Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday Gratitudes 2007
Of Such is the Kingdom of God -Simon Dewey

The last Sunday of the year. You'd think I'd readily come up with something new for my gratitudes today. but I can't help but think about everything that has happened this year that deserve extra thanks:

Moving here. I love this area that is perfect for families. Its not too big of a city or too small. It has been fun to explore and we've only scratched the surface.

I love my house. I REALLY love my house! I love the room, the finishes, the gorgeous kitchen and the formal dining that is begging for dinner parties. My kids love having their own rooms. I love how there is a place for everything (now if I would just get organized and get everything in its place..)

I love that we aren't too far away from visiting family (and hopefully having family visit us often, hint-hint!)

I'm ever so grateful for good neighbors. They look out for each other here. We haven't met all of them yet but as soon as the weather warms up I am hoping to host a few block parties.

I'm grateful that DH has been promoted and has the opportunity to grow and be challenged. He works so hard for us. He is constantly blessing my life. He shows my sons by example how to be a good husband and father.

I am thankful for healthy children and for good kids. My kids are not perfect, but neither am I. My DSs gets the Teen 'tudes once in a while, even the ones who are not teens yet. DD has started saying naughty words she learned from kids at school. But they are basically good kids who are trying to choose the right and learning from their mistakes. DD will someday need heart surgery to replace her Mitral valve. Personally I hope the Second Coming happens before then so I can stand in line with DD and ask Jesus to heal her. I really do not want to go through surgery. But right now she is healthy. That is definitely something to be grateful for.

I am grateful that our local school has the resources for DD so she doesn't have to be shipped to a different school away from her brothers. I'm grateful for the good teachers there.

My cousin died this past week. Joey was so young. We don't know what happened. He had a headache on his construction job and died there. I am grateful for the knowledge I have of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. I know I'll see my cousin again along with my two grandpas, my little brother. I am looking forward to a huge family reunion party when I get there.

I'm grateful for good parents who taught me well. They are doers of the word and my constant example. Check out their link and see what Christmas is like in The Congo. Their mission has been much more work and energy than anyone anticipated but there has been no complaint from them. They are so positive amid all the pain and struggles they see. I am sure their hearts break when they see the homeless children begging in the streets, and the disabled without wheelchairs or other basic necessities. They struggle with finding the things they need to accomplish the humanitarian projects they are working on. They admitted being a little homesick on Christmas but their testimony of the work they are doing is so much stronger than and discomforts they feel. I am so proud of them.

I'm also grateful for my in-loves. I was bragging to DH's mom about something wonderful he did for me and she told me "He better! I taught him well." Oh, yes she did. And my father-in-love, too. I'm grateful for the hard work they do in family history. When we visit they have the most amazing stories from their research. They do not just work on our family lines, they generously devote their time and talents to anyone who needs it.

I'm grateful for my online Cookies, my group of women who started out swapping recipes and became kindred spirits. We are from all walks of life. We celebrate all the successes and happy news, and we bear each other up when our burdens seem too great. These women are my sisters and I thank God for them.

Finally, I am grateful for my Savior. He is my strength. Every good thing in my life comes from Him.

My blessings in 2007 were more than I can count. I am greedy enough that I hope for more in 2008.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What's For Dinner

Steak, Shiitake, and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

Choose quick-cooking flank steaks for a speedy dinner packed with flavors from the Orient. Asian ingredients such as toasted sesame oil, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy, combine to give this dish high-impact flavors.

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced
Cooking spray
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup thinly vertically sliced onion
1 cup red bell pepper strips
4 cups sliced bok choy (about 1 medium head)
1 cup less-sodium beef broth

Combine ginger, garlic, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, oil, and crushed red pepper in a large zip-top bag; add steak to bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray, and add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper to pan. Cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; transfer to a large bowl. Add bok choy to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until slightly wilted; add to bowl; keep warm.

Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add half of steak mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl; keep warm. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add remaining steak mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add to bowl; keep warm.

Combine broth and remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Add to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Return steak and vegetables to pan; toss gently to coat.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)CALORIES 270 (30% from fat); FAT 9g (sat 3.1g,mono 3.2g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 28.6g; CHOLESTEROL 45mg; CALCIUM 244mg; SODIUM 706mg; FIBER 3.4g; IRON 4.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 16.9g

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2005

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


DD has been back and forth between her new Leapfrog Word Whammer and her Veggie Tales movies. She has not touched her new doll and doll clothes very much. I need to sit down with her and remember how to play with dolls. Currently all of her baby dolls are without clothes as she undresses them and never puts anything back on. We have discussed Modesty many times but apparently that doesn't apply to baby dolls.

DS#3 loves his Wild Planet Hyper Dash (run DS, run!) and Fantastic Four games. He spent some time today playing with his new educational computer games. His favorite activity is going outside and having Doggie Girl pull him around on his birthday sled.

DS#2 loves his Guitar Hero (when he and DS#1 aren't fighting) and Pirates of the Carribean for PS2. He stayed up late reading his new book he hopes will replace the hole left by the ending of the Harry Potter series. He still has a basketball movie (Hoosiers) to watch and a DVD about the coach of BYU football.

DS#1 also loves his GH and PotC PS2 games. He tried to help me load up my new MP3 player but gave up with the instructions. I've seen his movies and books all over the place.

DH made bfast for the kids and then spent most of the day reading (he NEVER gets to relax and do absolutely nothing so I was thrilled to see him doing this). Right now he is digging into the fridge for leftovers with DD hot on his heels, asking for "Ta-toes and gwavy", her most favorite food.

I spent the morning reading and the afternoon digging the kitchen out of all of the dishes, plates, and goodies leftover from the celebrations. The boys were not happy when I gave them each a room to de-box, de-wrap, de-toy, and declutter. But now the house is presentable enough for unexpected company. I have a date with my new elliptical machine tonight to figure out all of the bells and whistles.

Its starting to snow again. I have a great view out the window as I type in the office nook. These days of Do-Nothing-We-Don't-Have-To are few and far between. As in no meetings, no errands, no obligations. We're all enjoying today immensely. Tonight we'll gather wearing pjs and holding popcorn bowls and pick one of the many movies we received for a family movie night.

I hope we can repeat it all again tomorrow.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


The story behind the Christmas Carol by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the summer of 1861, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s beloved wife, Fanny died tragically when her dress caught fire and she was fatally burned. That same year, the Civil War began. His son, Charles joined the army of the Potomac and Longfellow watched as his beloved country began to be destroyed. His son was sent to fight somewhere in the south and the fear for his son’s life was felt deeply.

Then, on December first of 1863 Longfellow received the dreaded telegram from the War Department. His son, Charles had been severely wounded in battle and was being transported to hospital facilities in Washington. Henry and his youngest son, Ernest traveled immediately to Washington wondering if he could survive the loss of this son so soon after the loss of his wife.

When they arrived in Washington they could not find anyone that knew which train Charles was on. He spent three days waiting and meeting trains in different towns around Washington, hoping to find him. Finally, he found a train with only a baggage car which had 16 wounded soldiers in it, sitting or lying on straw. Charles was one of those soldiers. He had been wounded in both shoulders with severe damage to his back. He had traveled three days on the train without having his wounds cared for and in terrible pain. Charles survived, but would feel the effects of the wound for the rest of his live.

