Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

So I had some fresh cherries sitting in the fridge. And I had a little bit of chocolate chips left in the bag from cookie making. What's a girl to do?

Combine them, of course.

I made this last night, and I'm thinking it might be time to give in and get a new ice cream maker. The motor started to make a strange noise and the ice cream never fully set....just imagine how awesome this is when it's churned correctly!

My most important tip for ice cream making is to mix up the recipe and chill it in the freezer for a while before you put it in the ice cream maker. That...and use a maker that still wants to work.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- 1 1/2 cups fresh ripe cherries, pitted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup brandy or Grand Marnier (can omit this if you want, but it gives the ice cream a better flavor and a smoother consistency...and the alcohol is cooked off before you freeze it)
- 2 cups fresh cream
- 1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I run it through a food processor, then store in freezer until adding to ice cream)

Cook the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, brandy, cream and yogurt in a saucepan over low-medium heat until cherries are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove cherries and some liquid and puree in heat proof blender (be careful - it's hot!).

Stir pureed cherries back into cream mixture, and let cool. Add vanilla and combine thoroughly, then place in a covered container and chill about a hour in the freezer.

Churn in an ice cream mixture, adding chocolate just at the end.

Heaven in a bowl.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shabby Blogs

In case you haven't noticed, I changed the blog.

If you came to this page and had to do a double take, unsure you were in the right place, rest assured that you are.

The website that hosted my previous backgrounds so kindly notified me that they would no longer be shown as of Friday. Which, in my skeptical brain, means that they are hoping to convert it to a fee based site.

To be honest, I've not been real happy with the old site anyway. I've had many days where the backgrounds, buttons and extras from them haven't uploaded at all. And I'm not about to pay for something that works only most of the time.

So I changed. Like completely. New backgrounds, new buttons, new headers.

And, wait for it, I have even started writing html code. It is a little scary.

But, I think it came out cute, especially the whimsical theme of this one. And look at my little owl sitting up there....isn't he cute??? Don't you just want to squish him and give him tons of little tiny baby owl kisses?

The new site I am using is one I adore. I simply love it. I could gaze at their backgrounds all day. And I LOVE their witty little sayings on their buttons.

For anyone out there just notified their backgrounds are disappearing, I recommend this site. If you are thinking about starting a blog and looking for ways to dress it all up fancy, look here. And, well, just in general, look. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I've spent the last week or so searching for lunchboxes for the kids. I have bought all their school supplies already, plus extras for when they run out. I got Ash a new backpack since she'd worn holes in the bottom of her old one.

The trouble with backpacks is that they don't last as well as they used to. I carried the same green Jansport backpack from 7th grade clear through to my senior year of college. Seriously. Now kids are lucky to get two years out of a backpack. We've had a few that didn't even last a week.

Aidan and Ally got new ones last year, and as much as they would like new and shiny, I'm not buying them new and shiny.

I will, however, be buying all of them new lunchboxes. When I find the right one, that is.

Once you start making lunches for kids on a daily basis, you quickly realize how many little tiny plastic bags you use. And you also realize how fast the cost of the individual serving sized packages of everything add up. Little tiny bags of golfish cost a bunch more than a big giant family sized box.

Even though they each have lunchboxes that are in mostly okay condition, I'm in the market for new ones. I want to get them the bento box style. Essentially, they are containerized lunches, eliminating the need for baggies. The best that I've found so far have the inner compartments, and outer shell and an insulated carrying bag. They come with freezer packs and water bottles, and it all fits neatly into one little package.

The ones I really like the best run about $40 a piece. Which is a lot for a lunchbox. Really.

The girls are longing for this one:

They have an alien print one that I know Aidan would adore.

I have a hard time paying that much for lunchboxes. But, as I've tried to convince my husband, it will more than pay for itself in the long run. We won't need boxes and boxes of baggies anymore. We won't need to buy the single serving packages of stuff. And juice boxes....a thing of the past.

It could be very worth it.

Not to mention extremely eco-friendly.

What do you all think? Worth it?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


In my experience, busy kids are happy kids. Don't misunderstand my definition of busy though, it doesn't mean that they need planned, scheduled activities, play dates and sports. There's a difference between scheduled and busy. They just need to be kept busy.

Since I like happy kids far more than whining, grumpy ones, I try to keep mine busy. Obviously, what you need to do to ensure this changes as they get older.

Here are some things that help keep them occupied.

