Dec 28, 2009

Steaks and Friends

Our friends Gary and Susannah are in town for the holidays from California. Last night we got together for dinner. The last time Gary was in town, I went on and on about the cow in our freezer, and then I made him eggs. Since Susannah doesn't really eat beef, Gary doesn't get to have steak very often, so this time around, I made steak... pioneer woman style.
I think it helps to make a mean face when you cook steak in cast iron, right?
Susannah put the salad together, and you can see a bandit in the background stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. BUSTED!
Baby Ju Ju was ticked that her mom wouldn't let her eat steak!

Ribeyes over sauteed spinach with Blue Cheese Cream Sauce. Shut your mouth!!!!!!!

Susannah enjoyed the "amythecook sandwich." Pesto and mozzarella grilled cheese on fresh deli style bread. Have I mentioned that I want to eat this sandwich every day? Except when steak is on the menu, of course.

We love you Gary, Susannah, and Flora!!!!!!!!!
In joy, troye

Dec 26, 2009

I've been making bread at home for well over a year now. I have used one recipe for all of my bread needs- loaf bread, cinnamon rolls, french loaves, hot dog buns, etc. It is good bread, but it is very dense, and not a great sandwich loaf. This week, thanks to Susannah, I found a new recipe, and I'll never look back. This recipe is pretty heavily adapted from this post over at Passionate Homemaking. It makes four loaves (you can freeze them so that you don't have to make bread as often), and it is soft and delicious. It really tastes like deli style bread.
Yumm-oh! Here is the recipe:
Troye's Bread (adapted from Homemade Bread- Lindsay's Way)

4 1/2 cups water, HOT from the tap
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup honey, raw
1/3 cup flax seed, ground
2 1/2 cups rolled oats, optional (if you don't use this, you will definitely need more flour)
1 tsp rice lecithin (if you have access to dough enhancer, you can add 2-4 tbsp instead of the lecithin), optional
11-12 cups flour (I use a combination of fresh ground flour here- hard red wheat, hard white, wheat, kamut, spelt)
2 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
Combine water, salt, egg, oil, honey, and half of flour (about 6 cups) in mixer. Place lecithin, flax seed, and oats on top of flour and knead on low speed until combined. Turn mixer off, and add other half of flour. Place yeast on top of flour. Knead on low speed. Once the flour is incorporated, begin to add flour one tbsp at a time until dough pulls away from side of bowl. *the goal is to use the least amount of flour possible for the softest loaf, so add slowly here* Knead for a total of approximately 10 min.
Remove to a LARGE greased bowl, and cover with a towel. Let sit until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. *I let mine sit in the oven with a roasting pan of hot water underneath, and the light on*
Punch down and divide into 4 loaves. You can roll each loaf out with a rolling pin and roll up into a loaf for perfectly shaped loaves.
Place in greased loaf pans and let rise again until doubled (about 30 min). *For this, I turn the oven on the lowest setting while I shape the loaves, and then turn it off prior to putting the loaves in. And, remember to remove before preheating oven.*
Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 3o minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest in pan for 10 min before removing from pans.

The dough makes fantastic cinnamon rolls...
Also, a DELICIOUS sandwich thanks to the amazing mind of amythecook is to spread pesto on the slices, and melt a thick slice of whole milk mozzarella- grilled cheese style. Shut Your Mouth!!!!!!!!!!! I want to eat this sandwich everyday. And, as you can tell, there is no photo of it because I could not stop eating it long enough to take a pic. :) Sorry! Just make the sandwich, and then you will be able to see its beauty.

In joy, Troye!

Dec 14, 2009

You Gotta Make Dis!

Guinness Beef Stew

3 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck
2 tbsp butter
2 onions
4 cups chicken broth
1 3/4 cups Guinness Draught, Divided
1 tbsp lt brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1 oz, weight bittersweet chocolate, chopped (take my word for it- sounds, weird, but so worth it!)
5 whole carrots, peeled and cut
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut
1/4 cup flour
Cut beef into cubes, and season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in cast iron dutch oven. Brown beef over medium-high heat. Add broth, 1 1/2 cups Guinness (reserve remainder- refrain from drinking- especially if, like me, you are preparing this before you leave for church Sunday morning), brown sugar, thyme, and chocolate. Bring to boil. Add carrots, onions, and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for at least two hours. In a small bowl, whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup Guinness until smooth. Stir mixture into stew. Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes on medium heat or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper (lots and lots and lots of fresh ground pepper!!!).
And, try not to slap yo momma!!!!!
In joy, troye

