Thursday, September 30, 2010

Zzzz's, Capes, and Honey Mustard.

I have not blogged in a few days because I've been utterly exhausted, as my children went on a sleeping strike.  A new tooth and a Twilight Turtle nightlight seemed to have fixed both their issues for the moment, and I woke up not wanting to inject caffeine straight into my veins.  So here I am!  I would even cook tonight if my husband's schedule weren't so crazy.

My husband Justin made the last of my seven new recipes, Sesame Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard sauce, and he did an awesome job as always.  He's a good cook and usually does the breakfast at our house.  This recipe required him to dip the chicken "tenders" (I use cutlets for everything, though) in egg mixed with honey mustard, then a mixture of crushed almonds, sesame seeds, and bread crumbs before lightly frying and finally transferring to the oven.  Super easy, and yum-O!!!  He got the edges a little too black and crispy (which he swears is the fault of the recipe) before putting it in the oven.  You just have to pay attention to the heat on the stove, and know your pans to make sure they don't get too hot.  Just because the recipe says medium-high heat doesn't mean it has to stay at that setting the entire time.  You have to use your common sense too.  Once the chicken is browned, transfer it to the oven to finish cooking through, and then serve it with some more honey mustard.  Honey mustard is just that, honey and mustard mixed together.  You can make it yourself, just like that, or you can use your favorite store-bought brand.  I am quite the connossieur of honey mustard and the best I've found is at Steak and Sheak, but they don't sell it.  We used Gulden's Mustard to mix with the honey and it was pretty good.  I would have added a little more honey to my portion, but my husband really likes mustard so it was probably too sweet for him.  I would certainly make this in the future as a quick comfort go-to; when I really want steak and shake but can't have it for whatever reason.  I wish I'd had this recipe when I was pregnant with my oldest.

The next night we made the coconut chicken again because the ingredients I purchased were enough for two nights of it.  That's another reason I will definitely be using that recipe a lot as a staple.  Aaaaand last night I had a peanut butter sandwich.  I told you I have nights like that!!

The Henry VIII cape is going to be AWESOME.  I'm super-excited about it; I think it will look great.   I'm pretty impressed with my skills considering I've never made anything much before.  Maybe a pillowcase in seventh grade or something.  The fur trim is coming along nicely.

Tonight my husband is going to a friend's house for a beer-tasting event so I'll have a little alone time; not a bad thing in small doses :)  And we'll be back to our old staples for a few days before trying my next batch of new recipes.

Happy Slumbering :)  Good luck with that........

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pot Pies, and Henry VIII

We are going as the Tudors for Halloween.  Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth.  Our dresses were easy to find inexpensively, but I was having trouble finding a good deal on my husband's costume.  The cape I wanted at the costume store was fifty dollars.  So I thought, it's just a cape....I could make it myself for cheaper, right?  So I stroll into Joann's, and I pick out all the fabric I want, and I take it to the woman who measures and cuts it for you, and I say,"I've never ordered fabric before, can you help me figure out how much I need?"  To which she replies, "No.  I don't sew.  I just cut fabric."  Lovely.  She tells me to go in search of a pattern.  The pattern I want is $20, and I don't know how to read the back of it to find out how much fabric I need.  I call my friend Michelle, who is in the proicess of talking me through it, when a woman overhears me and offers to help.  The pattern says I need six yards of the $4 fabric, and five yards of the $13 fabric.  Wait a minute....I thought this was supposed to be cheaper?  I ultimately convinced myself that is a CAPE for Halloween, and I don't need F!#$ing 13 yards of fabric.  He's 5'10" , that's less than two yards, I'll take two yards of fabric.  Having a new appreciation for why someone would spend fifty dollars on PART of a halloween costume, I headed home to find my sewing bag.  And guess what?  It is nowhere to be found.  I have to go back out tomorrow to purchase more supplies.  I was able to start it a little bit, and it looks like it will actually turn out quite nicely.  I'll post pictures of the ordeal when it's finished.

This afternoon I made the salmon pot pies that I was supposed to make yesterday afternoon.  The recipe was featured in the October issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray.  It was good, but not something I want to make again anytime soon.  I didn't have individual ramekins, so I made one big one, and it made kind of a runny mess when I tried to serve it.  It would have worked better in individual portions.

