It’s not a tuma…

by Stephanie
Can you hear Arnold Schwarzenegger saying that?  Every time I hear that phrase his voice runs through my head.  My kids don’t get the reference.   I think it’s from Kindergarten Cop. 
Anyway…yep.  It isn’t a tumor.  Probably.  Maybe.  Most likely not.
Right now it looks like tissue that is different.  Like a birthmark.  Not bad.  Just not exactly the way the rest of it looks.  It might have been there from before she was born.  And it might be causing her seizures.  But it might not. 
And it is pretty big.  But not dark and scary like a tumor usually looks.  Just different.
It might be something slow growing.  That may or may not ever need attention.  But really, it looks pretty good.  Especially considering I expected to have them say things like, survival rate, operation, or at the least the “C'” word.  But none of that.  At least right now.  They will see her again in three months and see if there is any change.  If there is, they will re-asses.  But right now, keep her on anti-seizure meds and if she gets other symptoms call right away.  Otherwise, she is fine.  So we are fine.  We can’t ask for more than that. 


From Recipes to Reality

By Stephanie
What do you do when they tell you your eight year old has a brain tumor?  Panic, cry, have more questions, panic again.  Yes.  All of that and much, much more. 
Last night my daughter had an MRI scheduled.  It was one without contrast (a basic one).  It was just a precaution to make sure there wasn’t anything there that was causing her seizures.  She has had a few.  Not very many, less than 10.  And they are not grand maul.  In fact at first we weren’t even sure they WERE seizures.  But they are.  And now with a tumor 3 cm large in the middle of her brain, we know why.  And they tell us that with something that big, and located where it’s at, she is lucky to only have had the symptoms she has had.  They were very surprised by what they saw.  Because otherwise she is healthy and happy.  We are thankful for that.
They ended up doing an MRI with contrast (that is basically dye they put in so they can see better) so they could get a better idea what it is.  They still don’t know.  But you know it is pretty serious when the Neurologist you have been working with is nervous and tells you he is calling in a favor to meet with a Neurosurgen.  Not any Neurosurgen, but the head of the department at Children’s.  Okay.  Again, try not to panic. 
So tomorrow we go to Children’s to meet with two different doctors and hopefully we will get a plan of action how to help my daughter. 
We will keep you updated.  Prayers are welcome, encouraged even.  Fasting too.


Rhubarb Pie

By Stephanie

After making the rhubarb crisp, I was still craving rhubarb.  They had some really great looking stocks at the farmers market, so I got some more.  Then I went searching.  I found this great recipe that came from a late 1930’s cookbook.  If you didn’t know I am OBSESSED with old recipes.  Especially ones from the 30’s and 40’s.  I think it is a time when they used what they had, cooked seasonally and creatively.  It turned out a bit sweeter than I expected, but I would totally make it again.  And all my kidos but one really liked it. 


Rhubarb Pie

Serves 10-12

Your Favorite Pie Crust Recipe (for a double crust pie)

2 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp flour-plus one more

4 cups rhubarb

Take egg yolks and put into large mixing bowl.  Add in sugar and flour.  Mix with wooden spoon until completely combined.  Add in rhubarb.  (I only had 3 1/2 cups so I actually added in one apple, peeled and cut fine).  Toss.  Roll out bottom crust and put into pie plate.  Sprinkle one Tbsp flour on bottom crust.  Pour in rhubarb mixture.  Roll out top crust and place on top of pie.  Trim crust down and fold top crust over bottom and crimp edges.    take sharp small knife and cut vent holes in top crust.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then turn down to 350 degrees and cook for 30-40 minutes more until crust is golden and you can see fruit bubbling through vents.  Cool completely so fruit will set.  Otherwise juices will spill out and make soggy crust (yuck!).    Serve with sweetened whip cream or ice cream. 