Dec 13, 2009

Night on the Town

"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry with your girlfriends."
All girls need at least one fantastic girlfriend to combat the craziness of life. I am blessed BEYOND MEASURE to have many friends that I would put in this category. Some of them I am not able to see on a regular basis (Nikki). Some live right down the street, and I am lucky to only see once in a while (Andrea). And, some are crazy enough to get together with me on a weekly basis and act stupid, and eat way too much food, and drink way too much drink, and watch way too much trash television. It is my medication.
This group of girls decided to make a trip to the city (Atlanta) to meet Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, our new BFF. Some of us have followed Ree for a long time. Others are new fans, and others are mad that they were not told about how fabulous Ree is sooner (sorry Cheri).
Ree was signing copies of her new fantastic cookbook in Buckhead, and we had two December birthdays to celebrate, so we dicided to make a trip out of it.
Doesn't Ree look adorable signing Kimberly's book?
We didn't have to wait in line too long thanks to Cheri and Kimberly who drove to Buckhead Monday morning to pick up wristbands to reserve our place in line.
Here is one of the birthday girls waiting with our trump card, Baby JuJu (who is a little slice of heaven- seriously, could she be a better baby?).
This is how excited we were to meet Ree.

And, of course, we had some very important business to conduct in line, so we had to have our iphones armed and ready!
My nose is ginormous in this picture!!!!!!

We had a blast waiting in line, and people around us all backed away. We have that effect on people. Sorry to anyone who encounters us when we go out into public together.

And, here we all are with Ree. If you didn't know which one Ree was, you would just think she was part of our group. She fits right in. And, if you didn't know Susannah, you would wonder why she decided to sit on Ree's lap for this photo. Silly girl!!!!!

After the signing, we went out for dinner, and then we went back to a hotel suite sponsored by Kristina's boss, Connie. Connie we lit candles and paid homage to you while we were there. The suite was amazing, and we had a blast.
Birthday gifts were opened- and tried on. Adorable!!!!!

We laughed hysterically over youtube videos.

We modeled footed Santa pjs!

And, we ate cupcakes and drank champagne. We also played an exciting game of "propel yourself across the room in the rolling conference chairs." Good Times!!!!!
The next morning, we went shopping. Nordtrom Mall of Georgia gave us all free makeovers, and a private party catered just for our birthday girls complete with a fashion show and intimate apparel fittings.
This is the only photo I have from the shopping day. We had to take a photo of the killer boots Kimberly found!!!!!!!!!! Shazam!

We had a fantastic time, and I think the birthday girls had a much deserved happy day!
Thank you, ladies for being my dose of good medicine.

Nov 17, 2009


Shakshuka is a traditional Israeli dish comprised of a spicy tomato veggie sauce with poached or sunny side up eggs. I experienced amazing shakshuka in Miami a couple of months ago, but have yet to attempt to conquer the dish on my own. I did, however come up with a dish inspired by Shakshuka.
Saute 1 clove garlic, minced and 1/2 red onion, diced in oil. Add 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved, and fresh diced basil. Saute for approx. 1 min, and add 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar. Poach eggs and serve hot on top of tomato mixture. Salt and pepper to taste Serve with hot pita or crusty bread.
Om nom nom...
In joy, troye

Nov 11, 2009

These buttery rich scones combine pumpkin and spices that will knock your socks off. I made them for the boys' teachers for a fall treat, and had to immediately make a second batch for myself.And, while we are here, check out the results of the AWESOME gift that Kimberly gave me for my birthday. How fun is that? Thank you, Kimberly!

Pumpkin Spice Scones:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. cardamom

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp. sucanat (brown sugar, if you prefer)
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut butter into small pieces, and put in freezer. In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and all spices. Whisk together well, and place bowl in freezer. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, heavy cream, sucanat, and vanilla. Whisk together well, and place bowl in freezer.
Cut butter pieces into flour mixture using a pastry blender or a food processor until it resembles course crumbs.
Pour liquic mixture into flour mixture and stir until just moistened. The dough will be very crumbly. Turn the mixture out onto the counter and push together with your hands. Knead just a couple of times and pat into a circle about 3/4 to 1 in thick. Cut like a pie into 8 pieces. Place on baking sheet so that the sides are not touching. Brush tops with heavy whipping cream, and sprinkle with honey granules or course raw sugar. Bake for about 15 min.
In joy, Troye

Oct 19, 2009

Fall Family Camping

At the beginning of the school year, J-Man came home from school begging to go to the Cub Scout information meeting. I don't know what the council is paying that recruiter, but they need to raise his salary. J-Man was insistent!
So, against my better judgement, I sent The Man with him just to see what it was all about- with strict instructions not to volunteer for anything! And, definitely DO NOT mention that you are an Eagle Scout because they will have you running the pack. They came home that evening the newest Cub Scout and Den Leader.
I must admit that they are BOTH having a blast in Scouts, and it really does teach the kids a lot of value added lessons.
This weekend was Cub Scout Family Camping Weekend (on the coldest weekend of the year- freezing temps threatened). On Friday afternoon when we were offered a perfectly wonderful, warm, cozy cabin to stay in, I tried to sway them, but I lost. Since there was NO chance of rain in the forecast, I went along. I actually enjoy camping, and prefer cold weather camping, but I cannot handle rain.
At the den meeting before we left, the boys made fire starters, and practiced setting up and taking down a tent.