Cut some puff pastry dough to fit whatever baking dish you're using.  How I did this was I inverted the dish over the puff pastry and made an indentation in it, then cut along the indentation.  Brush it with cream, prick it with a fork, and bake it on parchment paper for 15 minutes.  Set it aside.  Wrap some green beans up in aluminum foil with butter, salt, and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes.  These were not so beans are one of the few vegetables I prefer canned.

Prepare a leek:  Cut off the thick green leafy part, and the bottom white part.  Slice the leek in half lengthwise, then slice into moon-shaped ribbons.  Put them in a bowl of water and swish them around, then let them sit for a few minutes.  Any dirt on the leek will sink to the bottom and you can skim the clean leeks off the top.  Dry them off, and saute them in a pat of butter.  Add eight ounces of mushrooms to your leeks and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of flour; cook for one minute.  Stir in 3/4 cup heavy cream and 1 1/4 cups water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.  What you're doing here is reducing the sauce; thickening it by letting the water evaporate, and thereby concentrating the flavors.  Add a pound of diced salmon, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the salmon is done. 

Pour the salmon and veggies into a casserole dish, or four individual ramekins, and top with the prepared puff pastry.  Serve with the green beans.

My husband devoured it, but it's a little too much work for an everyday meal.  The salmon was delicious with the mushrooms, especially after being cooked in cream and butter, and we eat salmon with leeks frequently.  I'm just not crazy about the presentation.  I almost think the filling would be good over rice without all the puff pastry nonsense.  I love puff pastry, but trying to cut into and eat it with whatever's underneath it just doesn't really work.  Everything runs all over and you end up eating the pastry by itself.  A breadstick would serve the same purpose.  And I would go with asparagus instead of green beans, they have a better flavor in my opinion and do well with simple preparation like this. 

Tomorrow I'm trying a light chicken tenders dish, and then it's back to some household staples.  Until then.....Happy Cooking :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Maybe Just Order Pizza Tonight.

Salmon With Mustard Sauce.  It sounds so innocent.  This was a strange one.  Let me first say that salmon might be the best thing on the whole damn planet.  Smoked, raw, sauteed, grilled, baked, whatever you do to it, I will devour me some salmon.  It is the most flavorful of fishes, all by itself, without any seasonings, but add a little salt and pepper and olive oil, and it is just heaven.  So it really doesn't need to be smothered in a sauce.  Let alone a 1400 calorie sauce.  1400 calories in this sauce.  For 1400 calories, it damn well better be made of chocolate and butter.

1 1/2 lbs salmon
2 tsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 hard boiled eggs

Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and roast it in a 400 degree oven on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Odd thing #1 :  it says to roast the salmon for 8 minutes.  In my experience, it always takes at least 20, so I left it in much longer than directed.  Then I started on the sauce.  Whisk the vinegar into the mustard, then whisk in half a cup of olive oil.  Odd thing #2:  Press the hard boiled eggs through a fine sieve into the mustard. 

Wait, what?  Press the hard-boiled eggs through a sieve?  Yes, it sounds strange, it was strange, and it tasted strange.  All I can figure is maybe they meant egg *yolks*.  That may have made a large difference.  I know that egg is an emulsifier for oil and vinegar-based sauces (namely mayonnaise), but I found this to be a weird request.  I whisked all this together and I tasted it.  And it was not so yummy.  I added more mustard and some salt and pepper to make it edible.  When we ate it on the salmon, it tasted okay, but that was largely the salmon pulling its own weight.  Without this sauce, the meal would have been healthy and delicious.

I served the salmon with sauteed asparagus and some white rice.  Very simple, and very tasty.

I had planned to make salmon and mushroom pot pies today for lunch, but I caved and had some fried chicken at the deli at Publix.  I had been to the gym, and to the retired horse farms to feed them carrots, and crashed for a couple hours when we got home.  So I'm hoping my puff pastry isn't going bad in the fridge, when it's suppose to be in the freezer.  We shall see.

