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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day

I have been lucky up until this year. My kids attended an early start school so I could get them on the bus and make it to work on time.

This year, the kids switched schools and the time that they get on the bus is exactly the time that school/work starts for me. Not a problem for most people, just take the morning off right? Nope, I work at a High School and I do NOT have the option of not being there.

I was completely bummed. Not just because I couldn't be there but because it was a milestone of sorts. It's Claire's first day of middle school and Max's LAST first day of middle school:(

In steps Alanna who volunteered to take the photos and make sure all was well and she texted them to me so I felt like I was there.

Here they come


and, my favorite..getting on the bus. Guess they are getting too old to turn around and wave;)

Monday, August 29, 2011


Yep, another repeat. This is a great cookie to make at night when the house has cooled down. They are great to pack in lunches this time of year, which I'll be packing in 2 days, because there is nothing to melt. My kids absolutely LOVE them and they freeze great. I put 3 in a snack size ziploc so I can throw them in lunches for awhile.

What you'll need:

1 C Butter softened
2 Eggs
2 t Vanilla
2 3/4 C Flour
1/4 t Salt
2 T Baking Powder
1 1/2 C Sugar

Cinnamon/Sugar Mixture
1/2 C Sugar
1 T Cinnamon

Mix together in a bowl or ziploc.

Preheat oven to 375

Mix butter, eggs and vanilla. Add your dry ingredients and mix up (I did it with an old fashioned SPOON, no mixer today). You'll get a soft dough that kind of forms itself into a ball. Roll into balls, about the size of those quarter gum balls. Roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Put on ungreased cookie sheet and press down with your fingers or palm of your hand. Bake for 8-10 minutes. 8 minutes leaves them a bit softer with just the edges lightly browned and crunchy. 10 makes them a little crunchier with just a little personal favorite. Makes 5 dozen
Here is your butter, eggs and vanilla mixed together.
Add your dry and this is what you get. Kind of forms its own ball. I'm sure if you wanted to use a mixer, it would all be fine but why drag out extra stuff when a spoon does the trick.
Cinnamon and Sugar mixture. I was trying to be green and not use a ziploc. It would have made the job just a bit faster if I had. Just use a bowl that is big enough to either roll them or you to be able to grab and sprinkle because the whole ball needs to be covered.
Roll into balls about the size of those quarter gum balls.
Give them a good roll in the sugar mix.
Press them down with two fingers. Don't squish them, just press them down. Max thought I should use the palm of my hand so people wouldn't know I used my fingers..silly boy..who cares if I used my fingers?!? What he should have said, is that they look prettier. That I agreed with and ended up doing most of the cookies with my palm and not my fingers;)
See I didn't squish the life out of them.
They actually look like they could cook another minute or two but this is them at 8 minutes and they are cooked plenty. My kids preferred 8 over 10 minutes but they ate them either way without complaint.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Minnesota State Fair

Guess what today is?!?!? It's better than Christmas!

The state fair OPENS!!

We used to go about four times but have cut it down to just twice because it's gotten pretty expensive to go. Our new tradition is, the first Friday and once during Labor Day weekend.

There is SO much to do. We check out the animals, the midway, heritage square, international bazaar, creative arts & food building, we people watch, the kids build things at the Home Depot stand for free, they play wiffle ball at the Twins booth, we check out the butterheads & the giant pumpkins.

We eat our favorite things, we ride our favorite rides, we window shop the grand stand. The possibilities are endless. Did I mention that we LOVE, love, LOVE the fair?

Thanks MN State Fair for the photos!

You have to check out the butter heads.
Our favorite fries
And, my annual tradition. Only the year that I was 9+ months pregnant with Max did I miss a ride down the giant slide and that was only because they told me no;)

Monday, August 22, 2011


I'm not that organized to have ready made hashbrowns in the freezer or fridge when I want them but I almost always have potatoes so I make mine from scratch. Super easy and I think they taste better.

What you'll need:

2 medium size Potatoes shredded
1/2 small onion diced
2 T Butter
Drizzle Olive Oil
1 t Salt
1 t Pepper

Melt your butter in a frying pan. Add potato, onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If I am feeling really sassy, I'll add a teaspoon of garlic powder too. Pat this down as thin as you can. Cover and cook on medium for about 6 minutes, until it's golden brown. Take your spatula and flip, drizzle with a teaspoon or so of Olive Oil. Cover and cook about another 5 minutes and serve.

Here's what you're using to shred.

Getting ready to flip

Friday, August 19, 2011

Louisiana Pasta

Let's face it, having kids puts a damper on what you serve for dinner. I swear Max would be happy with some form of chicken and fried rice every single night. Easy, yes. Boring, YES.

