Thursday, December 3, 2009


Our new baby carrier- an Ergo- just arrived and we had to try it out. It can fit all the way from infant to 40 lbs. so we're pretty excited at the versatility for when the baby comes. It's super-comfortable and even I do okay carrying Eileigh around on my back (although the front-carry is a no-go for now). The best thing about it (other than the comfort) is that it's ergonomically correct, so Eileigh (or the baby) is able to sit in it as opposed to dangling from a carrier with all the pressure put on her pelvis and legs. We'd originally gotten a good deal on a pretty pink one with flowers but Mike tried it on and while he liked the comfort and ease of wearing it, he was not a big fan of being covered in pink and flowers- who knew? :) So we sold that one and bought the black one new for a great price. I hope Selah likes it, I know Eileigh does!

Eileigh was getting a little tired of "helping" me make dinner at this point

The back-carry position is also great for receiving neck massages (Eileigh calls them "saj")

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thought I would share some pictures from our time spent in WA for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Eileigh loved having so many people to play with!!

Eileigh and Great-Grandma Mary

One of the coolest ideas ever: waterpainting!! (Until Mama cut it short when the green paint worked its way over to Eileigh's nose and upper lip)

Eileigh trying out Daddy's new purchases from Cabela's

Classic Jack and John (Mike's dad Jack on left, Uncle John on right): discussion of differing viewpoints

Eileigh appearing to sit patiently

I threw this one in mostly for the belly shot... almost at 32 weeks here

Grandma Kathy (Mike's mom) with a hat Eileigh enjoyed

And no trip would be complete without the obligatory stop at Cabela's

Eileigh liked all of the (dead) animals but loved the (live) fish most of all!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mexican Shrimp Bisque

Ohhh, yum. I adore shrimp and tonight Eileigh enjoyed her first shrimp as well! I was somewhat doubtful that she'd even try it but down the hatch it went and she kept asking for more! This soup was rich, easy to make, and full of flavor. I will definitely be putting this into my regular rotation of recipes.

Mexican Shrimp Bisque

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I used whole milk and will use it again next time- it made the soup still creamy but not too rich)
1 tablespoon chili powder (perfect amount of flavor, not too spicy)
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (I might use a little less next time)
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup sour cream
Fresh cilantro, cubed avocado, and shredded cheddar cheese, optional
  • In a large saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in flour until blended. Stir in the water, cream, chili powder, bouillon, cumin and coriander; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Cut shrimp into bite-size pieces; add to soup. Simmer 5 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink. Gradually stir 1/2 cup hot soup into sour cream; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Heat through (do not boil). Garnish with cilantro, avocado and shredded cheddar cheese, if desired. Yield: 3 cups. (Serves 2-3)

Towards Greener Living...

I've been Baby-stepping our family down the path towards "greener" living, mostly as a result of being reactive as opposed to proactive as I'd like to be. A lot of it has to do with finances and ways of doing things cheaper but I'm finding that so much of the time cheaper really IS better! And simple, back-to-the-basics is so often better.
Making homemade laundry soap was one of my first forays into the Land of Green (or so I thought) until I discovered that Fels Naptha isn't all that great (has animal fats and some nasty petroleum-based toxic ingredients). So it was back to the drawing board and I ended up finding some great recipes! And there are so many. I decided to stick with a couple of really basic recipes- one for Eileigh's cloth diapers and one for the rest of the laundry. Since we have a front-loading HE washer I had to make sure the recipes would be okay to use but I believe I figured it out and so far, so good!
Also in my searches and extensive (ahem, internet) research, I stumbled fortuitously across information on a nasty little thing called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or SLS as it is lovingly referred to). This stuff (along with Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate) is used not only in engine degreasers and floor cleaners but shampoos, body washes and toothpaste since it is a cheap degreaser. It's approved by the FDA for "brief, intermittent use not in contact with mucous membranes"... (a bit difficult since it's in toothpaste) and has been shown to correlate with a number of toxic responses. (And while I'm here mentioning toxic ingredients to avoid, propylene glycol is in so many things and should definitely be avoided). Anyhoo, SLS can cause and exacerbate skin issues and cause canker sores in the mouth, which really piqued my interest since Mike gets terrible canker sores rather frequently that can last for weeks. I've always used special soap for Eileigh since she has really sensitive skin but now I'm choosing to make the Big Change for our entire family. Mike thinks he might have to lock me up in a mental institution but I told him to give me a couple weeks and see if he can't tell a difference. We're going the route of good ol' castile soap (Dr. Bronner's for the liquid version; Kirk's Castile for bar soap) and are going to use it for shampoo, body wash, hand wash and anything else I can find a use for! I've actually collected several recipes also using it for dishwasher detergent, household cleaner and "softscrub" cleaner- for anything needing a little abrasion. Some people use it for toothpaste but the thought of that makes me want to gag so instead we'll be using SLS-free toothpaste (Tom's of Maine). A lot of the ingredients can be found at Fred Meyer's or Lifesource but I ordered everything for a significantly lower price online (, although I'm sure there are other great sites out there). Apparently for those who've made the switch to using castile soap it can take a few weeks for skin and hair to "detoxify" but after that it's shiny hair and conditioned skin without a need for lotions and/or conditioners! We'll see how it goes- I'm just waiting for my soap to arrive! I'll share those recipes once they're tried and approved. :)

