Friday, February 27, 2009

A Few Things For Friday...

I wish I had looked this cute yesterday, during our pajama day at home. I've had the flu but am feeling much better today! (Pajamas can be found here. These are cute too! Wish they weren't so pricey!)

My parents sent these to Brent and I as a valentines treat, and we're enjoying them slowly! Brent got the Dark Chocolate and I got the Milk Chocolate Caffe Latte. They're both super yummy.

I discovered (thanks to a friend pointing it out!) the $5 French Market today on Etsy...lots of lovely vintagey French things there...I loved this lavendar filled sachet.

And since I'm washing my hands all the time these days, it helps to have good handsoap. This one smells absolutely wonderful, looks so pretty on the counter, and can be found at Wal-Mart.

I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend...time to accomplish some projects...and maybe a date night...we'll see if our babysitter comes through!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Recipe System

Since I love to cook, my friends always ask me where I get my I decide what to I organize my recipes. So I thought I'd share my "system" here. I have lots of cookbooks that I love to peruse...and a recipe book (one of the binders where you copy down your favorite recipes, etc.) but this is the system that best works FOR ME. And I am thankful to my mother-in-law for giving it to me.

As a gift for one of our wedding showers, Brent's mom "Kammy" (what our kiddos call her) gave me a copy of The Joy of Cooking accompanied by this lovingly made little system that she uses. I have to be honest...I was a little overwhelmed when I saw it (and she assured me that if it wasn't something that worked for me, her feelings would not be hurt if I abandoned it.) I didn't use it for the first few years of our marriage, mostly because I didn't have a place to store it.

But enough about its origins, here's the deal:

The system is made up of 3x5 inch index cards, divider cards, and is contained in a Rubbermaid drawer divider that is 6" x 15" wide (and about 2 inches deep). (You can find these things at any office supply store and/or Target or WalMart.) One day, I'm hoping Brent will build me a wooden box (with a lid) for safer transport during moves...but for now the plastic divider works perfectly.

At the beginning of the file, I have blue dividers for five weeks. When I actually do my meal-planning weeks at a time (which is rare, I promise you), I browse through my file, selecting recipes for each day. I use another index card and write each day of the week, followed by the recipe(s) for that day and then file them behind the particular week.

Each day, I move the recipe(s) for that day to the front of the file box, as indicated above, for easy reference during the day. As you can see above, tonight we're having Sweet and Tangy Roasted Pork Tenderloin. (This also makes it easy to let Brent know where the recipe is for the days when he offers to cook!)

(Kammy originally set this up using seven dividers, one for each day of the week. But I find that I often only have one recipe a day...and I just steam veggies or slice fruit or make rice, etc. So it was more helpful to me to do weekly dividers for "meal planning in advance" purposes.)

The most used part of my system are the actual food categories:

My categories consist of: Appetizers, Beverages, Breakfasts, Breads, Candies, Cakes, Casseroles, Cereals, Cookies, Crock-Pot, Desserts, Eggs/Cheese, Fondue, Foreign Food, Frostings, Frozen, Fruits, Marinades, Meats, Pancakes, Pasta, Pastries, Pizzas, Pies, Poultry, Preserves, Rice, Salads & Dressings, Sandwiches, Sauces/Syrups, Seafood, Non-Food Recipes, Soups, Special Mixes, Vegetables.

Most all of these are the ones that Kammy set up for me. I've added a few that I needed. When I copy down a recipe, I file it in the appropriate category. Some of the categories overlap (like breakfast and pancakes...poultry and casseroles) but I just go with whatever category I would most likely look in.

After the food categories are several different "event-style" categories. I have to be honest, I haven't really used these much. But if you're are a big hostess (like both my Mom and my mother-in-law), these categories can be helpful.

They include (as seen above in the yellow tabs): Teas, Big Group Meals, Brunch, Picnics, Celebrations, Cold Light Meals, Hot Light Meals, Company Meals. (Brent's parents were missionaries when he was younger and they always had lots of company coming and going, so I know these categories were very helpful to her.)

Behind the yellow dividers, you'll see red dividers. These include some miscellaneous categories: Pantry List, Helpful Info. (tips), Freezer, and Tablescapes.