So, on Christmas Day, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sat in his home in Massachusetts. He felt a sadness for his family and his country that had nearly driven him to despair. He began his poem:




The Christmas Bells began to ring. All the joy they had could not lift the darkness that he felt on that day. He continued writing his poem, verses that do not appear in the carol:



Then the well known carol continues::


Then, for Longfellow, memories of past joys in his life came to his mind and heart. His son would live; and he remembered the love he had had for his wife and the love of family and friends. The bells continued ringing and he remembered that there was one man who suffered all and saved us from despair. He continued writing:


(Story researched by Omar Hansen, - BYU-Idaho)
Sunday Gratitudes
She shall bring forth a son

Today was a culmination of 4 months of hard work. My choir was the program for Sacrament Meeting. The entire choir sang four numbers, the primary children sang two, a men's duet sang as well as a women's quartet. The service was beautiful. I am grateful for the choir's dedication. I hope they enjoy the next two Sundays off.

I truly believe that music is an integral part of our soul. It can strengthen testimonies as much as it can erode them, depending what we're listening to. When I teach group voice lessons to teens in a church group, I talk for a bit on how important it is to choose music that will uplift.

There is great music of all genres that can uplift and leave you the better for listening.
I have an experiment that I ask them to copy at home. I have them take the jacket from their favorite CDs that has the lyrics on it or get a copy of the lyrics from the Internet. Their parents are a part of the experiment. They are not allowed to comment in anyway - just their presence is required. I then instruct the teen to read the lyrics out loud to their mom and/or dad (or grandparents,they work just fine,too.) If the teen cannot finish the reading the lyrics out loud (or blushes doing so) then the song is inappropriate and should be eliminated.

It is amazing how effective that simple activity is.

Here is my gratitude for good music, especially during this Christmas season where music is such a large part of our celebrations.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What's For Dinner

Greek Beef Stew with Baby Onions
Source: CLBB (originally posted by beacooker)

Points 6.5
Serves: 6
Posted by: Kate (KateWD) December 18, 2007

This stew was delicious on it’s own, the crumbled feta took it over the top. I made several modifications to the original recipe,and served it over WW egg noodles with a side of steamed green beans. Next time I will add additional veggies to the stew.

My notes: This was very tasty. I love the combo of cinnamon, lemon, and oregano. I did add extra carrots per Kate's review. My kids loved trying feta cheese. I recommend using petite dice tomatoes. Mi kids liked it over noodles while I was just fine eating the stew alone. A slice of good-quality crusty bread would go well.

2 cups baby carrots

1 large onion or 1 pound pearl onions
1 cinnamon stick
1T olive oil
1.5 lb lean boneless beef chuck shoulder steak -- cut into 2-inch pieces
4 medium garlic cloves -- minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 - 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
6 oz. reduced fat feta cheese -- crumbled

Place carrots, onions, and cinnamon stick in large slow-cooker.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef, in batches if necessary, cook 5 to 7 minutes or until browned on all sides.

Place beef on top of vegetables in slowcooker. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, and pepper; top with tomatoes.

Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender.

Discard cinammon stick. Add tomato paste, lemon peel, and oregano to slow cooker; stir to combine. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes or until thickened and heated through.

Sprinkle each serving with feta cheese.

Friday, December 21, 2007


After all of the trials DS#3 has gone through this year (reading/writing/spelling and bully problem), he has been given a HUGE boost to his self-esteem.

Every month at the elementary school, a positive character trait (PCT) is emphasized throughout the classrooms. Those who demonstrate the PCT on a daily basis are awarded at the end up of the month in a STAR assembly. This month the PCT was Caring and we were notified at the beginning of the week that DS#3 would be awarded a STAR certificate for Caring in front of the entire school on Friday.

Every single day this week DS#3 counted how many more days it would be until Friday. Every single day this week DS#3 reminded DH that he had to be sure to take an hour off from work to come to the assembly.

This morning when I asked DS what he was going to wear today he replied "Something nice. I've got to look good for the assembly." He made sure I combed his hair (usually I have to tell him 2+ times to come into my bathroom so I can do his hair). He knew right where his shoes were (usually we have to hunt for them at the last minute), and he packed his own lunch without me asking him to. That alone is a miracle.

