Monday, May 30, 2011

Birthday Weekend

This weekend we celebrated Elijah's first birthday with a big family party - 32 people in my little house, but what a wonderful time.  We ate cupcakes, and chips, and opened presents, and rejoiced that the rain held off so the kids could play in the backyard... then today we enjoyed not one but two amazing BBQ's for Memorial Day.

As it turns out... I'm now exhausted, so full blog tomorrow, but here's a sneak preview of what is to come...


Oh yes... someone loved their birthday cake!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pork Fried Rice

One of our household favorite dishes is this VERY EASY pork fried rice (or chicken fried rice depending on what I have handy).  

What's fun is you can completely customize it to your liking... add different veggies you like, disregard the ones you don't - change the quantities, go heavy on the veggies, go heavy on the meat, disregard the meat altogether...use leftovers or start with fresh ingredients... but get ready to enjoy because it's Goooo-OOOD!

Here's how I made it!  (Scroll down for conventional recipe)


Rice, pork chops, onion, broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, eggs, garlic powder, ginger, soy sauce  and some butter!

The first step is to cook your rice.  Rice (at least most varieties) triples in volume when cooked, so 1 cup uncooked rice will be 3 cups cooked. This is important to note for veggie/rice ratio.  When rice is cooked, set aside.  This recipe works great with leftover rice too... got some sitting in your fridge, this is a great way to use it up!!




Chop up your pork chops or chicken breasts into bite size pieces,and combine in a wok or big skillet with some chopped broccoli, diced onion, sliced carrots, some frozen peas and a little butter.  Cook over medium heat until meat is cooked all the way through.
 

Season with some garlic powder and ground ginger. 




At this point I added some frozen corn - a little later than the rest of the veggies just because it doesn't take long at all to cook!



With a spatula or turner,  push your veggies & meat to one side of the skillet - just like this.


And crack in some eggs.  You can do this in a separate frying pan if you prefer your eggs unadulterated... but I'm all about "less dishes at the end" so this works just fine for me!!! 



Scramble the eggs as they cook and then incorporate well with the rest of the dish.


Now you're just minutes away from DONE!!!



Take your rice and dump it in... mine had been sitting for some time so appreciate the nice "mold" effect from the pan.


Now just mix together.  If your rice is cold, heat it through - otherwise a simple stir and you're practically done!


Last step... add soy sauce and mix it on up.  Just remember a little soy sauce goes a LONG way so don't overdo it.  If you like a little kick, throw on some red pepper flakes too.

Serve it on up as a fabulous side, or as the main attraction.  I like mine with coconut shrimp, or with egg rolls, or just some delicious pan-fried pork chops like here!



BON APPETIT!!


EASY PORK FRIED RICE
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:
2-3 (6oz) boneless pork loin chops, cut into bite size pieces  (or chicken breasts)
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1 1/2 cup chopped broccoli (fresh, or thawed)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen or fresh sweet corn
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice (or 3 cups cooked)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (+/- to taste)

DIRECTIONS
1.  In a large skillet, saute the pork, carrot, broccoli, peas and onion in butter until pork is no longer pink.  Add garlic powder and ginger and corn and cook for 1 minute longer.

2.  Pushing pork mixture aside, scramble eggs into skillet...once cooked through combine with rest of mixture.  

3.  Stir in the rice and soy sauce.  Heat through and serve on up!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Lil' E!

Today is my baby's 1st birthday.  Just 365 days ago he looked like this...

On my way to get induced.
Yep... some of the perks of being induced is taking a leisurely drive to the hospital in the morning (contraction free), walking on in with your latte in hand (thank you Hot Shots), ordering breakfast from room service while you simultaneously get your epidural & pitocin and then having a delightful morning with your family and close friends in the room while you have a baby.  I realize this is not everyone's experience but it really was a dream delivery!!!

Here's a few hours later that same day:

3:36pm ~ 7lbs 7oz and 19.25" of pure perfection! 



Our new family of four!