Scones, not the English kind..the fried bread kind

By Stephanie

I let my kids help pick the menu for the week.  My youngest usually asks for Navajo tacos.  Fried bread with seasoned hamburger, cheese and lettuce.  (I didn’t get a pic because they ate them too fast).    And we have the leftover fried bread or scones with butter and honey.  YUMMO.  I mean what isn’t delicious fried? 


Scones or Navajo Tacos

makes about 24 depending on how big you make yours

2 1/2 cups warm water

1 1/2 Tbsp yeast

2 Tbsp  melted butter

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup powdered milk

8 cup flour

Mix together water and yeast and 2 cups flour.  Let sit 10 minutes.  Add in the rest of ingredients and mix well.  Let sit covered with a damp towel for 1 hour.  Divide dough in half and then portion into three portions.  I then divide mine into four balls and let sit on a greased cookie sheet .  Let rest while you divide the other half.  Heat a good amount of oil to 350 degrees.  At least 1” deep in fryer or large pan.  Flatten out dough one ball at a time until with your hands stretching as you go being careful not to get holes in it, but getting it as thin as possible.   Drop into hot oil being careful not to splatter oil on you (or anything else for that matter).  Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side and don’t overcrowd the pan so the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop.  Take out and put onto paper towel  lined pan.  Serve immediately.     



By Stephanie

I know, I know I am the LAST person in America to make my own vinaigrette dressing.  I have NO idea why it has taken me so long.  But we went to the farmers market on Saturday and got these AMAZING heirloom tomatoes, shallots, fresh lettuce and basil.  It was screaming for some vinaigrette.  So I did it.  I know that it is suppose to be 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, but it needed a bit more kick, so I added another part balsamic.  Just what I wanted.


Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

makes about 1/4 cup

1 shallot diced fine

3 basil leaves diced fine

salt and pepper

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp good olive oil

Mix together everything but olive oil.  While whisking drizzle in oil.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.  Stir to whisk to combine before serving. 

Here it is on my fresh lettuce with tomatoes, feta cheese and sunflower seeds.  Perfect lunch.



Berry Crumble

by Stephanie

So at my ladies lunch my friend Emily served us this dessert.  I was DYING.  It was SO good!!  And all week I was craving it again.  So I make it.  And I was thrilled when my kids didn’t LOVE it.  More for me!  This is not a really sweet dessert.  It has black pepper and I added nutmeg, it was savory, tart, crunchy and sweet.  PERFECTION.

She originally got her recipe from 101 Cookbooks.  I had never been to her site…love, love, love it!!  There are now about a dozen must try recipes from her site.  Although she has some items I have never heard of.  Maybe time for a new adventure in the kitchen.

I LOVE that it has pine nuts.  I have a kido that has tree nut allergies.  It’s such a bummer because otherwise I would put nuts in about everything.  I am NOT kidding. I LOVE nuts.  I never thought about substituting pine nuts.  They are NOT a cheaper option.  But she is not allergic to it, so for me it works out great.  I think I am going to try them in cookies and other things that I use walnuts, pecans or almonds in.  As soon as I find a cheap place to buy them….


Berry Crumble

Serves 8-12

for crumble

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup pine nuts (I could only afford 1/2 cup so that is what I used)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp black pepper

2/3 cup butter, melted

In large mixing bowl mix everything but butter.  Stir to combine.  Add in butter and mix until all flour is wet and combined.  Press down into bowl and put in freezer while you make the berry part.

2 lbs. strawberries cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3 medium stocks of rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup raspberries

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp cornstarch

Put berries and rhubarb in greased 9X13 pan.  Combine sugar and cornstarch.  Sprinkle over berry mixture and toss to coat.  Then get crumble mixture out of freezer and drop in clumps onto berries  leaving some clumps big and others little.  Put into 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until fruit is bubbling and top is golden and crisp. 

Serve warm with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream or sweetened whip cream. 



Sweetened Condensed Milk

By Stephanie

Sometimes you go to make something, and you don’t have all the ingredients.  That was the case for me.  I was trying to make my  salted caramel sauce. when I realized I didn’t  have any sweetened condensed milk.    So I looked on line, and voila…a recipe for homemade.  I had everything I needed. 