I get SO tired of making the same things over and over again. So, I was super excited when I asked Claire what she wanted for dinner and she said, "Cheesecake pasta".

"Cheesecake pasta" is Louisiana Chicken Pasta that they make at Cheesecake Factory. Claire thinks this recipe is close enough to the real deal. I've posted the recipe before but this time I took out a step that I forgot and no one noticed;)

And, guess what?? Max actually ate about 10 bowties with his chicken!!

What you'll need:

4 T Olive Oil
4 Boneless Chicken Breasts halved
1 C Breadcrumbs ~ I use Panko
1/3 C Parmesan Cheese grated (not the green can please)
1 C Milk
2 T Flour

Cajun Sauce
1 T Butter
1 small Yellow Pepper chopped
1 small Red Pepper chopped
3/4 small Red Onion chopped
1 C Mushrooms sliced
3 Cloves Garlic minced
1 t Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 t Cajun Seasoning
1 pint 1/2 and 1/2
1 C Chicken Broth
4 T Fresh Basil thinly sliced (I only had dried, used 2 T~fresh would have been better)
1 C Fresh Parmesan shredded or grated
12 oz cooked Bow Tie Pasta

Wash and dry chicken breasts. Pound until very thin with a meat hammer~I did it between two pieces of saran wrap or waxed paper to lessen mess. The thinner the better. I would also cut the chicken into pieces about the size of your palm, easier to work with and it doesn't matter if they are strips or's all good. Whatever works best for you.

Mix breadcrumbs, flour and Parmesan Cheese together in a bowl you can dip the chicken into.

Put milk in another dish for dipping.

Dip chicken in milk and into the dry. Put on plate.

Move to sauce...

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, mushrooms and 1 t Cajun Spice and cook until crisp tender..about 4 minutes

Add garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and saute couple more minutes.

Add 1/2 and 1/2, chicken stock, 1 t Cajun Spice and Basil. Simmer until sauce re-heats and thickens, about 5 minutes. Add cheese to sauce, stir to incorporate.

Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer on low until sauce reduces and thickens.

Back to Chicken...

Heat Olive Oil in fry pan. Fry at medium heat until crisp and golden. Remove and put on plate, tent lightly with foil to keep warm. You don't want to cover tightly or it will get soggy.

Add oil as necessary and continue to cook chicken.

Add cooked pasta to sauce and give a toss.

Plate pasta, top with chicken and serve. Add additional parmesan if desired.

Your ingredients, don't be's SO worth it.
If I was doing this for a dinner party, I would do this step earlier in the day. It's a little messy. Start pounding in the middle of the breast, flatten from the middle to the sides.
This is how thin you want it.
Chop your peppers and onions, I threw in some green just because I had them. You could do this ahead too.
Wash, dry and slice the mushrooms, don't do this ahead, mushrooms are tempermental.
Saute your vegis with some cajun spice and crushed pepper flakes.
Add your cream, chicken broth, cajun seasoning and basil and simmer.
You can't really see the difference but it's thicker now;)
Here is your dry ingredients, mix it up with a couple of cranks from your pepper mill.
Dip your chicken, make sure it's well coated.
Keep going until all the chicken is coated.
Heat some oil, see you don't need much, just a light coating in the pan.
Couple minutes per side.
Dinner is SERVED!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Strawberry Salad

This recipe was one of my only ones last August. Thought I would bring it back this year:)

3/4 C Mayo
4 T Sugar
1 T Poppy Seeds
1/4 t Garlic Powder
1/2 C Whipping Cream
2 1/2 T Lemon Juice

Whisk together and chill for a few hours.

2 pkgs Romaine
1 pt Strawberries, sliced
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped

Toss together and serve with dressing. I don't mix the salad and dressing together because everyone likes a different amount.

AND, if you'd like to make this a meal, throw some cooked chicken on top. Easy and very YUMMY!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

I found this recipe on line and the name caught my eye. I only changed it a tiny bit, using all purpose flour instead of half whole wheat. The final answer...these were more crepe like, than pancake. That means, I liked them better.

The only issue I had was that the batter didn't bubble up to let you know that it was time to flip. You had to check to see if they were browning and go from there. I would say it was about three minutes each side. I used a griddle set at 350 (I tried different temps and this appeared to be the one that worked the best). If I was doing them on the stove, I'd go medium heat.

Here's what you'll need:

2 C Flour
1/3 C Sugar
1 t Sea Salt
1 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Cinnamon
2 1/4 C Buttermilk
2 Eggs
2 T Butter melted
Zest from 1 1/2 Lemons
2 1/2 C Blueberries

In large bowl mix your wet ingredients and zest until well mixed. Add the dry until just combined, a few lumps are ok, don't overmix). Leave blueberries OUT.