After those last dividers, I keep a bunch of notecards (some filed behind the dividers and some laying down flat. The flat ones helps keep all the categoried cards from sliding down. I also keep some "pretty" recipe cards for when I share recipes with friends, as well as my trusty pen. In the very back of the picture above, you'll see a white ribbon--it holds a bunch of rolled of plastic sleeves. Their original intent was to protect cards from splatter while cooking, but I use mine to contain multiple cards for recipes that are too long to fit on one notecard. I have NO idea where to find them...I'm still enjoying the ones Kammy gave me originally.
So, that's the system. Here's what my process looks like:
When I get a new magazine that contains recipes I want to try, I tear them out. If I find a recipe online that looks good, I print it. Then I place them in the middle of an ordinary folder with pockets.
Whenever I make a recipe from the folder, I stick that recipe in one of the pockets if I like it and want to add it to my file. When I get a chance, I take a stack of notecards, my pen, and my folder, and I begin to copy the recipes in the pocket. I discard the original copy and then add the recipe card to the appropriate category.

You can see a glimpse of my blue-grey folder under the Southern Living magazine in the picture above. It has WAY too many recipes in it. Every so often, I go through all the recipes in the folder. I throw out any that no longer appeal to me, any that are duplicates of recipes I already have, etc.
If I find a need a monotonous project to work on (like on a long car trip, etc.), I'll just take along my folder and notecards and copy down any of the recipes that I think I will really try or really like. (If you know me or have read my blog for awhile, you know that all the "sweet" categories are the most full!)
And that's it--except for finding a convenient location to store the file! I've really enjoyed having a perfectly sized drawer in our kitchen to house my recipe file!
And if you've made it this far--I'm extremely impressed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Always room for Tex-Mex

A few weeks ago, we had a wonderful visit with my parents, as always :) Hadleigh and Nathanael both keep telling me "I miss Mimi and Grampa. And Katy. And Kammy and Pappy. And Michael and Matt." (Once they get missing people they love, I guess they just figure we should get everyone together!)

While they were here, I ended up cooking a TON of new recipes. For me, it seems easier to try something new when I have someone around to help keep the children busy/happy. It's much easier to whip together the "old reliables" when you have lots of helpers and lots of noise and not so much undivided attention to devote to a recipe.

This one was a BIG hit. Brent's a steak lover. And we all love Mexican food. So it's really no surprise this turned out so well. I hope you like it too!
(And I have to add, this recipe calls for lots of limes and kosher salt...which just reminds me of some cooking done in college...right girls???)

Tex Mex Fiesta Steak with Guacamole Butter and Fiesta Black Bean Salsa

3 Tbsp. tequila
1 tsp. grated lime rind
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 ¼ tsp. McCormick Chipotle Chile Pepper
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
¾ tsp. black peppercorns
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. minced garlic
4 (1” thick) Top Sirloin Steaks (6 oz.)
Guacamole Butter
Fiesta Black Bean Salsa

1. Stir together the first 10 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl until blended. Add steaks to marinade, turning to coat. Cover and chill 8 hours or let stand room temp. for 2 hours.

2. Remove steaks. Bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat and boil 2 minutes.

3. Heat a grill pan over med-high heat. Grill steak 5-6 minutes per side, basting occasionally with marinade.

4. Remove steaks and place on serving plate. Dollop each steak with Guacamole Butter. Spoon Salsa around steaks and serve immediately.

Guacamole Butter

1 small avocado
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. sour cream
¼ tsp. kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper

1. Chop avocado and place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth. (I use an immersion blender.) Place in bowl and chill until ready to serve.

Fiesta Black Bean Salsa

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2-3 jalapeƱos, seeded and minced, optional
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground pepper

1. Stir together in large bowl. Cover and let stand at room temp. until ready to serve.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Remembering her today.

"...Thou art my divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells,
my life, hope, joy, peace, glory, end;
May I be daily more and more conformed to thee,
with the meekness and calmness of the Lamb in my soul,
and a feeling sense of the felicity of heaven,
where I long to join angels free from imperfections,
where in me the image of my adored Savior will be completely restored,
so that I may be fit for his enjoyments and employments.
I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face,
for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world.
Until then let me continually glow and burn out for thee,
and when the last great change shall come
let me awake in thy likeness,
leaving behind me an example that will glorify thee
while my spirit rejoices in heaven,
and my memory is blessed upon earth,
with those who follow me praising thee for my life."
--an excerpt from "Retrospect and Prospect", a Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision

My friend, Kristi, passed away on Friday morning. Her funeral and memorial service are today. The above excerpt to me, perfectly describes Kristi, in her life and death.