This past year has flown by so quickly and Elijah is such a ray of sunshine in our house.  He's cuddly, he's cute, his smile just melts me and he ALWAYS smiles, and my favorite thing - of everyone he knows, I'm still his favorite (by a closing margin... Daddy and Grandma are getting close).  From his first grin in the morning when I go get up from his crib, to the last cuddle and his sleepy smile when I lay him down at night and all the moments inbetween, the boy is pure joy to me.

So happy birthday Elijah - mommy loves you VERY MUCH!!

A QUICK LOOK AT THE LAST YEAR:

Two days old - sleeping on Daddy!


One month old - Father's Day 2010

Two months old

Three months old - on his dedication day

Four months old - Family Camp 2010

5 months old - October 2010

6 months - Thanksgiving 2010

7 months old on Christmas Eve

8 months old - January 2011

9 months old - trying to figure out the crawling thing

10 months old - March 2011

11 months old - April 2011

Two days before he turned one... and the reason we decided it was time to cut his hair!

Day before turning one - new haircut!!


Happy 1st birthday my adorable, lovable, squeezable, kissable baby boy!  Looking forward to the next year with you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Things - Husband Edition

To my darling Dave,
This post is about for you!
You are amazing, you are funny
you are a great husband, father and spiritual leader
and you have the biggest servant's heart.
And although you have some weird idiosyncrasies
and you sometimes drive me crazy
I have to admit that 98.5% of the time it's crazy-in-love!
Thanks for being you...
and for loving me!

1.   He's a giver.  Dave is one of the biggest servants I know.  He's always volunteering to help people out, always busy doing something nice for someone else and I'm fortunate that a lot of the time - it's for ME!   Just in the last two weekends he's roto-tilled an older couple's entire yard for them so they could plant new grass, changed oil in vehicles for about 10 different people as part of a free oil change day at our church, volunteered his time and energy in work days for our church on a major construction job we're undertaking, and then this week he's helping some friends move into their brand new house.  Not to mention regular ministry things at church and all the things he's done around the house this week including building me a beautiful garden box in our backyard to plant a vegetable garden and helping out majorly around the house. And he never complains about it...he's my hero!

My new garden box... ready for dirt...and vegetables!!!


2.  He's handy!  We discovered Saturday we had water leaking out of our water meter box... never a good sign!  But this is where it's very nice to have a husband who works for the water bureau because he knew exactly what to do!  Instead of having to call a plumber he dug up the entire thing himself, found the source of the leak (a cracked PVC coupling), cut out the bad piece, replaced it with a brand new coupling (thanks to Home Depot), filled in the ditch he'd dug and good as new... we were good to go!  It was really cool watching him work,listening to him show our neighbor what to look for if something like that ever happened to them, and seeing what he does on a daily basis in person - HE'S A WATER STUD!

Digging up to find where it's leaking.

Using the shop vac as a pump to get rid of the water.

Leak spotted... a crack in the PVC connector piece to the copper pipe.

Jigsaws... very handy tools!

Quick trip to Home Depot, some new PVC, and some pipe glue and VOILA! Fixed!

Hayden proud of his daddy!

Filling the hole back up.
Good as new! 


3.  He's a perfectionist.  Sometimes to the point of laugh-ability.  When he was finishing up the water pipe I noticed he was digging out a whole new area before replacing the concrete meter box. When I asked him what he was doing, he got a funny smile and said that it had always bothered him that our meter box wasn't perfectly parallel with the neighbors... so he was taking the opportunity to fix that.  I had never noticed that, and I don't think it ever would have bothered me... but he was excited to finally have the sidewalk view looking "perfect".

Beautiful even meter boxes... I bet our neighbors are SOOO relieved now!


4.  He cleans!  And I'm not just talking tidying... oh no... Dave loves to clean.  He's the master of our vacuum, king of organizing and de-cluttering and can and often deep cleans like nobody's business.  Today I was thrilled to come out and find him spraying and scrubbing our carpet intent on getting out some stains that seem to always appear on our very light colored carpet with two small boys.  Yesterday he was scrubbing our shower. And it's always self-initiated which makes me even happier.  Yes ladies, go ahead and be jealous - he does dishes too!