Heat griddle over medium heat and brush with butter (yes, I did this for this recipe instead of my handy cooking spray~I think the spray would have worked fine). Drop 1/3 C batter onto skillet and throw some blueberries on top. Gently press berries into pancakes. Cook pancakes until underside is a deep golden, reduce heat to low, flip and cook for two minutes more (I didn't reduce the heat).

Zest your lemons

They didn't bubble like normal pancakes,
Breakfast is served

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Miracles for Mitch

In one week, Max and Claire will be doing their annual triathlon. If you'd like to pledge their efforts, please click on the link below. All donations are tax deductible and goes to children who have cancer.

Click here to visit my personal page.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I started my summer with a good book and I'm ending my summer with one too. Easy read and a glossary in the back to help.

You can order it from Amazon for as little as $1.89 used. Thanks Amazon for the image:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Max's baseball team took first place this season and they were asked to be on a local television show. The first photo they show is the last play of the championship game. Max is on his knee, tagging out his BFF Matthew who just hopped over the top of Max's head:)

If you click on this link, and pull the bar to about 20.20, you'll go right to their spot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I completely forgot about this super easy summer treat until I saw graham cracker tarts on clearance.

My kids LOVE them and adults think you slaved:)

What you'll need:

6 Graham Tarts ~ in the baking section
1 sm package Cheesecake Instant Pudding or my fav..white chocolate
Milk ~ I use skim
1 package Raspberries

Make pudding according to directions. Fold (that means to basically gently stir) the raspberries into pudding. Spoon into tart cups. Throw in the fridge for about 4 hours.

Ta DA!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pasta with Vegis

Another recipe for Dylan. A red pasta sauce without the meat.

Here's what you'll need:

1 Eggplant sliced
1 Green Pepper sliced
1 Onion ~ 1/2 of it minced and the other half sliced
1 package of sliced Mushrooms
6 cloves Garlic minced
Drizzle Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
1 can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 sm can Tomato Paste
1 large can Tomato Sauce or 2 small cans
1 C Water
1 T Italian Seasoning
1 t Garlic Powder
1 t Pepper
1 t Cayenne Pepper
2 Bay leaves
1 t Basil
One box Pasta ~ I chose Penne for this one

Put your minced onion and 4 cloves garlic in a sauce pan with a drizzle of olive Oil. Saute a couple of minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce, water, Italian seasoning, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, basil and bay leaves. Give a good stir to combine, bring to a boil and then turn heat down low and simmer for about an hour for the flavors to meld together.

Wash your egg plant and slice into about 1/2 inch slices. Put on a cookie sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt. You are sucking the extra moisture out so you'll have firmer egg plant. When it starts to sweat, about 10 minutes, rinse and pat dry. Chop into chunks.

Start your pot of water boiling with a couple teaspoons of salt. Cook the pasta until desired doneness, for me that's about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse pasta.

Put cloves of garlic and sliced onion in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Saute a couple of minutes and then add the egg plant. You want to cook this for a bit, browning it, about 6 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and green pepper and saute another few minutes.

Remove bay leaves from sauce and add to vegi mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes for all the flavors to blend. Add pasta and serve.

Wash and dry your egg plant.
Cut it about this thick.
Put the eggplant on a cookie sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt.
see how it's starting to sweat.
chop the egg plant in chunks
Start with onions and garlic with a little olive oil
Saute eggplant until it starts to brown
Mushrooms next (forgot to take the photo after I added green peppers)
Add sauce to pasta
Dinner is served

Friday, August 5, 2011


Time for another repeat.

This is a great one to use all those fresh berries that are on sale right now. This recipe shows canned apples but you can use a variety of fresh berries and it's YUMMY!


1/2 C Butter
1 C Milk~I used skim
1 C Sugar
1 C self rising Flour (or 1 C regular Flour, 1 1/2 t Baking Powder and 1/2 t Salt)
3-4 C fruit or berries ~ I used one can of apple pie filling and 1 C blueberries but you can use ANYTHING, it's all good.

Melt butter in 13x9 cake pan in a 375 oven. Keep an eye on it~about 4 minutes, you just want to melt it. Mix right in the pan the milk, flour (salt and baking powder if not using self rising) and sugar. Mix it up. I think the word is slurry, it's like a thick milk consistency. Pile your fruit on top..DO NOT STIR in. Bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Here's what you need.
Cut up your butter and melt while the oven is preheating.
Throw in everything except the fruit.
Here's the slurry you made. I just use a fork to mix it all up, make sure it's not clumpy.
Pile your fruit on top.
Ready to eat:)