  • Craft and activity stations. Lots of coloring books, crayons and blank paper.
  • Activity tv. This is an on-demand service through our cable provider, see if yours has the same. There are tons of little 3-8 minute segments available for them to watch and try to re-create. My kids love the cartooning segments the most. They also love the little dance lessons. So much better than mindless watching.
  • Floor puzzles. Something about big pieces make them way more fun than regular puzzles.
  • Cardboard boxes. When you get ones that are big enough to play with, set them aside. Pull them out when the kids are bored, give them some crayons and watch them build and play. Last summer, my kids constructed an entire box city in the basement.
  • Play dough and slime. I've posted the recipes for these before. Great way to keep them busy for a little while, plus they are using their creative minds.
  • Parades. Break out the pots and pans and have a parade. Noisy, but way fun for them.
  • Washing the dishes. Get a plastic tub, fill it up with soapy water and give them stuff to wash. Sounds silly, I know, but my kids get a kick out of this.
  • Paint the house. Grab some cheap large paint brushes and give the kids a bucket of water. This can keep them busy for a good long time too.
  • Teach them to make fingerprint and hand print animals.
  • Water guns, but the ones that are easy for young kids to operate. They make cheap water launchers now (look like long tubes), and even the littlest ones will learn how to use them.
  • Make flowers and butterflies. All you need are coffee filters, markers, pipe cleaners and a squirt bottle. Have the kids flatten the filters and color them, then lay flat on a cookie sheet and spray with water until the colors run together. After they dry, you can scrunch them into flowers or butterflies with the pipe cleaners.
  • Countdown chains. Whatever you are looking forward to, make paper chains for.
  • I set aside time each day during the summer to work on a specific goal for school. Aidan is doing multiplication tables, Ashley is writing stories, Ally is learning to read.
  • Go to the library. If you have little kids, ones that are particularly loud, or ones with very short attention spans, ask them what kind of books they would like to check out before you set foot in the library. Trust me.
  • If your city has pools or parks with spray grounds (best invention ever), go. Tired kids are happy kids.
  • If it gets too hot in the afternoon for outdoor activities where you are, take advantage of the fact that kids get up early and get them out of the house in the early morning. Run them around parks. Go on leaf and rock hunts. Get them nice and worn out before lunch.
  • Quiet time. I love quiet time. After lunch every day, we have an hour of alone time. Each kid has to hang out in their room, reading or playing very quietly. Even the big ones will occasionally take a nap. Quiet time rocks. And I really believe it is important for kids to learn to be okay with time alone.

I know I have more, but these are all I can think of right now. My little people are getting restless....I need to go keep them busy.

Teriyaki Burgers

I made these a few nights ago, taking several recipes I found online and combining them into what I thought might work the best. They were good. Really good. And yes, you have to grill the pineapple. :)

Teriyaki Burgers- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- prepared teriyaki sauce, divided
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice (if you use canned pineapple rings for this recipe, the juice inside the can is plenty)
- 1 tsp ground ginger (or finely shredded if you use fresh)
- 1 egg
- cheese of your choice, I used Muenster
- pineapple rings, canned or fresh
- whole wheat hamburger buns
- sliced lettuce, tomato and mayo

Combine meat, bread crumbs, about 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, ginger and egg completely. Make into balls about the size of your fist, and throw back and forth between hands to firm. Shape into patties, makes 8. Make them ahead and let them sit in the fridge for a couple hours before cooking.

Grill burgers, adding cheese right before you take them off. When the burgers are almost done, throw the pineapple on the grill too.

Assemble burgers with desired condiments, setting aside extra teriyaki to drizzle on burger or to dip it into.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jello Shooters

I made these yesterday and they were good. Really good. If you've got a party to go to, these will be a hit. Promise.

If you can find them, the little tiny paper cups that ketchup is put into at restaurants work the best. Stay away from plastic cups though, since they will stick.

Jello Shooters
- 1 box regular Jello (6oz size), any flavor you like
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup ice water
- 6-10 oz. alcohol (rum, gin and vodka work best)

Using a large heatproof pitcher or bowl, mix boiling water and Jello until fully dissolved. Add ice water and alcohol, stir completely. Pour shot sized portions into cups and chill until set.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Apple Pie

Only because it's the Fourth of July weekend. Only because I really like you all. The time has come for the Apple Pie recipe. Use it wisely.

Of course it goes best with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Happy 4th! Eat, drink, be merry. Oh, and blow stuff up.

Apple Pie
  • 6 peeled and thinly sliced apples - I mix varieties, definitely two Granny Smith, two Red Delicious, the other two usually Pink Lady or Jonagold
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • juice of one small lemon
  • 3 tbsp cold butter, divided into about 6 pieces
Combine all above ingredients except butter in a large bowl and let sit while you prepare the crust. Yes, you can buy prepared crust. But this is just better. Really.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 6-7 tbsp cold water (at higher altitude, may need a tiny bit more water)
Mix flour and salt, add shortening and water a little at a time until crust forms a ball. Divide into two pieces, knead. Roll out onto a floured surface until the round is larger than the pie pan. Fold in half, then put into pan, pressing into bottom. Trim crust so that only an inch overhangs.
Fill crust with apple pie mixture, place the butter pieces on top of the mixture, spacing evenly. Place second crust on top of pie, trimming excess again. Cut vent holes in crust, roll edges under and crimp along the pan.
Cut strips of aluminum foil to cover the edge of the crust. Bake at 425 for about 45 minutes. Remove foil for last 15 minutes.


I have this friend, Andrea, who is smart and beautiful and completely hilarious. She's gone and written a children's story and entered herself into a contest, and I just think she is so very talented that I'm telling you all to watch this over and over again until she wins.

If you could just do that, it would be great. xoxo

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