Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Artichoke Penne Pasta

Today was a home day.  
Daddy was home during the day, but is working until 3 in the morning so we thought it would be good to stay home and relax.

Every once in a while I am treated by Jeremy to my morning cup of coffee and a few moments to myself to catch up on emails-without the boys asking me to make breakfast, to turn on their morning cartoons or empty the dishwasher from the night before.  I am so grateful for this time as today was one of those days!

There is something so casual and soothing to document the little moments of our days.  The moment doesn't have to be anything special, just something you want to remember.  Lately I am asking myself Where did the time go??  Life is passing by so quickly and the days I share with my boys will soon be distant memories, the sounds of their toddler laughter will be hard to perfect in my mind, and the everyday routines will soon be overlooked.  Today I documented us just being us ... nothing special, just my boys being boys.

Cole playing with his birthday balloons

He went into the kitchen and grabbed EVERY bag clip and attached them to the strings of his balloons to see how low his balloons would fall

Braydon watching the trash truck from the window sill

Cole joining in to watch the truck drive away

Braydon playing in the garage

Jeremy and I in the front yard with the boys running around below us ... in opposite directions of course

Braydon eating Cole's Happy Meal from lunch, hoping he wouldn't notice how many french fries were missing

Cole kicking the ball around while Braydon stomps around in the gutter water

Playing soccer with Daddy ... which turned into Daddy running up and down the street after the ball that was kicked or thrown in the opposite direction from where he was standing

I love watching the boys play with Jeremy, it is an interaction that I couldn't possibly replicate- I am so grateful he is a hands on Daddy to the boys

Braydon taking a walk ... he will go on forever until you yell STOP! and even then we are lucky if he turns his head to acknowledge us ... from there it is a toss up if he turns to come back or keeps going

Cole just being cute

Me trying to take a nice picture with my boys and finding all along that Braydon was trying to steal Cole's lollipop ... not at all unusual

Relaxing with his lollipop

Look, its red!!

Braydon, happy as can be with his OWN lollipop ... this picture doesn't do him justice- by the time he is done there is half the lollipop on his chin

I was talking with Cole while he was sitting like this ... it reminded me of what his soccer team pictures might look like one day

Bouncing up and down the street

Giving skates a try

Cole always loves the idea of skating and within a few feet he decides its not for him, it isn't surprising since he likes to be in control 

Braydon following Cole, upset that HE isn't skating

Now, Braydon's turn to give it a try

This video is proof that Braydon isn't quite ready for skates either.  He didn't want me to hold him, but he didn't understand that if I didn't hold him he would fall ... he gives up and just crawls to Daddy ... better luck next time!?

With Daddy having to work tonight, we had an early dinner and the kids went to bed ... for me, I am undecided as to how I will spend my evening- perhaps with a book, maybe some TV and HOPEFULLY an early bedtime!!


For those that are interested ... I tried something new for dinner that turned out better than I anticipated- always a good thing right?!

In a saute pan I heated 3 tbsp olive oil with 3 tbsp minced garlic.

I let it cook, but kept the heat low enough so it wouldn't brown.

I then added a handful of chopped peppers, and about 1/2 c chopped onion to the garlic and stirred it together.

Then I added 2 c chopped artichoke hearts, some lemon pepper, oregano and black pepper ... about 1/2 tsp of each.  I mixed it well and let it simmer for about 10 minutes to blend all the flavors.  While this was cooking, I boiled a package of penne noodles.  Once the noodles were cooked and drained, I added a can of tomato sauce and 1/2 c milk to the saute pan with the vegetables.  Again, I mixed it together, then added the noodles and let it cook again for another 5 minutes.

I served it and then topped it with some oregano.  It turned out to be a light and flavorful pasta dish, something I will definitely make again!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cole's Last Day Being 3!!

Cole woke up this morning very excited that he was one day closer to his big day!  In my attempt to try to wrap some presents, I encouraged the boys to take a nap early this afternoon ... Braydon sleeps so much better and longer if he has someone to cuddle with, so I let the boys nap together.  It was a short lived nap, but it was something!

When Cole woke he asked if we could make a huge banner for his birthday- we had the butcher paper, so why not?!

He wanted the faces of everyone he would see tomorrow on his banner and then he colored it ... it was very colorful full of smiling faces, a plane, candles, balloons, and birthday monsters ... don't ask because I don't fully understand :)

When we go to Grammie and Papa's house tomorrow evening to celebrate we will bring his birthday banner and hang it with pride!