We were assigned a campsite on the side of a mountain, and this area had to accommodate nineteen families. They were like sardines for the second night, which was fortunate since there was snow in the forecast. We're not sure if the boys earned thier polar bear patch (for camping when the temp drops below 32 degrees), but they sure did come close if not.

We had to fight not to slide down the hill all night as we slept. Good times!

Since it rained the first night, and off and on all day Saturday, I had to sacrifice and take D-Man home. It was difficult to sleep in my nice warm bed with the heat on.
But, we stayed through the day Saturday and had a blast.

We started up a whole new generation of pyromaniacs.

Both boys got to shoot bb guns...

Looking so studly in the safety goggles...

...and, bow and arrows...

It is difficult to see below, but J-Man got a bullseye, and hit the target four other times. He also won the award for the day for launching one of his arrows the farthest beyond the target. We had to send out a search party.

The only thing that we didn't get to do was fish. It was quite devastating! Look at that face.

Someone totally cheated!!!!!!!!

All in all it was a fantastic weekend! All three boys had a blast, and they can't wait to do it again.

Sep 15, 2009

Fall Foods

There is no time of year that I love better than the fall. I love the smells. I love the weather. I love the activities. I love the colors. I am more reminded of God's appreciation for beauty at this time of year than any other. What an amazing artist He is, and He chooses to share His masterpiece with us.
Another one of my favorite parts of fall is the flavors of the season. I made this Chicken Butternut Squash soup last year, and I cannot wait until it is cool enough to make is again.
One of my standby favorites is Pumpkin Soup that I first learned how to make in an Apples of Gold class years ago. Oh, and the apples!!! I love any recipe that includes mounds of brown sugar with apples. What is not to love?
I also love when Starbucks introduces their fall lineup- which occurred a couple of weeks ago in our area. Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. Mmmmmmmm......
I posted a variation of this recipe a couple of years ago, but I have since made some modifications, and it is one of my most requested recipes, so here it is again. Bake up some muffins and ENJOY! The secret to this recipe is the heavy spices, so don't skimp. These will be darker than the Starbucks version, but just as delicious.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of cardamom
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
4 eggs
2 cups honey granules (can sub white sugar here or 1 cup liquid honey)
2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin (it is so easy to make your own)
1 ¼ cups extra virgin coconut oil
8 oz package cream cheese
1 egg
1 cup powdered evaporated cane juice or powdered honey granules
*Chopped nuts** (walnuts, pecans, pepinos) (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together except cream cheese and nuts. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full. Beat the cream cheese with the egg and powdered sugar. Put 1-2 tsp cream cheese in the middle, pressing down. Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped nuts. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese!). Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools, as it is very very hot. Makes 24 muffins. I like to make the jumbo muffins.

Sep 13, 2009

Let me apologize to anyone who stumbles upon this blog today. I am going to be bragging unashamedly on my son, the triathlete, and there will be an ungodly amount of photos!
J-Man did a triathalon today. 50 meter swim, 2 mile bike, and 500 meter run! He did so awesome!!!!!

He waited patiently to jump into the pool, and then he passed four kids in the water. He did not hold back...
Until he got out of the water and decided to use his first transition time to pose for the camera and wave to the crowd.
Here he is posing with his brother, and ready for the race in his transition area. Check out that stud! As we walked into the park to prepare, he asked, "I wonder how I am going to win this thing?"

Thumbs up! Look at all of those yellow caps.

Jumping in the water!

That is J-Man's yellow head climbing out of the pool (ahead of everyone, I might add).

Taking his time in T1.

Out on the bike.

Go speed racer!


Out for the run...
Look at that determination!!!


This is what D-Man thought of the situation at times.

Our friend Sarah Grace competed as well. Here they are trying to act "too cool" at the finish line!

We had so much fun. I think that The Man got just as much of a work out as J did, running after him to take pics. We were so proud. I have to admit that I even got a little choked up watching him cross the finish line so strong as they called his name and he ran through the finishing ribbon!!!!! He worked so hard and is ready to do another tri as soon as possible.

Aug 13, 2009

First Day of School 2009

The first day of school went off without a hitch! D's bus comes at 7:15 in the morning, but the FANTASTIC news is that we know his driver. Ms. Kim was in our small group last semester. How fun is that?"The sun was in my eyes!"I actually did get a photo of him holding the sign right side up, but this one is so much better. :)

Crazy faces!

D learned how to cross his eyes, and he knows that it is a surefire way to crack me up!

J Man thinks he knows how to cross his...

Oh well!