Tuesday, January 21, 2014

YouTube Tuesday: Year End Videos.

Well, after sicknesses and forgetfulness and a missing Flip, I FINALLY have our year end videos for you all...ENJOY!









And then there is Matthias. I didn't bother to interview him, well, actually I tried, but he kept attacking the camera, so here is just a quick little bit of him playing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

There are few things better at a brunch than a good coffee cake.  As a kid, my mom used to make an amazing coffee cake for Christmas morning...but this isn't it.

As I began to build my brunch menu, I was determined to find my own coffee cake recipe.  My older brother, however, was not to keen on this when he first joined our brunch a few years ago.  The fact that I wasn't going to be providing all those amazing treats that were a part our childhood memories truly bugged him...so I made him one of my mom's coffee cakes. He just wasn't allowed to eat it at my brunch.


Like a lot of my brunch recipes, I found this one on Kraft's website.  We've tried other fruit flavors over the years, but the cherry is still our favorite.

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup sugar, divided 3/4 cup
  • (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 3/4 cup cherry pie filling [at least! don't be afraid to add more]
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.

Mix flour, oats and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture. Add sour cream, 1 egg and baking soda to remaining crumb mixture; mix well. Spread onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch springform pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and extract in small bowl with mixer until well blended. Add remaining egg; beat on low speed just until blended. Spoon into crust. Top with pie filling; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and nuts.

Bake 50 to 55 min. or until golden brown. Cool 15 min. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; remove rim. Serve cake warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dolphin Pictures.

We got to hang a bit with a dolphin while we were in the Bahamas and I finally have the pictures to prove it! It was really fun to experience something new with our kiddos and they seemed to really enjoy it, which made it even more fun for Anthony and I.

Anyway, so here are a few of the pictures!

our group (with Grandma, Uncle Dave, Aunt Natalie and cousin Paige)




thanks Grandma!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Maple Sausages.

Here is another of yummy brunch recipes...and quite possibly the most popular.  Unfortunately, I lost the recipe this year. Fortunately, it doesn't really matter.  Close enough is good enough.


I was given this recipe by a lady from my mom's church and knew immediately that I had to try it.  Anthony has always been fond of dipping sausage and bacon into syrup...add on top of that two of his other favorite ingredients (brown sugar and cinnamon) and I knew it would be a hit.

Ingredients
  • LOTS of brown and serve sausages
  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. cinnamon

Directions
Brown the boxes of sausages in a pan.  We have learned to have a crock pot standing by on low and just dump the sausages (without the fat) in there as they finish browning.

In a small bowl mix the syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Pour over the sausages.

That's it!  So simple.  So incredible.  I would keep a ladle along with tongs to serve, so that people can spoon all that "sausage goop" as we affectionately call it, on top.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Legos.

So, I haven't been posting much and my reason for it may not seem exactly reasonable...

Legos.  That's right.  Legos.

Here's the thing.  We have continued our attempt to simplify our lives by letting go of things every day and one day I found myself looking at the kids' Legos.  We have a bunch of them, including some from Anthony's childhood.  And the kids love them.

The thing is that they have all these amazing sets that were all dismantled and sitting together in a big pile and I began thinking about how we have been teaching them to take care of the things that they have and it hit me...someone needed to assemble all the sets so that they could really enjoy them...


And that someone was me.

It took me DAYS to do it.  But I did it.  I put all the sets together, making a few adjustments because of missing pieces. Anthony just shook his head as the days went by and laughed at my stubbornness in getting it done.  The kids were annoyed at first that I had confiscated their toys, but as things began to come together they grew really excited, even ruining my photo-op when they were all finished and lined on the counter by grabbing them all and taking them back downstairs.  (Sorry mom, no picture, but ask Meg, she saw them!)

Here are a few of my masterpieces...


It may seem like a funny thing for me to have spent so much time doing, but the kids are loving the Legos AND still have bins (all organized now) of extra Legos to create their own masterpieces.  And that makes me happy.

Now back to my real life!  And, fingers crossed that they don't just dismantle everything again for at least a little while.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Brunch Bake.

So here is the first of our Christmas Brunch recipes.  Well, minus the quiche that I posted back in November and the biscotti recipe.  Whatever...


I found this brunch bake recipe from Kraft's website 6 years ago, but I have strayed slightly from the original recipe and don't mind saying that I have improved upon it.  I've put my edited version below.

Ingredients
  • 1 pkg. frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 20 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, well drained and chopped
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Directions
Heat oven to 400°F.

Unfold pastry sheets.  Roll out 1 sheet to 11-inch square; set aside. Roll out remaining sheet to 12-inch square; use to line bottom and side of 9-inch springform pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Reserve 1 Tbsp. eggs.  Mix remaining eggs with ricotta, spinach and artichoke hearts. Layer half each of the bacon, cheddar, ricotta mixture and sun-dried tomatoes in crust. Repeat layers.

Cover with remaining pastry sheet; fold under edges of pastry, then tuck inside pan. Brush pastry with reserved egg. Cut slits in top crust.

Bake 45 to 55 min. or until golden brown. Cool 10 min. Run small knife around edge of pan to loosen crust before removing rim.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Simply 2014.

It's a new year.  It feels fresh and exciting.  It feels like an opportunity.  It is full of hopes and dreams and time for those things to become realities.

Anthony and I having been thinking a lot about our lives lately.  The things we love.  The things we could do without.  What makes us feel like we are living life well.  What suffocates us.  And we have begun to notice a pattern in it all and decided to embrace a single word as our theme for 2014:  SIMPLICITY.

Look, we have a lot.  Too much really.  And we have begun to notice that having a lot, while it can be a blessing, can also create attitudes that we want no part of.  So we are attempting as a family to live life more simply in 2014.

Now, this doesn't mean anything extreme like we are selling our home or getting rid of our TVs or anything like that.  We are simply trying to create an attitude in our home of thankfulness for what we have and an open hand with the things that we really don't need.

Here's the plan...

Each month we are going to fast from something as a family.  Just one thing, for one month.  Maybe it will be sweets for a month, TV another, eating out...you get the idea.  And that's it.  That's the entire plan.  It may not seem like much, but like I said, we are looking for SIMPLICITY...even in our plan.

This month we are actually doing more of a purge than a fast, but its rooted in the same idea of letting go and living better.  The idea came from our being a little overwhelmed by the excess of the holidays and Anthony and I, in response, spending a day in our pantry getting rid of things.  It felt amazing and our pantry is now so much more functional.


So we decided that for each day of the month of January, each member of the family (minus Matthias) has to donate or throw out something.  We set a big box in our hall by the garage for donations and taped a spread sheet (I LOVE making spread sheets) to keep track of what everyone gets rid of.  For instance, today Anthony and Adele both went through some books to donate, Elise and Lucy went through their sock drawers passing down the ones that no longer fit them, Nathan threw out all of his old underwear that didn't fit, and I purged some of my clothes.


Everyone was a little unsure of the idea at first, but after we started thinking about what all we could go through, I ended up having to hold people back from doing more than one thing today.  Gotta leave something for day 31!

Here's to 2014 and hopes for a SIMPLY wonderful year!!