Sweetened Condensed Milk

Makes equivalent to one 14oz can

1 1/3 cups powdered milk

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup butter

In microwave safe bowl put water in microwave until boiling (2 min for mine).  Add in butter and stir until melted.  Put milk and sugar in blender.  Add in water/butter mixture and blend until smooth.  You could also do this on the stove and cook it for about one minute, but really the blender is super easy. 


Something Unexpected

By Stephanie

I have been trying to eat healthier.  Which I know you question with the amount of dessert posts I make.  But really…I am trying!  I had to give a lesson to some teenage girls about cooking and shopping and I decided to bring something totally unusual.  Black bean brownies.  Now FIRST, do NOT tell my husband I make these…he has no idea.  Neither do my kids.  Second…don’t judge till you’ve tried ‘em.  You just might be surprised.  Obviously gluten free and if you substitute 1 cup agave for the sugar…practically carb free too! 

We actually found this recipe when we were looking to serve something at a family party.  My niece is diabetic so we were looking for something low carb.  I also have an aunt that has Celiac.  I would starve to death with Celiac.  Seriously….

As you can see I put a few marshmallows on mine, but they are fine without.   And this easily doubles and put into a 9X13 pan.


Black Bean Brownies

Makes 16

1 15.5 oz can black beans drained and rinsed well

3 eggs

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon (or instant coffee)

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

pinch of salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1/2 cup mini marshmallows (optional)

  Put everything but chocolate chips and nuts (if using) in the blender.  Blend on high until beans are totally smooth.  Pour into greased 8X8 pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  If using the marshmallows take out after 25 minutes of cooking and sprinkle on top.  But back in for last 5 minutes of cooking.


Salted Caramel Sauce

By Stephanie

I needed a “thank you” gift for my kids teachers (yes, they ARE still in school, not sure if that is a good or bad thing yet). Anywoo..I gave them a pretty generous Christmas gift so something smaller was fine.  I was going to bake….then it hit me.  Salted Caramel Sauce.  I mean who doesn’t love a great caramel sauce and I love the sweet and salty thing.  And it’s great on popcorn, brownies, ice cream, whatever you want.  This is SUPER easy.  Really the kids COULD do it, but they were already at school.  So I did it.  And you can easily adjust to make a little or a whole lot. 


Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 1 cup

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (I used the homemade stuff)

1/4 cup brown sugar (I prefer dark)

1/4 cup light karo syrup-light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter (I recommend the real thing)

1/2 tsp salt (yes I use the regular stuff, but whatever kind you have is fine, probably better than mine)

Put everything but salt in large microwave proof bowl.  Put into microwave on high one minute.  Stir to melt butter.  Put in for another 1-2 1/2 minutes stopping every 30 seconds to stir until sugar is dissolved and caramel texture.  Do NOT overcook.  You will end up with caramel instead of just caramel sauce.  Add in salt and stir.  Keep in fridge.  To use later reheat in microwave 15-30 seconds. 


Hidden Garden Surprise

 Every year for my birthday my mom takes me to see a benefit tour through gardens of  local people in our community who have graciously agreed to let perfect strangers walk through their yards. Every year is different and every year we have a great time wandering through beautiful yards and getting inspiration for our own yards at home. The committee that puts this together is a really talented bunch and work really hard to find hidden gems that are exciting and inspirational.
They also do a really great job of mixing both yards that have been done professionally with a considerable amount of money along with ones that have been designed and decorated by the homeowners themselves, often with limited funds (these are often our very favorite ones! They definitely have more personality and also more character. This year was no different. In fact, I believe this has been my favorite thus far.

My absolute favorite garden actually included the inside of the home of Lynde Mott.  In fact, before we had even gotten out of our car, I had a really good feeling that I would love this stop.  Here is what we saw as we pulled up.