DH and I were at the assembly in the front and center of the rows of chairs where the parents sit. DS#3 spotted us quickly and waved frantically to make sure we saw him. When his name was called, he walked up to the front that I'm-so-proud-of-myself little half-grin that I haven't seen him wear in ages. He solemnly shook the principal's hand and then walked over to his teacher to receive his certificate. When the rest of the names were called, the student body cheered like they were at a rock concert. DS's half-grin grew to ear-to-ear.

Afterwards, DS beelined to his daddy (I was near him first but he only had eyes for his daddy (*sigh*). I snapped the picture, then we walked DS back to his class. He asked me to keep his certificate and made me promise to put it on the fridge as soon as I got home.

I've already started dinner, Slow Cooked Greek Stew which I will serve over noodles and review tomorrow. So instead of a celebratory dinner, I need to think of a celebratory dessert for my child who thinks every great meal should end in dessert. I think his favorite is ice cream sundaes in our special ice cream parlor dishes. I'll have to make up a hero song to go with it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And to prove it really does match my eyes:

Christine's Hug

Today was the day of the Great Secret Santa Opening! A bunch of foodies online that I have been dear friends with for almost 5 years now do a Secret Santa gifting. Christine drew my name and knitted for me this gorgeous wrap. It's made of a shimmery green and blue yarn that makes my eyes look greener (can you tell?)

I have named my wrap "Christine's Hug" because it really does feel like I am getting a warm hug from my New York Kookie.

Thanks, Christine!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Music Confessions

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Every morning I wake my children up singing my own version of "Good Morning" from Singing In The Rain.

Good Morning! Good Mor-ning!
It's great to be awake.
Good Morning! Good Morning to you (and you, and you, and you!)

Good Morning! Good Mor-ning!
The sun is shining bright
Good Morning! Good Morning to you.

Good Morning! Its time to get up.
Good Morning! Its time to wake up.
Good Morning! Get up out of bed.
We're gonna have a really great day!

Gooooooood Morning! Good Mor-ning!
Its time to get up now.
Good Morning! Good Morning to you!

I've found that singing this while yanking off their warm comforters is a sure way to get the kids up and moving. However, sometimes it is not a guarantee for a good mood.

This morning DD was determined to yell at me no matter what I did. Helping her brush her teeth and comb her hair apparently put me in her doghouse. Instead of losing my patience, I tried another tactic: As I stood her on my bed to help her get dressed I started to sing "If You're Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands". By the end of the third verse she quit yelling and was giggling and clapping and stomping and yelling Hooray (which made it much easier to pull her sweater on with her hands in the air).

Musical Psych Therapy. Who knew?

By the way, in case you were wondering, I learned this from my mom. When my sibs would fight (and yes, occasionally I was one of them) she would sing "Love At Home" (hear the hymn here: ). It got us to stop. Mom has a great alto voice. Sometimes she would pull faces while singing which would get us to laugh and stop the arguing.

There are other song traditions I brought to the family. Before we sing Happy Birthday I always start with this song my mom started:

O somebody is having a birthday
Our little (insert name) dear.
May her/his Heavenly Father bless her/him
Throughout the coming year!

Daddy composed a family song that we used to sing for ward talent shows. We still sing it at family get-togethers. Kazoos are the instrument of choice for that one. He also taught us those musical greats:

Singin' In The Kitchen
Who's The Greatest Singer In The Land (You are!)
Sneaky Snake
Put Another Log On The Fire

Most of you are scratching your heads thinking you have never heard these before. But they hold a special place in my family's musical history and are sung with great relish and harmonies when we get together.

I really miss singing with my parents. For now my kids get all the benefit of singing with me.