Greener Homemade Laundry Detergent (okay for HE washers)

1 box (about 4 lb.) Borax
1 box (about 4 lb.) Washing Soda (not Baking Soda)
2 bars Kirk's Castile Soap, finely grated (I used my microplane grater and it's perfect- looks like snow!)

Mix all ingredients, use 2-4 Tbsp. per load.

Homemade Diaper Detergent (okay for HE washers)

1 c. Borax
1 c. Washing Soda
1 c. Oxiclean Free

Mix all ingredients, use 2 Tbsp- 1/4 c. per load. (I err on the side of less is more)
**A couple drops per load of tea tree essential oil is supposed to be really great for killing bacteria and any ammonia smell but I haven't gotten around to trying this suggestion out yet.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Favorite Cranberry Bread and (modified) Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta

I fully admit to slacking in the blogging department and am trying to get back into the habit. At the moment I find things complicated by an almost 2-yr. old taking up what's left of my lap (which is not much, considering that Sunday marked 32 weeks into this pregnancy) as she is attempting to write her favorite letters: D-Daddy, E-Eileigh, B-Boone, M-Mama, P-Papa, G-Gramma and the occasional K-Kitty or other letter she can think of at this point in time. (I should clarify that this is exactly how her letters are stated, i.e., "D, Daddy" is the letter's full title and description). During these writing attempts she frequently leans over my arm to reach various other writing utensils or objects of interest and thereby further complicates my typing attempts. I wouldn't trade it for the world- but will have to remember in the future to blog when she is occupied elsewhere (as in, fast asleep in her bed).
Thanksgiving was spent in Washington at Mike's parents' house and we had a great time catching up and relaxing. Thanksgiving dinner was a feast to be sure and I enjoyed every bit of it, including the leftovers. Sometimes I think I love Thanksgiving more because of the great leftovers and fasba (a Mennonite low German term for coffee and sandwiches but applied by our family to specifically mean dinner rolls stuffed with leftover meat and cheese and slathered with mayo and mustard). Although I did not get to indulge in the fasba tradition this year I did come home with some leftover turkey and decided to tweak a new recipe I've been wanting to try and use turkey instead of the sausage the recipe called for. I spent a good amount of time last week roasting pumpkin seeds and cooking and baking our garden's Halloween pumpkins into "canned" pumpkin which I was able to use for this recipe as well. It turned out quite tasty- even my non-pumpkin-loving husband enjoyed it.