My very own "Mr. Clean."


5.  He's social!  This is big to me because I'm SUPER social.  We love to entertain, and to go out to friends houses.  I love it that on any given week night Dave wants to know if there's anyone we can invite over for the evening to BBQ or play games or whatever.  I think it tickled me the most when I was away earlier in the year on a scrapbooking weekend and he invited a couple and their kids over for dinner (which he made) and hosted them on his own.


6.  He's the fun parent!  As much as it pains me to admit it, I can't hold a candle to the excitement that Dave brings when he walks in the door from work each day.  From wrestling, to baseball, basketball and the Wii... Dave's got me beat in the fun department.  But it's not a competition, and I bring some unique talents to the table too ~ but since this is about Dave, I'll just say that I truly appreciate how wonderful he is at entertaining and keeping the boys busy while I'm trying to finish up dinner ~ that is priceless to me! And I love listening to the squeals of "happy" going on when my boys are all together!




7.  He loves a good meal.  I'm blessed to have a very non-picky husband when it comes to food, I can be as adventurous as I like in the kitchen and he will try almost everything.  But some of my favorite moments come from his compliments. As a "words" person I love hearing that he's enjoying something I've made him, but he truly takes it to the next level.   I'd compare Dave to that scene in "What about Bob" where after every bite he lets out a huge "mmmmmmm", "Oh this is so good."  "Mmmmmm!!!!!"  It's comical at times.  My favorite line to date, "Oh my goodness... this is so good I just want to wrap it in seran wrap and hang it on the wall for everyone to see."  It's easy to cook for someone like that!


8.  His nose doesn't work.  Dave has had a deviated septum which has caused him some breathing issues growing up.  Before we were married he had one surgery to correct the curved cartilage that was blocking his nasal passage, but he needs a second surgery and he just hasn't made an appointment yet.  Because it's a struggle to breathe through his nose, it sometimes affects his sense of smell.  This has it's ups and downs... on the good side ...poopy diapers never bothered him much; on the flip side... they had to be REALLY bad before he'd notice them too.  However, I'd never thought how it may affect his sense of taste until a recent incident.  We had both our mom's over for a pre-mother's day dinner and Dave made coffee for everyone.  I use a flavored creamer at home but Dave prefers half & half, as does his mother.  My mother-in-law took a drink of her coffee and said it tasted weird.  She asked if we were using a different type of coffee and Dave assured her it was the same we'd always served her before. She kept commenting though so Dave tasted her drink and told her it tasted completely normal to him.  At the same time my mother was getting ready to pour herself a cup and hearing Karmen's comments smelled the half & half to find it was completely sour. Dave had been drinking it for a week and had never noticed... EWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

This somehow lessens my excitement over #7 - hmmm, what does my food taste like to him?  Should I be questioning my own cooking abilities now.


9.  He loves pickles.  I hate pickles. And not just a little hatred, I really loathe and detest them.  I can detect and smell a pickle on someone's breath from long distances.  I can tell if they've been on a food item, and removed (don't try to trick me hamburger joints when I ask for a burger with no pickles -  I can tell).  Dave on the other hand grew up not only devouring pickles, but then drinking the juice straight from the pickle jar.  (Just picturing that makes me want to throw up a little.)  The whole pickle thing was almost a deal-breaker in our courtship (okay, so perhaps that's exaggerating a little... but did I mention how much I abhor pickles???)  However, I knew Dave loved me when he gave up pickles. Not because I asked him too, and I've never asked or expected him to do that - I've even offered to buy them for him (when he goes away hunting of course) but he said it was worth it to say goodbye to them to earn my kisses instead.  Say it with me, "Awwwwwwwwwwww."

And to be clear... I've never asked him to not eat them.  He's free to eat whatever he wants.  I'm just glad he chooses to not.  I like kissing him way too much!