Whether they want to or not.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Gratitudes
  • I am so deeply grateful for my Savior. He knows me, every detail, every fault, and he still loves me. I could not make it through this life without his Atoning Sacrifice. He has suffered through all my mistakes, my worries, my hurts, and my anger. I can never fully repay Him but I can dedicate my life to him. My sister sent me this picture, a new artwork from Greg Olsen titled "Hand In Hand". She said it put her in tears, reminding her of our parents working as humanitarian missionaries in Africa. So gratitude to my dear twin sis for sharing this with me.
  • I am grateful for the YMCA basketball referees. They wear t-shirts that say on the back "Professional Role Model". In this age of steroid use, of sports figures being splashed across the news pages more for their scandals than their talent, I love it when I can find true sports heroes for my kids. The referees in my son's basketball league would make their calls and then take the time to explain to the kid what he did so he could learn from his mistake. The would cheer on both teams when they made great plays. I vote we take out all of the sports icons that seem more concerned with themselves and put in Professional Role Models that will play the games and actually be someone my kids can look up to. I know there are already a few out there. Maybe we could influence the media to show more players doing great things in their sports and in the world.
  • I am grateful for Christmas traditions. Tonight I served a Pannetone for dessert so my kids could try an Italian tradition. They liked my St. Lucia Orange rolls better but it was fun to experience something new. The kids at the elementary school had fun learning about our family traditions. I hope they go home and start some of their own.
  • I am grateful for DS#2's 5th grade teacher, who had her class each write me a thank you note for sharing St. Lucia Day with them. The letters were sweet and funny. They made my day. They each mentioned something they loved about the celebration. Many of them wanted to know more about their heritage and customs from the countries of their ancestors. I hope I did for them what my 2nd grade teacher, Miss Morgan, did for me: she lit a candle in my heart that glows brighter every year. I love learning about my heritage.
  • I'm grateful for my kids. DS#2, DS#3, and DD each hugged me many times last Thursday and thanked me for spending time to bake and come into their classes. I think DD did it because she saw her older brothers hug and thank me. DS#1 told them how much he appreciated it when I came to his elementary classes. It made me feel loved that they would acknowledge my efforts.

Friday, December 14, 2007

According to HungryGirl.Com:

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"December 16th is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Remember, it's not Chocolate Covered EVERYTHING Day, so celebrate verrrrrry carefully."

Woo-hoo! I'm off to buy some dark chocolate.....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy St. Lucia Day!

I know. I get the question every year. "I thought Mormons didn't believe in Catholic Saints?" This is a family tradition, started by me and a really wonderful teacher in 1976.

Miss Morgan was my 2nd grade teacher. She spent her summers traveling around the world. Throughout the school year, she would bring her knowledge and the exotic treasures she collected and teach her class about what was outside our little community.

At age 8 I learned how to twirl poi balls from New Zealand (which impressed my mother-in-love to no end. Who knew my future DH would be from NZ?) I learned about France and Mexico, England and Tonga. But the country that impressed me the most was Sweden.

My maternal ancestors are from Sweden. That Christmas of 1976, Miss Morgan explained the tradition of St. Lucia Day and told us that the oldest girl in class would be selected to be St. Lucia.

That wasn't me.

I was the second oldest in the class. The oldest was a girl who was a year older than us, held back in school, and awkward in every sense of the word. She came from a poor home and was teased mercilessly by crueler kids in the room. When it was announced that Polly would be the St. Lucia for our class, some of the kids groaned loudly. Polly slunk down in her chair.

The next day Polly didn't show. She was from my neighborhood so I went to find her after school. She ditched school on purpose so she would not have to be St. Lucia. (Polly is another story for another time.)

Miss Morgan made me a crown with paper holly leaves and candles. I still have that crown. I had to go around the class and wake up the students who were pretending to be sleeping. I was supposed to sing as I went so I sang I Wish You A Merry Christmas. I remember one student, John H., pretended extra hard to snore loudly and not wake up in an effort to tease me. I poked him extra hard to wake him up.

The whole experience left such an impression on me that I asked my mom if I could do it the following year. Every year I would put on my paper crown, and in my nightgown, I would wake up my family with hot chocolate and orange rolls (when you don't drink coffee or know how to make saffron buns, you learn to adapt).