Sausage (or Turkey), Pumpkin and Mushroom Pasta

2 cups uncooked multigrain bow tie pasta
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed (or substitute leftover turkey)
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup white wine or additional reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used white wine- Riesling- and really think it made for great flavor!)
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook the sausage, mushrooms, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin, wine, sage, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • Drain pasta; add to the skillet and heat through. Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
I also wanted to share my recipe for Cranberry Bread- I'd baked a loaf since I had fresh cranberries on hand and then brought it with us to WA. So far it's been deemed a winner by all who partake! I know I love it. I've also made it with apple juice instead of orange juice and omitted the orange peel so Eileigh can enjoy it but personally I like it best with the hint of orange flavoring. Don't forget to add the glaze- that's Mike's favorite part. :)

Favorite Cranberry Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cold butter
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold butter

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons orange juice
  • In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, orange juice and peel. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and raisins. Transfer to a greased 8-in x 4-in. loaf pan.
  • Combine brown sugar and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For glaze, combine confectioners' sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle over bread.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Today Mike had a wild hair to pack us up and head off to the mountains for a nice little day trip. He was pretty excited and of course his girls love to be wherever he may be so we got ready (as fast as two girls can) and saddled up. Eileigh commandeered Selah's new carseat so we didn't have to switch hers from my car to the truck. Our main goals were to have fun enjoying each other's company, find some snow and be able to see some of the key areas Mike haunts during hunting season(s). In honor of an old tradition (from my childhood, of course) we agreed that whoever spotted the first deer/elk gets $0.25. I think with inflation this price should definitely have increased over time but we decided to stick with the historical precedence. Having spotted the first and only deer (a tiny buck) I now wish I had opted for the increased rate but so it goes. Eileigh did great, loving the bumps and contentedly munching on rice cakes and apples while I on the other hand had to have Mike stop the truck just about every few feet due to the vicious combination of rutted roads, a 30-wk. pregnant swollen belly, and sadly abused little bladder. I determined not too far into the start of the trip that I would not voluntarily be making any more such trips until after the baby is born.
When we got to the snow Eileigh excitedly walked around, occasionally touching it but mostly checking out her snow-covered boots and saying "Walkin'." Recently everything ending in "-ing" gets the "g" dropped: walkin', dancin', singin', Mornin'!!- her favorite greeting as of late. We all had a great time taking pictures and enjoying the crisp peacefulness of the snow-covered woods.

Treats, no tricks!!

She didn't say "trick or treat" but she would say "knock-knock"

Check out Eileigh's name in the pumpkin- we carved it with a nail when it was just a little gourd (are pumpkins gourds?) and the name grew bigger with the pumpkin!! Courtesy of our garden.

Boone had this look on his face a few times throughout the night... cutest spider ever.

Just to clarify: Eileigh was a flower. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Eats

Last night everyone minus my youngest sister Emily (who had to work night shift) came over to our house to enjoy a little get-together before heading out to a few of the neighbors' houses for some laid-back trick-or-treating. Hopefully I will have some pictures to post soon of the kids in their outfits- until then I will share a few recipes we utilized to make the evening's meal frighteningly delicious. :) The Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili I've made before and liked it even better this time around (throwing in a few of my own twists) and my mom made a big batch of Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls that not only went great with the chili but also make for a great breakfast the next day!!! (and snack... and lunch...).

Black Bean 'n' Pumpkin Chili (Crockpot)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped (I used a red bell pepper this time, just as good)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained (this time was 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans)
2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey (this could be any meat, really- I used leftover pork from making Spicy Carolina BBQ Pork and leftover chicken from making homemade chicken broth- I think the spicy pork really made the dish- I'll add the recipe on at the bottom of this post)
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion, yellow pepper and garlic in oil until tender. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; stir in the remaining ingredients.
Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
4 eggs
1 cup shortening
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1/3 cup instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 teaspoon salt
7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the eggs, shortening, pumpkin, milk, sugars, pudding mixes, salt and 6 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 12-in. x 8-in. rectangle; brush with butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges.
Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal. Cut each into 12 slices. Place cut side down in two greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 22-28 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl, combine the water, butter and cinnamon. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over buns. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.