I have been asked about nutritional information.  Rachael Ray does not have much in the way of nutrition facts on her website, but I'm told if you belong to Weight Watchers you can build a recipe on their site and have it calculate the info for you.  We have a scale that does it, which is pretty freakin' awesome.  You tell it what kind of food it is, then weigh it, and it gives you the nutritional information.  My husband got it for father's day.

Both my girls love white rice, and Audrey ate her share of asparagus and salmon too, without any sauce :)

Happy Cooking :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

'Tis The Season For.......Well, Autumn Squash.

Tonight we had Butternut Squash Soup.  It was another Take Five recipe, which leads me to believe I'm getting my months confused.  This one is definitely from the current issue, and the previous post from September, or maybe August.  Gotta get my citations right.  With five relatively cheap ingredients and a little manual labor you can have a lovely, healthy soup in about an hour.  If you're into fall, you will probably really enjoy this with some fresh bread and maybe some mulled cider or gluwein on a chilly night.  I'm a beach girl myself, and I prefer pina coladas and coconut shrimp, but I appreciate the autumn festivities sometimes.  I find now that I have children I pay more attention to what I should be doing according to the current season.  Like I'm supposed to take them to pumpkin patches and give them apple cider, even if I've never done these things and seemed to turn out fairly normal.

Prior to this time last year, my only experience with squash (besides jack-o-lanterns) was summer squash, grilled or sauteed with zucchini, a side dish I hate with the burning fire of a thousand suns.  You will never find a summer squash or zucchini in my house.  It's one of those things you're forced to eat as a child that you vow to never make your kids eat.  Meatloaf, brussels sprouts, and Velveeta are also on my list.  Then about a year ago my husband brought home a butternut squash and I told him he could cook it and that he would he be eating it by himself.  Of course he made me taste it.  And I liked it!  It's more like a pumpkin than a summer squash, so I suddenly had this whole new family of foods I could try now.  Root vegetables are yummy anytime, but especially when it starts to get a little chilly outside, and you feel like taking a few extra steps at dinner to make a warm, comforting soup for everybody.

The five ingredients:
one butternut squash
one medium-sized onion
one baking potato
one quart of chicken broth
a cup of milk

Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil don't "count" as ingredients in this feature of Rachael Ray's magazine.  First, get to work on that squash.  This was kind of hard, and made me want to invest in a good vegetable peeler.  I have one that's not very good, because my husband prefers to use a knife, but lately he's been out longer and unable to help me with the hard work.  So I took to this butternut squash with my chef's knife and a fair amount of determination.  I had to google how to peel and cut a butternut squash, and there are quite a few YouTube videos on the subject.  Watch one once or twice and you'll be fine.  Cut the ends off the squash and stand it on one end.  Run your knife or vegetable peeler down the side of the squash, peeling the rind off from the flesh.  Work your way around the squash to remove all of the peel.  It's harder than it sounds.  Once it's peeled, cut it in half and remove the seeds and goopy insides with a spoon.  It's just like the inside of a pumpkin, but much smaller.  Then chop it up into pieces that are fairly the same size as each other, then chop the onion and potato to the same size as well.  Put all your veggie pieces in a baking dish and toss them with olive oil to coat.  The best way to do this is with your hands, so put your ring in a safe place and dig in.  Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and put them in the oven for about an hour.  This is kind of nice, this oven time.  I'm used to fast meals that require me to stand in front of the stove for twenty or thirty minutes at a time, so to pop something in the oven for an hour is a nice change for me.  You can change diapers, give baths, dress for bedtime, all while dinner is cooking away.  Lovely.

Take the veggies out of the oven and transfer to a large soup pot, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  This will happen pretty quickly because your veggies are already really hot.  Then you'll need to turn off the heat and puree the soup.  There are several ways to do this:

1) Use an immersion blender.  I don't happen to have one of these guys (I have a gadget rule), but if you do it will make very quick work of your soup and dirty the fewest number of dishes.  Stick the blender right in there and turn it on.  Magic.
2) Use a conventional blender, like you make smoothies in.  This is what I did.  You may have to work in two batches and dirty a few bowls in the process, but it will get the job done.
3)  You could mash the veggies before you put them in the pot with the broth.  It should work, but I haven't tried it.  This would be a good option for you if you don't have a blender of any kind.

