer, let loose.  Even at nine months he still loves to pee when his diaper is off.  A little fountain of urine hit the edge of the seat, the door jam of my truck and then my knee as it found it's way to freedom in the Costco parking lot that day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kisses...only 25 cents!

A few moms and their posses (aka kiddos) from around town got together for a Valentine themed play date last week.  HB and I enjoyed the outing; we took silly pictures, ate more than we should have and enjoyed making a Valentine card for daddy that combined fingerpainting Lil Man's hands and feet.  Enjoy the pictures below - I plan on black mailing my first born son with these adorable snapshots someday!

Mr. Sweet Cheeks!  He kept looking at Sadie the dog - I think he wanted to kiss her.
I can't resist planting a kiss on my wee one!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Christ's One and Only

Whether or not you are a Christ-follower or not, I hope this short post today will be an encouragment to you.  I think a part of all of us has been fashioned so that we desire to be someone's "one and only."  I may be wrong in this assumption when including men, but I know as women, we desire to be pursued and loved this way.  I was reminded late last week in a Beth Moore study I am participating in that each of us is Christ's "one and only."  Read and think about this quote from her below:

"Somehow in His limitless capacity to love, nurture and watch over us, Christ can attend to each of us as if we are the only one in the world."

So, as Valentine's Day looms on the horizon this week, I hope this post serves as a quick reminder of God's love for you.  He knows everything about you and your life - He purposefully crafted you in your mother's womb - He cares for you in a personal way.  I pray that you remember that each of us is Christ's "one and only."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sticky Buns

Whatcha Making Wednesday: Sticky Buns

I had the best intentions of getting this posted Wednesday but other things came up.  Like a hungry baby, crying baby, a teenager who needed taking to youth group and dishes that did not get done until last night because HB throws a huge fit if not allowed to climb into the dishwasher.  I shouldn't be surprised that these same distractions occur on a daily basis but some weeks seem to be full of such things and few things go as planned.  With that said though, I am delighted to share this recipe with you; the main reason being that I typically fail at recipes involving yeast.  (Case in point: my parmeson herb rolls two weeks ago resembled hockey pocks more than rolls.  Seriously.  Ask my husband.  He is still laughing.)  However, this recipe seemed to be a success plus my husband LOVES any type of morning delight such as these sticky buns.  The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks American Bistro.  The recipes tend to have numerous ingredients but every one that I have tried has been phenomenal.

Enjoy the recipe below!  Oh, and I plan on making these Giant Cinnamon Twists for hubby on Valentine's Day.  I would love to try your favorite recipe for morning treats - please share a link or email!

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups milk (do not use nonfat)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup firmly packed brwn sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons corn syrup
3/4 cup chopped pecans

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (I think you could use 4 here and still have more than enough)

(If you're like me, you'll want to complete steps 1-3 the night before so you can let the yeast work it's magic overnight!)

1-In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with yeast.  In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk, sugar, butter and salt, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.  Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.

2-Add the lukewarm milk mixture to the flour mixture along with the eggs.  Using a mixer, beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Increase speed to high and beat for 3 minutes.  Stir in as much of the remaining 3 cups flour as possible.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead in the remaining flour for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is soft.

3-Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning the ball once to coat.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise overnight (or at least 2 hours).

(Go to sleep...dream of yumminess in the morning.  Make sure to wake up in time enough to let the dough rise once more in the morning.)

4-Prepare the filling.  Combine all filling ingredients in a food processor (if you have one) and pulse until the pecans are finely chopped.  Set aside and butter a 9 by 13 baking dish.

5-Prepare the topping.  Combine the brown sugar, melted butter and corn syrup in a bowl.  Spread the mixture in the bottom of prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle pecans over top.

6-Punch dough down and knead again on a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half and shape each into a ball.  Place the 2 balls back into the greased bowl, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

7-On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough into a 10 by 12 inch rectangle.  Spread with 2-3 tablespoons of the room temperature butter.  Sprinkle half the filling mixture over the rectangle.  Starting with the short side, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll and brush water on the end to help seal the seam.  Make the second roll the same way.

8-Slice each roll crosswise into 6 pieces.  Arrange all 12 pieces in the prepared baking dish.  Cover loosely with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.  Turn oven on to 350 degrees F.

9-Bake the rolls for 22-25 minutes, or until light brown.  Remove baking dish from oven, place wax paper over the rolls, and invert the baking dish to release the buns and topping.  Serve warm!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Motherhood & Failure: a changing perspective

Many people ask how I like staying home as a mom.  My usual response includes something to the effect of "I love it but it definitely comes with its own set of challenges."  I guess I include the part about the challenges because I don't think enough peeople associate the challenges that go hand in hand with being a stay at home mom.  I am not trying to solicit your pity here friends, just trying to be honest.  Many times I think people consider the life of a stay at home mom as easy, casual, laid back et cetera.  Don't get me wrong, it can be those things, but as I have learned in the past nine months, staying at home full time to raise children is an excellent way of refining your relationship with Christ and Christ pointing out your sinful nature.  As I mentioned in our 2012 Christmas card I have learned much about Christ's grace in my life - recently I have been working through feeling like a failure as a mother.

A failure?  Yes, you read correctly.  With my type A personality I am driven to become proficient at skills that I enjoy using.  Example - I enjoy cooking and baking so I have spent many hours practicing my amateur skills in that area.  I love to read cook books and blogs about food and am perpetually experimenting with new recipes and techniques that seem doable.  As I have found out though, mothering or parenting is not a skill to be attained.  I am humbly finding out that I will often feel like a failure in this area of my life if I consumed with a "me" centered approach in trying to attain proficiency.  That's not to say that I won't become better at it overtime.  My perspective is changing though - God has called me to stay at home and help raise our children on a day-to-day basis and He has been generous in making this possible for our growing family.  Instead of just a skill that I am trying to become proficient at though I guess I am starting to see how God will use motherhood in my life as His way of refining, growing, teaching, admonishing, and yes, humbling me.

I am a new sojourner on this road called parenting.  I am beyond grateful for the women in my life who have already encouraged me, lifted me up in prayer and shared their wisdom and insight on all things practical when it comes to raising kids and even more importantly what God has to say about being a mom.  And I look forward to continuing to have my perspective modified as I travel down this path.