Cole requested cinnamon rolls for his birthday breakfast, so we got started on them later this afternoon so they would be ready in the morning.  We made our dough first.

We combined 3/8 c milk, 3/8 c water, 1 egg, 3 c flour, 1 tsp salt, 4 tbsp butter, 1/3 c sugar and 1 1/2 tsp yeast.  I used my bread maker to do the work.  We were so close to a perfect rise until I found Braydon on the counter with my spatula stabbing the rising dough ... I let it sit for another 30 minutes to try and bring it back to life ... it seemed to work, but I can only imagine how much fluffier the dough would have been had it not been attacked!!

I rolled the dough out ...

and then made my filling -
In a bowl I combined 1 1/3 c brown sugar, 2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon, 3 tbsp flour and 7 tbsp butter.  I used my pastry blender to cut the ingredients into each other.

I then melted a couple more tbsp butter to coat our dough with and 

then we coated the dough with the filling, rolled the dough up and sliced it into even pieces.

I oiled a baking pan, placed the cut cinnamon rolls in the pan and baked them for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

While the cinnamon rolls baked, we headed to the boy's playroom to do our traditional birthday measurement.  We have this growth ruler that on their half birthday and birthday we measure them to see how they have grown!

My cute boy getting measured

Cole had major growth spurts from 2-3 years and then from 3-4 years ... these last 6 months he has slowed down a bit!  Thank goodness for that though ... our 4 year old wears a size 12 shoe and boys XS ... no more toddler sizing for this big boy!

After our measuring, our cinnamon rolls were ready for us to take out of the oven.

Now onto making our cream cheese frosting to top our rolls with!  

While the cinnamon rolls were cooling for a few moments, I gathered a few more of our traditional birthday items.  This book is one ...

Every birthday is featured inside where we document the details of their day.

Inside we keep all the boy's birthday cards and party invites, with a picture of them on their birthday.  It is such a neat and concise way to remember each birthday and the highlights of the day.

This box is the second thing I do for the boys every year- and it is by far the more emotional of the two.  Each year I write a letter to the boys on their birthday.  I recap our year together, milestones they had, special moments shared ... it becomes my love letter to them.  I seal it and store it in this box, marking the age they turned on the envelope.  On their 18th birthday they will have this box as a gift to them.  18 days before their 18th birthday they will get the letter written on their 1st birthday, 17 days before their 18th birthday they will get the letter from their 2nd birthday ... so on until their 18th birthday.  My mom has also partaken in this tradition with me.  It is such a great remembrance of our times as Mommy and Grammie with the boys- Jeremy has done a few here and there too which makes this so much more amazing.  

Tomorrow I will take some time to remember my last year with Cole.  I started today, but began to cry ... so tomorrow I will give it another try.  

On a less emotional note, after collecting the birthday memories for tomorrow, our cinnamon rolls were cool enough to top with our cream cheese frosting!

What kind of Mommy would I be if I didn't let them try them out tonight??

The rest await us for the morning when we celebrate the birth of our first born Cole ... what an amazing blessing from God he has been to Jeremy and myself!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup and Cheese Onion Bread

Minestrone Style Soup                Cheese Onion Bread

Grammie, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, Braydon, Tinker Toys, Legos, Train Rides, Painting, Movies, the color Green, Planes, Cake, Cole's Birthday, Cooking with Mommy, Daddy Coming Home ... these are a few of Cole's favorite things for today!

Today was all about Cole ... well all about Cole's favorite things and Braydon equally enjoyed them as well.  The last 2 days we made some of Cole's favorite things as part of his birthday countdown- but today we did a few of his favorite things.  

Starting our morning off, Cole requested pancakes for breakfast.  So, with pancakes and milk the boys enjoyed some Disney Playhouse cartoons while I prepped dinner since we planned to be gone for the afternoon.  Crock pot meals and bread makers are a girl's best friend on days like today.

I created a minestrone type soup based off of the ingredients I had in my pantry.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I hardly ever go to the store to shop for ingredients of a recipe ... I find myself adapting each recipe to what I have on hand.  It encourages food to be used that has already been purchased and it keeps me from going to the grocery store more than a few times a month ...  unless of course its a milk run!!

Today's rendition went a bit like this ...

I heated my crock pot to low since it would be left to cook all afternoon.  I added a carton of the tomato soup and a carton of chicken stock ...