Do not put the soup in your KitchenAid stand mixer and attempt to puree it that way.  It will not work, even though it mashes potatoes beautifully, and it will get soup everywhere.  Don't ask me how I know this.

Once the soup is pureed, add the milk.  If it cooled down a lot, heat it back up on the stove and serve as you so choose.  You could serve some bread with it, or some grilled chicken alongside, or just make it a meal like we did.  It's a rich, thick, creamy soup with a lot of flavor, and it made a surprisingly large volume for only having three vegetables in it.  Here it is with a dollop of sour cream and some parsley:

My husband preferred it without the sour cream.  My daughter was melting down and didn't eat any dinner this evening, and when the baby tried it she spit it out.  But Mommy and Daddy thought it was yummy!

You could add carrots to this, or radishes, turnips, celery, really any root vegetable.  Butternut squash is kind of sweet, and so are onions and carrots when they're cooked, so I think kids could get into eating their veggies this way.  I know Audrey would have eaten it had she been herself.  Butternut squash has lots of Vitamin A and Fiber in it too, or so the YouTube lady says.

I chose this to make this evening because it could be done mostly ahead of time, and I had my Mom's Book Club this evening (where I had an AH. MAY. ZING. bruschetta that I will be acquiring the recipe to very shortly).  We read Lift by Kelly Corrigan.  It's a letter to her children about the ways she loves them, and how she is now as a person so they will remember her that way.  Some of the ladies said it inspired them to write to their children, too, but it didn't affect me that way.  I said, well....I started a's more about me than anything I would try to write about me, to them.  So maybe it subconsciously inspired me, because they did certainly coincide with each other.  Anyway, I didn't care for the book and I'm excited to read about zombies for next month.

I'm loving the compliments I'm receiving about the blog, though, and the recipes people are now sharing with me!!

Happy squashing :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner!!!

Wow.  After spending an hour resetting my Google password amidst pre-bedtime screams, I can finally write about dinner.  Or breakfast.  In either case, It was Potato Pancakes with Avocado and Eggs, from the same issue of Rachael Ray Magazine.  This recipe was pretty fun, not too difficult, and maybe just different enough to shake things up in your household.  It was the "take five" feature of the magazine, which every month showcases a different recipe you can make with only five ingredients.  We are frequent breakfast-for-dinner eaters.  If you haven't tried it, there are many mommy-friendly benefits:

Breakfast is comforting.  At the end of the day there is nothing better than a fried egg and some toast with jelly, maybe even a little bacon, or french toast if you're into that.  Mmmmm, Syrup :)
Breakfast items are usually already in your home and ready to use, even if you haven't been to the store in a few days.....weeks, whatever.
It's fast!  Especially if you leave out the bacon, the meal can be done in minutes.

This particular recipe met the above requirements but was a change from our "usual" as well.  The hard thing about cooking and serving breakfast is that all of these foods get cold quickly, so I have a few suggestions on that subject matter as well.

2 avocados (I like Haas)
4 eggs
1 1/4 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and shredded (about 3 potatoes)
1 grated onion
chipotle-flavored hot sauce (optional).  I like Tobasco's Chipotle variety, or you can use some of the sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

Peel the potatoes (annoying, I know.) and shred them with a box grater.  You can grate the onions this way, too.  Lay them on a dish towel and fold it over, pressing the potatoes in the towel to draw out some of the moisture.  Put them in a bowl and stir in the oinions, 1 tbsp EVOO, and some salt and pepper.  When my husband makes potato pancakes, he puts egg in them too, to help them stick together, so I will try that next time.  Divide it into four pancakes and saute, turning once, for about 15 minutes total.  You want to do this over medium heat, so the bottoms don't burn before the middle cooks through.  If the heat is too high, it will be burnt on the edges and raw in the middle.  I also tented the pan with aluminum foil to sort of "bake" the insides while the outsides were browning. 