10.  He's a fighter!  But not the kind you may suppose.  He fought LONG and HARD to gain my affections, and I didn't deserve them at first.  Prior to the beginning of our love story, there's an awkward period where he pursued and I tormented him and he patiently, lovingly and with true grit - persevered.  I'm so glad he did.  I'm glad he didn't listen to all the people who told him to give up on me... and SO grateful that he kept fighting.  He eventually broke through to me, and he won my heart - and it's his forever!!!



I love you babe... with ALL of my heart!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Burgers

This past weekend the sun came out and for a whole day and a half we felt like it might actually be spring in Oregon ~ so not wanting to waste one bit of that sunshine - we invited my sister and family over to BBQ.

Last summer I found a delicious recipe for homemade burgers here and after some slight adjustments (to our my own taste) have come up with this delicious and easy way to make our own.  They were a big hit by all and they were so easy to make!


* WARNING * This burger may leave your tastebuds dancing and singing your praises!

This is how I made them:

Ground beef, ground turkey, onion, eggs, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, ketchup, worchestershire, salt, pepper & bacon!

 And then on a whim, I also added (not pictured) garlic & liquid smoke!


I doubled the recipe because I was feeding quite a few people, but I also like to make my burgers a little bigger than the average patty - I don't like biting into a burger and only getting a mouthful of bun!


I used a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground turkey - because that's what I had on hand!


To that I added 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese


2 tablespoons (or so) of grated Parmesan cheese


Two tablespoons of Worcestershire


Two tablespoons of ketchup



Then I chopped up a small onion.  At this point you can add it as it is... but I don't like raw onion on my burger so I lightly sauteed it with some olive oil and some minced garlic.


Oh and it smelled divine!!!


I added the onions to my burger mix with a couple eggs


Then a teaspoon of kosher salt.


And 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.


Then mix it all together.

It was at this point that I thought of the liquid smoke.  I contemplated adding some A1 steak sauce but hickory won me over!!


So I threw in a generous splash (1-2 teaspoons worth).

When that's well incorporated....wash your hands really well and start forming your patties.


I start with one, and then wrap it with bacon to determine the perfect size for the remaining patties.


Yep... perfect size patty!  So then secure that bacon with a toothpick!


Now duplicate this over and over... this recipe made 8 delectable, delicious and EXTRA-large and EXTRA-thick burgers... but I could have easily made 10-12 normal size.


If you have the time... throw them in the fridge for a while.  I had time, and I wanted to test out my new favorite item in my kitchen... a jelly roll pan WITH lid (thank you Mum).  My new toy was PERFECT for these burgers!!  And I may or may not have (okay... I did) skip around the whole house carrying it with the handle like Red Riding Hood strolling through the woods to Grandma's house just because I could!  So much better than seran wrap!!!


The boys grilled up the burgers while talking basketball, hunting and work.  And it got pretty hot on that ol' grill so please excuse some of the more "charred" burgers... they were still delicious.


Because I used ground turkey, we used a meat thermometer to make sure it was cooked all the way through... if you use ground beef and you like your burgers a little more medium... go ahead and serve them a little pink still.  The bacon does a great job of not only holding the burger patty together, but also keeping them nice and moist so they're never dry!



If you're extra daring...throw some slices of Tillamook Cheddar cheese on top and salivate while you put your burger together!!


DEE-LISH-OUS!!!

Try these out one of these summery days - you won't regret it!!

BACON WRAPPED BURGERS
Makes 6 regular patties, or 4 giant

Ingredients:
1 lb burger (beef, turkey, or combo)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of worcestershire 
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 egg
1/2 onion chopped
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
Bacon

DIRECTIONS:

1.  In a medium bowl combine ground burger, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, worcestershire, ketchup, egg, salt, pepper and liquid smoke.

2 (a).  Add in chopped onion and minced garlic.

2 (b).  In a small saucepan saute onion and garlic together in a small amount of olive oil or butter.  When onion is soft and slightly translucent, add to meat mixture.

3.  Stir together all ingredients, or mix with hands until well combined.

4.  Form patties with your hand and wrap a piece of bacon around each and secure with a toothpick!

5.  GRILL AWAY!!