Her garden was darling! using tricks of perspective in her front yard. All throughout their gardens there were wonderful handmade touches of stepping stones, arbors and even a handpainted chicken coop!

We would have been very happy just touring the property, but I am so glad she let us tour her home also. Now, I very rarely go to our Parade of Homes hosted by local builders every year because I like to look at the decorating and it is often predictable and not so inspirational. But this particular home had everything I look for in decorating. Personality, warmth and originality!

Not only was her garage so wonderful, but her front entry porch was another sign that we were in for a treat!

Much of the surfaces of her beautiful home were embellished or adorned with some form of decoration. Every room had personal touches that really made each space so beautiful!

Lynde Mott is a truly gifted individual who has taken to heart the task of turning her house into a home. I was so grateful that she allowed us a peek into her beautiful, welcoming home and yard.

Crème Brule French Toast

by Stephanie

Okay, so along with my fabulous brunch I HAD to make this.  My darling friend Anna gave me the recipe and every time I make it I wonder why I don’t make it more.  Then I look at my thighs in the mirror and answer that “why”.  But it is fabulous.  And make ahead.  And no need for syrup, it bakes in it’s own “sauce”. 


Crème Brule French Toast

Serves 6-8

In microwave proof bowl put in 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp corn syrup.  Microwave on high 30 seconds or just until butter melts.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Pour into the bottom of a well greased cookie sheet. 

   In large mixing bowl combine 5 eggs, 1 1/2 cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla.  Beat well until eggs are fully incorporated.  Slice one loaf of French bread (I actually used my homemade bread) and lay slices on top of sugar butter mixture.  Pour egg/milk mixture over bread and put in fridge overnight.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.  Serve warm and flip bread onto plate since caramel syrup is on bottom of pan.  I cooked mine a bit long so it’s more caramel than syrup…I like it this way with the crusty edges.  Enjoy.


Mexican Chocolate Cake

By Stephanie

My darling friend Sherrie make this for me when I had my first baby girl.  She had made it for me before and I LOVED it.  So for my baby shower she made one for the guests at the party and one for the baby.  A whole cake for just for the baby.  Via me. 

To this day it is a “go to” recipe.  And I think each my kidos have asked for it for their birthday’s at least once. 


Mexican Chocolate Cake

Serves 10-12

One chocolate cake mix (really any kind, I have used about every one and they all turn out great)

3 eggs

16 oz sour cream

1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Combine eggs and sour cream until eggs are fully mixed.  Add in all other ingredients.  Mix together until cake mix is fully incorporated.  Pour into well greased Bundt pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes.  Cool for 5-10 minutes.  While warm but not hot, flip cake out onto plate.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp. sugar mixed together.    When cake cools pour over glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

1/4 cup heavy cream, canned milk, half and half or cool whip (I have used all these and they all work)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 tsp. butter

Put all into microwave proof bowl.   Heat on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Heat again for another 30 seconds if needed.  Stir until chocolate chips melt.  Immediately pour over cake.  




Crustless Quiche

by Stephanie

It was my turn to host the “Finer Things Club”, also known as the Ladies Lunch.  I REALLY wanted to do a brunch….so I did.  We had fruit, Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins, Crème Brule French Toast (I will post recipe later) and last but not least…Crustless Quiche.  While considering my menu options before I had decided on the quiche, I knew I needed a protein.  But one of my ladies is expecting, so I didn’t know how well sausage or bacon would go over (she is just getting over morning sickness).   I thought about regular quiche, but I already had PLENTY of carbs.  But a crustless quiche…yes, that could be a good option.  After looking through a few recipes I decided to make my own up.  I LOVE the combination of ham, broccolli, Swiss cheese and the secret ingredient….nutmeg.   Jami said it was seasoned  “perfectly”.  Which is a HUGE compliment, because #1 you can’t taste it until it’s done #2 she is a foodie and knows her stuff.   This is also great for a party or get together because you can put it together ahead of time and just throw it (not literally) in the oven before your guests arrive.  You visit, it cooks…perfect.  And feel free to try other ingredients.   Bacon, mushrooms and spinich would be good.  Whatever you like…


Crustless Quiche

serves 8-10

5 eggs well beaten

1 1/4 cup milk

1 cup broccolli cut up (I steamed mine in the microwave for 2 minutes first)

1 cup ham, diced fine

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp black pepper

Butter bottom and sides of pie plate.  In large mixing bowl combine everything and stir well.  Pour into pie plate and cook at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Middle will be slightly jiggley, but will set as it cools.  Serve warm. 