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the avocados.  With a chef's knife, cut into the avocado until you hit the pit, then turn it around in your hand to divide it in half.  Give it a little twist with both your hands and it will come apart.  Jab the pit with your knife; it should stick to your knife and come out of the avocado cleanly.  Score the inside of the avocado half, like you're drawing a grid on it with your knife.  Then turn it inside out and scrape the flesh from the peel.  When you've done this to both avocados, mash them up with a pinch of salt and set aside.

Carefully take the pancakes from the skillet (I used two spatulas) and put them on individual plates.  Immediately crack the eggs into the same skillet, to cook them sunny-side up.  You could turn them if you wanted them to be more done, but we like runny yolks.  Divide the avocado into four servings and spread one serving on each pancake.  Then put an egg on top of the avocado and serve with the hot sauce.

Now....if you use an oven-proof skillet for the potatoes, you can transfer it to a hot oven while you cook the eggs in another skillet, if you are concerned about the potatoes getting cold while you're cooking the eggs.  This probably isn't really necessary, though, because it's the eggs that are going to get cold the quickest, and I don't have a solution for that except to eat it immediately.  If you are cooking the eggs longer than suggested, though, it may be a good idea for you to keep the potatoes warm.  Also make sure your avocados are room-temperature so they don't chill the rest of the dish.  If you have some plates that hold heat well, you could try using those for serving.

This would really impress a brunch guest; it looks pretty, and complicated.  (I know, I'll start taking pictures soon.)  The flavors all go really well together, and avocado is a pleasant surprise when paired with eggs.  This dish is actually a great benedict variation and arguably healthier than traditional eggs benedict.  It is meatless and breadless, with the addition of a fruit and two vegetables (potato is a vegetable, right?), but still has the elegant layered presentation of a classic benedict.  Simply eliminating Hollandaise sauce saves you quite a few calories ;)

The baby was able to eat some of the avocado, and she tried to eat some potato and egg (though I think before 12 months they are only allowed egg yolk, fully cooked.)  And my older child actually really liked it!  She ate almost half of an adult serving, which is pretty stellar for her.

There's not a lot better than a pretty craft you can eat, that doesn't take months to complete.  Speaking of which, I have a scrapbooking calendar to work on, and eventually I'll need to say a word or two to my other half ;)

Happy Breakfast Eating!!

BONUS:  Mimosas!!

Liquor tastes good with orange juice, luckily for us breakfast-eaters.  My husband likes it with gin or beer, and I like it with champagne.  Recently, on vacation in Vero Beach, we were introduced to a "Lunch Box:"

a shot of amaretto
half a Bud Light
orange juice

delicious, I must say, and easier to keep the ingredients on hand than if you were making traditional mimosas.  Champagne just doesn't last in my house :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shepherds Eat Beef, Apparently.

Tonight we tried Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie from Rachael Ray Magazine October 2010.  This was a little soupy, but quite delicious.  Maybe I would leave out the milk and butter if I made it again, to try to thicken up the sweet potato "crust" that, in my attempt, just sort of mixed itself into the beef / veggie / gravy part.  It was a pleasant surprise, because shepherd's pie in my experience has always been too dry.  With some fresh rolls it would have been awesome tonight.  My two-year old ate a little of it, in between tantrums, with saltines for dipping, and the baby ate some of it, in between tantrums, that was spoon-fed to her.  She only has two teeth so we tend to stick to the pureed and soft stuff for her anyway.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3 sweet potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
a chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup beef broth
3/4 cup dark beer
butter and flour
8 oz mushrooms

You start by prepping the sweet potatoes, which was a giant pain in the ass.  I do NOT peel vegetables, but my husband wasn't home yet so I had to.  Before tonight, I was a sweet potato virgin, never having prepared them before in my life, so I was rather disgusted when they started bleeding a sticky white stuff (ew) which literally made my fingers stick together like superglue.  I washed my hands, scrubbed them with a Scotch Brite pad, and now they seem to be relatively back to normal.  I did Google this phenomenon, to make sure I wasn't ingesting a large amount of poison, and it's just the starches; totally normal.  Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover them with water, and boil for 20 minutes.  When they're soft, drain them, and mash 'em up.  The recipe calls for milk and butter, but like I said, it was a little runny, so you may want to try it without.