... and then I raided my pantry and fridge for the rest.  I used 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can tomato sauce, 2 cans drained green beans, parmesan cheese, 1 tsp each of basil, oregano and parsley, 2 tbsp minced garlic and 1/4 c chopped onion. I stirred it all together and left it for tonight's dinner.  About 15 minutes before we sit down to eat, I will add gnocchi to simmer and cook in the hot soup.

Next was the bread for our side dish.  Cheese onion bread sounded like it would accompany the soup well, so I went with it!  I combined 1 1/2 c water, 1/4 c sugar, 4 1/4 c flour, 1 c shredded cheese, 2 tbsp dehydrated onion and 2 1/4 tsp yeast.  I set my bread maker to make a 2 pound loaf of bread and in 3 1/2  hours it would be ready.  I planned to be gone longer than that today ... but not to worry, because the bread maker defaults to a warm setting when the bread is done baking- perfect for letting this mix, knead, rise and bake while we are gone!!

Now the fun begins!  Cole is a creature of habit and very easy to please.  When asked who his favorite people are, his Grammie is always top of the list ... this being said, we spent the afternoon with her.  We headed over to the mall for the boys to ride the train ... also high on Cole's list of favorite things to do.  On our way out, it was surprisingly chilly, so we bundled up in our coats and loaded the car ... poor Braydon barely fit in his car seat with his puffy jacket- I think the warmth of it almost put him to sleep!

I have to share a funny moment with you before I go any further ... perhaps it was much funnier in person-either way my Mom and I got a good laugh.  We were driving down the hill and drove over a pot hole to which Cole says, Uh oh!  I think you ran over a crock pot!!  Seriously?! A crock pot??  Not a toy, a box or ANYTHING else for that matter- no, a crock pot!  We will give him the benefit of the doubt that it was on his mind after helping me prep our soup, but still!  My almost 4 year old just through out there that he thinks we drove over a crock pot.  Good stuff.

SO, anyways when we arrived at the mall, Cole hopped on the train and Braydon decided not to go ... afterwards I realized it was because Braydon wanted to go get his treat around the corner.  Apparently he thought he had to pick one or the other ... and he was holding out for his treat!

Now it was time for THE TREAT!! Menchie's Frozen Yogurt is one of the boy's favorite places to go.  Cole loves to try every flavor ...

And Braydon goes for the toppings ... and when I say toppings, that is ALL I mean ...

Whatever works right?!

We had two very happy boys with their favorite treats and their Grammie ... 

Cole told Grammie that he wanted to have a party, balloons and a plane cake at her house for his birthday.  Well, she planned exactly that just that as any good Grammie would do- so Saturday should be a fun day for him!  Cole is obsessed with the color green, so his plane cake had to be green and what else had to be green too??  You better believe it, his Menchie's frozen yogurt!  We got packaged cartons of GREEN frozen yogurt to save for Saturday, and he insisted on carrying them to the car.

Happy Boy!!

By this time Braydon was super tired, but not giving in to sleeping quite yet.  He still had a few peanut M&Ms to finish ... they were blue if you couldn't tell.

Next on Cole's list of requests for the afternoon was to play at Grammie and Papa's house.  Braydon wanted to watch a movie and Cole wanted to paint.  It was so fun to see the boys play together and independently, have snacks, giggle, build tinker toys, ride cars, play blocks and legos -and see continual SMILES.  

Cole asked Grammie if he could see the cake she made for his party.  It was supposed to be a surprise for Saturday, but we were suckers for his sad face, so Grammie showed it to him-- He LOVED it!!

Didn't she do a great job?!

We got back to more playing and movie watching ... ridiculous I know to see how close Braydon likes to watch his movies ... we have found it isn't an eyesight issue, he simply likes to be a part of the movie.

Out came the smocks, paints and paintbrushes ...

and again, Braydon tried to eat the paint.  Not something we encourage, so he was quickly done :)

We were silly playing with our blocks and found these eyeballs that were a part of our legos!

Our time at Grammie's was coming to a close, so we took pictures with Cole and his paintings and got to cleaning up our mess -which is such an example of how much fun we all had :)

When we came home the house smelled so good!  Our bread was warm and and our soup was ready!  

Before I served the soup, I added the gnocchi to the soup for about 15 minutes until they cooked through.  

When the gnocchi had softened I served the soup and with the warmed bread.

What a fun filled day we had!