Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little Easter Babies

Little Hank and I bonded.  It turns out that he is a fan of Mumford and Sons, too.

Just 3 weeks ago, my sister gave birth to a wonderful little guy named Henry Joseph and I've been dying to see him in person, so when we had a long Easter weekend, we decided to spend it in Peoria.  I loved spending Easter with my new nephew, Hank.  He is so small and sweet, but he has giant loud farts.  It's hilarious!  Hank tolerated having house guests very well and I'm hoping he'll let us come visit again.

It is amazing to see how much stuff one little baby has.  And especially the fact that right now, he really doesn't use any of it.  He's too small to appreciate all the stuffed animals and books (I read him stories anyway.)  It is also crazy how when you see baby clothes at the store, they look so tiny and then once you put them on the baby, he still has room to grow.  It's a little staggering, really, to think we all start out that small!

Hank wasn't the only baby to be celebrated on Easter.  My friend Elizabeth had her baby, Easton, that day.  I can't wait to meet him, but he was a little early so he has to stay in the NICU for a little bit.  It's a lot of fun all these babies in my world right now...not to mentioned that there are still 15 more to come from other friends yet this year!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring on the Inside

The view from my kitchen this morning.
Well, it's a gorgeous spring day in Minnesota.  As one of my girls put it at Girls Group Monday night, "If Mother Nature was a real person, someone would have murdered her by now."  I think we are all sort of feeling that way.  But, I guess if we can't have spring outside, then the next best thing is spring on the inside--and it was definitely spring at our fundraiser for the Soul Sisterhood Retreat this weekend!

We had a sunny, although chilly, day for our fundraiser, but it was warm and fun inside.  We had a silent auction, bake sale, raffle, dessert buffet and a great speaker, Jessica Zuehlke.  Sixty-four people attended, and $2500 was raised to support our summer camp for girls.  It was wonderful.  Here's some of the highlights:

Our dessert buffet included cheesecake, peach cobbler, angel food cupcakes, Oreo truffles, lemon bars, raspberry bars, Oreo cupcakes, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcakes, brownie pops, Raspberry Truffle cups, and yogurt parfaits. Oh, and Chocolate covered strawberries.  There were probably other things as well, but I can't remember all of it.

We decorated the tables with vintage linens (from my personal collection), gorgeous clusters of daffodils, and we also gave each of the women who came a merit badge as a token of thanks for their support for the Soul Sisterhood Retreat.

The bake sale was not huge, but featured yummy goodies like banana bread and muffins, red velvet cheesecake brownies, lemon drop cookies, pumpkin bread, lemon poppyseed bread,  Raspberry bars and Oreo cupcakes.  (Some of the women brought home treats for their deserving husbands and children!)

These are some of the silent auction prizes.  The quilt on the left is the one that I made for the event.  It received many oooh's and ahhhh's.  We also had homemade soaps, jewelry, a garden basket and other great prizes.  Everyone was so generous with their talents!

These were a sampling of the raffle prizes too.  We had cookbooks, gift certificates and some more jewelry.

This was our speaker, Jessica Zuehlke, who along with her husband wrote the musical The Church Basement Ladies.  She was so funny, personable, and encouraging.  She talked about her creative process and her writing, and how she creates the characters and the settings and action in her work.  She really encouraged people to just try writing.  One of my middle school girls (who is a writer and actress) even wanted to follow up with Jessica for advice.

All in all it was a wonderful afternoon and everyone had a great time.  I have to admit though...I really don't want to spend any time in the kitchen right now. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Something Delicious This Way Comes...

So earlier this week I made one of my all time favorite recipes.  It's quick, easy, delicious, and really good for you.  So, without further ado:

Spicy Chicken Couscous

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
1 tbs. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 can (15.75 oz) Chicken broth
1 box (10 oz.) plain Couscous
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
1/3 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tbs. sliced almonds

The Ingredients
First, combine chicken and jerk seasoning in a Ziploc bag (or bowl) and toss until covered evenly in the seasoning. 

Coat the chicken evenly with the jerk seasoning.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add chicken; cook 3 minutes. Just like this:

The chicken should be 3/4 of the way done before you add the broth.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add couscous, raisins, and cherries; stir well. 

The couscous cooks while the covered skillet rests for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine orange juice, and next 5 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a bowl.  Stir with a whisk.  Fluff couscous with a fork, pour orange juice mix over couscous and toss to combine.

My husband thought I should be in the picture.
Top with cilantro, green onions and almonds.  Enjoy!

I served it with asparagus. Yum!

So delicious!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Demonstration of Creative Prowess

Sorry, it's been a while.  I've been super distracted lately by too many fun things all at once.  It's a good problem to have, but the bad part is that I forget my camera a lot, so I can't share those fun things with you.  Anyway.

On Monday night I offered my girls group a Cake-boss style challenge.  Only they had to use play-doh.  It was a super fun, colorful, night with lots of creative, inedible goodies.  Here are some of the highlights:

These were the goodies that I made:  A chocolate covered strawberry, two truffles, and a frosted cookie.  They almost look good enough to eat!

One of the girls made a movie snacks themed cake.  These were the beginnings of the pieces she used to decorate it.  It had soda, popcorn, pretzels, cookies, dots, and so much more on it.  When we had our "show and tell" at the end of the night, it was clear who the cake boss was.  There was an audible gasp at the intricacy of her play-doh cake.

A towering creation...we used the play-doh cake maker kit (in Target's toy department) and it had tons of fun features like cookie cutters, a cupcake base mold, little molds for roses, stars, and other things you'd use a specialty frosting tip for.  It even had a little squirting frosting bag!  It was awesome.

This is many of the girls hard at work on their "cakes."  We had a really good time being 5 again.  It really made me want to get out a coloring book and crayons too!