Spicy Carolina BBQ Pork (Crockpot)

2 onions, quartered
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (4-6lb.) boneless pork butt or shoulder roast
3/4 c. cider vinegar
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Hamburger buns

Place onions in crockpot. Combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper and rub mixture over roast. Place roast in crockpot. In a bowl, combine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Drizzle 1/2 of vinegar mixture over the roast. Cover and refrigerate remaining vinegar mixture. Cover; cook on Low for 10 hrs. or High 6 hrs. Remove the meat and onions and drain. Shred meat and serve with onions on hamburger buns. Use the remaining vinegar mixture to drizzle over the sandwiches.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I'm not sure what the official name is but I've always called them "Poppers"- which of course Eileigh now calls them that as well. They're the puffy little seed balls that fall from what I believe are oak trees... please feel free to have actual knowledge of their title but I'll continue to refer to them as poppers. :) The best thing about them is the delicious crunch they let out when stepped upon. When the first ones started falling I pulled Eileigh out of the stroller during our walks and let her try her foot at it- it took her a little while at first but now she's an old pro. My mom now saves poppers from her walks and will bring them over for Eileigh to crush on our back deck. This afternoon we enjoyed a rare treat. My mom, Eileigh and I met my Dad over at my grandparents' farm where my Dad had spent a decent portion of time raking together all of the poppers that had fallen from one of their huge trees. Eileigh was in popper heaven and soon moved from annihilating single poppers to running through the pile and decimating several clusters in one fell swoop. My mom and I had our own fun "helping" Eileigh- as we liked to call it. Ahhh, the simple pleasures in life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh My Word!!!

I can hardly believe the amount of words (and sometimes the actual words) coming out of Eileigh's mouth!! Nothing "bad", don't get me wrong- I just didn't expect Eileigh to pick up on some of the things she has. In the last two weeks I think her vocabulary has just about doubled. She's throwing out phrases right and left and I hear my own words being repeated often. I've also noticed that she pays special attention when a word or phrase is said with emphasis from me- those words will definitely get repeated. Our first instance actually occurred during our camping trip at the coast. Before Mindi, Boone, Eileigh and I ended up at the Marine Science Center, we had planned to go to the Aquarium. Unfortunately as we drove up, a big sign had been set up announcing that due to special events the Aquarium was closing that afternoon at 3:00pm- and it was 2:45pm. Mindi scoffed in disgust as I declared, "That's crap!" Suddenly from the back seat I heard a sweet little voice pipe up, "That's crap! That's crap!" Mindi and I didn't know quite what to do and tried to smother our giggles so as not to encourage Eileigh's new phrase, courtesy of her mother's potty mouth. Thankfully after a few tries on the phrase she gave it up. I've really been trying to watch it while I'm driving and most of the time I do pretty well, occasionally letting an "Oh my WORD!" slip out (believe me, pre-kid it was much more colorful) but even still, Eileigh chimes in "Word! Oh my! Oh my!"
Other favorites of hers include "All gone" and "I know". Some of my favorites to hear her say are "Stinker" (teen-ter) and "Buster" and "Honey". She's repeated "Bye, sweetie" at bedtime and every now and then when she wants Mike for something she calls out, "Mike! Mike!" Whoopsie- I think that one's from me as well. :) Mike isn't overly thrilled at it but I think it's hysterical (on the inside; on the outside I tell Eileigh to say Daddy).
Eileigh is my God-given daily reminder to think before I speak!!

Pumpkin Dessert Squares, Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes and Cranberry-Glazed Pork Roast

This last Friday we had a good-bye and good luck potluck for a co-worker who is on to greener pastures and will be sorely missed. Luckily someone reminded me the day before so I had ample time to whip up a contribution to the meal. I'd been wanting to try the Crunchy Pumpkin Dessert Squares and they were not only really easy to put together but also very yummy with Cool Whip on top! Cool Whip makes everything taste better, in my opinion (not to say that this dessert needed it). I also threw Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes in the crockpot and let that cook at work until lunch time (turned out it needed a little bit more time than planned due to a few lid-lifters- you know who you are!!!). :) Finally, I wanted to share the Cranberry-Glazed Pork Roast recipe because it's delicious (the sauce is fabulous) and goes wonderfully with the Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes. I made them both for dinner last week and everyone heralded it a success.

Crunchy Pumpkin Dessert Squares
  • 1 can (30 ounces) pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup reduced-fat butter, melted
  • 1-1/4 cups fat-free whipped topping
In a large bowl, combine the pie filling, milk and eggs; beat on medium speed until smooth. Pour into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with cake mix and pecans; drizzle with butter.
Bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish with whipped topping. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 20 servings.

Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes (Slow-Cooker)
  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (I've used both sweet potatoes and yams- they're both tasty, just depends on your personal preference)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat butter, melted (Yeah, I just use regular butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place sweet potatoes in a 5-qt. slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Combine the pecans, coconut, sugar, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt; sprinkle over potatoes.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in extracts. Yield: 12 servings.

Cranberry-Glazed Pork Roast
  • 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (Our family is a big fan of Cattleman's)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 boneless rolled pork loin roast (4 pounds) **(I used two smaller pork loin roasts- one about 2.5 lbs., one about 1.5 lbs. and cooked them together for about an hour and a half total time, including glazing)
In a small saucepan, combine the cranberry sauce, apple juice, barbecue sauce and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into cranberry mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside 1 cup sauce.
Place roast in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1-3/4 hours. Spoon a third of the remaining glaze over pork. Bake 30 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160°, basting twice. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with reserved sauce. Yield: 16 servings.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pumpkin Lasagna and Sweet Potato Bread with Pineapple Butter

Fall is here! We've decorated the outside of our house with cornstalks and pumpkins from our garden and I'm still working on the inside decor. Yesterday since Mike was on shift I decided to make Pumpkin Lasagna. He's not what you would call an avid fan of pumpkin (or any kind of fan, really), which is an extremely difficult thing for me to accept since I love all things pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin chili, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin lasagna- you name it, I'd like it. Thankfully my parents live nearby and are also fans of the Big Orange so I was able to make a dinner and have others to share it with (with minimal leftovers for Mike to worry about). I also baked up some Sweet Potato Bread with Pineapple Butter- wonderfully spiced, moist bread brought to new heights when combined with the pineapple butter. Our entire family, Mike included, loves this bread so it disappears quickly.

Pumpkin Lasagna
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (this is my own addition but I think it's an important one for flavor)
  • Dash pepper
  • 9 no-cook lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


In a small skillet, saute the mushrooms, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil until tender; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, cream, sage, nutmeg, pepper and remaining salt.
Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles (noodles will overlap slightly). Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of mushroom mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce.
Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 6 servings.
**Make sure to use the full amount of salt the recipe calls for- I went light on the salt since my Dad watches his intake and then we added more individually at dinner. As stated earlier, I think nutmeg is a great addition to this recipe- adds flavor without turning the lasagna into a sweet dish. I didn't think the sage by itself was enough flavoring with the pumpkin.**

Sweet Potato Bread with Pineapple Butter

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (I microwaved one large potato for about 6-8 minutes after poking with a fork, rotating potato every few minutes using an oven mitt)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, well drained


In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, potatoes, oil and water. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Transfer to a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
In a small bowl, combine butter and pineapple. Serve with bread. Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices) and 1 cup butter.

Last Year: Camping 2008

I wanted to post a few pictures from last year's camping trip- Eileigh was just over 7 months old at the time!!!

Eileigh liked the sea lions

Bathing was so much easier then!!

I can't get over her short little hair!! :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Marine Science Center- Camping, continued

Saturday afternoon after lunch we headed to the Marine Science Center with the kids in tow. They have a great hands-on area for the kids to touch starfish, sea urchins, anemones and other types of tide-pool sea creatures. There are a lot of different exhibits as well as huge tanks of fish- the kids loved it and Mindi and I enjoyed ourselves too.

Eileigh enjoyed poking the anemone... until the volunteer told us not to.