Poodle Skirt Tutorial

by Stephanie

This is easy peasy.  Really.  And if you need an idea for a costume (I realize it’s June) or a dance recital, or even just a dress up, this is a easy almost no sew quick and easy project.

Start by measuring from waist down how long you want your skirt to be (on you or whoever you are making this for).  Let’s say it is 20 inches.  Add two inches (you will see why).   Now take your fabric.  I highly recommend felt that you buy by the yard.  It comes in great colors and you won’t need to do anything to the edges.  You should have a piece of fabric that is folded along one edge.   From the bottom corner that is folded measure out 22 inches (or whatever your measurement plus 2 inches equals).    Mark this measurement all the way along to make a pie shape.  Cut along this line. 


Now repeat so you have two sides.  Next you need to cut in the waist.  Now try to follow along…this gets VERY technical…just kidding.  It is so not technical at all.  Start buy cutting the top corner of the pie piece.  How much you ask…that depends.  If you have a skinny kido, start with about 2”.  If you have an adult.  Start with about 4”.  See how “technical” this is?


Now take the two pieces and unfold them.  You will have two half doughnut looking pieces.  Sew the two pieces together from the inside circle to the outer edge just along one side.  Then the other side do the same but start about 6 inches from the inner circle.  This gives you a gap to be able to get in and out of. 


Now hold it up to the person you are making this for and see if you need the waist cut a bit more or not.  In this case I needed about another 1/2 inch down.  It doesn’t come all the way to her sides. 


Now the side that you left the 6” gap, sew two pieces of ribbon long enough to tie into a bow.  Sew them along that top edge.


Try it on to see how it fits.  If you want a poodle (which I did not), at this point there are some great free poodle pattern downloads on the web.  Find one and use a contrasting color felt cut out and appliqué onto skirt. 



French Toast Sticks

by Stephanie

This is a recipe I got from our frozen meal dinner group.  I was having the ladies over for our “Finer Things Club” lunch and needed something for the kids.  So I made these.  Super yummy and they freeze really well so make a double batch and freeze some for a later date.


French Toast Sticks

makes 24 sticks-serves 6-8

8 pieces Texas toast bread (or any thick sliced bread will work, but I love Texas toast)

1/4 cup butter melted

4 eggs well beaten

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cups orange juice

In large mixing bowl mix everything but Texas toast.  One at a time dip Texas toast into egg mixture turning over to coat both sides.  Put into well greased cookie sheet.  Continue dipping all bread.  Cook at 450 degrees for 18-20 minutes.  Take out and cool slightly.  With pizza cutter cut each piece of bread into four sticks.  Serve immediately with syrup to dip sticks into. 



By Stephanie

Have you ever read what they put into store bought pesto?  Since we have a kido with a tree nut allergy, I have started reading labels.  Interesting.  Pesto, at least all the ones I saw, had nuts.  Usually walnuts.  And it was a top ingredient.  SO…..I made pesto.  Really, easy.  And did you know it freezes.  Really well!  So I made pesto. 



Makes about 2 cups

1 cup pine nuts

1 cup fresh basil

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup graded parmesan

1 cup fresh baby spinach

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Roast the pine nuts in a dry non stick skillet or in the oven.  Put everything but oil into food processor.  Turn on low and after about 30 seconds slowly pour in oil until moist and sauce like.  Use on pasta or in my pesto feta chicken...yum.