Now my 5 yr old DD is our St. Lucia. We celebrate the Sunday after Dec. 13th, since DH leaves too early on a weekday to participate. I help DD by carrying the tray that is too heavy for her to lift. Her job is to climb onto the bed, kiss the sleeper and say "Wake up! Happy Lucia Day!"

Every year I go into my children's elementary classes to teach about Christmas traditions, share our version of St. Lucia Day, and bring the same style of homemade paper crown for the oldest girl, and a Star Boy hat for the oldest boy to wear as they pass around the treats.

This year I made 115 orange rolls for 4 classes (more wanted to join in than my kids three classes and I didn't want to say no).

I hope I have enough orange rolls and chocolate milk.

St. Lucia Orange Rolls

1 Tablespoon Yeast
1/3 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 Cup butter1/4 Cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Cup scalded milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Cups flour
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Cups white sugar
2 Tablespoons grated orange zest
1 Cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

In a small bowl dissolve yeast, warm water and honey. Let proof 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, scald milk, turn off heat and add 1/2 Cup butter, 1/4 Cup sugar and salt. Let stand until lukewarm and butter is melted.

Mix the proofed yeast with the milk mixture, eggs and flour to form a sticky dough. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover and let rise in the fridge overnight.

Remove dough from fridge 2 hours before baking. Roll into a 1/4 thick rectangle. Mix softened butter with orange peel and 1/2 Cup white sugar. Spread orange zest mixture over dough and roll up. Cut rolls into 1" slices with dental floss. Place in greased muffin cups. Let rise until double in bulk.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.Let cool slightly. Mix together powdered sugar and orange juice and drizzle over orange rolls. Makes 12-18 rolls.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The End Of Another Era?
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DS#3 told me this week that he did not care to visit Santa at the mall or at a neighborhood party.

"He's fake, Mom. They are all fake. I can pull their beards off."

DH and I have an agreement. DH did not grow up with Santa because his parents did not want to lie to him. I agreed during DS#1's first Christmas that when the kids asked if Santa was real that I would answer them truthfully. I found a loophole in that agreement that I do not feel guilty in using. I evade the question by asking another question.

"Mom, is Santa real?"

"Hmmmm. What do you think?"

(I then let them reason it out for themselves. The usually figure it all out by 3rd grade, which is about time , anyway.)

"Mom, its all fake." DS#3, my first grader, watched my face, just waiting for me to give it all away. I looked back at him waiting for another pronouncement, but none came.

Last night, DS was asked what he wanted for Christmas. He answered very diplomatically "What ever I get will be fine." DS #3 has never been greedy but this lack of dreaming surprised me. He was kind of resigned about the whole thing, no excitement whatsoever.

I wonder if the magic is gone for him? I am sad over his growing up so much more quick than his brothers. I've got to think of a way to bring his smile back.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What's For Dinner

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Cheesy Polenta
Makes 4 servings

from Eating Well , December 2007 issue

Menu: serving this with a Spinach Pomegranate Salad with a light rosemary vinaigrette.

4 cups cauliflower florets

4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (1 ½-inch chunks)

1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
¾ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried
2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Preheat oven to 500°F.

2. Toss cauliflower, squash and onion in a large bowl with oil, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, until tender and browned in spots, 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine broth and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in cornmeal, rosemary and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very thick and creamy, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in cheese; remove the polenta from the heat. Serve the vegetables over the polenta.