My sister Mindi and nephew Boone

Checking out the fish

Eileigh trying to climb the wall- she even gave a little "Uhh" for effort. :)

Both kids loved the sea otter pelt

2nd Annual Camping Trip

I could hardly believe it was time for our annual camping trip to the coast! Last year we were able to split time between a yurt and our 5th wheel but this year the yurts were already reserved and unavailable so we decided to just stay one night from Sat. to Sun. However, on Friday I was able to get off of work early and we decided to be spur-o'-the-moment people (this is not my general nature but I do try) and quickly booked a room at a hotel close to the campground (it was raining and they have a pool). I threw everything I could possibly think of into a few bags and we were off! We started to doubt ourselves as night came quicker than we anticipated and we were still on the road- I was hungry for dinner, and Eileigh was cranky and continuously asking, "Down?" "Up-pea!" (Up, please) and "Out!" My aspirations of a nice seafood dinner took a dive as we looked at the clock and instead we pulled into Burger King for a quick meal of cheap grease. Eileigh of course was thrilled and kept requesting, "Fry? Fry? TWO!" She has gotten the "two" concept down pat. We finally arrived at the campsite and spent some time sitting around the fire and visiting with family and friends. Eileigh had her own little Cabela's camping chair to sit in although she preferred to move from lap to lap- or in the absence of a lap simply steal that person's chair. It got late so we headed out and found the hotel warm and inviting and all quickly fell asleep. I was hoping Eileigh would sleep in since we got to bed so late but no such luck- you'd think I'd know better by now! :) Mike took Eileigh with him for a coffee run and I was able to doze off a little and woke up feeling refreshed upon their happy return. We decided to go for a quick dip in the pool before checkout and spent a happy half-hour or so splashing around (technically, Mike and Eileigh splashed while I put my feet in the too-cold-for-me water). Happy time, that is, until a maintenance worker came in and told us he'd just put chemicals in the pool and it was supposed to be closed (the sign said SPA closed before we entered but he flipped it before we left to say POOL closed, grr). I pretty much flipped out and we hurried upstairs to take long showers to rinse who knows what kind of chemicals off. I had suspiciously tingly hands for an hour afterwards but Mike assured me I was crazy and it was all in my head. :)
Other than a leisurely girls-only-plus-Boone (my nephew) lunch outing, we stayed in camp for the rest of the day while the guys went fishing and crabbing in the ocean. Dinner was delicious and featured grilled salmon caught the day before and tons of crab caught that afternoon. I happily consumed Selah's and my share (I am 23 1/2 weeks pregnant with our baby girl, Selah). Night fell quickly and brought a chill. Eileigh woke up cold and crying at an unknown but altogether ungodly hour and so I packed her into bed with my mom and I and spent the rest of the night alternately enjoying snuggling her and trying to find a comfortable position for myself. Which was pretty much impossible to do but a line from a song kept streaming through my head "It won't be like this, for long"- made all the more poignant since it is about his little girl growing up. So I decided to just enjoy the sleepless night since it might be the only time I will ever really get to snuggle and sleep like that with Eileigh... maybe next year we'll have Selah in there with us!! :) We packed up the next morning and headed home, another camping trip down and ready to plan for the next one!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Project accomplished: making a German Chocolate cake from scratch for my dad's birthday (not on the actual day, but certainly in celebration of it!!). I had asked him what cake he would want if he could choose anything and German Chocolate it was- so I scoured around for a good-looking recipe and finally found one that appeared to fit the ticket. It actually wasn't too complicated and just included a few extra steps that I normally wouldn't have done (such as beating EACH egg yolk in separately, folding in the eggwhites a little at a time, etc.) But as it was quality I was after, I pretty much followed the recipe to a "T"- even the frosting, which took an extremely long time to thicken but I disciplined myself and didn't turn up the heat to speed up the process- instead I just grabbed a book and read while I stirred. I've been discovering that a lack of patience is what causes my cake to crumble, literally and figuratively speaking. (See Exhibit A: Carmelized Banana and White Chocolate Torte).
We enjoyed a Fall-flavored dinner again, this time of a sweet cranberry/BBQ pork roast and sweet potatoes slow-cooked with coconut, brown sugar and pecans. I will definitely plan to post the recipes- they were easy and delicious (and will probably be utilized for a few families I'll be bringing meals to in the next few weeks!) The German Chocolate cake finished the meal- Eileigh enjoyed it as much as the rest of us... in fact, we (I) got a little carried away and Eileigh had a bit more sugar intake than usual, as evidenced by her running around like crazy after dinner and then spending bedtime singing and hollering in the crib instead of sleeping. Will definitely plan to avoid cake intake for future bedtimes.