Ever since I discovered in late October that she had Stage IV breast cancer, my days have begun and have ended in prayer for her. Hoping against reality that God would heal her. That we would witness a miracle. That she would continue beside her husband, raising her three little boys.

I could pray in that manner because I know and trust that He is able. There is no doubt in my mind. And yet, that was not His will for her life. That was not part of His plan. He chose to bring her home...and while I can't understand why that was best...can't wrap my earthly mind around that...I know that it's true and right and perfect. Because He is Truth and Righteousness and Perfection. And I rejoice with such JOY knowing that she is with her Lord and the midst of Glory that we do not yet even imagine.

It's been several years since I last saw Kristi, but when I close my eyes, I can see her radiant smile and hear her voice...especially her laugh. I've been reminiscing old times...remembering hilarious moments and joyful moments and quiet moments spent together. I will miss her...but I look forward to when I will join her...and so many other loved His Glory.

This last excerpt, also from The Valley of Vision, has been an encouragment to me and a reminder of our life here on Earth and all that we have to look forward to.

"Earth and Heaven"


I live here as a fish in a vessel of water, only enough to keep me alive,
but in heaven I shall swim in the ocean.

Here I have a little air in me to keep me breathing,
but there I shall have sweet and fresh gales;

Here I have a beam of sun to lighten my darkness,
a warm ray to keep me from freezing;
yonder I shall live in light and warmth for ever.

My natural desires are corrupt and misguided,
and it is thy mercy to destroy them;
My spiritual longings are of thy planting,
and thou wilt water and increase them;
Quicken my hunger and thirst after the realm above.

Here I can have the world, there I shall have thee in Christ;
Here is a life of longing and prayer, there is assurance without suspicion, asking without refusal;
Here are gross comforts, more burden than benefit,
there is joy without sorrow,
comfort without suffering,
love without inconstancy,
rest without weariness.

Give me to know that heaven is all love,
where the eye affects the heart,
and the continual viewing of thy beauty keeps the soul in continual transports of delight.

Give me to know that heaven is all peace,
where error, pride, rebellion, passion raise no head.

Give me to know that heaven is all joy,
the end of believing, fasting, praying, mourning, humbling, watching, fearing, repining;

And lead me to it soon.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Absolutely Gorgeous Outside

The temperature is in the low 60's right now and supposed to keep rising! As much as I love cold weather in the winter, it's a treat to get a little peek of spring! (But I'll probably start to complain if I can't have a fire in the next couple of days!!!)

While our boys went to play 9 holes of golf, my girls and I got Sonic drinks (vanilla Dr. Pepper for me, Strawberry Slush for Hadleigh) and then played outside on the swingset.

Hope you're enjoying your Saturday!

(p.s. These pictures aren't from today but I forgot to take out my camera...the girls were in short sleeves today!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Aftermath

So, letting your children stay up late because you invited some friends (and their children) over for the SuperBowl has its pros and cons.

  • grumpy children in the morning after still being awake at 9:50pm. (Madeleine went down around her usual time but got transfered from the pack and play to her crib when the others went to bed around 9pm. Not a happy baby.)
  • children with extreme loss of self control when they are either hungry or tired or things don't quite go their way.
  • lots of whining voices. (mine included, to be honest.)
  • way too many opportunities for a Mommy to exercise patience. (good practice, I guess.)


Exhaustion ultimately leads to sleep.

Despite the 1-2 hours it took for all three to fall asleep (overtired!), once they did, they slept hard for 2-3 hours. All at the same time. Bliss.

They slept through our crazy loud printer. Slept through me opening their doors and taking these pictures. Slept through lights being turned played..."white noise" fans turned off...all in a quiet effort to wake them up "naturally" which we've learned is far better than waking them with a gentle nudge.

So yesterday, I enjoyed a quiet afternoon and an evening with three much happier, more cheerful children. (And a more cheerful Mommy too.)

Not quite as quiet today...but that is okay. Memories of yesterday linger. :)


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