Per serving: 381 calories; 14 g fat (5 g sat, 5 g mono); 20 mg cholesterol; 56 g carbohydrate; 15 g protein; 11 g fiber; 692 mg sodium; 1,164 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (520% daily value), Vitamin C (160% dv), Potassium (33% dv), Calcium (30% dv), Folate (29% dv).3 Carbohydrate ServingsExchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 1 fat

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday Gratitudes
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1. Healthy food: Yes I am a foodie and proud to admit it. But I must say it is really rewarding when I make or create a recipe that is healthy for my family as well as tasting great. (We have a rating system in this house. Thumbs Up means the recipe is a keeper and gets put into regular rotation. Thumbs Down means that the recipe isn't great and while not bad, my family would prefer not to have it again. Then there is Call For Pizza. That rarely happens here. That is when the food is so inedible that we have to call for pizza and dump my efforts in the trash. The last time that happened I had used meat that tasted soapy. We found out later that the grocery store washed their butcher equipment but not rinsed and many families had soapy Sunday Dinners.)

2. Healthy body: I am in relatively good health, losing weight, and exercising more (thanks to my personal trainer aka Doggie Girl). My only problems are mishaps with knives, stairs, the corners of all hard furniture, and hot caramel.

3. Healthy mind: Thanks to cheap therapy (aka calling my twin sis, skyping my mom in Africa, or emailing my Grandma in Georgia) I have what I hope is a healthy mind. These three women are my sounding boards. They offer wisdom when I need it, humble me when I get too big-headed, and extra love when I go through Worst Mama Ever syndrome. They have helped me keep my sanity multitudes of times.

4. Healthy Marriage: I am married to Mr. Wonderful and that is the best decision I ever made. His left-mindedness balances my right-mindedness. Recently, when I was venting about how S-L-O-W my weight-loss was going, he reminded me about how far I have come and gave me the strength to continue on. He is my personal cheerleader, my greatest advisor, and the best friend I will ever have. After 16 1/2 years of marriage he still makes my heart stop when he kisses me.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Birthday DS #3

Last week was DS#3's bday and I didn't write about him. I have been struggling with Worst Mama Ever feelings. DS has been having a hard time in school. Reading and writing are a real challenge for him. At first I blamed me and thought I had spent so much time working with DD that I had forgotten DS. After much thought, prayer and observation, we think that DS might have dyslexia. He starts testing in the next week. In the meantime, we are trying to pump him full of confidence. Thus, I did an insane thing and hosted a birthday party for him and TWELVE 1st graders. Oh, a mama's love for her son.

Now that the week is over and I can take a deep breath, I want to list 7 great things about DS#3 in honor of his 7th birthday:

1. This kid is sweet to everyone. He tries to involve everyone in play, including younger siblings when he is playing at some one's house.

2. He says "Yes Sir" and "Yes Ma'am".

3. DS is constantly giving me hugs and telling me he loves me (and that just warms my heart!)

4. He loves to ask questions about Jesus and share his testimony of how much he loves Him.

5. He loves to have his scriptures read to him and keeps his by his bed.

6. He is very creative and coming up with new ideas for inventions he wants to invent when he grows up.

7. He loves school. That is a big testament to his teacher for helping him keep that positive attitude amid all of the problems we have had with bullying and reading/writing challenges.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What's For Dinner

Skillet Chicken Breast Aglio e Olio

CL Cooments: Chicken benefits from the strong flavors of garlic, capers, and cherry peppers in the sauce for this dish. Taste the sauce before serving to be sure the flavors are balanced. You can use more or fewer capers to suit your taste. Breadcrumbs serve as a thickener, lending the sauce body and texture. Serve with green beans and rice.

My comments: INSANELY GOOD! This is super easy, company-worthy, and the best reason for keeping your fridge stocked with cherry peppers and capers. I used sweet cherry peppers as I didn't know it the kids would be eating or not. I served this over homemade cheesy polenta. (Super easy: 1 part polenta or coarse cornmeal to 2 parts chicken or veggie broth. Whisk the polenta in water before turning on the heat. Bring to a boil while continuing to stir. When it thickens up and has bubbled for a minute, stir in a tablespoon or two of butter or olive oil and throw in a handful of parmesan cheese. That's it. I like to add dried basil and a bit of salt to the pot before turning on the heat.) Add some steamed asparagus or other green veggie to the plate and you have a nice presentation.