Saute the mushrooms in a large pot for 6 or 7 minutes, then add the beef and brown it.  Add the onions and garlic, then sage, salt, and pepper.  In a small sauce pot, melt 2 tbsps butter and whisk in 2 tbsp flour.  This is called a roux (roo) ; it's used to make gravy.   Whisk the beer into the roux (try to get it completely combined), cook for a minute, then add the beef broth and whisk some more.  Add the peas to the beef, then add the gravy.  Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and top with the sweet potatoes.  Broil until it looks yummy!

You may want to crank the AC down a few degrees before attempting this recipe.  With all the pots on the stove, I broke a sweat!  After doing it once, though, I know you could do it in advance.  You can prepare the sweet potato and store it, and then prepare the beef and store it, and then combine the two together to put it the oven when you're ready to eat.  I wouldn't do it more than a few hours ahead (maybe at naptime?) but your kitchen won't get so hot all at once if you do it that way, and if you're entertaining, it will give you the time to be a good hostess.

Tonight I have two discs of Glee calling my name, so that's how we'll be celebrating our "living-together anniversary."

Happy Parenting!  Have another martini ;)

Cooking is my Other Craft.

Well..... I'm a new blogger!  Years after learning about the social networking scene, and fully immersing myself in said sub-culture, here I am with my very own blog.  My girls keep me fairly busy, but I like to share news and ideas with my fellow mommies through email, facebook, and yes, even in person.  So here I feel I can share new recipes, kidcare ideas, and crafts with anyone who is interested.
Now, I'm not gonna lie, there are nights I just want a PBJ and a glass of wine, but for the most part I really do enjoy cooking for my family.  I enjoy the challenges of finding something unique, affordable, and easy that both my husband and my 2-yr old will eat, that also did not come out of a box.  Not that there's anything wrong with Hamburger Helper. 
I also like to read, and collect books, so cookbooks are a great resource for me, but lately I've really been enjoying Rachael Ray's magazine.  I don't have time during the day to read an entire magazine, so after the kids go to bed, I skim through it, tear out the recipes whose titles sound appetizing, and put them away to go through later before recycling the rest of the magazine.  When I feel like cooking something new, I dig them out and read them in detail.  Then I make a menu for the following week or two, make a grocery list based on that menu, and head to my neighborhood Publix.
I did this on Sunday but didn't make it to the store until Tuesday, which was just as well because Monday is wing night anyway.  So my first of seven new recipes this week, courtesy of Rachael Ray Magazine, was Coconut Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa.  I cooked it last night; Tuesday night, before my scrapbooking meetup with the ladies.

1 1/2 cups chopped mango
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tbsp rice vinegar
cilantro to taste
4 chicken cutlets
1 egg
coconut flakes
vegetable oil

It was quick and easy, and pretty cheap, the hardest and most time-consuming part being the chopping of the salsa ingredients.  My husband particularly enjoys helping me with chopping, but he was not home this time.  Mangoes are slippery little things and can be tricky to dice, so watch your thumbs.  Also in the salsa was red bell pepper, red onion, rice vinegar, and cilantro.
The chicken cutlets were dipped in a beaten egg and then pressed in coconut flakes.  I couldn't find unsweetened, so I used sweetened coconut and we liked it.  The chicken is browned in an oven-proof skillet and transferred to a hot oven to bake through.  I serve the chicken on a bed of white rice with the salsa on top. 
It was quite yummy, I would go as far as to say "restaurant-quality," and will be a great way to impress company without going too far overboard.  And, since the chicken cooks mostly in the oven and the salsa can be done a few hours ahead of time, you have time to chase around your kid who won't keep her underwear on.  She did eat some of this, but she didn't care for the salsa.  You could set aside some of the mango, without the onions and peppers, to put on top of a child's chicken and rice if you think they won't like those flavors.
And then it was off to scrapbooking!  I worked on my June and July layouts with my Cricut machine and spent FOREVER cutting and gluing little tiny cowgirls.  Pictures to follow.
Tonight it's Sweet-Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie, also from Rachael Ray.  A twist on a classic; we'll see how it goes :)

Happy Parenting!  Try not to pull your hair out........