6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons capers, drained
4 pickled hot cherry peppers, halved and seeded
1 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dredge chicken in flour.
Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add capers and peppers; cook 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in breadcrumbs; cook until liquid thickens (about 1 minute). Taste sauce, and add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, if needed. Remove from heat; sprinkle with parsley.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

CALORIES 286 (27% from fat); FAT 8.5g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.3g,poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 40.9g; CHOLESTEROL 109mg; CALCIUM 42mg; SODIUM 831mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 9.1g Cooking Light, MARCH 2006

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My newly 11 yr old
DS#2 turned 11 yesterday. I wanted to show the world what a cute kid he is. Here are 11 great things about him:
1. He is brilliant. (okay, I am a mom who thinks ALL my children are brilliant!)
2. He is very kind to all kids.
3. He doesn't tolerate swearing. When he hears his friends swear, he tells them it isn't cool and asks them to stop.
4. He is a good writer. His stories are well thought out, and he often asks questions about books at school that the others don't think about.
5. He is very sweet in helping DD with her homework or cheering for DD and DS #3
6. He loves to read, often very late into the night. (He is so like his mom.)
7. He loves scouting and looks forward to getting his Eagle someday.
8. While he can't decide between being a professional basketball player or an astronaut, he told me that he will support me in my old age. (I got after him for even thinking of me as old.)
9. He says "Sir" and Ma'am". He is very polite. He even has good table manners!
10. He wants to serve a mission in Hong Kong. I have explained to him that he doesn't get to pick where he is sent, but he has insisted since he was 6 that he wants to go to Hong Kong.
11. He still kisses me on the cheek good night or when he leaves me (as long as it isn't in front of his friends).

Monday, December 03, 2007

What's For Dinner
Chicken Sausage with Quick Sauerkraut
Makes 4 servings

1 12-ounce package chicken sausage
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1 10-ounce package shredded cabbage, preferably finely shredded
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1. Cook sausages in a large skillet over medium-high heat until brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Heat oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and apple and cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cabbage, vinegar and salt and cook, stirring often, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add cider and caraway seeds; bring to a boil. Return the sausages to the pan, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sausages are heated through and cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes.

Per serving: 194 calories; 6 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 60 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 3 g fiber; 582 mg sodium.Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (45% daily value).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday Gratitudes

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After an emotional week I have to express heartfelt gratitude for my Dear Son #3. His bday was this past week. He has been struggling in school both academically and also with what might be a bully (we're not sure because this kid seems to like DS so we think he is just too rough and lacking social skills). Despite his struggles in reading and spelling, my son still proclaims to love school. So my gratitude for this blog is all about attitude, starting with his.

I am grateful for DS's school teacher's attitude. She has been so upbeat about finding answers to DS's struggles. She has kept my sanity intact this past week with her encouragement.

I am also grateful for DH's attitude about selling our Utah house. DH has completely turned it over to God. His faith and trust that everything will work out has been such a source of strength for me.

I am grateful for DS#2's attitude in the face of his trials. His basketball team has not won one single game. He was so excited about being on a team. He told me this past Saturday that, because they lost the game, they are officially in last place. Yes, he was upset about it. But not once have I heard him gripe about teammates, show poor sportsmanship, or want to quit. He is a real trooper.

I am also grateful for DD. Somehow, my little love-magnet has know every single time I have needed a hug. Not just me. She has gravitated towards her aide at school for a hug when her aide needed an extra dose of love. She loved DS#3 when he came home from school with blood on his cheek and mud in his hair. When DH came home from work this weekend, sick and exhausted, she wanted to bring him drinks and medicine. She always knows when someone needs an attitude adjustment or just extra love.

(I know that some of you have noticed that I have mentioned all of my family, except for DS#1. He is going through some teen 'tudes. I am hoping all of the positive attitudes bring him around. He is a good kid, not perfect though. All of us need an attitude adjustment now and then. I am not worried.)